How to Stand Out Online as a Non-Native English Teacher


Hello everybody, welcome to the ITTT weekly live stream. My name is Liza and today we are going to discuss an extremely important topic which is related to English teaching as a non-native teacher. Because the field is pretty competitive many people want to find out if it is possible to stand out or not. Let's just quickly change the slide. So the reason I decided to choose this topic is that one of my regular viewers asked me about how to actually stand out as a non-native teacher, especially online. I find it is really important so let's discuss it today and before we move on please let me know that you can hear me and see me clearly.

If you don't know me my name is Liza and I am an ITTT TEFL expert and I'm super glad to welcome you to this live session, thanks for coming. I'd like to remind you that because you guys are super active and you come to watch these live sessions ITTT have provided this 30% discount off any TEFL course. So if you guys want to take a TEFL course or you want to move your career to the next level, feel free to scan this QR code or you can just follow the link from the chat box and you'll be good.

I have already mentioned that today's live session is devoted to the problem of being a non-native teacher online in such a competitive field. I'd really love to share my personal experience on how to build your personal brand on various social networks or just online with your website or any other resources. To begin with I would like to refer to your personal brand. So basically a personal brand is something related to marketing and I believe that most of you are pretty familiar with this idea. However, I still feel like this approach can be applicable to TEFL teaching as well. So for example if you are a TEFL teacher at the beginning of your online teaching career it's a great idea to implement this personal brand strategy to your profile and it's pretty simple actually.

What you have to do in the very beginning is tell your story and when we talk about this point we want to make a clear picture to help other people see you and to see you the way you want them to see you. To do that I'd like to draw your attention to these two points. The first one would be it is necessary to understand who you are and it is always important to show what your interests are, what traits of personality you have, what your values are. So these key points will help you to build up your personal profile and help you to share your story with the rest of the community. Another point is that it is really important to show what your purpose is and here is actually where you can add your credentials. Usually people get a lot of certificates and they become really professional theoretically, however, they don't always know how to express it and how to show it to potential clients.

If you really want to connect with your prospective clients it's a great idea to include your credentials in your brand story and when we talk about your personal brand it's almost the same as a brand of any other company. You want to make sure that you look professional and build trust. Credentials actually help you to do that and here I'd recommend you list your certifications, diplomas and other stuff related to your professional development. But at the same time it is really vital to show off your experience. If you don't have any it's not a problem, the thing is you have to be proactive, to work on your feedback. You have to find someone who will be able to give you this feedback and for this sake it's a great idea to do some volunteer teaching for example.

I just want to share this example. I want to reach other people and I want to make sure they understand me as a brand so I'll try to tell them my story and here it is. So I'm a TEFL certified ESL teacher with seven years of international experience. I’m passionate about foreign languages, cultures, and travel. So in this part I try to include my credentials, my story like how I began doing that, what my interests and passions are. In teaching I try to implement a personal approach to every student and strive to build a relationship with everyone. So it is also really important to express your approach to your teaching and finally I'll try to explain what my mission is. It should be rather brief because people don't pay much attention to long stories. So my mission for example is to help students to overcome a language barrier and cross cultural boundaries and think out of the box by sharing my knowledge and experience.

So this is a sample story but how do we share it? And for this point I want to move on to the next slide because this is where you start building your community. When you are at the very beginning of your career and you don't have any clients you have to think of building trust with other people and here I'd recommend you think of your friends and family as those are people who are usually supportive and can help you to reach other people as well. Sometimes teachers in the beginning of their career still have old clients, maybe from past jobs. For example, I used to work in an amusement park when I was at university and I found several close friends there so I reached out to them and shared my story and shared that I had started to teach and asked them to tell other people about myself. Usually if you have this close connection with others they are pretty open to tell people about you.

The last point would be it is still important to find some new loyal followers, so this is something to keep in mind. You still want to make friends with others and you want to show yourself as a professional. What is quite important is to show others that you're interested in their stories and that you are engaged with them. The next point is that when you have your small community, even 10 people is a community, you want to give value to these people. And here is when we start building trust over different resources like social media using various strategies and content and also we build this engagement and trust with others. What is really important at this stage is that you have to stick to your values, you want to show that you are always consistent in your vision, so just remember that when you build this community.

