Aside from its marvelous tourist destinations and its outstanding hospitality, Filipinos have been known to possess one characteristic that make them different from the rest of the countries in Asia – the ability of almost the entirety of its population to use and understand the English language especially in social settings where it involves interacting with foreign visitors may they be Americans or even Europeans.
The point raised above is perhaps one factor that companies from all over the world flock to the Philippines physically and virtually to look for Filipino teachers for possible ventures in the field of education and English as Second Language (ESL) schools. Furthermore, most of these companies are from first world, developed countries which goals are to expand companies and open to international market. How? By learning the global language that is English.
The job market in the Philippines particularly for some industries has been booming since the start of the century especially with the rise of BPOs. However, this golden era in call center careers requires one to have the perfect health, physically and mentally to be able to keep up with the pace of the work environment. In short, call center work is not for everyone, especially for mothers who wish to earn additional income while still being able to care for their children. In addition, students cannot easily commit to a career in BPO since it requires demanding effort and work hours that may result in a conflict with their schedules. However, there is one solution for both types of aspiring workers: teaching online, from the comfort of their homes.
We have summarized steps to help you start your career as an online English teacher.
1. Establish your credentials
Since your goal is to work and teach foreign language learners, you have to develop a reliable credential that your potential students can look at. However, if you are not an English major or has no related training in the aspect of teaching, don’t panic.
Most of the online teachers that I know are either a graduate of a 4-year course or even a student still trying to earn a degree in a field that is not entirely related to English. The most important thing is that, one should have knowledge of the language and the right attitude to teach. In fact, it is helpful if you are from a different field with a good familiarity of the language, since most students belong to the working class. Relating similar experiences and creating a way to teach English can be considered an advantage.
For instance, any business major has an advantage is teaching English to businessmen. In fact, Business English teachers, for instance, receive higher pay than regular online teachers whose only background is teaching.
Another example is if you are in the field of Tourism/Travel. Thousands of students learn English not because they have to use it at work, rather, it is important for them to be able to acquire this global language especially if they travel often. English in the setting of travelling can be challenging, and your related degree could make it easier for these learners to absorb what they are taught.
However, one important step that you should not ignore is to try and learn on your own by researching or reading about teaching tips and learning the tricks of the trade.
2. Create your online portfolio
If you are not planning to join any online ESL company soon and will just try to start a freelance teaching gig, it is important to establish your online presence. Creating a blog designed to attract foreign students like Japanese or Koreans, is the most effective way to start.
Included in the blog should be the most important information such as details of your educational background, related experiences, and also a sample of your teaching style.
Videos and audio clips are sure ways to get their attention and to give them an idea of how you perform as a potential teacher.
3. Join an online group/community for ESL teachers/ tutors
No man is an island, and taking part in a community with the same goals as yours can be really useful. Joining online groups or organizations for ESL teachers/ tutors will help you expand your network as well as your knowledge of the industry.
Most groups would post career opportunities or even temporary teaching gigs for freelance teachers online. Aside from that, you could learn a thing or two about the industry and its possibilities.
4. Advertise your services
Creating a blog isn’t enough to grab the attention of potential students especially if you are a freelancer. You should also be your own social media expert by trying to strengthen your online presence. Advertise your services in social media sites as well as online listings for a wider scope of prospective clients.
5. Choose a reliable tool/platform for your online class
Online teaching requires a tool in order to communicate with your student. One application that you can use are free platforms such as Skype.
In my experience as an online teacher, Skype is the most stable and user-friendly platform that can satisfy the demands of a one-on-one teaching sessions. Aside from that, it allows sharing files easily.
6. Invest in high-performance hardware
In order to provide the best service to your students, choosing the best platform is not enough. You also have to invest in the right tools, which are, mostly more expensive than the regular ones. However, the doubled price will be worth it.
Assuming that you already have a high-performance computer (preferably 2-4G RAM), you will also need a stable internet connection (2mpbs-5mpbs speed) for a clear line especially when using a videocalling application like Skype. Another must-have is a reliable headset (complete with head phones and microphone) that might cost you P700-P1500.
7. Join an online ESL company
If you don’t have enough time and resources to spend on the initial tools and materials to start your freelance teaching career, you can also look for existing and established ESL companies that are just a Google search away..
The ESL industry is a recent field so not everyone knows of the benefits that this gives to anyone who wish to work with foreign learners from the comforts of their homes. However, the simple knowledge that this demand in the labor force exists would propel one’s livelihood to a higher level as anyone who decides to be a part of the industry is up for a brighter, greener surprise when it comes to their careers.
If you also want to check out more opportunities online, you can find other examples of freelance and home-based jobs popular in the Philippines here. (Top 7 online jobs for Filipinos in 2017)