Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Learning and distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you are interested in featuring her works in your blog, you can find her on Google+.
At first glance, becoming an online ESL teacher might seem like an odd way to do this. How can you connect with people when you’re not even in the same room? Are you really going to learn anything new when you’re teaching your native language?
But people who think this way don’t understand how online teaching works. Unlike 15 or even 10 years ago, lessons aren’t conducted just using email and written tests, or even recorded video where you lecture students using a static script and lesson plan. Online English language teachers today use video chat programs like Skype, integrate social media and other interactive tools, and have more ways and opportunities to connect with their students than many teachers in traditional brick and mortar institutions.
Here are just a few of the ways online learning makes that possible.
While some teachers conduct virtual “classrooms” with several students at once, many prefer to offer their services one-on-one. This means that they have more of a chance to connect with their pupil because their entire focus is on that
person for the time that they are with them. And students like the online one-on-one model more because it’s convenient and often cheaper than in-person classes.
Personalize the learning
There are a host of tools that you can make use of online to determine how your pupil learns best and tailor your lessons to fit their needs. For them, this likely means better grades and better learning; for you, this means getting to know them better.
It can be hard to go off script and really interact with your students in a personal way in a school setting, but if your “school” is your home office, you can use whatever techniques you want to engage them. If you have an artistic bent, why not draw pictures to use as flashcards? Or use your love of writing to craft a story for them in English and discuss it. And you can use anything the internet has to offer in your lessons – blogs, pictures, and videos are just the tip of the iceberg.
All of that is fine and good, but where does that whole bit about helping you to continue to learn and grow come in? Actually, it’s right in front of your face in a number of different ways.
Master new technologies
If you’re going to be teaching online, you’re going to have to become an expert at using new technologies. This could be as simple as learning how to Skype, but it could also mean you get to play around with things like social media, online language programs, recording video and audio, and any number of things that might find their way into your lessons.
Meet students around the world
Sure, there are things you can learn from the same 30 students in Minnesota, but imagine teaching someone from each continent. With the internet, it is not only possible, but highly likely that you will have students from around the world. While you’re teaching them English, you can also learn a lot about their cultures and backgrounds.
Have more time for hobbies and studies
Take a quick look around online and you’ll see stories from people all over talking about how they make $50 to $80 for each 40 minute online English session with a student. Make that kind of money on a regular basis and you can probably cut back on the hours you work and have more time to devote to learning about and doing the things you want to do.
Gain the freedom to travel
Online English lessons can be conducted from anywhere that you have internet access. That means that you can take that vacation to Europe you’ve always wanted and still be earning money. Or live like a digital nomad and travel the world, stopping only to offer your English lessons.
The best part about teaching English online is that you’ll find tons of people eager and ready to learn. English is still the language of business and media, and everyone is desperate to know it to better their chances in life. By becoming an online ESL teacher, you can become a part of that.