How to teach English online to Chinese students

As one of the biggest TEFL markets in the world, China has a huge demand for online English tutors. But how do you teach English online to Chinese students? Carry on reading to find out…

Become TEFL qualified

To teach English online to Chinese students you’ll firstly need to be TEFL qualified. This means that you’ve studied an accredited TEFL certification with a reputable company just like us! But why is this necessary? Becoming TEFL qualified proves to students and employers that you’ve gained all the necessary skills needed to be an amazing online English teacher. Plus, it shows that you’re hardworking, dedicated, and serious about your role.

Apply to online companies that teach Chinese students

It may sound pretty obvious but it’s a detail that slips many teacher’s minds. If you’re looking to teach Chinese students online, you’ll need to apply to specific companies. VIPKids, QKids, MagicEars, SayABC, and BOXFish are a great place to start when looking for your perfect online TEFL job. Not only do they have a fantastic pool of Chinese students, but they’ll also provide you with specific teaching methodologies. Plus, they’ll offer a competitive salary as well as pre-made lesson plans – winner!

Factor in the time difference

When teaching English online to Chinese students you definitely need to factor in the time difference. Depending on where you live in the world, you might be expected to work mornings, evenings, and even weekends. Chinese students tend to study English online as an extra-curricular activity, so you’ll need to be flexible with your schedule! However, as most companies have a minimum teaching requirement of 10 hours per week, you’ll still have plenty of time to yourself – yes please!

female teacher teaching English to Chinese students online

Create your virtual classroom

To kickstart your career teaching English online to Chinese students, you’ll need to create a virtual classroom. Whether it’s the corner of your flat or your parent’s spare bedroom, it’s important to have a dedicated workspace. You’ll usually be teaching young learners, so you’ll need backdrops, props, and a strong internet connection. Teaching online can be pretty tricky so try and avoid as many distractions as possible especially when teaching children. Younger students tend to have short attention spans so make sure your virtual classroom is fun, welcoming, and exciting.

Most online teachers experience technical issues during their lessons so don’t be put off if you’re ever in a similar position! To avoid the oncoming stress fest, make sure that you have a backup device that you can stream your lessons from. Not only will this save you from panicking, but it will also prove to parents that you’re a reliable teacher.

Plan your lessons

Like with any online English lesson, planning is key when teaching Chinese students. Although some online teaching platforms provide you with pre-made lesson plans, not all companies do. So, it’s worth having a couple of trustworthy lessons up your sleeve to fall back on in case of an emergency. These can be pretty short and easy to adapt to your individual students’ needs – amazing! The majority of your students will be young learners so make sure your activities are short, interactive, and engaging. For a 20-minute lesson, you should aim to get through 3-4 activities. This can include songs, games, and learning tongue twisters. To benchmark how long your activities should be, why not use a timer on your phone? This will help indicate when it’s time to move on to the next part of your lesson.

Memorising is an integral part of Chinese teaching methods so try and use props and flashcards where possible to teach vocabulary. Not only will these help with repetition, but they’ll also help with pronunciation. This is super important as Chinese and English phonetic systems are completely different, so you want to teach your students correct pronunciation from a young age.

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Know your students

Tailoring your lessons is so much easier when you know your students. From hobbies and interests to what they’re learning in school, it’s important to know a little bit about each and every one of them. One of the best ways to keep your students motivated is by taking an interest in their lives and asking about their likes and dislikes. Older Chinese students may be wary of you so try and build a relationship with them as soon as you can.

You’ll mainly be teaching English to younger Chinese students; but, you might be expected to teach business people too. Due to China’s emerging economy, business is often conducted in English. As a result, adult learners are turning to online English lessons to improve their chances of getting a job. Teaching business English is a lucrative market so if you prefer working with older students we would highly recommend! Just make sure you’re fully trained in teaching business English and are ready to adapt your online lesson plan approach. Download our How to teach Business English Guide to find out more!

Reward and praise your students

‘Losing face’ is a huge part of Chinese culture so try and praise your students as much as possible. They often worry about getting things wrong and looking silly in front of their peers and teachers. The best way to deal with this is by letting them down gently and giving them nudges of encouragement every now and again. From virtual gold stars to thumbs up, Chinese students love rewards, so try and incorporate them into your online lessons where possible – we promise it’ll be worth it!

Good luck and happy TEFLing!


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