5 Insider Tips for Online English Teaching Success
From a beach in the tropics to a mountaintop chateau, from a country villa to the comfort of your own home, nowadays you can earn no matter where in the world you want to be through teaching English online.
Whether you are an experienced teacher or new to this field, there are some simple steps and strategies you can use to maximize the enjoyment and profit you gain from this earning opportunity.
Tip #1: Use a Quality Headset
While you might typically rely on your computer microphone and speaker when chatting online, you will have much better results using a quality headset. These devices reduce background noise and improve speech clarity. And that’s why most online tutoring companies require you to use them during lessons.
Features to look for in a good headset include:
- Adjustable microphone position
- Noise-canceling microphone
- Comfortable ear pods and head padding
- Volume and mute controls
- Compatibility with Skype, Windows Live, Yahoo, MSN (particularly in wireless Bluetooth models)
Tip #2: Use the Fastest Internet Connection You Can Get
Your internet connection speed will get tested by online companies before you are offered a contract. If you don’t meet their minimum requirements—no contract. Digital subscriber line (DSL) internet is the slowest. Cable internet is better, with fiber optic internet service being the fastest.
Be prepared to change your internet service provider (ISP) if an upgrade in service is needed. Higher-caliber online English schools have minimum internet speed requirements of 10 megabits per second (Mbps). Be sure to check yours before applying to a school.
Find out what your existing connection parameters are with a speed check at speedtest.net.
Tip #3: Consider Using a UPS
If you live in an area where frequent storms or heavy weather can persist, consider using an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). If you are subject to power outages, brown-outs or fluctuations in the electrical power supply, a UPS can help prevent missed classes. Chinese companies, in particular, are notoriously unforgiving of dropped classes. So having a strong, immediate power backup could mean the difference between keeping and losing your online teaching contract.
Tip #4: Use a Magnetic Dry Erase Board With Colored Markers
Not all improvements need to be technical. A dry erase board using erasable markers can do wonders in helping illustrate a speaking or grammar point. Place your board in the background where learners can read it and write out your notations using varied colors to highlight key words. You could also use a handheld board while sitting.
Magnetic erase boards, which are more expensive, have an added benefit in that you can purchase magnet-backed letters, numbers, animals, and other figures to use with them. These can be particularly helpful when teaching elementary school students. You can easily purchase these boards online, with typical sizes and prices ranging from 10 x 10 inches to 96 x 48 inches and $12 to $190, respectively.
Tip #5: Use Toys
An extensive array of colorful handheld items can prove to be invaluable for teaching online. If you’re teaching young, shy learners, try hand or finger puppets and toy stuffed animals to stimulate conversations. Stackable blocks, Legos, letters, numbers, and cutouts of varying sizes, shapes, and colors also grab young learners’ attention.
It can also be fun and educational to play games with your students. Options like checkers, Parcheesi, and snakes and ladders are good choices and are commonly available on magnetic boards.
With nearly 2 billion eager English learners waiting for classes, the opportunities in the online English teaching space are virtually endless. By using these five tips to help fine-tune your equipment and teaching strategies, you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting top English teaching contracts that can keep you earning no matter where you are.
Written by Larry M. Lynch