So, like many others, I had my year all planned out. Moving to China for a year to teach English to school children, before COVID-19 struck and put a stop to all my plans! So, I pulled forward my online teaching journey and here we are!
Getting TEFL qualified
I completed my Level 5 TEFL qualification in November 2019 with i-to-i. After working in accounts for the last few years, I decided I wanted a change of career and wanted to combine teaching with my love of travel! I chose the Level 5 200 Hour Combined TEFL Course as I don’t have a degree and knew this would give me a good starting point for my TEFL career.
Finding a TEFL job
After completing the course, I searched for jobs around the world and was offered a teaching position at a school in Guangzhou in China! So, I set about planning my big adventure, getting all the paperwork, flights and legal stuff sorted, only for COVID-19 to put a sharp halt to everything a month before I was due to fly out!
What I did next
Luckily, I had already started with an amazing charity teaching online in January, so I was able to continue building my experience whilst looking for paid teaching work online. I would really recommend looking for any volunteer teaching opportunities if you are new to the TEFL world! Whether its online or face to face (when it is safe to do so!). It’s a great way to meet people, learn, and build up your teaching hours. I found Paper Airplanes through LoveTEFL, i-to-i’s sister company and they’re an amazing charity helping students from the MENA region, particularly in Syria, learn and improve their English skills. The lessons are already prepared and follow a course plan for each term. Full training is given around the background of the students and the difficulties they face and the possible impact on lessons. It is great to see the student’s improvement week on week, and know you are helping them to progress with either their school or work careers.
Getting paid to teach English online
In March I signed up to Palfish – a Chinese based teaching app, teaching children aged 3-12 English in 25 minute 1-2-1 sessions. Lessons are fun and high energy, especially keeping the younger children engaged for the full 25 minutes! I use lots of props, TPR, toys and rewards to help alongside the lesson material. Children love the in-app filters and the toys as well. This is a great platform, and one where you do not need a degree! You can teach when its best for you and set your own hours. Again, lesson material and full training is provided so you can just concentrate on providing the best lesson possible to the students!
Freelancing as an online English tutor
Along with Paper Airplanes & Palfish, I started teaching online English classes direct through my own website. I teach both 1-2-1 classes and small groups with people from around the world who want to learn or improve their English. I love teaching people of all ages and hearing their different reasons for wanting to learn English. I provide bespoke lessons tailored around the needs of each student, so the lesson material is always fresh and relevant. It is a great way to build relationships and learn about other countries and cultures at the same time. It was quite scary to go freelance at the start, however it is a great learning curve and gives you the opportunity to teach students around the world, from the comfort of your own home!
I am only a few months in on my teaching journey, but I love speaking to each student and planning each lesson around their needs and making sure the lesson content is fun and interactive. I want my students to feel relaxed in their lessons and to enjoy their learning experience. It is great to see improvements week on week and see the students thrive in the (online) classroom!
Follow Catherine’s journey
If you’re interested in following Catherine’s journey teaching English online and beyond, check out her website or give her a follow on Instagram, she shares heaps of helpful teaching resources and info across both!