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Teaching English Online with a Full-Time Job: Alumni Q&A with Sam Kg
Written by: Sam Kg
Last Updated: January 20, 2021
What is your citizenship?
I am a US citizen.
What city and state are you from?
What city and state within the USA do you teach English online from?
How old are you?
27 years old.
What is your educational level and background?
I have a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Spanish.
Have you traveled abroad in the past? If so, where have you been?
I have traveled since I was young, with my family and my schools. I have been to India, southern Africa, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, and England. Most of my trips have been for vacations or shorter time frames. However, I have done two study abroad trips, one summer and one semester, in Spain.
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
I have studied abroad in Spain twice. The first time, I was in Granada for a summer abroad. The second time I was in Salamanca for a semester.
What sparked your interest in teaching English online?
I have always loved travel and it became a passion when I was very young. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to live abroad. Teaching English online became an amazing opportunity to travel more and eventually live abroad. Once I started teaching online, I discovered that it was more than just an avenue to travel. Now I am looking into turning ESL and teaching into a career.
What were some of your concerns before teaching English online?
Before I started teaching English online, I was really nervous about how to be entertaining and interactive through a computer screen. I have only ever taught in a traditional classroom where I have the ability to move around the room and use props and actions to teach. With online teaching, I have a much smaller area to move and interact. After my first couple of classes, I found that you can be almost as interactive and animated, it just takes more props sometimes.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I wanted to get my TEFL certificate in order to have the best chance in the job market. I spoke with several different TEFL certification programs but ITA stood out to me in so many ways. The large alumni base was a large part of my decision. The ITA alumni base is huge and spread out all of over the world. The alumni testimonies were describing the life that I was hoping to achieve, and being able to have those connections and that knowledge base was a no brainer. The fact that ITA is an accredited program and has wonderful reviews was also a very determining factor. I had guidance from the first phone call, all the way through to the end of my certification.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
I took the online TEFL course.
How did you like the online course?
I enjoyed my course. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of knowledge and experience I felt like I gained, even though it was all online. I like that the homework became a mini portfolio of lesson plans and ideas that I am able to use in the classroom.
How has your TEFL training helped you with teaching English online?
My TEFL training has helped me greatly in my TPR skills and my ability to focus my teaching style on the specific student’s level and age. I have a knowledge base for different ways to teach the same thing. My TEFL training gave me a little tool box of ideas, like TPR skills, how to incorporate music and images, and how to understand some of the cultural differences between myself and the students.
How did you learn about teaching English online?
When I would tell people that I wanted to travel for several years, but that I did not have a fully thought out plan, many people would recommend teaching English online as a way to support myself during my travels. My goal is to find a career working with children, and this just seemed like a perfect way to solve multiple questions at once.
Why did you decide to teach english online as a side hustle?
I have a great full time job that I work Monday-Friday, 9-5. However, the idea of traveling has always been on my mind. While I love my full time job, I love the idea of working with kids and being able to be a part of their learning progress. With the time difference, I am able to teach in the mornings, before my full time job even starts. It gives me a little bit of extra money to plan for my travels and it starts my days off with happy and enthusiastic students. I hope to eventually turn my online teaching into more of a full time job, but for now, it is a great side-hustle. It offers flexible hours that I am able to choose and adjust as needed. I don’t have to leave my house and I am still able to earn the extra money that I need.
What do you do when you're not teaching English online?
I work a full time job in addition to my online teaching. I work as a leasing manager for a property management company.
Do you find it hard to juggle your full-time job with your side hustle of teaching English online?
Balancing the full time job and online teaching was a struggle in the beginning. I am not a morning person at all, so that was the biggest adjustment for me, since I am teaching students in Beijing. Once I figured out a good schedule and a realistic idea of how many hours I could teach before going to work at my full time job, it became very manageable. I am learning very quickly how to be a morning person!
[Hot Tip] Want to compare different online ESL employers and their peak teaching hours with U.S. time conversions? Download our Teach English Online Employer Comparison Chart!
What are the benefits of teaching English online as a side hustle?
