How to Teach English Online on Preply
Hello everybody, nice to see you again. Let me know that you can see me clearly and hear me clearly. I'm glad that you are joining us, thanks for coming today. We're just about to start our live session. My name is Liza and I am an ITTT TEFL expert and an online ESL teacher. Nice to see you guys joining me, thanks a lot and just before we start just quickly let me tell you about ITTT. so our company is a TEFL course provider and we are actually presenting on various social networks right now. If you guys want to get updates on different TEFL content make sure you follow our social networks and keep updated regularly.
Watch the live session here
Thanks for joining today's session, again it's going to be a little bit different from the previous ones because today we have an interesting guest. As we've been talking about online teaching a lot recently, it's quite logical to have a guest who has experience teaching English online and today you guys will have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you have. You will also be able to ask our guest about online teaching with the Preply platform, so stay tuned.
Hello Anastasia. Hi Liza. Hi everybody, thanks for watching today. So I hope I'm going to be helpful to you guys, let us know if you see the both of us together and the picture is smooth and the audio is good, so let us know.
Okay, hello guys I can see some people joining us again, that's awesome to know that there are people who come again and again. Thanks a lot and just quickly let's allow Anastasia to introduce herself.
Hello everybody, my name is Anastasia and I've been teaching on Preply for the last four months. It is an online platform where you can advertise yourself as a tutor and as a teacher and get your students lined up to teach. Maybe you know it, if not, no matter as I am going to talk about it today.
I graduated from my master's degree and I was looking for some teaching opportunities or just some opportunities in the methodology and teaching sphere, because I'm specializing in mobile assisted learning and developing platforms that are connected with online teaching. So yeah, I've been looking for opportunities in this sphere and they were advertising this really cool career opportunity and I wanted to apply for that, but then I realized that I don't know that much about it so I decided to sign up and start teaching instead and I started getting students straight away and they really enjoyed it.
So Liza you're going to be asking questions about it right? Yeah that's right, but I feel like it would be quite interesting to everybody to know what your background is in teaching in general. So you've already mentioned that you graduated from a master's program but what was before that? How did you start teaching before your masters?
Well I have a bachelor degree in linguistics and translation and after that I was looking for some exciting career opportunities and my path led me to China. I worked in China as an ESL teacher for almost three years and after that I decided that I wanted to develop myself in a more research oriented sphere, so I applied for a master degree at the University of Barcelona. After graduating I thought that it would be pretty cool to also get a TEFL certificate to kind of link my master degree and my bachelor background to this TEFL degree and that was actually pretty useful.
Yeah, that sounds quite interesting. So could you please tell us a little bit more about the applicability of TEFL and the bachelors and masters in your career path. It's quite challenging and questionable for many people, like why should I get a TEFL certificate or why should I get a bachelor's degree and whatever? Because not everyone understands how to apply it in their future career. So could you dwell upon this please.
Well okay, I would say that my bachelor degree, also all of my degrees and also certificates, they're all connected to linguistics and my bachelor degree was more similar to an advanced course of English and we didn't really study any particular methodologies like how to teach people or anything, it was a four year course of English which was good and I met amazing people there. However I wanted to have more applicable knowledge and when I came to China I realized that I really love teaching but I don't know how to do it in a better way. So I decided to apply for a master degree and then during my master course it was more related to research which I also loved a lot because I understood why some people read this methodology this way and why other people react that way to this methodology. It was amazing and I could apply these techniques in my teaching as well and just could conduct the research. However, there were not that many techniques explained how to better teach, so I found this scaffold course that you guys are probably interested in and that was very, I can't say brief, but I learned a lot from this course more in terms of teaching like how to teach better grammar, just how to present it to students so they can understand it.
That's awesome, thank you. Let's quickly move to the Preply thing. So just in general, why do you like Preply and what are some of the benefits of this platform?
Well, I'm a non-native English speaker and I was looking for some online teaching opportunities and a lot of platforms they were offering hours but for native teachers only. Preply was a bit different because you can sign up there and they don't really look at whether you are a native speaker or not, they're looking more at how you want to teach and also at your credentials and certificates and everything else. So I decided to sign up and I was getting students very quickly. You can also set your own rate, for example if you have CELTA, DELTA, or TEFL degrees you can set your rate a little higher, but if you are not too experienced you can set it a bit lower so you still get students.
