So you’ve decided you want to teach English but should you teach online or physically in a school? What’s the difference between teaching online and teaching in a traditional classroom? Which should you choose? Keep reading to find out!
When I first started teaching in Spain, I worked for an English academy and taught students in person- at their homes, in schools or at their work. One of the things that I really liked about teaching students in person was that it was easy to see my students strengths and weaknesses related to English. I was able to focus more on certain students and also see when they really were understanding the material.
After teaching English in-person for a year I moved on to teaching online. One big difference in teaching online is that many of my classes were one-on-one so I got a chance to know my students really well. I really enjoyed listening to the presentations of some of my adult students who were learning English to be more useful in their jobs. I was able to simulate the actual presentations they’d give at work, by asking different questions related to their jobs.
While I enjoyed both experiences there are definitely pros and cons to each. Let’s talk about what you should consider.
The traditional classroom
So in the traditional classroom where you have a room of students, which can vary in size, can be very different from online teaching. Let’s look at some major differences:
- You may work longer hours but with some downtime in-between classes. For example, when working for the academy I had some days that were eight hour days, but I had a two-hour break in the afternoon for lunch and short breaks between each class.
- You have to plan your own lessons. This can be enjoyable as you can insert a lot of your own personality and style, but it does take time to prepare. Often you are not paid for this time.
- Often you’ll have quite a bit of grading papers to do. This can also take time, especially at the beginning.
- You’ll have weekends and summers off. Yay!
- Regular communication with parents (if you’re teaching children). This can be helpful but can also add some stress if you’re dealing with demanding parents or have a challenging student.
- Strong community and collaboration. In a physical school, you’ll be collaborating with other teachers and directors in the school. This can help you to develop as a teacher as you can learn from the experience of others. You also benefit from the support of fellow teachers, which can be great if you have any challenges in the classroom.
Now when you are teaching online the experience will be quite different from teaching in-person. Let’s look at the differences:
- You will likely work fewer hours but have more focused teaching. You see you’ll be cutting out travel time and long breaks between classes. So your eight hour day may be condensed to four focused hours of teaching, for example.
- Active teaching at all times. This point can be tiring at times, as you are always on. You have the camera on and the students are more focused on you. So there’s no sitting in the corner watching students do all the work.
- Weekends and summer can be busy times for some online schools.
- Work hours can vary depending on your time zone and the time zone of your students. Working early mornings or later evenings can be common among English teachers. However, you can control that by choosing a company where students live in a similar time zone to you.
- You will mostly work with students one-on-one, although group sessions are available. Normally you won’t have more than 4-5 students in a group lesson.
- Lesson planning is usually done for you. So preparation for classes can take less time than planning everything yourself.
- Technical issues are common and can sometimes be stressful. Often though you will have support members available to help when needed.
A few similarities
So there are a few similarities between teaching online and teaching in the classroom. Consider these:
- You can be creative! In the physical classroom maybe you have the freedom to decorate your classroom and personalize your space. You can do the same in the digital classroom.
- You have to be flexible, improvise and think on your feet. This doesn’t change when you move online. One benefit online is that you can open additional windows in your browser and look up a definition of something you don’t know!
- You will improve as a teacher. The experience you gain will help you to continue to improve whether you’re working online or in a traditional classroom.
So what will you choose? It’s really up to you! However, I personally feel like teaching online gives you much more flexibility and control over your schedule. You can often make your own schedule to be free for other activities that are important to you.
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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Which would you prefer? Teaching online or in a classroom? Let me know in the comments!