The Four Questions You Must Ask If You Want to Teach ESL Online

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The Four Questions You Must Ask If You Want to Teach ESL Online

from DaDa

By Theo Pierce     Aug 27, 2018

The Four Questions You Must Ask If You Want to Teach ESL Online

Teaching ESL online is not a new industry, but in recent years it has erupted on the international stage. As a result, there is an unprecedented global demand for the time and expertise of America’s classroom educators. Teachers across grade levels are finding themselves being actively recruited by ESL tutoring companies, many of which are foreign owned and have little brand recognition in the U.S.

At the same time, video calling platforms have matured over the last decade, allowing educators to teach pupils around the world independent of these larger online ESL schools.

Teachers interested in teaching ESL online—whether to earn extra money or pursue more flexible work schedules—are thus faced with numerous options, but few tools to decide what path best suits their needs.

If you’re considering becoming an online ESL teacher, ask yourself the following four questions. They will help you decide if your best option is to tutor independently or work as a contracted employee with an established online school.

1. Where’s the Money?

Whether considering a full-time position or part-time side-gig, you’ll first need to determine the financial potential. Which method of teaching pays better?

Independent Teacher

Independent online teachers can earn more per hour per class taught compared to teaching with an online ESL school. However, the higher hourly wage comes with more extracurricular responsibilities and less financial security, often resulting in lower real wages in the aggregate. If teaching independently, it’s important to establish ground-rules in the event of sudden cancelations or no-shows.

Online ESL School

On most platforms, the hourly rate is based on the teacher’s experience and education level. It’s often also impacted by a teacher’s mock simulation of an online lesson. After agreeing to an hourly rate, teachers sign a six or twelve-month contract—at the conclusion of which they may apply for a higher hourly rate. Wages with online ESL schools typically range from $13 to $25 per hour, with some platforms offering additional bonuses based on attendance records, punctuality, and student ratings. Platforms like DaDa also guarantee pay for contracted hours; even if a student doesn’t show up for a lesson, the teacher still receives half of the hourly wage.

2. What’s the Prep Work?

It’s important to understand off the bat how much time you want to spend preparing for each lesson.

Independent Teacher

Do you have an arsenal of battle-tested lesson plans and exercises, proven to be successful in an online classroom? If so you may be set up for success in an independent setting. For the independent teacher, resources like Off2Class make lesson preparation a relatively simple process. Using this service in tandem with a video conferencing platform like Zoom, teachers are able to provide thoughtful, well-planned lessons and homework. Note that when setting your hourly rate as an independent teacher, you’ll need to take this lesson planning time and effort into consideration.

Online ESL School

In an online school, you may not need to prepare any lesson material at all. While it’s helpful to have some props ready when you’re first getting started, these are typically one-time purchases at the beginning of your online ESL career and won’t be recurring financial obligations. What’s more, you won’t need to shoulder any web hosting, lesson purchasing, or advertising responsibilities. Although your hourly rate may be lower in an online school, the amount of time spent preparing materials and the amount of money spent covering extra costs are typically far less.

Teaching ESL with DaDa

3. Who Are Your Students?

One of the coveted aspects of teaching ESL online is the ability to work with students in a one on one environment—providing undivided attention in short, meaningful classes. Before you begin, ask yourself which age group you are most comfortable working with. Different online ESL schools, for example, cater to different student demographics. Equally important is understanding how you will be acquiring your students. The most thoughtful and well-planned lessons are worthless if the lessons never actually get taught!

Independent Teacher

It’s essential for independent online ESL teachers to create their own dedicated websites to promote and explain their services. For help on how to get setup online with your own domain, check out this useful resource. Independent teachers will ultimately decide who they want to take on as students; the diversity and size of their potential student pools will be determined by the success or failure of their own advertising campaigns. For more information on how to get your name out there as an independent teacher, check out these excellent tips.

Online ESL School

Teachers with established schools have an automatic pipeline of students. After signing a contract with DaDa, for example, a teacher provides trial lessons to potential students during contract hours—until amassing a loyal following of regular students. The process of acquiring a full roster of regular weekly students usually takes between two to four weeks. At some companies, tutors work with different students each week. In contrast, DaDa teams teachers with the same students in weekly one on one settings, building confidence and connections with each lesson.

4. How Do You Troubleshoot?

As with any online experience, there will inevitably be hiccups—a student who can’t hear you clearly or one whom you can’t see on screen. The issue might be a simple fix like adjusting your headphones, or it may involve something more complicated. Know your appetite for handling technical challenges.

Independent Teacher

An independent ESL teacher is responsible for troubleshooting technology snafus and finding solutions quickly—as well as anticipating what challenges may arise. If a class is canceled to due connectivity issues, for example, will the student still need to pay for the lesson? Here is a comprehensive outline of skills you’ll need to ensure that you are well equipped to host your online ESL lessons.

Online ESL School

With an online ESL school, there will likely be an IT team on call in case an issue arises. On DaDa’s online platform, for example, a teacher can press a button on his screen and receive immediate assistance. Just as important as technical back up is professional support. Many online ELS schools have active Facebook groups fueled by enthusiastic teachers sharing ideas, working through problems, asking for advice, and discussing company policies. Reddit communities such as r/TEFL and r/WorkOnline also provide a space for educators to connect with like-minded individuals.

Which path is best for you?

Are you a tech-savvy, entrepreneurial minded educator with experience teaching online? You can put those skills to use as an independent online ESL teacher. If you are new to the online classroom—or the idea of one—you may instead thrive with the guidance, material, and support provided by an established online ESL school like DaDa.

Either way, you will be leveraging your teaching skills and earning income while connecting with students around the globe.

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