All right, so is there a lot of competition between non-native teachers and native teachers?
Not really, I never actually had any problem that I was not getting any students and also a lot of students are looking for a teacher who has your specific skill set. For example, I have a lot of students who are from Russia and they were particularly looking for an ESL teacher who has Russian as their first language. So that was very useful. So I didn’t find there was too much competition.
That's great to know because there are many non-native teachers who believe that they have less to offer to their future students compared to native speakers and in general it's not true. Right, so we still have a lot of pros. Being able to speak a student's language is really important and it can be easier for us to find our students and also from that perspective it's very useful because you can set the parameters to find your ideal teacher. For example, if you want a native teacher or non-native teacher or maybe you want a teacher who particularly teaches beginners or maybe more advanced learners, so you can set it all out properly and find your perfect teacher.
And what about the general audience on Preply, are they more young students or adults?
Oh just any age honestly. I taught from 5 to 55 and I think this age can go on and on, it just depends on how motivated the student is because to find this platform you just need to type language learning platforms in the engine and then you can start. My students are generally pretty motivated and I never had any bad experiences with my students. I always have really amazing students from all around the world and that's so inspiring. Before the New Year I had students from Israel, Kazakhstan, and Greece and it was fascinating to learn how people celebrate New Year in different countries. I just love this atmosphere a lot.
That's so amazing because it's also about cross-cultural communication, it's not only about English. It's a great way to start your career as well, and by the way, the other thing to consider which is actually a part of our TEFL courses is cultural sensitivity and how to deal with students from different cultural backgrounds. I know that it is something you can't find anywhere like at university or at some ordinary teaching courses where the main purpose is to explain how to teach the language itself. So it's something really important to learn as well and you've already mentioned that there are some filters on the website that every teacher and student can use to reach the audience he or she needs.
What about some other specifics of the platform? What about the course design, are you responsible for that on your own or does the platform offer you something to start quickly?
That's actually a really good question because Preply offers both. So you can teach with your own materials on your own platform, for example if you're used to teaching on Zoom you can use that or Skype or Google Hangouts or anything you like. But also you can teach through the Preply platform which is also very convenient and they're developing it every month and it's getting better and better. Maybe before it was a little slower but now it's getting better and better and you can actually see that. I personally teach through Zoom because I'm just used to that.
Preply also offer their own courses from all kinds of levels targeting all kinds of audiences. They have a special course for kids starting from the beginner level and up to I think b2. Right now they have just targeted the topics that are of interest to kids. They also have courses for business English and advanced learners, so if you want you can use their courses or if you're used to your own teaching materials or maybe other programs you can use it as they are very flexible.
I would say that it is more like a platform where you advertise yourself. You can write that you are specializing in younger learners, maybe I'm looking to connect with young learners from anywhere around the world. Or maybe you are an IELTS teacher, so you're looking for students to just teach IELTS to. That's very useful I would say.
Awesome, thank you. So you can basically be quite relaxed on the point of materials because if you need you can use their preps and that will be alright?
Yes, it's pretty good as they touch upon very interesting topics sometimes, starting from environment and movies, anything, so if maybe you don't have enough time to prepare your own lesson you can have a little bit of help from Preply.
That's great, thank you. Another question would be devoted to the registration process. Is it hard to get into Preply or is it straightforward?
Well, I think it's pretty easy. It's like many other platforms in that you have to record a one minute video introducing yourself where you speak just English or maybe English and your native language if you are looking for students who want a teacher who speaks their native language. So number one, you record the video. You then write a brief introduction in all of the languages that you can speak, for example, I wrote the introduction in English, Russian, and Spanish so I can target these audiences. You can also upload some of your certificates like your degrees and your TEFL, CELTA, or DELTA, anything you have to make yourself look pretty impressive.
Could you give us any tips on how to record a perfect video because it can be quite challenging for those who've never tried teaching online and an introduction video is something people can be really nervous about.
