Teaching Online from France: Laura’s Story

Teaching Online from France: Laura’s Story

I moved to France from England two years ago, with my husband and two young daughters. We set up a Glamping site in the Dordogne region of France and for 6 months of the year life is a dream!!! Endless sunny days, working outdoors, fresh air and meeting lots of people all over Europe.

But… having a seasonal income soon proved an issue. I was looking for a solution to boost my income in the winter months when a friend mentioned TEFL. I had never heard of it! But once I looked into the job opportunities online, I found it was the perfect solution for me and my family.

With no prior teaching experience, I completed the 120-hour course in September 2018 and immediately applied for jobs online, teaching English to Chinese children. That same weekend I was successful and booked in for an interview. 

The application process was easy and having two young children allowed me to use their toys as props and posters as a good background for teaching!

I now work for two different companies, allowing me flexibility and choice and maximising my earning potential. The pay is good, between £12-£20 per hour, I work from home and the hours are perfect. Chinese lessons are popular during their evenings, so for me in France I get to work during the day whilst my kids are at school.

Both companies are very similar with the children they teach. The Chinese children love to learn and the parents are very keen for the teachers to be full of praise, but to also correct pronunciation as appropriate.

Chinese culture can vary from the Western culture in many ways. For example, recently over the Christmas period, it was common for children to be aware of the commercial aspects of the holidays. They would be aware of snowmen and Christmas trees, yet the religious part of Christmas was a complete unknown. Religion in general is rare in China, so caution is needed when referencing any religion during class discussions.

Both companies provide excellent pre-planned lessons. With colourful and fun slides, activities and in some cases animal filters so you can pretend to be the animal they are learning about! As all the lessons are pre-planned so for a busy working mum like myself life is much easier. All the lessons are 25 minutes long, giving you a 5 minute break in between. This time is usually filled having a drink and completing a short lesson report.

The peak times for teaching in China is 18:00 - 21:00 Beijing time. France is 7 hours behind Beijing time, so for me, I teach for 3 hours over my lunchtime period. Again, perfect for a working parent. Weekends are also a popular time to teach and the time range extends from 9:00 BJT to 21:00 BJT. In America, some teachers wake at 3am to teach!

A few companies use apps that work on a tablet or mobile phone. This is a great way of teaching on the go, or around the world if travelling. You can encourage students to take a trial lesson with you and they work a lot like social media: the more active you are, the more you get noticed and booked!

This is a typical working day for me: Take the children to school, have breakfast, check my schedule then be active on the Teaching App for one of the companies I work for. I typically teach 6 lessons over the lunchtime period and then have the afternoon to myself. Then I pick the children up and forget about work for the evening!

Some advice:

  • When preparing for an interview, research and watch demo lessons online. There are often example demos on Youtube and I watched these several times before my mock interview lessons. Learn from the best then adapt to your own personal teaching style.
  • Print off the company logo and display it on your background wall. Write down 5 reasons why you would be a great teacher for that company and what attracted you to apply.
  • It is very important to be child-friendly at all times! Wear appropriate clothing, have a colourful background and use lots of props during class.
  • TPR (Total Physical Response) is extremely important. Point to your mouth when you are speaking and cup your ear when you want the student to repeat for example. Use the tips in the TEFL course, especially the module about teaching online .
  • You MUST have a good and stable network connection. Suitable Wifi and/or 4G network is essential. The company is paying for reliable teachers around the world and aside from hurricanes, storms, power outages and other random events, you must be available to teach.
  • Be punctual and fit to work. You must enter the classroom early and be prepared for the lesson. Although the lessons are pre-planned, you should review the slides prior to the class and have extra activities or suitable props prepared.
  • Chinese children are super smart! Don’t be surprised if you have a class with both a 4 year old and an 11 year old, or a 5 year old who is almost fluent in English. Have some topics prepared in case you finish the sides early!
  • Don’t be surprised if your lessons involve the parent, they are often present during classes and sometimes tell the child what to say. Whilst this can be frustrating, draw on your teaching experience and focus on the child. At times, there may be multiple siblings present which can be very noisy and unruly! Expect the unexpected, you are teaching children in their own surroundings, not in a classroom environment so anything can happen!

Good luck to all the teachers looking to complete their TEFL course and apply for online work. It is rewarding, fun and provides great work / life balance.

In the summertime I’ll reduce my hours to fit in around the campsite and enjoy the balance between outdoor and indoor work - bliss!

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