I’m so glad you could make it to my website and found me here so I could share information about me as an ESL teacher! ESL stands for ‘English as a Second Language.’ Sometimes we call the teaching of that TESL/TEFL — ‘Teaching ‘English as a Second/Foreign Language.’
On this page I’ll explain a little history of myself since 2001, when my life began to change drastically.
After that, I’ll go into what’s it’s like to teach ESL online. There is already a lot of very good material about teaching ESL in ground schools around the world. I’ll share some information on that, too. However, the focus is about using the World-Wide-Web to become an ESL teacher.
At the end of this article I’ll elaborate on the current goals of this site, which are to provide:
- prospective teachers information about this career, to see if it fits and then ways to find an online job;
- existing teachers training, information about online schools, and new job opportunities
- web ESL schools a place to recruit new English teachers
- news about the world of ESL
Here is a short introduction video:
How I Got Here — Let’s Start at The End of the Beginning
Hey, what a life it’s been! I can’t complain about the adventure and change I’ve experience until now, although many would probably think my lifestyle too much on the edge. At the beginning of this new century, I really thought I had it made.
For example, there was the executive-level job in Marketing after an illustrious sales manager career. Success included a lovely custom-designed house in a nice countrified development area. Fantastic neighbors and friends near me in the entertaining and beautiful Raleigh, NC.
There it all was, and then it wan’t.
This happened because I was too edgy; taking too many risks. My divorce in 1999 had affected me in ways I didn’t realize. Mid-life crisis? You bet!
Mostly, I became too big for my britches in the new role of marketing guru, and they laid me off in 2001 (well…fired, but threatening a lawsuit, managed to negotiate a lay-off settlement).
From top rung to a bottom rung, there I went, but landed soft. Without thinking about the consequences, I still had a way to fall.
Fortunately I had saved some money. Yet, the 2001 terrorist attack 9/11 really messed up my chances at another sales/marketing job, since companies froze their growth, facing the uncertainty of what looked like a world war brewing.
It was a real pickle, especially when I ran out of pickle juice! You know, that green stuff that greases the skids… in a few months, I couldn’t afford my luxury lifestyle anymore. I had no choice: bankruptcy.
On the Run
I threw what was left in my reliable Dodge Intrepid (they let you keep a car) and drove out west. Stayed with a nice friend in Salt Lake City. It’s a nice place, Salt Lake, with helpful people and stunning mountain views.
So I got a job, then lost it. I still wasn’t paying attention to myself or what people expected of me. In fact, I had burned out on the corporate world; I hated having a boss tell me what to do. My bosses were annoyed with my lack of appropriate employee behaviors.
I drifted on, this time back to my old stomping grounds in Cali. A friend of mine in Los Gatos asked me to house sit for 6 months. Finally, during that time I found a job I could handle, selling lighting products as an independent commissioned sales rep. The boss was over in New Jersey and he left me alone as long as I called in my sales regularly.
North Carolina – Utah – California – Alaska – Florida — ??? Stop running!
So with that, my time ran out in the Bay Area; it was too expensive to live there on my meager efforts in sales. I still wasn’t motivated and had lost a lot of confidence in myself.
The run continued — this time, to Alaska. There, I did well; the Alaskan companies needed my high quality products. But it’s not well populated and I ran out of companies to sell to in Anchorage, and I didn’t want to be hoofing it up to the Arctic Circle or down the peninsula to Ketchikan. I socked away some money…
And moved to Florida. Explaining everything that happened there would be a convoluted story, lasting from 2007 through 2014, before I got visa permission to live and work in the UK. here. In fact, I came to visit my wife-to-be in 2007 on a tourist visa. But you can only stay in England 6 months on a tourist visa and had to leave and do something — but what, and where?
Becoming an ESL Teacher: The New Beginning
Yes, I had to leave or get kicked out of the country, which seemed like a bad idea. My wife and I came up with the idea that I could leave for a year by finding a job teaching English overseas. I had a degree; all I needed was a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. So I got that online, and somehow managed to find a great job in Turkey, teaching English to business people in amazing Istanbul.
I really enjoyed it! Most of the teachers were younger than me. That didn’t matter so much, as the Turkish culture likes to see their teachers as ‘silver-back’ males, so I thrived.
No-one told me how to teach. I had some stuff they wanted me to teach, sure. But if the students were happy and passed their exams, I was on my own! Amazing! No boss breathing down my neck!
So after a successful yearlong contract, I came back to England, flush with some cash. It was nice not living near skid row, let me tell you. But when I went back, the Immigration authorities looked at me with jaundiced eyes. Apparently they don’t like a lot of back-to-back 6-month stays on tourist visas.
