Howdy everyone! 🙂 Well, as you may or may not have noticed it’s Tuesday. Since we’ve recently started writing posts on Monday instead of Sundays we haven’t missed a day. Well, I guess there’s a first for everything. This week has been a little hectic because we used up all of our internet at home. Yeah, we don’t have unlimited bandwidth. Weird, huh. Since we live in the country in a small town DSL and cable aren’t available so we use a wireless 4G connection that doesn’t require cables. The only downside is that it maxes out at 100GB a month. This is usually more than enough for our needs but this month we’ve been using a lot of video and streaming so we ran out a few days before the month ended. The good thing about the service is that it doesn’t cut your connection when you max out but instead it reduces your speed to like 64kbps which if your not a techy that’s basically impossible to work with. So what have we been doing for work and internet? We know all the places in our area that have wifi which include a few restaurants, bars, and of course our favorite the Golf Hotel and Resort in Ayamonte. That’s where we’ll be working for the rest of the week. Anyways long story short, that’s why we weren’t able to publish a post on Monday. So that being said, we’re sure your not here to learn the intricate details about our internet quandary. There are much more important things going on in the world for that matter.
That brings us to our blog post for this week. Where should you teach English? While such a simple question it can be a difficult one to answer. For this post we’re not going to focus on specific companies or academies but instead on ways to teach English. Here’s what we mean. A lot of people teach English but many do it in vastly different ways for different reasons. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that our favorite method of teaching English is online for a variety of reasons. But that’s not the only game in town. The methods that we will be talking about are working for a school whether physical or online. Second we’ll be covering working on a third-party platform where there are many different teachers and students select who they like most. Lastly we’ll be talking about doing your own thing and working independently where you call all the shots. Now these three methods have their pros and cons and unique selling points. Why might you be interested in teaching English anyways? Well, most readers of this blog are interested in or are currently serving where the need is great and need to support themselves. Since many of the countries where people serve don’t have many jobs teaching English is something that many can do in order to support themselves and stay in their assignment. OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive in!
Working for a Physical or Online School
Now the first area on our list is choosing to work for a physical or online school. This is probably the easiest of the three since the school is responsible for much of what goes on. So if the school is good then you should have nothing to worry about. Let’s just clarify what we mean by physical and online school. When working for a physical school we are generally not talking about teaching in an elementary, high school or college. What we’re talking about is working in a language academy or school that only teaches languages, usually English. The only difference with the online version is that everything is done virtually including the teaching. So let’s talk about the pros and cons and then we’ll summarize.
So the pros are pretty easy to see when working for a school whether online or in person. The biggest advantages are that the school gets you all of your students, does all of the marketing and assumes all of the costs of running the business. You just show up to teach and then go on your merry way. Since many of the more reputable schools have built up a reputation over time they usually have a constant influx of students both new and continuing. They also get many leads through word of mouth so you don’t have to lay awake at night wondering if you will have any students to teach the next day. This one is huge.
Also the school will have a physical place for you to teach if it is a brick and mortar school. It’s nice to go to a dedicated building and know that you will be teaching in your favorite classroom and that you can prep in the area for teachers, etc. If you are working for an online school it is a different situation but can be highly enjoyable as well. Since you will be usually teaching from your home when working for an online school you can be comfortable and in your own surroundings. It’s great to be able to wake up and walk across the hall into your office and just like that you are at work. One of the downsides can be that it can be difficult to separate work from personal life since you work at home. It’s good to create barriers so that you can clearly define what is what. Here’s a great post that covers some tips if you start working from home.
Some downsides to working for a school are that you have a certain set of policies to follow for your teaching. You usually can’t decide what you will teach or how you will teach it. So if you don’t like the material or the style that it is supposed to be taught in there’s not a lot that you can do about it. Another disadvantage is when you get stuck with unresponsive or bad management or teacher support teams. These people are supposed to help you and make your job easier but sometimes they can do the opposite.
Between the two of us we’ve worked for physical and online schools over the years. While we enjoy the feeling of “going to work” each day that a physical school offers we have to declare online schools the winner here. It is so easy to fit into your schedule and work the school around your life instead of the other way around. If you start working for a good online school then it will be happy days! Here’s the company that we currently work for which has allowed us to stay in our assignment up to now.
