This Earning Opportunity Lets You Explore the World From Home

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on October 16, 2020 in Make Money

After moving to Germany, I spent a lot of time investigating job opportunities for native English speakers. The one that kept coming up was teaching English. So I decided to enroll in an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification course and try my luck. 

Within one week of completing my course, I had secured two interviews at private language schools. Neither were too fazed by my lack of classroom experience, with both offering me trial lessons the following week. 

Not long after, I was working around 30 hours a week between the two schools. The pay varied between $20 and $30 per 45-minute class based on the number of students and how far I had to travel. I worked with children as young as three, adults in their 60s, businesspeople at banks, and teenagers cramming for exams.

However, when COVID-19 hit, most of my face-to-face classes were canceled. So I looked elsewhere and discovered the massive world of online teaching. 

I signed up to be a teacher with SayABC, an online platform built specifically for elementary school students in China. To teach on the platform, you need to have a university degree and a TEFL teaching certificate, but once you are accepted it’s easy to get started. The entire curriculum is pre-loaded in the virtual classrooms, so your job is to make it as engaging and interactive as possible using props and lots of gesturing. The pay is $13 to $15 per class, plus $4 in bonuses for regular attendance.

I also signed up to be an English tutor with Cambly. More akin to a conversation club than an online school, Cambly helps English learners improve their speaking skills through regular chats with native English speakers from around the globe. And best of all, you don’t need a qualification to join. The pay rate is not as high at $10.70 per hour, but the work is 100% flexible and you can sign up for as many or as few hours as you want.

I’ve found that teaching English is an incredible antidote for the current travel restrictions, as you get to meet people from all around the world, chat about their day-to-day lives, and feel a sense of connection during this crazy period.

In just one evening, I was matched with Mohammed, a doctor in Saudi Arabia who was able to tell me all about the local healthcare system; three giggly sisters in Colombia who wanted to know how they can improve their accents; and a savvy businesswoman in the Ukraine, who chatted with me about how LinkedIn helped her grow her business.

One of the things I love most about teaching English is the intimate way you get to know people. You learn quickly that the best way to get even the shyest of students to open up is by asking them to talk about themselves. Everyone has a family, favorite holidays, pets, food, hobbies, and dreams, so by focusing on these things, it gives students more chances to talk and improve their English. In return, you get to know about people, cultures, and destinations in a way that you often don’t when you’re a traveler.

In English-speaking countries, learning a language in school is more about ticking a box than attaining fluency. But when you’re teaching English, it’s a very different proposition. With English being the lingua franca of global business and culture, for the majority of English students learning it is the quickest way to improve their job prospects later in life. This means they are committed and they put a lot of pressure on themselves, and you as the teacher. 

But it also means that you have the chance to really make a difference in someone’s life. If you can find a way to inspire a student to keep learning, to give them confidence in their abilities, and to make your lessons fun and engaging, you will find English teaching a truly rewarding and satisfying way to earn.

By Kathryn Barber