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Being an Online TEFL teacher – Graduate Story

Jen's story of being an online TEFL teacher and her plan to transition to some classroom work as well!

Thinking of being an online TEFL teacher? Want to know what the world of online TEFL teaching is like and the different opportunities it offers, such as travel and the ability to create your own schedule (e.g. part-time online teaching and part-time classroom teaching)? Then you need to hear from Jen, our amazing i-to-i graduate from the UK!

Jen really is really creative and forward thinking and she’s made a great success of her TEFL career so far. Want to know more about her and her future plans? Then keep reading!

 

Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, I’m Jen and I’m from Dublin originally! My best subjects in school, hands-down, were English and music, and this is what I put my main focus on in life. I began playing guitar at 14 and writing my own songs, singing and performing to whoever would listen!

 

What did you do before TEFL?

I moved to London after university, to pursue a career in music. While I was doing this, I worked in a string of hospitality jobs to support myself. Quite a few years later, I shifted my attention to dog walking and nannying, on a self-employed basis, which I really enjoyed! I worked out of a groomers’ in Hackney and loved having my own customers and building rapport with them. I feel like those early experiences paved the way for me in managing clients in a teaching setting later on.

I also think travelling helped prepare me for TEFL. In my late twenties I did some travelling in S.E Asia and lived in Bangkok for a year. I wasn’t yet qualified as a teacher but a few schools took a chance on me and I ended up teaching as a temp there for a few months. And I caught the teaching bug! Though it was mainly teaching out of a textbook and exam supervising, when I look back now I can’t help but have the ”if I knew then what I know now” feeling! A TEFL qualification would have made life so much easier and I would have been able to do a lot more!

While based in Bangkok I continued to work as a dog walker/sitter for the expat families there and, of course, continued working on music! Unbeknownst to me there was a thriving blues and jazz scene there which made me very happy indeed! I formed a cracking band with some of the guys I had met through singing standards at these nights, and recorded an E.P based on songs I had written while travelling. Though life in Bangkok was at times challenging for a single woman, it was one of my best experiences to date. I made some amazing friends!

 

What made you decide to TEFL?

Admittedly, I’d wanted to TEFL for years before I finally had the time I needed in order to apply myself. With the arrival of the pandemic I went from a full-time chef assistant job in a kitchen to being furloughed and stuck at home. This provided me with the opportunity to follow through on my TEFL dreams!

After living in London for years, which is such a multicultural melting pot, I guess I was ‘playing teacher’ all the time with friends and housemates from all over the globe! Something I really enjoyed doing. My Italian roommate, who was like a sister to me, thanked me for helping her with her level of English, and gave me the title, ‘Irish radio station’. I guess she was my first student really! And we still keep in touch now, 7 years later!

 

What course did you pick and why did you decide that was the right one for you?

It felt like an age since I had studied anything, so I picked the Level 5 260 hour combined TEFL course. I wanted to challenge myself academically and I knew the feedback from the course would prove very valuable to me later on.

 

How did you find the course?

As I expected, I found the course quite challenging, but it’s also very thorough in the way i-to-i teach you how to teach! I am very thankful I had, what felt like, all the time in the world to do it. As time stood still with COVID, it felt like a real blessing to be able to focus on the course!

I spent quite some time on the assignments and found them very beneficial when creating my own lesson plans later on. All in all the course was really enjoyable and informative! The support from the i-to-i team was very encouraging and it felt like they had my back throughout the whole process.

 

What made you decide to apply for online TEFL roles?

Like any graduate, I was faced with the conundrum of ‘what do I do now’? Online teaching seemed like the right option, with the pandemic still going on.

 

Teaching online guide

How are you finding online teaching? What are your favourite aspects and what are some of the challenges?

So first off I spent a few months teaching kids from China online. This was a great starting point as kids are good fun and, despite years of performing, I suffered some anxiety at first being on screen! So, it was easier to start off with young children! Those initial few months definitely helped me find my teacher persona. Then, after that, I found a job with Profy through the TEFL jobs board. I was nervous about teaching adults but knew it was what I would find the most rewarding and what would be the best use of my skills. Working with Profy has been really positive experience so far. The students are mainly South American and we get on like a house on fire! I love my job.

Online teaching does have it’s challenges though. Going from people facing roles to 24/7 to desk work was a noticeable transition for me. The students make it worthwhile though and I look forward to seeing their faces each day, and seeing them progress to new levels. (Sounds slightly maternal, right?!) As travel is beginning to be an option on the horizon again, being autonomous with holidays is a plus too! The idea that I can travel or live almost anywhere in the world, while doing what I’m doing, is really special for me.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons!

 

We hear you’re moving from the UK to Lisbon – congrats! What made you decide to make the move?

After beginning my TEFL journey online and teaching from my flat in Bristol, I decided to relocate to Lisbon in the New Year and look for a job in a language school as well. When I’m there, I’ll do 50/50, teaching my online students 50% of the time and teaching in a classroom the other 50%, and hopefully getting the best of both worlds!

Lisbon also seems like such a cool place, full of history and with a thriving expat community. A great balance of the old and the new. Having family there also made it a no brainer when deciding what city to grow roots in! When I’m not teaching I’m mostly looking forward to spending more time outdoors, doing some travelling, and spending time with family.

 

What made you decide to start classroom teaching as well?

The idea of teaching part-time in a classroom again is really exciting! I’m looking forward to doing group activities, and getting to use more TPR and being a bit silly when drilling vocab or a grammar point, as you have more space to express yourself. As a kinesthetic learner myself, I can definitely relate to this kind of teaching style the most. Down the line, I’m also hoping to incorporate some singing and music into lessons, as I think it would create a great classroom environment and help the students to engage better!

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Want to find out more about Jen and her music? Check out her Bandcamp profile here or watch her YouTube video!  You can also email her at: [email protected] or visit her Preply profile if you have any TEFL questions, she’s happy for aspiring TEFL teachers to get in touch!

Feeling inspired and ready to become an online TEFL teacher yourself, but need to get qualified first? No worries! Arrange for a free call back with one of our TEFL experts, and they will be happy to talk you through your options. You could also take our free course matching quiz to see which course is your perfect fit.

Already qualified and ready to look for online teaching jobs? Check out the amazing range available on the LoveTEFL jobs board. And our brilliant jobs team, headed by Jordan, are always on hand if you need any help with your application!

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