Interruption, then Resurgence
After my last 6 months, I said goodbye to my girlfriend for a while and went back to Florida for a couple of years. Teaching English privately is not so easy to do as it is overseas in non-English speaking countries. I survived, but didn’t thrive.
Then my dad passed away a year before my mom did. I had taken care of them as best I could. During this time I also got married to my girlfriend when she came for a visit. I was able to move to England in 2014 with a marriage visa, which allows me to stay on 30 months stints permitting work. .
In 2015, I started looking for teaching work again. The sleepy seaside town of Eastbourne comes to life in the summer. Teenagers flock here from all over Europe to learn English. The town has many English language schools and it’s a popular destination. A great place for an ESL teacher, to be sure!
I needed a special certificate to teach ground school in England. It’s called a CELTA ‘Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language.
While I was looking into jobs getting my CELTA, I ran across what looked like a high-quality company who wanted an online ESL teacher with native speaking ability.
I applied for and got the job! I didn’t need the CELTA for that, funnily enough.
It’s been three years now, teaching English online, with various companies.
Teaching English Online — What’s it Like being an ESL Teacher?
Some of you reading this have taught English or other subjects. It’s important to keep in mind that teaching English as a second language is not like teaching in public schools.
ESL teachers don’t have to focus on motivation and behavior as much as teachers in public domains. That means that the focus is on teaching the material.
Most of the adult ESL students have intrinsic motivation to learn. The reason for this is simple: they want to advance their careers. It’s a simple fact that the bulk of the business world turns on English conversations and contracts. Frankly, that’s becoming more and more true with each passing day as more and more businesses become global.
Many of the children learning ESL online will have their behaviors and motivations guided by their parents, who will be supervising them during your teaching (there is substantial schooling of children in ground schools, too, but there will usually be a native language adult partner helping supervise and motivate the children).
So, when you’re teaching ESL (online), the focus will be on engaging the students in a way which will make the teaching fun and capture their attention to focus on the topic. You will be using a video camera (webcam) to let the students see you so you can use hand gestures and props to help you teach.
Yes there is Technology
Don’t be intimidated of the technology used to teach online. Generally speaking, it’s not difficult to become proficient at staying on camera while using drawing and text tools to emphasize English material on the screen. The bulk of the material (in same cases 100%) is provided by the school, although it’s sometimes possible to upload your own material.
The hardest part will be trying to look at your own camera while avoiding looking at the students’ video thumbnail (located away from the camera). If you look at their video images instead of your camera, you can give the impression you are looking ‘off into space.’
Generally adult learners understand this issue and it’s not so much of a problem. However, it’s necessary to look at the children ‘through the camera’ so you’ll want to practice this.
Advantages of Teaching English Online
There are a lot of advantages of teaching online instead of in a ‘ground’ school — for students, for the ESL teacher, and for the schools. Here are some of them:
- Students don’t have to make their way to classes after work. They can do the lesson during breaks at work;
- Parents can be there for their children learning English to see if you are properly instructing them;
- Schools don’t have to pay for travel and visas to get teachers onsite (traditionally they pay, rather than the ESL teacher, for this);
- Schools don’t have to find accommodations for an ESL teacher and don’t need to deal with real estate;
- Teachers can work from home making sure they are presentable ‘from the shoulders up;’
- Teachers don’t have to walk to school or stick around during breaks for a couple of hours between class times. Going to lunch is as easy and cheap as going to the kitchen.
What This Site Will Do for its Readers
I want to help you get ready for and find their job as an ESL teacher. There aren’t enough resources out there doing that. I really got lucky stumbling across this job opportunity. There has to be a better way — and this site is intended to be it!
Teachers need an outlet to express their opinions and experiences about online teaching so other teachers can benefit from their experiences.
This site can also serve as a training venue for best practices in online teaching. Let me tell you — it’s the wild west out there, especially in the burgeoning Chinese market.
I want to help schools find a way to reach out to teachers specifically looking for online positions. Too many, if not all, of the existing websites on ESL are catering to the wanderlust of the traveling teacher who goes abroad to stay for a year in a cool foreign country.
Schools have to find people interested in a career in ESL. Ground schools have huge turnover of teachers coming out of college as an excuse to travel abroad and have some cash while they do it. Which is great and it works, but I do believe online teaching can be more of a career path.
No website can be all things to all people, but the idea is that this one fits the niche needed for online teachers and online ESL schools. Thanks for visiting and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment below!
All the best,
Marc Hanna — Founder