Nowadays, almost everything can be done at the click of a button. Whether it be keeping in touch with friends near or far, or shopping online for groceries or other essential items, it sometimes feels as though everything in life can be accessed digitally.
With this in mind, it pays to think outside the box when contemplating how to make a living in this digitised era. Although many people do still enjoy going to their 9 to 5 jobs, more and more individuals are weighing up the benefits of starting their own business online. And now is the best time to do so, with it being easier than ever to get started, and a whole world of potential customers just waiting to begin on this learning journey.
In fact, children globally are looking to English as a means of increasing their employability in their adult lives, or as a mechanism to enable them to travel, study or work abroad successfully later in their lives. Fortunately, kids do tend to be able to absorb and apply more language learning principles if they get the opportunity to study at a younger age.
Thus, one such career that lends itself extremely well to the advantages of the online market is that of ESL (or English as a Second Language), with billions of students from as far afield as China considering the benefits of learning English online. So, below are some easy-to-follow hints and tips about getting started as an ESL teacher online, for both the short term and long term.
What's in this guide?
What is an online ESL teacher?
Put simply, an online ESL teacher is a speaker of English (either of native or near-native standing), who offers classes to individuals or groups through an online video or audio platform. These lessons can vary in size, from a quick 15-minute top-up, all the way through to classes that can last for a couple of hours. It all really depends on the wishes and needs of the students themselves, as well as the preferences of the ESL instructor in question.
Lessons can also vary by topic, with some focusing explicitly on some of the core aspects of English grammar, whereas others might be more gravitated towards colloquial elements of everyday speech, such as slang or local idioms. These are typically facets that can either be negotiated between the ESL teacher and student themselves, or as part of a planned course that the online ESL teacher has prepared on their own.
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What does an online ESL teacher need to get started?
As with any profession worth its salt, it is essential to get qualified before becoming an online ESL teacher. To begin with, there are guides on building an ESL teacher portfolio easily and readily available, though it is usually best to go back to basics and study an entire course run by ESL experts.
These programs are designed by ESL pros who understand the finer details of all the issues that come up in a typical lesson, from the kinds of queries learners may have, all the way up to what kind of resources the ESL tutor should utilise. What is more, these courses are a perfect platform to refresh the fundamentals of English syntax and usage, meaning that any and all advice that is given during a class is both accurate and up to date.
Where can online ESL students be found?
As with almost everything else in contemporary life, social media can be leveraged to find students who are looking for the right ESL teacher. This could take the form of making posts on social media platforms, such as videos or photo posts that catch the eye of potential learners.
Alternatively, there are many groups that exist on these social media platforms, with the specific intent of gaining further knowledge in English. By reaching out to students via these channels, an online ESL teacher might just find a new market to teach to.
Another fantastic source of online ESL learners is through word of mouth. Many students are often delighted to recommend a positive teaching experience to their friends and family, which can create a wonderful continuous revenue stream for the online ESL instructor.
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How can an online ESL teacher grow?
As with any other industry, there are basically two ways in which an online ESL tutor can make more money. The first one is to make more money, either by teaching more lessons or by charging higher prices. Each of these though does carry some additional risk to them.
If an online ESL instructor decides to take on more work, this also increases other elements that take time, from additional lesson planning time to more moments spent marking homework and evaluating progress, perhaps in the form of writing report cards or speaking with parents about their child’s learning growth.
By contrast, the danger in upping prices is obvious, namely that some students could opt to go elsewhere where the rates are more affordable. On top of that, many learners can place greater expectations on their tutor for the extra cost, putting a greater stress on the online ESL teacher to deliver an even higher level of performance in the classes.
Another form of growth is to reduce expenditure, in the form of paying less money for advertising slots or even choosing to go without an administrative support team. These costs can sometimes rack up over time, especially during leaner periods of the year where there are less classes. By cutting down on the fixed costs, an online ESL teacher may well need to teach lessons during the day in order to make money.
However, the caveat here is that this could mean that there is less likelihood of attracting new students, or an upsurge in the amount of work that the online ESL teacher has to do themselves. This extra energy expenditure might actually burnout to arrive faster, but does come with the upside that it gives the online ESL tutor a chance to become more versatile and skilled in a broader range of areas.