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Teaching English Online Specialty Class Q&A with Ayush Pandey
ITA alum Ayush Pandey talks about his experience taking the Teaching English Online 2-week course and his life teaching online from India and Kyrgyzstan!
Written By: Ayush Pandey | Updated: June 29, 2023
Written By: Ayush Pandey
Updated: June 29, 2023
What is your citizenship and where are you from?
I'm an Indian citizen and I'm from Gorakhpur City in the UP, India.
How old are you?
What is your education level?
High School degree.
Which ITA Specialty Class did you take and when did you take it?
I took the 2-week Teaching English Online Specialty Class (TEO) in October 2021, shortly after completing my 11-week online TEFL course.
What motivated you to enroll in this Specialty Class?
I was teaching English online classes during the pandemic and realized that it was very different (and even intimidating, well, at least for me) compared to teaching in a physical classroom. Hence, as soon as I saw this specialty class, I knew I needed to try it out and I am glad that I did so.
There are many things about the specialty class I loved, some of them are:
- Office hours: I reckon this was the best part of the course as it gave me an opportunity to interact with the instructor and clarify my doubts. Mrs. Allison was very supportive, understanding, and encouraging. Added to that, it also gave me the chance to hear the different perspectives of my classmates.
- Live lectures: Each live lecture was a way of getting to know a little more about lesson planning and delivering the content effectively. We were encouraged to come up with innovative ideas on the spot, which in my opinion, is a quintessential quality of any flexible teacher.
- Student forum: It was the perfect place to share our ‘go-to’ platforms and resources and to learn about other amazing platforms and resources being used by other teachers.
- Last, but definitely not least-- the organization of the content. The course material was organized in a very sequential and easy-to-understand manner. This helped me focus my attention on note-taking and assignments.
What stood out to you in the Specialty Class that set it apart from what you learned in your standard TEFL course?
The specialty course differs from the standard TEFL course in quite a few ways. The standard course is a starting point for anyone thinking of establishing a career in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. As the name suggests, it gives a general idea of approaches/methods helpful in delivering content pedagogically and efficiently, along with planning out lessons and entire courses. The specialty course, on the other hand, provides the touch-up essential for standing out professionally. Depending upon the course, different areas of the TEFL industry are explored in depth. For instance, the TEO course supplements the standard course by:
- Training students in making an intro video
- Explaining different pathways available in the market of TEO
- Providing the best strategies to be a successful teacher in those different pathways
- Focusing on the best possible ways of incorporating technology into classes
- Pointing out the differences between teaching online and on-site and helping trainees adapt to these differences
Did you take your Specialty Class while taking your standard TEFL course or after?
I took my Specialty class after my TEFL course.
How many hours per week did you dedicate to your Specialty Class?
I dedicated about 15-20 hours every week to the specialty course. I would not suggest that anyone go for anything less than 15 hours. My week was usually divided into two parts. During the first four days, I would read the chapter, take notes, do the quiz and take part in the forum. The last three days were always reserved for the written assignment. I believe taking notes has helped me better understand the chapter as I consider myself a read-write learner.
I also made sure to participate in the office hours and live lectures, and I would highly recommend everyone else to do so.
Did you buy the textbook for your Specialty Class?
I didn’t buy the book because I was on a tight budget. However, I believe it will prove to be a splendid companion in the long run. Hence, I am planning to buy the books for the standard TEFL course and the specialty course soon. I am going for the hard copies since I don’t really like books in electronic format. Everything aside, if you can afford it, I recommend buying the books, at least the PDF version. It saves the time and effort spent on creating notes. Then again, if you are a read-write learner, you might want to keep doing it. One is less likely to retain the vast course content in its entirety, so make sure that you have planned out something for that.
Did you enjoy the weekly peer participation with your online classmates?
The weekly peer participation held great significance in a lot of different ways. The thought-provoking questions must have crossed everyone’s mind at least once. It was a great forum to interact with students and instructors alike. I got to read about different creative ideas that might not have occurred to me otherwise. It was useful to have a second or even a third opinion on my approach to a certain situation. Talking about our classroom setup with my peers as a part of the first task helped me get some cost-effective and brilliant ideas regarding my backdrop. Overall, the mix of compliments and critiques was extremely helpful in learning innovative ideas from others in a friendly way.
If you teach English online, where do you teach from?
I am currently staying with my parents in India and teaching English online from home. Prior to the pandemic, I was teaching English in Central Asia, and I plan to move abroad early next year. I am inclined towards Latin America, or I might even go back to Kyrgyzstan again, probably for a few months.