If we move back to the point on how to build your personal brand I'd say that it's not just about social media, it's also possible to do it in real life. It is always better to know where your audience exists. For example, some people prefer to watch YouTube, so maybe it's a great idea to start building your social profile on this network. However, some other people prefer Facebook for example, so this social network might be beneficial as well. Just try to think of as many resources as you can in order to achieve your goals. Another factor which helps teachers to create this personal brand story is an ability to sell. Of course, we don't want to seem salesy, however, we want to show that we are trustworthy, that we are professional and stuff like that.

If you ask me if it's possible to tell stories over such resources as teaching platforms, here are a couple of examples. I just went to italki to research some interesting teachers and I found these two guys. The first thing I did was I watched their introductory videos and I learned something about them. So the first girl was really open-minded in her video, she shared her interests, she told about her life experience and why she chose to teach people and it was done in a friendly manner. She actually did a great job from my point of view and she basically told her story and this is how she helped me to find out about her personal brand.

The other guy was really consistent in expressing his strong opinions on the point of sharing language experience, he's proficient in different languages because he lives in India and in different parts of India people speak different dialects. However, those dialects are pretty different and still this language helps to broaden your boundaries and it was also interesting to learn about his approach and his personal story. So I'd really like to take a couple of lessons with this guy as well.

I also checked their profiles in order to find out if they connect with their audiences somewhere else and it turned out that the first girl actually runs a YouTube channel which is pretty successful and this is where she distributes her content for free. So she basically gives value for no money and it helps to build trust as well. I'd say it's also a part of her personal brand because this way she helps other people to understand in which areas she is professional. So basically you don't have to create your social media, it's pretty normal to use this personal brand approach over online teaching platforms. However, if you still want to reach out to a lot of people it's a great idea to use the power of social media as well. It's a really challenging approach because you have to be consistent and you have to spend a lot of energy on creating materials and content, you have to spend time communicating with your audience because it is also important to respond to questions and comments online. But I'd still recommend you consider this approach because it's a proactive one and nowadays when we teach in this competitive field it's quite important to be flexible and try different ways and ideas.

If we talk about this problem from another perspective, like if the strategy actually works with real employers like English teaching schools for example. I'd say yes as well because such an approach helps you to create your perfect resume and basically a resume is also a paper which contains your brand story. However, it should be short and it should be focused on details, but you can still use it to tell your personal story. This is how you can actually reach your potential employers.

Now I'd like to hear from you, so let's have a Q&A session or just a discussion. So if you have any ideas on the points I've just talked about, please share your opinions and let's try to work productively. I think that this approach is really interesting although it's not an easy one, but for me there is no easy way to stand out from the crowd and be the best teacher online. This way you can find clients and build this trust.

I can see that there are several questions already. So this question isn't related to today's point, however, we can briefly discuss it. I believe that the only way to become fluent is to practice as much as you can, but your practice shouldn't be circled over just one particular skill but rather on various skills. If you want to be a fluent speaker it's not enough just to speak, it is also important to listen a lot and to read different articles, books and whatever. I know that many non-native English teachers when they become experienced in terms of English learning they just stop working on their problems and they focus on teaching. However, it is still necessary to polish your skills.

So guys if you have any questions related to today's point, how to stand out as a non-native English teacher feel free to comment right now or if you have other questions related to TEFL, feel free to ask me. By the way, here on the right you can see this QR code which will take you directly to my Facebook group. I created a Facebook group to communicate with people who come to these live sessions, with other teachers , with those who are interested in TEFL and in online teaching. If you want to stay connected, if you want to keep in touch with me please scan this code with your cell phone, I'll be really glad to communicate with you. I think this way is really nice and I am open to new people and appreciate it when you guys reach out to me.

Lisa asks, if being a cheerful and happy person might harm her professionalism?

