Virtual Education: Your Comprehensive Guide To Becoming An ESL Online Teacher
It is said that education is a never-ending process and that it is not meant to be bound by any physical constraint whatsoever. In the past, you need to leave your house and be present in your classroom so you can have that student-teacher engagement. But those days are yesterday’s news because teaching methods are revolutionized these days in a manner where you can just learn or teach at home.
What you’ll learn here:
- The importance of online teaching
- Qualifications for becoming an online teacher
- Basic equipment needed for online teaching
- Most creative online teaching strategies
- How much you’ll earn and how to apply
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has reported that for the last decade, there has been a steady increase of online schools particularly in K-12 programs. Furthermore, with the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for online teaching methods has also increased significantly.
Armed with this knowledge, you should consider being an online teacher if you have the willingness and the skills. There is a very high demand for ESL (English Second Language) teachers today and it should be something to look out for.
What is the importance of online teaching?
The following points are just no-brainers that can almost be figured out without saying. However, let me re-emphasize them to you anyway:
It offers unparalleled flexibility and convenience – Your students don’t need to travel to get to you, and you don’t get to travel to get to them, how cool is that? Another cool thing about it is that you can get to modify and customize your methods in unlimited ways.
It’s more cost-effective than traditional teaching – You, as well as your students, don’t need to pay for commuting fare, food, and other expenses. It can really cut down the spending habits for both the giving and receiving parties.
It is the future of education – Since many of our day-to-day dealings are now revolutionized by online technologies, the process of learning didn’t get exempted from it. Online learning is now one of the hottest trends and will most likely remain to be that way for the coming generations.
What are the qualifications for becoming an online ESL teacher?
A college degree – Although some companies allow someone to teach even without a college degree, not too many sites offer such a privilege. In order for you to be an online teacher, a 4-year education or greater than that is generally required.
A list of online companies that hire teachers without a college degree will be given a little later.
Good communication skills – Be it English or whatever, it is important that a teacher must be a good communicator. How else would you teach your students if you can’t get your point across? If you are already capable of speaking English fluently, then you can easily land a spot on this job. If you don’t have the skill yet, there will always be room and ample time for practice.
You must not be lower than 18 – Of course, who’s gonna take you seriously if you’re a 17-year old who babbles about handling a class? Even some youngsters in their early 20’s might find it hard to be believable in this aspect, so being in the legal age bracket is really important.
As for the age limit, there is no such thing in this profession.
“Even though people in their 60’s are mostly pushed into retirement in typical workplaces, the avenue of online teaching doesn’t really have that rule.”
Those are the easy qualifications, now for the harder ones. Online or not, a good teacher, must personify these traits:
Having a rock-solid confidence – If you teach, you will be shaping someone else’s mindset. Can you do that if you’re not confident enough with what is it that you do? You can’t. If you’re the shy type kind of educator, then you should consider finding a different job. Reluctant mentors are never fit to be mentors. If you want to be an effective teacher, build that confidence of yours, and solidify it to rock-solid hardness.
Being clothed with overflowing patience – Apart from having an impregnable fortress of confidence, you must have a never-ending stream of patience. All qualifications, all professional skills amount to nothing, if you don’t have patience in enriching the minds of those who want to learn from you. For the sake of your students, for the company you work for, and for yourself, invest in a best friend with the name “patience.”
Being a good listener – Although you will mostly do the talking, you need to allow your students to have some moments in which they can talk about themselves: what they do, and what are the stuff they’re interested in. This can help you build trust and confidence among each other. This can also make the kids think that your status is not that far from where they are and that they can attain your level someday.
What are the basic equipment needed for online teaching?
Saying that you should own a computer should go without saying already. In addition to a laptop or a desktop with standard specifications, you also need to invest in the following:
A learning-conducive area
Yes, it’s a virtual job. Your students wouldn’t be physically present with you where you’ll be working. But still, you need an area that can serve as your virtual classroom where you can work without distractions. It doesn’t need to be soundproof, just set it up in a manner where noise from the outside world can’t penetrate at high levels.
Depending on the company that hires you, they may require you to set up a certain background like a white cloth, a large painting depicting nature, or some kid-friendly caricatures on your desk. Whatever they may require, you have to come up with a setting that channels positive thoughts about learning.
