Flexible, Interactive and Fun—Why This Teacher Made the Jump to Tutoring...

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Flexible, Interactive and Fun—Why This Teacher Made the Jump to Tutoring ESL Online

from MagicEars

By Carley Clagg     Sep 4, 2018

Flexible, Interactive and Fun—Why This Teacher Made the Jump to Tutoring ESL Online

Before becoming a committed full-time online teacher, Abby Ward taught primary school in Ohio for almost six years.

Last spring, Ward watched a Facebook live video about teaching ESL online to Chinese students. She read about the experiences of other online teachers, who described the experience as “interactive” and the curriculum as “fun.” But it was the “immediate bookings, sick days, and cancellation policy that really persuaded me to apply,” she says.

Three weeks after submitting her online application to MagicEars, a Chinese ESL company, Ward taught her first class. Now three months into her new gig, Ward says, “I feel like I am more fun and a more interesting teacher.”

Ward says getting started teaching ESL online is easy; the application process is very straightforward. Here’s what it involves:

  • Submit an online application form
  • Schedule a live interview or record a demo class
  • Attend online training sessions
  • Teach a trial class
  • Pass the background check and sign a contract
  • Start teaching!

Training includes a group session that covers the basics, including how teachers new to ESL can avoid common mistakes. In follow up one-on-one sessions, teachers discuss the platform’s support features, practice sample greetings and games, and learn how to maintain vivid facial expressions and modulate their voice.

Teaching and learning ESL online; Source: MagicEars

Educators new to the experience may face a learning curve, says Ward. Early on, she found teaching Chinese students could at times be challenging. Barriers included cultural differences, a lack of familiarity with topics related to Chinese traditions like Tai Chi and Spring Festival, and the time zone gap.

What’s more, teaching online can be a very different experience from teaching offline. In the online classroom, for example, teachers are required to be highly animated. This includes using props—an umbrella when talking about the weather, for example, or a potato when discussing dinosaur eggs. To bolster their skills, online teachers employ TPR (Total Physical Response) to teach concepts, and pay close attention to their own variations in speech and facial expressions.

With MagicEars, specifically, teachers work with four online students in a class session at once. For educators who’ve tutored students one on one, the one to four experience can be a bit intimidating at first. “It took practice and planning to make sure I was reaching every student,” says Ward.

But Ward also believes that the one to four arrangement has clear benefits, creating a dynamic environment that’s more like an energetic group study session than a traditional tutoring appointment. Students have fun. Teachers are able to mix student pairings and nurture real-life conversations, which immerse students in the language and boost vocabulary.

“Learning is very much a social experience,” says Ward. “We learn from our peers, we observe and watch them model skills that we wish to master. But when students begin learning a new language, they sometimes go through a silent phase. They may not speak the new language at all,” she explains. “Instead, students are learning by watching, listening, and observing.” The four-student class supports this learning perfectly.

Ward’s experience has been so positive that this summer she took a leap and left her brick and mortar classroom. She now exclusively teaches ESL online for MagicEars, which recently announced it had raised $18 million from Asia’s largest investment company.

“This allows me to have a flexible schedule,” says Ward. “If I know my daughter has a special event coming up, I don't have to open teaching slots for that day. No more hassle of filling out paperwork and hoping my day off is approved. No need to create lesson plans, find a sub, or stress about how my class is going when I'm not there.”

Adds Ward, “being an online teacher has allowed me to pursue my passion for education—and be available for my family. It's the best of both worlds.”

What MagicEars Offers Teachers

  • A thorough training program, with multiple rounds of personalized feedback.
  • Class supervisors that provide teachers with ongoing feedback on time management, noise control, interaction with individual students and teaching methods, among other topics.
  • A teacher-friendly scheduling policy that understands the need for time off due to illness or other personal matters.
  • In depth workshops on diverse subjects conducted by veteran teachers. Topics include Ward’s workshop on how to correct student mistakes effectively, as well as one about tackling student misbehaviors such as yelling and hiding from the camera.
  • Teaching materials that are continually updated by a first-class research team to guarantee both accuracy and academic advancement.
  • Receptivity to teacher feedback and insights on the teaching material or process.

This video features educators sharing their experiences teaching for MagicEars.

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