That is true, I can understand that. So for the very beginning you can just record a simple video sitting and talking to the camera, but just try to make it good quality and put yourself in the place of the student watching it and make sure the picture and sound is good. Try to look nice and happy and talk about why you enjoy teaching, your methodology, where you are from, just who you are as that's really attractive to students. It is also a good idea to record the video in a nice place, maybe outside, but just make sure that the audio is good quality. You see a lot of videos on YouTube where the teachers are creating nice videos introducing themselves and talking with a nice background. Videos just need to be creative I think because there are a lot of teachers who are just speaking in front of the camera with kinda angry faces and that's not what students want to see, just be cheerful.
And what about equipment? You mentioned that it's important to make sure the quality is good. So what equipment would you recommend to get beforehand?
Well, I just use my laptop and none of my students ever complained about it, but you know that some teachers use special headphones and special cameras, that's up to you. Just remember to ask your students for feedback and also make sure that the internet connection is good and that you always have either Skype or Zoom to help you if for example the Preply space is not working so you can quickly move platforms if something goes wrong.
That's awesome to know that you are able to start with the minimum of equipment. It’s really convenient because there are some teachers who are like perfectionists and I've seen so many YouTube videos related to online teaching where they suggest you get as much equipment as possible to make sure the picture and sound is awesome and so on.
And what about your online teaching classroom? Do you try to organize it in a specific way and do you aim at impressing your students, especially if you teach young children?
Well, I mostly teach adults right now and I don't have that many young students and I don't really have a special background on the back where you can have a cute map or watch or anything like that. I'm sure that it's amazing for teachers who teach young students to do that, but right now I'm targeting more adult audiences so I'm more focused on the materials that I can share with my students. As for that, I use Google Drive where I have this special folder for each student where I can write some notes and upload some materials and presentations for every lesson I prepare. I can also share with those students and also it's very useful for young kids as well to share with the parents so they can see what you actually learned after the lesson and it's super useful because you can just follow what you just learned and maybe you can repeat everything.
Okay, let's move on and talk about pay rates. I can see there are a few questions related to average rates, so what can you tell us about that?
That's a good question. So you set your own rate on Preply and some people set it from $5 per hour up to maybe $50 and anywhere in between. But you really need to understand yourself how much you're worth depending on what kind of credentials you have and everything like that. Don't set it too low, but remember that in some countries a price like $50 is way too expensive. It's important to consider what kind of audience you're targeting and also that the Preply platform will charge a percentage from every lesson. So usually the first lesson to the student is free, so you don't get paid for that. That's important to consider. The students pay but it goes to the platform. After that the students can buy sets of lessons starting from 6 hours to maybe 22 hours and so on. So the student can't buy just one lesson, they have to buy a set of lessons and Preply charges from I think 30% maximum. When you have more lessons it goes down to 18% or something like that. This makes it motivating to have more lessons but I honestly think it's okay because you can set your rate taking into consideration this percentage. If you usually charge $15 per hour, instead you can charge $18, so for you it's still $15 in your pocket. Also for students they get some discounts if they buy the sets of lessons which is also profitable for them so it's good for you and good for the students as well.
What if for example you like your student and the student likes you and you just exchange contacts and agree to get paid somewhere else, for example the student transfers the money to your PayPal account. Is that possible to then avoid paying the platform their cut?
I think that the platform blocks this kind of message. I don't know exactly, but I think maybe there is an algorithm for that. But also I personally like to work through Preply because I always know that I can set my own schedule and I can get the students according to the schedule. Also, if for example the student forgets and misses the lesson I will still get paid because they buy the lessons in bulk from the platform and they will still transfer the money to me from for this lesson, even if the student just forgot.
Okay, that's good to know. You've already mentioned something about CELTA and DELTA and I know you have TEFL certification, but I would like to ask your opinion on these as there are a lot of students who don't know what course to choose. Is it better to get CELTA or is it better to get TEFL first. What's your opinion?