I think no because it is extremely important to possess those qualities that you've just mentioned. I don't believe that there is anyone who prefers to work with gloomy people, especially when we talk about teachers. I have a really good example from my personal experience. Last Friday I spoke to one of my students' fathers and he mentioned that the only thing that keeps his daughter with me is not actually my teaching but rather the way I am with his daughter. She really likes to work with me as a person and I believe that such qualities as cheerfulness are something that helped me to build that connection. Of course, I try to put a lot of effort into creating interesting materials for her and explaining everything as interestingly and engagingly as possible. However, my personal qualities are probably even more important because students, especially the younger ones, want other people to be kind to them, especially teachers.

If we distinguish between tutors and school teachers we know that those teachers who work with bigger groups don't always have this opportunity to build close relationships. So yeah I think that cheerfulness and being a happy person is actually something that can really help you to look even more professional. But the thing is you have to tell your story, so try to make this personal brand be based on your cheerfulness and happiness.

Okay, so the next question. What is the best and easiest way to change parents' mindsets and to lift up their children to learn English?

Do you mean some parents don't want their children to learn English? If yes then probably it's a great idea to show the benefits that English gives to those who can actually speak it. When you talk to open-minded parents they usually mention that the most beneficial aspect from learning English for their children is an ability to be successful in the future. To have more career prospects, to have more opportunities to study abroad for example. This is something that drives those parents a lot. I know that for some parents it is challenging to pay for private classes, however, they still know that English is a necessary skill.

If you meet parents who don't want their children to learn English and who don't understand why it is necessary, then probably it's just not a perfect fit for you as a teacher. And the most important thing here is to stay comfortable as a teacher because we usually think about others but we don't always think about ourselves. So if it's not a perfect fit don't take it personally and just move on to the next opportunity.

Sometimes teachers just think about so many things but not about themselves which is actually not the best approach. I follow a teacher blogger on Instagram, in Russia a lot of teachers create personal blogs on Instagram and this is the way they share their knowledge and experience and at the same time build their personal brands. So a couple of days ago I came across one of my colleagues' stories on Instagram and she shared that she had burnt out recently. She said she doesn't want to teach one-on-one classes anymore and she feels tired constantly and then she started explaining her schedule. I initially thought that she had burned out because she no longer liked teaching, but actually it was because of the amount of hours she spends on teaching.

She also adds to her work load by doing extra things that are not related to teaching itself. For example, when her students come to her class feeling depressed or in a bad mood she always tries to comfort them, she always tries to ask what happened. Sometimes they share stories of being bullied or stories of having troubles in their families and she is not a teacher at that time she is a psychologist or psychiatrist. From this point of view we spend so much of our energy and we just don't have time to recharge our batteries. So if you feel like you are burning out being a teacher try to look at your teaching from a different perspective. Do you just teach or do you do something else as well?

All right guys, so we've been 40 minutes online already and I believe that we've discussed a lot of things. However, if you still have anything on your mind and you want to ask me something feel free to do it right now or we will just wrap up today's session. Thank you so much for sharing your feedback with me because usually these live sessions are really challenging as I'm not a native speaker and I'm not the best speaker, so every time I go live I try my best. Thanks a lot for sharing your opinions. I appreciate it and thanks a lot for your support.

Let me just remind you that this live session is provided by ITTT, International TEFL and TESOL Training. We are represented on various social networks so feel free to connect with us, let's keep in touch. And if you want to communicate with me personally you can always leave a comment under videos like this or direct message me on Facebook. I'm an open-minded person, I really like to communicate and I don't mind if you pm me. I've already mentioned that I created this Facebook group, let me just quickly share the direct link over the chat box because I know some people don't like to scan QR codes because it's not that convenient. So let me just share the group link and welcome you to the group. If you want to talk to me please feel free to do that. I'll try my best to help you out.

I'll see you next week guys, if you have any suggestions for future live streams, maybe you want a specific topic, feel free to tell me. Thanks a lot for coming, bye, bye.

Register now & get certified to teach english abroad!