I have a little experience teaching English online. I’ll share what I know for those who might be interested. Generally, the pay is low, but maybe you want to work from home, or pick up some teaching experience, or live somewhere like in the Philippines where shitty pay goes a long way.
You don’t have to be a legit teacher. You don’t have to know grammar jargon. Just be a native English speaker and have a good internet connection, and don’t have multiple sclerosis.
After I left Japan I didn’t have a job or much money. I searched for jobs on Upwork, a freelancing site I know because I’ve used it to hire e-book writers.
Make an account there, create a profile, and search “English teacher.” There will be several listings from clients. Anyone can write a job posting. The clients may be companies in China or someone like Antonio who moved to New York from Spain and wants to improve his English.
I landed two jobs from Upwork. The first one was for a Japanese guy who wanted someone to chat with his students over Skype: four Japanese college girls – nursing students – twice a week. Many people applied for the job, a lot of non-native speakers and those who didn’t have the Japan knowledge or experience teaching in the country that I had, so I got it.
When you submit your job application through Upwork, you enter your hourly rate. Maybe I sold myself short with $11/hr, but I didn’t have any feedback on my Upwork profile, and I was afraid someone else would get the job because I could see how low they were bidding.
It was not a bad gig. It was kinda fun. Student level was high. I didn’t need any materials. It was over Skype, the lessons were one-on-one, and each lesson we’d debate a topic like cats vs dogs, for example. My job was mostly to keep them talking and give them feedback at the end. I did this for about five months, until an earthquake hit Kyushu and two students couldn’t return to their homes.
The second job I landed I quit after the first trial lesson I gave. It was for a company called Topica Native, based in Vietnam. They’re always hiring, just search “topica native” in Upwork, but I wouldn’t recommend them. They pay was $10 an hour, but can go up to something like 13$ with experience. Lessons are about 45 minutes long with 15 minutes for preparation and writing down student performance.
Instead of using Skype, Topica Native has its own platform. A slide show format. You read through slides that have instructions or activities while underlining, highlighting, or making circles around keywords to help the students follow along. And you do this while juggling the on-and-off switch of student’s microphones when allowing them to speak one at atime. And while you do all that, you’re suppose to take notes on each student so you can remember who they are and give them a performance review at the end.
You can have up to six students, who you can’t see by the way, like I did my first lesson. What a disaster. Vietnamese is a tonal language. Except for two students, I couldn’t make any sense of what they said.
“Wow, Tim-Tat, that was very good. Okay, Kit-Kat, you’re next . . . Excellent, Kit-Kat.”
I gave positive feedback like that for a terribly long 45 minutes. I knew I’d screwed them, but you can only ask someone to repeat themselves three times before you start to feel like an asshole.
Due to no visual facial cues, spotty microphones and a tonal accent foreign to my ear, and the non-stop mouse work—I quit. If you’re going to work for pennies, Japanese students are the best, and one-on-one lessons are the best.
Lyngo, LLC (ALC Eikaiwa Skype)
So I found my third gig by searching in Google: “teach english to japanese students online.”
Lyngo hired me after two interviews. They sent me a big pdf script of company information. I took it seriously, read through all of it. Training was three hours long, unpaid. There are three types of lessons: business, conversation, free-talk. Each 25 minutes long.
You can choose your working schedule. But if you’re in America, you’ll probably be working early mornings because the Japanese are taking their lessons after work, a lot of them from 1o p.m. onwards. Pay ranges from 8 to $11 an hour. Pay is slightly less if the student doesn’t show; in that case, you’re paid to surf the internet. Many didn’t show.
The teaching materials are pdf files. You share them over Skype so both you and the student can see. A lot of the teaching is boring repeat-after-me drills. But there is some role-playing. Some of the lessons have pictures and they can be fun.
“See this picture, Takuro? What’s going on here?”
“A woman sit bar.”
“Who is this woman?”
“Good. Imagine you are sitting next to her and she wants to go home with you.”
“I want her to go home with me too.”
“But you’re married Tak.”
“Oh no. I go her house. ”
“She’s married too. Her husband is at home sleeping.”
“I be very quiet.”
“Yes, like ninja.”
“But she’s a screamer.”
“What is a screamer?”
“She’s very loud when having sex.”
“I will put my hand over her mouth.”
“Good job. The husband didn’t hear you, but now she’s pregnant with your child.”
“Ohhhhh myyyyyy Goodddddd.”
“Nice natural English.”
It wasn’t that bad. Some students are fun and some are boring.
I wrote down their mistakes and gave feedback at the end.
After three months I quit. They company noticed, because they sometimes video called me because a student complained, that I was often teaching from a different place. They want you to notify them before you move anywhere so they can check your internet connection; a pain in the ass if you’re traveling around as much as I was.