Teaching English online as a side-hustle has helped me to earn the extra money that I need in order to enjoy traveling and making future plans. Being able to work from home is a huge plus. If I were to find a different side hustle job, I would have an extra commute and much less flexibility. I can take my online teaching with me anywhere I go, as long as there is wifi. My entire classroom fits inside a laptop bag. The hours are a huge benefit. I can choose my own schedule, how many hours a day and what days a week I teach. I am able to change those hours with relative ease as well.
Which company do you teach English online with?
I teach with VIPKID.
Please outline and specific requirements to teach english online with VIPKID?
VIPKID requires a Bachelor degree in any subject, or an Associates degree in teaching. They also require two years of experience, but they are flexible with the type of experience. They like experience in ESL teaching, training experience, and/or teaching experience in any subject. I am unsure of what the internet speed requirement is.
Briefly explain the VIPKID application and interview process.
The application is pretty simple and took me less than 30 minutes, all online. Once you submit your application, you generally hear back within 24 hours about scheduling an interview. The interview process is a little bit tedious, but manageable. You will submit a video demonstration of you teaching a short class. They will provide you with the content. After the demo video, you will have an interview with an actual person online. You will interview and teach them a sample class in the same interview. After this, you have a couple of options for the end of the process. You can do a second mock class or you can go to an informational session with a group of new VIPKID teachers, and a trainer. It took me about a week/week and a half to complete the entire application and interview process.
Is there a minimum number of hours you have to work per week/month or is scheduling completely flexible and up to you?
There are no minimum hours with VIPKID. The schedule is completely flexible and determined by you, but once you open up a schedule slot and it books, you will want to avoid canceling. They do have a strict cancellation policy. If you keep your schedule consistent, you are also more likely to get more bookings.
How many hours a week do you teach English online?
I teach about 6 hours per week.
What do you love about teaching English online as a side hustle with VIPKID?
I really enjoy the flexibility of VIPKID. They recommend that you keep a consistent schedule and that you open your booking slots two weeks in advance, because that is how far in advance the parents are able to book. However, if the slots are not yet booked, you can adjust your own schedule at any time. I love working with young children and being able to teach new learners.
Lots of teach English online companies have students based in Asia. How do you make the vast difference in time zones between Asia and the USA work for you?
The time difference took a little while to get used to. I work 5:30am-7:30am (MST), 3 days a week. I am able to teach for two hours each morning and then still have time to prepare for my full time job which goes from 8:30am-5:30pm. I have adjusted my evening schedules so I am able to go to sleep earlier. I have moved a few things around so that I am able to do more during the mornings or afternoons instead of night. After some time, it started to feel normal.
How much do typically make from teaching English online as a side-hustle?
I am still relatively new to online teaching, so I am still acquiring students. But once I am able to fill my schedule, I am able to make between $250-$450 per month.
What do you use your side hustle earnings for?
Right now, I am using my earnings to save for travel. I am planning on moving to Europe soon, and these earnings are giving me the little bit extra that I need in order to prepare for my move.
What advice would you give someone planning or considering to teach English online?
I would recommend looking at multiple different companies before you chose one. There are a ton of online ESL companies out there and they all have their differences. It is possible to work for multiple companies at once, but in the beginning, I would recommend starting with just one. It takes a little bit of adjustment with the time differences and the process. Find the company that fits your needs and that has a style that you like!
Would you recommend teaching English online as a side hustle?
I would recommend it as a side hustle but I would also recommend being careful with how much you take on. When I first started, I tried to teach 5-6 mornings a week, in addition to my 9-5 job. It became way to exhausting at first. I think it is possible to ease into more hours. But right from the start, it was a little overwhelming.
Finish this sentence: You should teach English online as a side hustle if you…
... are a morning person, are organized, and enjoy the idea of flexibility, teaching, and energetically practicing English.
Posted In: Teach English Online
Sam has always loved travel, it became a passion of hers at a very young age. Teaching English online provided the opportunity to travel more while working, and to eventually live abroad. Once Sam started teaching online, she discovered that it was more than just an avenue to travel and is now looking into turning ESL and teaching into a permanent career.
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