Have you been thinking about teaching English online but certain fears keep coming to mind? Or maybe you have gotten your TESOL certificate but you haven’t started looking for a job yet? Could fear be holding you back?
Today I’m going to go over some of the common fears people have when thinking of teaching English online and I’ll give you some solutions to combat them!
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Can Fear Really Hold You Back?
I first started thinking about teaching English many years ago when a couple of friends took a course to get their TESOL certificate. I was excited to take it too. It seemed fun! I felt like this was the way to reach some of my goals to move abroad! So I went with a couple of friends and I got my TESOL certificate. But guess what?
It took me years to do anything with it. At first, I felt like I was just too busy with everyday life. But looking back I think this was an excuse. I was really just overwhelmed with all the options. I didn’t know where to start. I remember looking at job boards and even looking daily, but I never applied for any jobs. Fear was holding me back!
How did I get over it? When I realized that my inaction was preventing me from reaching my goals. I knew that any action was better than no action. I was tired of procrastinating. I knew that whatever I did or whatever job I got would only get easier as time went on. Experience is always the best teacher. And guess what?
When I arrived in Spain I had my first interview and they offered me a job! Unfortunately, the schedule didn’t work with what I had prioritized to do, so I tried again. Was it a bit scary at first? Of course! It was all new but I was able to find work and teaching English supported my wife and me for several years living in Spain. We overcame our fears and made a success of it! You can too! Let’s talk about some common fears.
Common Fears About Teaching English Online
I’m feeling overwhelmed. How can I get started?
This is a common and normal feeling. The online teaching world is big and there are many options that you can take. You can teach children or you can teach adults. You can work for a company or you can even go out on your own.
The most important step is to evaluate your objectives. Think about the end goal. Why do you want to teach English online? Do you want to live abroad? Do you want to simplify your life? Are you looking to supplement your income? Write down your goal.
Next, decide who you want to teach. Do you want to teach children or adults? Why is this important? Well deciding who you would like to teach will help you to choose what companies to apply for. It will simplify your job search.
Evaluate your experience. Do you have teaching experience? Have you gotten your TESOL certificate? Do you have a degree? Does it matter? Well, in any of these cases it will not keep you from finding work. But it will help you to choose which companies to apply to. This will help make your job search more effective and successful.
If you don’t have a degree, for example, you wouldn’t apply to a job that requires the teacher to have a degree. You want to maximize your chances for success. So look for a company that meets the skills and experience that you have at this moment. This will simplify the process and you can have a list of companies to apply to. The most important thing is to start!
I don’t speak another language. How can I deal with students that speak another language?
This is a common fear but the good thing is that most companies will match you with students that fit your skills. For example, if you are teaching Spanish students but you don’t speak Spanish the company may assign you students that are not beginners but intermediate English speakers.
Even if you have a beginner student, the goal of the course is for the student to have an immersive experience. You will want to use teaching techniques like TPR or visual aids to help you in explaining concepts. Remember that you will be teaching online, so you will have access to the internet! You can use a dictionary, Google Translate, and other resources to help you get through any challenging moments.
What if my Internet goes down?
This is a valid question. Honestly this is probably one of the stresses that comes along with working online. But there are things that can be done to deal with this situation. The best way to overcome this challenge is to have a plan B.
One thing that will help you is to have the correct teaching toolkit. Along with having the basics like a computer and headset, you want to also have things like a power bank, a smartphone with Hotspot capabilities and a bit of patience. Having the right equipment will help you to overcome any internet issues.
I don’t know what equipment I need to teach English online.
Do I need any special equipment? Do I need a computer, laptop, microphone, headset, Ipad or tablet? These are valid questions. To teach English online you do need to have some equipment. Let’s go over the basics.
- A good quality headset
- Webcam with HD
- Battery backup
- Laptop computer or desktop computer
For most companies, you will not be able to use your phone or an Ipad or tablet. However, there are a small number of companies that operate using an app and having a tablet or your phone could be used. Also, a tablet could be used as a backup if the power goes out.
I’m not sure how to teach a lesson.
If you are a new teacher than planning and teaching a lesson can be a bit scary. Now, if you are just getting started the best advice I can give is to keep things simple. For most companies, you will be provided with lesson material and that will make teaching a lot easier.
For most companies, you may have some freedom to add additional material in a lesson. However, if you are nervous about teaching a lesson, stick closely to the reference material. Keep a simple outline:
- ice-breaker activity
- lesson material
Having enough lessons. What if my student misses a lesson?
