My Story: Real Experiences as an Online English Teacher
Why I Began Teaching English Online
It was my partner’s idea.
In 2014, I was a part-time adjunct professor and I taught after-school programming at primary schools. I managed pods of students for after-school homework help, too: I ran art classes for the local Mother’s Association. I was running from job to job and exhausted; however, I loved teaching and loved my life.
My partner did not love our life too much. He was stuck at home with our new baby. Often, he was with our baby from 7 AM until 8 PM. I did not earn enough to afford daycare, and my child’s dad did not have a career. I earned more than he did and I had a solid CV. I was on a teaching career track that I was very passionate about.
Teaching English Online is a Great Stay-At-Home Job
I Needed a Work-from-Home Job
My partner begged me to quit my job and consider teaching English online and working from home instead. I had taught E.S.L classes for private academies and nonprofits in the past, and I taught art and literacy classes and led reading programs for years, so I was more than qualified.
But, I resisted. I thought it would be a downgrade. I thought it wasn’t as “serious” or prestigious as running classrooms or lecturing college classes.
Eventually, my stay-at-home partner had a breakdown. He couldn’t be a full-time house-dad anymore. I needed a way to work and support us while also being home with my baby. So, my dad stayed with me for a few days and watched my daughter while I interviewed for some online companies. I got hired, and then I was on my own! I juggled teaching English online from home before my daughter woke up, and then single-parented her.
It was hard.
But, after a while, I built up steady classes and found my groove. I worked full-time and earned less than before, but not that much less. The newfound time with my daughter was lovely. I lived on a tiny liveaboard so I could live very cheaply and put aside money each month, even on remote teacher pay.
Eventually, my partner’s mental health recovered and he joined me. I decided to continue working from home and we shared childcare. We were both happy, but I assumed it would be a temporary shift until my daughter was old enough for kindergarten. Then, I told myself, I could return to teaching in classrooms.
The Pandemic Caused a Shift to Online Teaching
And then the Coronavirus Pandemic Happened
But when my daughter aged into the public school system, the Covid pandemic spread across the globe.
WOW, was I grateful to teach from home! By that point, I was working full-time and had shifted from various companies until I had the best fit for me. I had regular students that felt like family. I had perfected my lesson plans. Teaching English from home was ideal during the pandemic because our family could isolate at home easily.
The news continued to discuss the shift to online teaching and there were nonstop articles debating whether or not remote teaching was inadequate or inferior.
Is Remote Learning Inferior?
Of course not. Learning online is neither inferior nor superior to in-classroom learning, despite the handwringing of so many parents, politicians, and administrators during the coronavirus. My experiences as an online English teacher showed me that online learning is a great fit for some students. Online classes allow some students to thrive in a way the classroom does not. For others, a classroom with peers is more engaging.
However, teachers need the training to be great online teachers. You cannot teach online the way you teach in a classroom. It is a different skill set and any attempt to simply shift a classroom teacher to a virtual classroom without proper guidance and training will fail.
Why Teach English Online?
The best parts: My experience as an online English teacher
It lets you travel the world
You can work from home (which is great for juggling young children, too)
Teaching ESL online gives you flexibility and let’s ditch the 9-5 workday. You can book classes when you want, and sometimes even cancel ahead of time when you want (though, usually this is bad practice.)
It lets you work for yourself. You can work for ESL companies but you can also work for yourself and teach English. You can build your own business, charge your own rates, and be your own boss.
You can meet new people and learn about new cultures. I have made good friends from teaching online, especially adult students.
Teaching ESL online helps you learn more about linguistics and your own language. The greatest way to learn about a topic is to teach it. I understand and appreciate languages much more now that I teach them to others. For example, teaching students voiced and unvoiced consonants made me aware of my vocal cords while speaking and transformed my awareness of the /th/ sound.
And finally, but not least, it’s just plain fun. You can share your joy with others.
Bottom Line: Online teaching is valuable to teachers and students, but we need to empower and train online teachers to give students stellar learning experiences.
To read more about my experiences, check out these posts below.
- Certification: TEFL, TESOL, CELTA
- Best online English teaching jobs in 2023
- Teach English Online for Free
- About Me
- ESL Jobs Hiring
- Live cheaply, teach English while living on a boat
Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.-Rumi