Third Party Teaching Sites
Now let’s go deeper down the rabbit hole. We come to third party teaching sites. They are becoming more and more common because of their ease of use and the advantages for students. So how does it work? Well, it’s really quite simple. The site acts as an intermediary between teachers and students. Teachers create a profile on the site and set their rates and then students browse the profiles and select the teacher that they want. The site then takes a percentage of the earnings for having brought the two together. Sounds perfect right? Not so fast. Let’s talk about the pros and cons.
So let’s start with the good stuff. These sites are generally very easy to use and get set up on. Here’s a review of a popular third party site called italki that we wrote recently. After you are approved by the site to teach you can start crafting your profile and begin teaching when someone selects you. I have used one of these sites (italki) as a student for Spanish and I must say that the entire process was very straight-forward and easy to understand. So it would stand to reason that it would be the same for a teacher. Another thing that is great about these kind of sites is that you can set up package offers of your classes so that students get a discount if they book multiple classes with you. This is a great incentive for students to sign up with you longer. Another advantage of these sites is that they are wildly popular and benefit from some big time investing dollars. This makes them fairly secure and continuously poised for growth.
But my dear reader, it’s not all roses and sunshine. One major downside of these types of sites is the sheer volume of teachers especially for popular languages like English, French and Spanish. What does this mean for you? It could mean that you may not get the asking price that you want for your classes because other teachers are willing to offer lower prices because they could be from countries where the cost of living is lower. That being said, due to the volume of teachers it is more of a challenge to stand out as the awesome English teacher that we know you are. What we have seen is that a small amount of teachers tend to have a disproportionate amount of students or classes compared to the amount of teachers available. Once you break through this barrier though you shouldn’t have any problems.
So while these third party sites have their place in the ever-changing English teaching ecosystem they may not prove to be your final destination unless you have the tenacity and perseverance to make it work for you. These sites could be a good option to get some online teaching experience and then maybe move onto working for a company. Or who knows maybe you might fall head over heels for the platform that you choose and never leave. All the same, give it a try.
Working as an Independent Teacher
What do we mean when we say that you would be working as an independent teacher? Hopefully this doesn’t conjure up in your mind a rebellious teacher with wild hair and tattoos. Instead being independent would mean that you would be responsible for your class material, students, rates and basically everything else that has to do with your teaching business. This could offer you the freedom that you want when it comes to setting your schedule and determining how much money you will make. Let’s get into the pros and cons.
So obviously the biggest advantage is that you are the one to call the shots down to the smallest detail. You can choose the platform that you want to use. You can teach in-person, using Skype or in whatever other way you can imagine. You can also choose the material that you teach. Do you want to only teach business English? No problem. How about conversational English? Even better. You are the boss so you choose. Then when it comes to rates you also decide. You will no longer have to share your earnings with a website or a school since you will be doing all the work. I’m sure that you can clearly see that the possibilities are endless.
With great freedom comes great responsibility. Or something like that. Since you are responsible for the success or failure of you business this could be more then your ready for. If no students are banging down your door for lessons then there’s no one to blame but yourself. On the other hand if your teaching business is a raving success you can take credit and be happy with your accomplishments. Let’s focus on getting students for just a moment. In the previous paragraphs we have seen that there is a lot of competition for students out there. Websites, physical schools and academies all vying for those precious students. That doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance though. Many students are looking for individuals who stand out and have something original to offer. That means that if you present yourself well your students will want to learn from you and only you.
So as you can see there are many routes that you can go down if you are an independent teacher. While there will be challenges the rewards could far outweigh any temporary struggles. This could be an interesting route for anyone who has some experience and wants to gain more independence than a traditional school can offer.
So in this article we’ve discussed three different routes that you can take as a new or experienced English teacher. Teaching in a school, working on a third-party platform or striking out on your own. Each of these methods have their pros and cons. While some may be great for some others are not for everyone. Right now we both work for an online school so we enjoy the pros and cons that come with that. Maybe one day we’ll set out on our own but for now we’re content with not having ultimate flexibility in exchange for not having to get our own students and having our material already prepared for us. We truly hope that this post has been helpful to you and that you will continue your journey of being an English teacher in order to support your ministry either at home or abroad.
If you are thinking about getting your TESOL Certificate Online that is a great step. We offer these courses in conjunction with our partner company. Kanicia took the Expert Course which has allowed her to support herself while being in Spain. To browse the different courses that we offer click here. If you want to purchase a course send us a message with the course that you want and we’ll send you a customized link with the discount applied.
If you are currently teaching English let us know below in the comments the good, the bad and the ugly of your job. We’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say! That’s all for now. Until next time.
Your friends Antoine & Kanicia 🙂