One thing to keep in mind is that most people, especially adults, are taking online lessons because it’s convenient. So for the majority they will keep their lessons. However here are some things to keep in mind to help you keep a full schedule.
- Choose a company that values teachers with a fair cancellation policy
- Work with children who are attending lessons as part of their normal school days
- Work with adults that are business professionals and are taking lessons to advance their career
- Specialize in test preparation
This is just a small list of things that can help ensure that you have a schedule of engaged students.
So, these are just a few of the common fears that can hold us back from getting started with teaching. I hope that if you are experiencing any of these fears that you feel a bit more assured that these challenges can be overcome.
Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”
Norman Vincent Peale
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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Do you have any other fears about teaching English online? Please share below and I’ll share some solutions!
What if I’m nervous and have a fear of whether teaching online will be able to sustain me and my wife financially?the uncertainty of being booked for classes and only getting paid if you are booked etc can be very nerve wracking.
Hi Zain, that’s a common fear and I actually had the same fear at the beginning. However, my wife and I have been able to sustain ourselves teaching online for several years. Two of those years we lived in one of the most expensive cities in Spain. I think the key is finding the right company to work for. You want to choose one with a good reputation, that finds the students for you and that pays well. We have many friends who support themselves teaching and have done so for years, in many different countries. I have a post coming up soon about this so stay tuned!
Joanna Boligan says
Thank for addressing this issue. I am in my sixties so I become hesitant that companies will not hire me due to my age so they will overlook me and move on to someone younger. I personally feel that my experiences and wisdom in life could contribute greatly to teaching others. Again it’s that big bad wolf knocking on my door called fear.
Hi Joanna, that could certainly be a valid fear. But I agree with you that your experience in life will be a great asset to teaching others! From what I’ve seen, it seems that more companies that focus on teaching English to children usually look for younger teachers while companies that focus on adults and business professionals actually look for teachers with experience.
Dragana Vucicevic says
What to say? You mentioned almost everything we need . There is one question – after few years of teaching online does it come to type of being tired of that specific type of job? You mentioned in some posts how did you organize your daily routine and how it helped you.
Hi Dragana, thanks for your comment! That’s a good question. It’s like any other job there may be times that certain aspects of the job can become routine, however, one thing that is great about teaching is that you constantly have new students. So even though you are teaching the same subject, English, it’s always different because of the students. Each student is learning for different reasons, they are at different levels of English and so you can customize the class for the student. So because of that, I’ve found it to stay interesting. I can definitely do a post in the future talking about organization and my daily routine!
Thank you for addressing the issues we face so concisely. I’m still in the information gathering stage but reading as much as I can so that I can be well informed before taking any steps. You certainly do understand and I’m grateful that you have taken the time to share with others so that they can more easily take that first step. I think that the thing to remember is to just give it a go! If it doesn’t work out then you’ve still done something to try and that’s valuable. No-one will judge you. But if it does work out then you’ve opened up a whole new set of possibilities that could lead you anywhere!
You are right! If you give it a go you may be surprised by the new opportunities that you may have available!
I have been reading through all your information, not nestly through it, there’s a lot! But that is good.
I believe I want to do this, have thought of it for a few yrs now, but never move forward with it. Your reasons for not hit the nail on the head! One question is how to do this part that toy posted in a reply above. There are sooo many companies.
Thank you for you tone and insight.
You want to choose one with a good reputation, that finds the students for you and that pays well
Hi Angie, most of the companies do find the students for you. However, the pay can range depending on the company. You can go to the company website to learn about what the company offers its teachers and the teacher requirements. You can also check teacher forums or Glassdoor to see reviews from current employees.
Stacey Kossiver says
I just finished my 120 hr course TEFL. Taking my exam next week. I cannot wait to start once I pass. I am a substitute teacher since 2016. My neighbor does TEFL makes alot of $. I hope I can get a good job once I pass my exam and I do my interview as. It’s worth it. Nothing is easy in life. Go for it
Ana Bird says
Thank you for all the information!
My fear is not knowing where to start and what to teach a student, I’ve looked up levels like A2, B2 etc. and what to teach those levels, so it’s not like I don’t know, but I’m quite fearful of being lost and overwhelmed!
Another thing is if the student is a bit more mature, and doesn’t fully understand and I hit my limits on explaining, or don’t know how to answer more. It’s some silly things, but I think I just get overly anxious and think the worse.
I took a 168-hour course, so I have a good one, but I don’t feel like they went into depth enough on these points.
I’m currently taking a degree in French and Spanish, so it’s good that I also have experience on the learning side of learning a language!