You Can Teach ESL Online

If you’re like me, you were skeptical when you heard about this trend of online teaching – particularly the opportunity to teach ESL online to students in China.

I’m here to tell you that if you want to – if you truly think it might be a good option for you – check it out. It’s real, and it’s totally doable.

First off – I’m not a tech expert – not really. I may (or may not) know more than you. I do have a husband who is a technology professional… but it’s not always the help you think. Oh, he’s plenty willing (and inhumanly patient, if I’m honest) But I can’t always articulate what I need when I don’t know the techy language to communicate it.

My big advantage is something different. I think it’s best summed up by what my principal said about me in 1992 (I’m dating myself on purpose here) My school’s principal and the “computer teacher” approached me to see if I was interested in filling that position when the computer teacher retired. My principal said they chose me because:

  1. I was young (those were the days, hm?) AND
  2. I wasn’t afraid of technology.

I may not be young anymore but I guess I’m still not afraid of technology. The WORST I can do is break something. Most things that are broken can be fixed. Often, they can be replaced with things you already have on hand (more about that in a future post).

If you are worried about the tech aspects, well, you can stop. There’s nothing that you can’t learn, and you can learn what you need pretty quick.

Maybe, to you, this whole process of teaching online sounds too good to be true. To be honest, that was my first response. I created an account with my first company because I figured – all I was giving up was my email, right? I could always unsubscribe later. I am so glad that I took that initial step. Online teaching has turned out to be so much more than I ever expected. It’s not perfect, but it is a great option for many of us!

Maybe you’re thinking…It’s not the same (as teaching in a school). Well… yes. And no.

  1. You’ may not be in the same room, but YOU ARE PRESENT. YOU ARE REAL, and so is the student. I know you know this, but I’m telling you that it will feel just as real as being in a brick and mortar classroom.
  2. Kids (and parents) are the same all over the world. This is true in all the good ways and bad ones. Teach online long enough, and you’ll get to see tantrums (with the younger set), parenting wins (and fails), kids who are mischievous and sweet and naughty and nice. Since I am a parent as well as a teacher, I have so much empathy for these parents!
  3. You will adapt to what’s different. Maybe things have changed since i left public schools, but when I was there, we were all working out tails off with insufficient funding, often paying for materials ourselves. Now, yes – I do pay for all my supplies and materials, but most of them are not consumable. And chances are you’ll be working for a large corporation, with resources you aren’t used to. You’re far more likely to be uncomfortable because the company keeps “improving” (read: changing) the electronic classroom than frustrated because you are the one paying for all the pencils, crayons, and Kleenex in your classroom. I can be crotchety when it comes to change, but I will admit it: Those changes in the classroom are improvements, and it’s nice to work in an environment where the powers that be are able to make improvements on a regular schedule. It’s something worth getting used to.

If you’re curious – I encourage you to learn more about online teaching. I am so glad that I took a chance and learned more. It’s been an unqualified good experience.

Sandra Girouard has had a long teaching career – first as a music teacher, then an instructional technology manager. When her family’s needs meant traveling the country, she began the adventure of homeschooling while working online. Teaching online has allowed her to return to the passion of working with children, and lets her spend time each day with students and parents at home and across the world.

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