Camera and headphones
In addition to your computer and internet connection which are by default, an online worker’s primary weapons, you need a device that can capture your face and a device that can transmit your voice so it can be heard by the learners. Thus, you need a camera and a headphone.
Although high-definition cameras and cinematic headphones can give you more satisfaction, they are not really a requirement. Some online teachers prefer to use headphones with microphones that feature noise-cancellation. But then, if your room is already shielded from outside noise, then a typical headphone should be good enough.
A stable internet connection
One of the very important factors that can either make or break your hopes of becoming an online teacher is the speed of your internet connection. You might have superb computer equipment, but with poor web connectivity, you might as well kiss your dream goodbye.
In order to teach in a truly seamless manner, you have to procure a wired internet connection. WiFi connectivity may have a strong appeal on other online jobs, but with online teaching, it’s really an indicator that you’re not equipped enough. A speed of 3 Mbps download speed is commonly enough.
A reliable backup power system
Some might view this as optional, but since power outage problems could occur unpredictably, it would be good for your equipment to be plugged into an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS).
This is to make sure that you can still continue with your class even if the power runs out, and that you can still have the time to notify your students that your class needs to be halted due to some power interruptions. Most online teaching companies are very strict with this policy. Many of them are even known to fire employees just for occasional power outages. Apparently, they view such a scenario as just a cheap excuse.
If you hope to have a profitable online teaching career, invest in a reliable UPS or an array of powerbank chargers.
What are the most creative online teaching strategies?
To solidify your teaching craft even more, you have to make sure that you involve the following in your online classes:
Conducting physical activities
Who says you can’t get physical in an online class? Is there ever a rule that prohibits a virtual teacher to urge their students to engage in bodily activities?
To make your internet session more engaging and more interactive, learn a few dance moves and mimic some action songs from famous kiddie TV shows. Integrate them into your teaching strategies and you will surely be a memorable character for your students even when they become full-grown adults!
Invoking intellectual challenges
Here’s an interesting quote about education:
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”– Socrates
I’m sure you wouldn’t dare question the wisdom of Socrates, one of the big 3 along with Plato and Aristotle in the realm of Philosophy. If we are to take those words of his with great seriousness, then we have to consider the technique of giving mental challenges to your students online.
At every beginning or end of a class, cite a riddle or any thought-provoking question to your students. It will surely be an element of the best online sessions ever.
Providing related trivia
In online teaching, the mindsets and cultural upbringing of your students could come in great varieties. Such a reality could establish gaps and barriers that could become big problems eventually.
As a remedy, you have to provide some trivia or tiny bits of information that they could relate to, in accordance with their culture and way of life. No matter how far away you get from talking about other things, you can always find ways to reconnect them to your main topic.
If your student is a resident of a certain country, you need to do some additional research about what the kids of that country are into at present.
This is an additional burden on your part. But since it is your aim to be great at this job prospect, then condition your mind into doing it too.
Next is the most important question.
How much can you possibly earn as an online teacher?
Your possible earnings really just depend on how many classes you can conduct each day. So far, the lowest known rate is $10 per hour. The highest rates are known to be around $40. With online teaching, you can pick your schedule and the number of hours that you want to render, so you can just calculate your possible earnings based on your own projections.
What are the usual steps that an online teacher applicant must undergo?
Now, let’s talk about the application process. It still contains the typical drill which always goes like this: resume submission > initial interview > final interview.
Interviews could be done first by phone, then later via a video call, or it could just be both video calls. Whatever the methods that are to be used, you need to be ready for either.
During the interview process, you don’t need to worry about a lot of stuff. You don’t even need to do a lot of research. All you need to be ready for is yourself, and that mixture of communication skills and confidence that we talked about earlier.
Common questions include: “Tell me about yourself” and “Of all the online teaching companies that you’ve heard of, why did you choose (name of the company)?” With a little exception to the second question, you don’t really need to do much research, do you?
In addition to interviews, there will be an equipment test in which some technical staff will unleash a kind of software within your computer so that its specifications and capabilities can be checked. Such a check will create a report about your computer’s RAM size, CPU speed, and internet speed. Once the system requirements are met, you will have a higher chance of getting hired, although your communication skills and attitude are really what they’re after.
Here’s a list of companies where you could try your luck. It’s categorized into Japanese, Korean, and Chinese Students.
Go ahead, teach! Be what the young and the young at heart need in this digital generation. Be heroic, be becoming an online ESL teacher!
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