In the spring, as I realized my classes were winding down for the summer, I knew I was going to need to find a supplemental source of income for slower months, or even days where I had time in the afternoon. Luckily, there is such high demand for English education in Asia, China in particular, that a number of online schools have been created.
Teaching English online is a popular choice for many ESL teaching expats as it provides the kind of flexibility that traditional classroom (or conference room, in many cases) does not. If you have a solid internet connection, it’s quite possible to even be a digital nomad and make money this way. For me, I was heading home for the month of August and had some free time in between morning and evening classes, so wanted something that I could do from the comforts of my own home. Preferably in sweatpants.
I was hired with a school called VIPKid and while I sometimes have my issues with it, it has been a very pleasant few months. Apparently yesterday was my 100th day. Or 100th class. I don’t really know. It even has allowed me to make some money while I’m back in the US for a month.
Like I said, the flexibility is great and this is a great option for English teachers looking for a flexible option, to supplement their income, or even eventually make this their main income (though that option really only works if you live somewhere that is weak against the dollar– they pay in USD). In Prague, I know of people who teach online primarily and make really good money. Personally, I don’t think I could do that. I prefer being in the room with someone. And even though these lessons are planned for me, I don’t have much flexibility to stop and focus on one thing because the next lesson will be set as a new topic/lesson.
The kids in the school are interesting and range, like one would expect from kids, from completely wild to quiet, little angels. I had one kid, and I’m really not joking, put either soap or baby oil on the camera of the tablet he was taking the course on! And apparently he mooned a different teacher. But then there are the students who do everything you ask. The one nice thing about being behind a computer screen, is that the wild ones can’t climb on me. For now.
So while I definitely prefer teaching in a classroom, teaching online definitely has its benefits– namely providing me with the flexibility to be back in the US for a month. So I say yay to teaching online. The flexibility it provides, combined with pay in USD, is quite the combination. Plus it’s very low prep because they provide the lesson plan. But it might be a nay for you if you can’t stay high energy for long stretches of time, don’t have a stable internet connection, or need this to be your main job in an area with a high cost of living. Also, while my classes typically fall in the afternoon in Prague, in the US the time difference puts the classes nice and early in the morning.
P.S. While this post is not actually trying to be a promotional post for VIPKid, if you are interested, follow this link to see if you qualify (and then sign up!).