What company do you teach English online with?
As of now, I am working for a language school in Mexico, named Escuela Mexicana de la Lengua Extranjera y Nacional (EMLEN). However, I am planning to work as a teacher in various facilitated marketplaces and online schools soon.
Tell us about your online teaching job!
My current job entails teaching academic English to teens and adults in order to prepare them for Cambridge First and Cambridge Proficiency, respectively. All of my students are Mexican. I work for 28 hours every month, and I have the liberty to set my own hours and change them. My contract length is for one year, which can be renewed upon request. I started working for 6 USD/hr., but after 3 months I was earning 10 USD/hr. (excluding commissions). I am teaching two groups of Cambridge First band one group of Cambridge Proficiency at the moment. My next goal is to work for about 100 hours a month and earn about 1000 USD/mo.
Did you talk about your Specialty Class training during your job interview to help land your teaching job?
I got this job by getting in touch with the director via a language forum. In the beginning, I volunteered to organize free talking clubs. Later on, I was hired as a part-time teacher. Thanks to my previous teaching experience, all this happened back when I had just started my standard TEFL course. As a result, there was no chance of mentioning anything about a TEFL certificate.
Now that I have both the certificates and I have almost finished my preparation for job search, I am definitely planning to mention my certifications to my future employer. Since I don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet, I am hopeful that this specialty course will help me stand out as a strong potential candidate.
Did the Specialty Class you took help to prepare you for teaching English online?
As a teacher who has had the experience of TEO before, I find myself absolutely eligible to answer this question. In short, I can certainly see the difference brought about by this course.
Before, I was grasping at loose ends to find interesting content and to make my class more student-centered, whereas now, I have a better idea of what I should do in an online class. Not only that, I can alter the contents of materials provided to me so that it aligns with the needs analysis of students (something I wasn’t even aware of before doing the TEFL course). Above all, I learned the best ways of marketing myself online professionally. This means I don’t have to depend on a language school anymore.
To sum up, I can’t even imagine how I gave my classes prior to my TEFL certification.
How has the knowledge from your Specialty Class been incorporated into your teaching?
A couple of things that I learned and acquired from the specialty class are:
- Incorporation of useful tech tools: I had deemed the whiteboard to be useless, especially because I used to use presentations and chat boxes. However, I learned numerous interesting ways of using a whiteboard in class. One of my favorite activities is ‘collaborative whiteboard’, which I employ frequently in my writing and/or task-based classes.
- Catering to the expectations of students: Since my specialty classes, I have been surveying my students for monthly feedback. This helps me understand which suggestions I have acted upon successfully and what more do my students expect. My students and my employer like this approach a lot more compared to my previous classes.
- Instruction delivery and communication: When I started teaching online, one of the most difficult things for me was to cope with the silence. It felt like either something was missing, or I was doing something wrong and my students didn’t like it. However, after reading all about the importance of patience, enthusiasm, and clarity, I am better at providing my students with enough time to formulate their answers. This leads to better communication and prevents me from hindering the student while he/she is trying to speak.
What do you enjoy most about TEO?
I enjoy the freedom that comes with teaching classes online. It lets me set my own hours unlike any 9 to 5 job. I get to decide whether I want to work for 25 hours a month or grind for 100 hours. Besides, I don’t have to commute every day to my workplace. Teaching online is also less formal compared to teaching on-site and I love it! Depending on the type of marketplace, you can also set your own deadlines and select your own materials, which might appeal to several people.
I already have and will probably continue to do so in the future. In my mind, it’s beneficial to take the specialty course along with the standard course because it supplements the latter in several ways:
- Prepares you for the marketplace by giving you an accurate picture of requirements and competition.
- Provides you with tons of ways and ideas to market yourself in the TEO field, along with guiding you in your first and very important (even daunting for some, including me) task of the intro video.
- Gives an in-depth explanation of the best ways of delivering content and managing class, especially in an online setting. Even more so, points out the differences between an online class and a physical class, so that you’re prepared to adapt yourself.
- Many activities and platforms catered to TEO are included in the course, making sure that the teacher has enough resources up his sleeves for all kinds of scenarios.
Ayush Pandey is 21 from India. He has taught English in Kyrgyzstan for 2 years and is teaching English online at present. In the due course, Ayush has taught general, academic and occupational English to Russian and Mexican students of all ages. He was also the project coordinator of a one-year tuition free EFL course for underprivileged Uzbek girls. Apart from teaching languages, Ayush is passionate about gaming, writing and traveling.
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