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Teaching English Online from the USA - Alumni Q&A with Keira McDonald
Written by: Keira McDonald
Last Updated: January 7, 2021
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Long Island, New York, USA.
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
What sparked your interest in teaching English online?
I was looking for a job that allowed me to travel the world. I already had work experience in higher education and I knew that I wanted to keep working with students. I always had an interest in teaching younger children and teaching English online has given me that opportunity. Now, I can work from home or I can bring my job on the road with me.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I got TEFL certified because I knew that a TEFL certification would be a major requirement for online teaching. I chose International TEFL Academy because they were the best company that I could find. ITA is very reputable. I knew that I would always have support from ITA. I felt comfortable with ITA because I knew that I would have an admissions advisor, student affairs advisor, and lifetime job search assistance.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
I took the 11-week online TEFL course.
How did you like the course?
I loved taking the online TEFL course! The textbook readings were very interesting and I was always learning something new each week. My instructor was very supportive and was always there to help when I had questions. The tasks were always very realistic. The assignments taught me exactly what it would be like if I were teaching in a classroom. The practicum has been a great experience as well. I am getting hands on learning while teaching in the way that I enjoy! The practicum really confirmed that I made the right choice!
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My current role actually started with my practicum hours. I was lucky enough to find an online teaching company that allowed me to complete my practicum hours with them. My TEFL training has helped me become a confident and knowledgable teacher. There are so many things to learn before you start teaching English as a foreign language!
What company do you teach English online with?
I currently teach with VIPKID and I am looking forward to joining another company very soon.
What qualifications are required to teach English with VIPKID?
Bachelor's Degree and at least one year of teaching experience.
Please briefly explain the application/hiring process for VIPKID:
The VIPKID hiring process consists of four steps. Step one, complete an online application. Step two, record and submit a demo lesson. Step three, conduct a mock class. During your mock class, you will meet with mock class mentor and teach for about 10 minutes. Step four, upload your documents, complete a background check, and sign your contract. VIPKID has made these steps very user friendly and it tends to be a quick process!
Do you teach from home or abroad?
I currently teach English online from home in New York. I was supposed to leave in May 2020 for four months abroad in Europe. I had to cancel my trip due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. I am unsure of what my location status will be in the future, but for now I am enjoying teaching from home.
How long have you been teaching English online?
I have been teaching English online for a little over one month. I started in April 2020.
How many hours on average a week do you teach online and what is your time commitment outside of teaching classes?
Since I am a new teacher, I have only been teaching a couple of hours a week. I am still working on building my profile and obtaining regular students. Before my first day of teaching, I spent hours preparing. I was printing props and designing rewards. I was nervous so I may have gone a little overboard. After week one, my prep time became very short. I spend about 5-10 minutes reviewing the lesson and gathering my props. The students love props but I rely a lot on TPR. If students can remember how to act out words, they have a better chance of remembering them.
How much money do you make teaching online with VIPKID?
The amount you make really depends on how many hours you are willing to put in. At VIPKID, the base pay is between $7- $9 per class. There is an extra bonus added to every class that you teach. The amount of that bonus is dependent upon how many classes you teach per month. VIPKID will also pay you an additional $2 for every short notice class that you teach! Additionally, if you teach a trial class and the student chooses to enroll, you will earn a $5 bonus.
Which age groups do you work with and what props/tools do you find most useful when teaching online?
I have taught ages 4-8. The classroom environment is very different for lower level students and higher level students. I use a lot of props and TPR with my younger students. With my older students, we focus more on playing games and engaging in conversion. No matter the level, the students at VIPKID love Meg, Mike, and Dino. They are essentials for all VIPKID teachers!
How do you consider cultural differences when teaching online? Does this influence your teaching style?
It is extremely important to understand the cultural differences. While I sit in my New York classroom every morning, I am interacting directly with students in China. Before teaching, I did some research on Chinese culture to make sure I knew about cultural norms and expectations. Luckily, VIPKID offers many workshops and I was able to take some classes on Chinese language and cultural awareness.
How does VIPKID review your performance? Are there rewards for having great reviews?
At VIPKID, parents are able to leave feedback and give you an apple based rating. This is similar to star ratings that most of us are used to when writing a review. Every 5-apple rating feels like an accomplishment. Having many positive reviews will eventually help you down the road with future contracts.
How has your ITA TEFL certification helped you with teaching online?
My ITA TEFL certification has helped me prepare for life in the online classroom. I have learned how important TPR is. I have also learned how important it is to focus on the writing, reading, listening, and speaking aspects of every class. Most of all, ITA has helped me become a confident teacher. Due to the vast amount of knowledge that I have obtained from the course, I am a much more beneficial teacher to my students.
What is your favorite thing about online teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching English online is meeting new students! I love getting to learn about what makes each student special. Watching my students do well in class and be proud of themselves for their accomplishments is the perfect start to every day!
Would you recommend teaching English online to others? Why?
Yes, absolutely! Teaching English online is so rewarding. You make a huge difference in the lives of these students. For many Chinese students, this may be the only time that they experience one on one learning environment. Teaching English online is also wonderful because you can make your own hours and you can do your work from anywhere in the world. There is an online teaching company for every type of teacher. Some companies are more flexible with scheduling and others provide a more consistent schedule.
Posted In: Teach English Online
Keira has been teaching English online since April 2020. She has a passion for travel and loves working with students. While job searching late last year, Keira came across an article about teaching English as a foreign language. To her, it seemed like the perfect fit! Soon after, Keira found out about ITA and signed up for the online TEFL course. Eager to teach English online from all around the world, Keira's plan has currently been put on hold due to COVID-19. You can follow Keira on Instagram at @couplesitestosee.
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