That's another very good question. When I was looking into all these certificates and I was researching about teaching English abroad, I concluded that getting a TEFL certificate is the perfect first step, especially for teachers who have never taught before and have never had any kind of exposure to linguistics. I wouldn’t say it’s an introductory course exactly as it has so much material in it, but CELTA and DELTA are very dense courses and there is so much information there and if you still have a full-time job that takes a lot of time to complete. I would say that if you really want to start teaching, TEFL is the perfect certificate for the very beginning but then if you want to immerse yourself more into the sphere of teaching you can get a more advanced level qualification later on. Either a DELTA or the Diploma in TESOL, for example.
So, right now if you had to choose between online teaching and in-class teaching, what would you choose?
Oh this is so hard to answer. Well right now we don't really have a choice because of the situation in many countries, but I really enjoy teaching online because it's just very convenient and you can teach anyone from any place. For example, before I lived in Barcelona and then I moved to Russia and none of the students really noticed that I changed location. So you really can be anywhere. However, I also like teaching in the classroom. I would probably mix the two if possible, but I see so many benefits to teaching online. For example, if you're teaching in the classroom it takes time to wait for the students to come into the classroom then after that you may finish late, but with online teaching you start at the exact time and then you can also finish exactly the time when you're supposed to finish. You don't really have to leave much time in between online lessons, so you can have more lessons in a day if you really want to.
That's awesome. Am I right to understand that it's your full full-time job right now?
It's not my full-time job, but I would say that 60% of my time is devoted to online teaching and I really love it.
So do you think it's possible to have online teaching as a full-time job?
Definitely yes, you can make it into a full-time career and many people do just that.
Also, do you think there are any other options for online English teachers to make extra money on the side, apart from teaching itself.
Yes, there are a lot of ways that you can use your linguistic abilities like creating course materials for other teachers. I think that's pretty cool. Maybe copywriting as well, writing articles related to teaching. Yeah, you can do a lot of things, you just need to look for them. It's really up to you, if you want to make more money you will need to be proactive and look for different opportunities.
All right, so that’s all the questions I wanted to ask you, now probably there are some questions in the chat box so let's quickly check it out and make sure our listeners can get the answers they are looking for.
Here is a question about CELTA. Does ITTT offer the CELTA course?
No, ITTT doesn't provide the CELTA as it is provided by other organizations. The CELTA is usually an in-class course so if you are looking for something to dive into CELTA is an option. But you should know that it takes more time to get it and it is more expensive in terms of investment. Basically, ITTT only offers TEFL or TESOL related courses.
All right, so guys let me just quickly remind you that we are represented on various social networks so make sure you keep updated so subscribe and stay with us, we are really happy to share our experiences so that's why we do these online sessions weekly. We also share all kinds of other stuff all over our social media so if you need teaching tips or materials, you'll find it there. Just quickly let me change the slide.
Right, so I've mentioned that we're going to make the special offer and it is right here. If you want any of our TEFL courses use this QR code and you'll be able to get a 30% discount off any course. There are no strings attached. If you want to get it a little bit later just make sure you scan it right now or follow the link from the chat box and the data will be stored on your browser and you will be able to get your 30% discount whenever you need it.
To finish let's do a quick Q&A session. If you want to ask anything related to TEFL or online teaching, or if you're interested in Preply and would like to ask Anastasia any questions, do it right now. You can just write in the Facebook chat and I will reply to it later. That's right, we actually record this session and it will be online on Facebook and YouTube, so if you still have any questions after, just let us know.
All right then, thank you for coming and we're glad to have you joining us weekly and if you guys just watch the sessions after it goes online, thanks for that as well. I also know that there are some people who prefer to listen to the audios on our podcasts, so thanks for downloading and don't forget that there are two live sessions weekly. The first one is on Tuesdays and the second one is on Fridays. Usually my colleague Linda goes live weekly as well and shares her experience with you guys. You are always welcome to join our sessions and we'll make sure that your questions are answered and you get some pieces of knowledge and information that you are looking for.
Right, as there are no more questions for Anastasia right now, let's just finish this session and we will meet next week. Thanks for joining and thanks for your feedback. We hope that the sessions are valuable and interesting to you. I hope to see you all next week.
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