If you have been thinking about teaching English online, you’ve probably heard many opinions about teaching English. If you’re still in the research stage it’s good to know what opinions are based on facts and which may be common myths about teaching English. Let’s talk about ten common myths now!
When I first started thinking of teaching English I remember hearing so many opinions about teaching English. I remember thinking that teaching was better for people who move to live in developing countries. The reason is that the only people I heard who were teachers were making such a small amount per hour. I thought, “There’s no way I could ever live off of that!”.
After I started teaching English, when people would ask me what I do for work, I’d often get some strange looks. People would say ” Is that a real job?”. I would laugh a bit and say “Yes!”. Often I didn’t know if they were really convinced. Why?
Well, there are so many myths about teaching English. For some, it seems like a fantasy job. For others, it seems too good to be true. Let’s squash the most common myths now!
Top Ten Myths About Teaching English
1. Teaching English is one big vacation.
It’s easy to see why people could think that teaching English is not a real job but more of a fantasy. Often people who teach English move abroad to teach. And what do their friends and family see?
Pictures online of beaches, good food, exciting new cultural experiences! So yes, no wonder their friends and family think they are just having a big vacation. However, you may be only seeing the side benefits that your friends are experiencing from moving abroad.
The teaching English part of the experience is actually work. Yes, work! Teaching Engish is a real job. There are real students who are looking to the teacher to actually help them see results. They may need to see certain results to get into university or to obtain a job. There is a big responsibility on the teacher to give those expected results.
Also what you may not see is the time that the teacher spends correcting homework and preparing lessons outside of the classroom. All of this takes planning. There are often set hours for classes and a routine that the teacher needs to follow.
So is teaching English a real job? Yes, it is. Myth one debunked! Let’s move on.
2. If you speak English, it’s easy to teach it
Now this one is quite common. I remember a friend who had lost his job and said: “Oh I’m going to try and do what you do”. So I asked what he knew about teaching and he said “Not much, but how hard could it be. After all, I speak English.”
So the next week he excitedly told me that he’d already gotten an interview. I asked if he wanted any tips for the interview. He said “No, I’m not worried about it. I know a lot of people teach English. I shouldn’t have any issues”.
Well, can you guess what happened? The day after his interview I saw this friend. He embarrassingly said that he totally bombed the interview. I asked what happened. He said, “I didn’t realize that you really have to know what you’re doing!”.
The interviewer actually stopped the interview after he couldn’t answer how he would explain the word ‘comfortable’ to a student who didn’t know what it meant. You see he thought he’d just have a conversation with the student and that was it. He’d be teaching English.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. To teach English you really do need to know about methods of teaching. You also need to know or be willing to learn about grammar usage and language acquisition. You need to explain why we say something a certain way.
For most people, some training is required to feel confident in teaching English and to be a successful teacher.
Myth two debunked!
3. If you teach English, you’re teaching children
While it’s true that many teachers do teach children, they are not the only types of students. Many teachers work with adults, such as business professionals. In my case, I’ve taught only business professionals for the last few years.
English teachers can work with children in schools or after-school programs. But also many teachers teach Business English to adults, work with universities and colleges, or work with high school-aged students preparing for college.
Myth 3 debunked!
4. All your students are from China
It’s easy to see how people could think this was true. You see China is one of the biggest markets for English learners in the world. However, this doesn’t mean that they are the only ones learning English!
For example, in all the years I’ve taught English, I’ve never taught students from China or Asia at all!
People all over the world are learning English! You can choose where you want to teach if you are teaching abroad. If you are teaching online, you can find companies that teach students in many different regions in the world- from South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East!
Myth 4 debunked!
5. You need to speak the language of your students
While knowing your students’ native language can be an advantage it’s certainly not necessary to teach English. In fact, schools really want you to speak English and provide an immersive experience in the classroom.
Often companies will pair you with students that already have some knowledge of English if you don’t speak their language. If you are teaching in person, abroad, for example, you may even have a teachers assistant who speaks the local language.
Myth 5 squashed!
6. You’re too old to teach English
The fact is that there are no age restrictions for teaching English. But why would this even be spread as fact?
Well, there are a few reasons. If you are planning to teach abroad there are sometimes some age restrictions due to the visas required. For example, in some Asian countries, you can’t obtain a work visa if you are over 60 years old because you have to be under the retirement age to have a work visa there. If you are working online this wouldn’t apply to you though.
Also, there may be a few companies with age requirements but the majority do not have these restrictions at all. Often your experience is regarded as an advantage especially if you are teaching business professionals.
Myth 6 crushed!
7. You need a degree to teach English
The truth is that for many having a TESOL certificate is enough to find work teaching English.
There are some countries where a degree is required for example China. However as we learned in myth number four, China is not the only country where there are English learners.
Many have found that having a TESOL certificate and relevant experience is sufficient for finding work teaching English online.
Myth 7 extinguished!
8. You have to move abroad to teach English
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that this is a myth. You can teach English from anywhere where you have an internet connection. You can teach online!
Myth 8 squished!
9. You can’t make a living teaching English
Now, this is probably one of the most common myths there are about teaching English, especially online. Many people just don’t think, like myth number one, that teaching is a real job. So they wrongly assume that you don’t get paid much to do it.
The fact is that most online teaching jobs pay the average hourly salary or more for most American workers. I have a whole post debunking this myth here.
Myth 9 debunked!
10. I like children so teaching English will be easy
As we saw in myth number two, we know that teaching English is not necessarily easy. Teaching children can sometimes make teaching complicated. Why?
Classroom management. Children have short attention spans so being able to capture their attention and keep it can be a challenge for some.
Learning how to manage a classroom is not always taught in TESOL certification programs so this can be a big learning curve for some.
Managing a classroom takes time and patience! One advantage of teaching children online is that you will often just be teaching one child at a time. Liking children will certainly help you to be more patient with yourself and your students!
Myth 10 squashed!
As you can see there are many myths surrounding teaching English. It’s good to research things yourself or to ask a few people who are already teaching to get a realistic view.
I really hope you got value out of this blog post as you continue your journey towards teaching English online! If you want to keep learning why not subscribe to this blog by clicking here.
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Were there any myths that you believed before reading this article? Comment below and let me know!
Thank you. What other languages are needing ESL? What websites?
I taught adult Japanese students English one summer and it was a rewarding experience. I learned a lot about their culture and how people view American culture as well. It was an enriching experience and I would love to do it again.
That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience!
I would like to find an online teaching job as a English teacher help me I will be grateful thank you
Please check out other articles on this blog which give you some great suggestions on how to start!