How to Become an Online English Teacher as a Busy Mom
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This is a guest post by Dr. Valeria Lo lacono from symondresearch.com. In this post, she shares great advice for moms who want to teach English online so that they can work at home.
As a busy mom, working from home affords you many benefits and can include the chance to choose your own hours (flexible working) and being able to avoid wasted time commuting.
Finding work that offers such an opportunity is not always easy but one job that you might want to consider is acting as a flexible online teacher, teaching English as a foreign language.
1. What You Would Need to Start Teaching English Online
The first thing that most online English teaching companies require is that you are a native English speaker, generally meaning that you have a native British, American, Australia, New Zealand, or Canadian accent.
Secondly, some companies do ask that you have a university (college in America) degree but not all companies require this.
So do not stress if you never attended university.
To increase the income and quality of the work opportunities you do get, it can be worth getting a TEFL Certificate.
Do not be at all overwhelmed though by the idea of getting this certificate as you can do such a course by studying online and two weeks to four weeks of study will often be enough to pass the basic TEFL qualification.
The cost of such a certificate can quite easily be paid off with less than one week of work online once you do start teaching online.
The third and final key thing you will need is a computer with a webcam.
Most laptops, these days, of course, come with a built-in webcam and the chances are that you already have what you need in this respect.
If you do not have a built-in microphone, then you will also need a microphone or headset.
Ideally, you will also have a decent internet connection because you need a constant connection and one that can accommodate video without any form of delay.
2. How Does It Normally Work Teaching English Online?
Let’s assume you are working for one of the more flexible companies.
The scenario works whereby you log into the teaching system and you then look for availability for classes that you would be sure that you can be available for time-wise.
There are two main ways that you will connect with your students when it comes to doing the lesson.
The first option is Skype and this is software you can very easily download and it is extremely cheap to use.
Skype enables you to do video chats with other people provided you have a webcam either built into your computer or an external one you can plug into your computer.
The second way to do the lesson is via an online classroom.
Put simply, the company you work for will provide you with a login and password and you can pretty much login directly to the classroom and use your webcam and microphone to communicate with your students.
Sometimes, you will be teaching just one student 1-to-1.
You see them and they see you and you do the lesson.
Other times, you will be teaching in a virtual classroom.
So the students may all be in one classroom and viewing you on a large screen, or the students may be on their own computers and you see all of the students in small frames on your online class.
Do not worry about the technical side of this because it is really all quite easy once you get started!
3. Things to Consider and Common Questions
Do not make the mistake that so many others have made and get confused over the different time zones, when teaching online.
You might very well be based in the U.S. or UK and find yourself teaching a student/s in China, Korea or Japan, and so double-checking the correct times when you need to teach will be vital.
You have been warned! 🙂
You will also still want to look the part as an online teacher.
You can literally roll out of bed, flick your computer on, and be online teaching within a matter of minutes.
Consider though that you will want to look the part, meaning look professional on-screen.
As an online teacher, you will find that the rating you get from students will impact the number of opportunities you get to teach in the future and so looking professional can make a definite difference.
Do also consider the room or place you teach from.
In addition to presenting yourself professionally online, make sure that the background is also professional.
Remove that dirty laundry from the floor behind you and do not make the mistake of having a mirror in the background and then accidentally letting viewers see something they shouldn’t in another part of the room.
Additionally, you will want to consider your tax situation and keep a record of your income and expenses.
The great news is that doing this has become so much easier in recent years.
Make sure you have a PayPal account, for example, and you can produce any invoices through this system and you can also get paid into your PayPal account too.
If you also use PayPal for payments for your business, then you can easily print or generate monthly statements or download them for your accounts.
4. Some English Teaching Companies to Consider
The obvious question that you may ask as a busy mom is what flexibility these online teaching companies offer.
The answer is the requirements vary from company to company.
These are three companies you might want to start off considering and checking out:
VIPKID – is a great choice if you are from the USA or Canada.
This Chinese based company help to teach Chinese kids English and they are an established and well-known teaching platform.
They make their payments to your PayPal account and they normally ask that you have either a university (college in the U.S.) degree or a teaching qualification i.e. a TEFL.
Lingoda – is another great option and they hire teachers including those of you from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Much like VIPKID, Lingoda has a good reputation as an online employer for freelance teachers.
TwoSigmas – also teach Chinese students to learn English. You can teach up to 15 hours a week and they hire native English speakers.