I had been living in Dubai and working as a Flight Attendant for 7 years when my husband got a job offer based in Thailand, our favorite destination, and we decided to relocate there. Soon we started thinking about my options and discovered that teaching English online was becoming more and more popular with the pandemic, and that many foreigners do that while living in the Southeast Asia. At the same time a friend of mine had recently finished her 120-hour TEFL course with The TEFL Org and told me everything about it. After doing some more research I was convinced and went for it.
It was fun refreshing all my grammar knowledge and reviewing everything I learned in school years ago. Then the methodology part was really interesting and motivating. My tutor always marked my assignments in time giving very clear and constructive feedback. I finished the course 12 weeks later, feeling confident that I could teach English, even though my native language is Spanish. Yes, I’m from Argentina! And that was my biggest concern when I started this journey.
Finding the right online teaching job
Since my passion lays in practising yoga, getting certified as a Yoga Teacher was also part of my plan when moving to Thailand. Therefore, a fixed schedule at a school or language institute wasn’t the right fit for me. I needed something more flexible, allowing me to manage my own time and divide my days between yoga and teaching English.
As a non-native English speaker, and someone without a university degree, my options were pretty limited. Luckily, The TEFL Org have many guides and articles to help graduates find their perfect job. It is on one of these articles (TEFL Org’s guide to teaching online ) that I discovered Preply.
Applying and creating your profile on Preply
Applying to become a tutor on this platform was very simple. And the best part: they approved my application in just a week!
But then my concerns came back. Who is going to want to study English with a non-native English speaker who has no teaching experience at all? Well, I was absolutely wrong in thinking that way.
Part of your Preply profile consists of a short description about yourself. That’s your time to shine, to sell yourself and brag about all your attributes and life experiences. This is your opportunity to connect with many students who can relate to your personality and/or lifestyle, and that will make them chose you over other tutors who they might have nothing in common with.
Another great and very useful tool in your Preply profile is that you can put that same description in any language you speak. So, of course, I did that in Spanish. And I believe that was a huge success, since 80% of my students are native Spanish speakers. The other 20% have common interests with me. So 100% my profile description did its work.
Building your own business
After doing a bit of research looking at other tutors’ profiles and having and idea of how much they charge, considering their previous experience and education, I decided to start with very attractive prices. My focus was on gaining experience, practicing and getting better at teaching English, building a reputation (reviews), and, of course, having fun while doing it. The response was immediate. Only a day after activating my profile I started receiving messages and even had a trial lesson booked straight away!
I was prepared to have failed trial lessons, meaning that the student might not like what I can offer them so they don’t book any further lessons with me. However, I was pleasantly surprised when all my trials became regular students.
Teaching English on Preply
On Preply you can choose which days and hours you want to work. I’ve made available 3 slots each day from Monday to Friday, and 2 slots on Sundays, with a half an hour break between each class. This way I can give my students one full hour of my time without risking being late to my following class. It also gives me some minutes to review the lesson I prepared for the next student before we start.
Another benefit of Preply is that they provide you with a virtual classroom, so you don’t need to count on any other app or platform to meet your students for your lessons. It includes a whiteboard, vocabulary flash cards, and even lesson plans for all levels. You can share your screen with them and there’s a fun confetti button that you can use when they’re doing great to add some humor in the lessons. I use it and it makes them laugh every time.
My students’ level goes from A1 to C1, which I love because it challenges me to find personalized material and create different lessons according to their individual needs and interests. It’s the perfect practice for me. And at the end of the lessons I always ask them how did they feel, and listen to any feedback they might have.
My personal input about teaching English
In the beginning I took it as a challenge. Will I be able to teach a language that is not my native one? Will my students enjoy my lessons? Will my lesson plans work and my students actually learn from me? I might have not started with the vocational passion to teach, but after a month teaching online, 46 lessons and counting, I can assure you that it’s a very enriching and gratifying job.
I feel genuinely happy when I see the progress of my students (sometimes I might even get more excited than them). Every little step they make is a step I make as a teacher. I learn from them every day in every class. I become a better teacher with each of them. And I discovered something else I can do and enjoy.