Demand for English learning in China has grown faster than your kid can move when he hears the bath running. And it has opened up an entirely new industry for North American teachers: online ESL teaching. Here’s how choosing this enriching education opportunity (that’s both a smart financial and professional move) is also helping the students you teach. Because beyond the obvious (they are learning), online ESL teaching helps kids in all sorts of novel ways.
Short, One-to-One Lessons are a Game Changer
Lessons are short enough to hold an attention span, but still long enough to learn. Unlike the lengthy periods of time a child needs to endure in a traditional classroom, online classes can be as compact as 25-30 minutes, and for good reason, too. When Cindy Mi founded VIPKid in 2013, she quickly discovered that shorter lessons multiple times a week benefit students more than longer lessons. Why? Learning is not a passive activity: it requires cognitive, emotional and mental energy to coalesce multiple information strands into a cohesive whole. Unlike a traditional classroom with multiple students, the one-on-one half-hour lesson is concentrated on a single student, which means more actual teaching time. Shorter lessons let teachers maximize their student’s attention span with punchy, content-filled lessons designed for a single student. And the result is a better quality lesson individually tailored to the student’s unique language learning profile.
Happy Teachers Make Happy Students (and Vice Versa!)
The beauty of teaching English online is that it’s as enriching for teachers as it is for students. And for several reasons. For starters, teaching Chinese students is like opening up a window into a brand new world. With thousands of miles collapsing in a single second (unless your Windows decides to pull an update at the least convenient time possible) and, in virtual terms, you’ve arrived right at your student’s doorstep. Or balcony. Or school. We’ve even seen a kid take a lesson on a high-speed train once. It’s this intimate connection that makes your experience in the classroom more joyful, and that has your student looking forward to every class they receive. Since you’re the only two people in your ‘classroom’, you can create that most vital learning foundation: a close bond with your student that facilitates trust, understanding, patience, and empathy between you. (And good results, too!).
Like Your Students, Your Impact is Global
Let’s get back to who you’re teaching, and where they are. While students in major cities in China historically have had great access to education opportunities, students in less well-known areas with less funding, facilities, and resources have not always been as lucky. Until now. To this student, you are not just a teacher. You’re a gateway to opportunity. A major link to the western world. The key that unlocks universal opportunities for social, educational and professional expansion. And when you think about it, that’s pretty special, isn’t it? VIPKid has seen a 200 times growth since 2015, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of students from every corner of China benefiting from this direct relationship with foreign teachers.
A Flexible Schedule Maketh the Educator
As you know, education is a notoriously complex field with multiple social, mental, emotional and cognitive demands. Merely taking a lesson requires the kinds of multitasking that makes you feel like Neo in The Matrix. Dodging classroom distractions, taking on bored students’ demands (plus keeping an eagle eye on the back row!) and breaking down new concepts into bite-sized chunks is a master juggling act, yet teachers like you do this every, single day – and for hours at a time! Online teaching comes as a pleasant surprise for many teachers who are new to the industry, and one of the reasons is that there’s little to no lesson planning required. Say goodbye to those after-hours marathon marking sessions on the couch while everyone is asleep in bed: you just got your life back! All in all? Online ESL teaching lets you focus on the good stuff: teaching. But what this really means is that your student is receiving a teacher at the very peak of their capability.
Teaching English to ESL learners means you’re teaching on a global scale. Each lesson you give is a significant contribution to a student’s life since you are essentially empowering those you teach to access opportunities that wouldn’t have been theirs without you. So, yes, a career in education is as much a calling of the heart as it is hard work. With its multiple advantages for teachers and students, one-to-one virtual teaching is an appealing career pathway for many North American teachers looking for a side-job, or even to opt-out of traditional teaching altogether. Using your impressive advantage as a native English speaker, you get to change many more students’ lives, one 30-minute lesson at a time.