Hey, it’s Jason here; thanks for checking out this free online eBook…a fine choice!
To create this resource, I surveyed 101 online teachers in the Online Teacher Paradise Facebook Group.
I asked them the #1 thing they wish they had known before stepping into the world of online ESL.
This is designed to help you optimize your online teaching experience.
After each of the 101 “things”, I have written a brief elaboration and provided a link to a DigiNo.org article to get you up to speed on that subject.
No longer shall online teachers “wish” they had known something…because at the end of this free eBook you will know 101 things…
…and that’s a lot of things.
1.Have a backup microphone
Sometimes headsets break and one of the most common technical issues is your student not hearing you. Avoid this by researching reliable headsets for teaching:
2.Tips for travelling while teaching
You don’t want to make all these globe-trotting plans without knowing the correct travel methods to keep your job whilst enjoying your trip:
3. I still would like to know more about the Chinese education system.
Teaching for a Chinese company can be a culture-shock. Your best bet is to review how each company operates to get an idea of the ethics and education system of a company.
Here is the best place to start:
4. Some students come to English class not even knowing how to count and others students of the same age are quite fluent. I guess I expected more similarities….
Every student is different for sure. So getting the fundamentals down for online teaching will give you confidence to tackle any situation:
5. To keep the younger students engaged. Stop them from drifting away mentally and physically.
This is one of the bigger challenges of the job. You want to keep younger students entertained…but without using all of your energy. That’s why I developed the ‘2 Minute Rule’:
6. How to properly prepare to get a better rateI ended up working for a super low rate with the first company I worked for.
I also started on a lower rate due to a lack of knowledge of what was expected. That’s why I developed a series of tips for your demo class:
As well as a dedicated course for getting hired with high pay:
7. I wish I hadn't started working for a Japanese company because the yen exchange rate is so low.
Researching your chosen company is so important…and it is elements like this that are easy to overlook.
I have written in the past about the Chinese Yuan vs the US dollar and how the currency exchange can actually be a positive in the longterm:
8. How to use ManyCam! I still don't know what its functions are etc…
ManyCam is a fantastic tool for teaching online. This is exactly why I created a beginner’s guide to help everyone get the best out of the webcam software:
9. I wish I was aware of how much training you actually need using software, becoming competent with the platforms….The teaching is the easy part…And making sure you conform to all aspects of your employers requirements whilst you are teaching….
There are occasionally technical issues whilst teaching online. This cannot be avoided when working with computers.
The best thing to do is…don’t panic!
10.The schools with better pay. I ended up working for a super low rate with the first company I worked for.
I have created a list of some of the top companies, including how much you can get paid with each company:
11. How to access internet easily from any location
It’s all about planning your teaching location in advance and using speedtest to test wifi speeds.
Here are some great locations for digital nomads and online teachers:
12. That TicTacToe was such a life saver
Absolutely. TicTacToe is my go-to warm down game – or just when I can’t think of anything else to do.
And there are so many ways to keep adding variety to it:
13. How to prepare for the interview and have a better understanding of what it was that I needed to prepare for!
Luckily I’ve mapped the interview process for DaDa and SayABC has been mapped out in the articles below (it’s generally the same across companies):
14. Good free-talk topics with Chinese students
You can ask simple questions at the beginning of class to get to know their interests. Or you could just use a random topic generator and play it by chance!
15.Great and fast progress you can achieve. Much faster than any other job I had
This is what makes it a great job for people who have been stuck in unemployment for way too long.
The hiring process and getting to grips with everything is a quick process…so you will soon be raising your confidence back up!
16. How much earning potential there was in referring new teachers.
When I heard it in my interview, I couldn’t believe that DaDa (and other companies) give away $100 every time you recommend a new teacher. This set me on quite a wild ride:
17.I wish I knew how difficult it would be to get support from companies.
It can be difficult to get the answer you need from the companies. That’s why joining one of the many supportive communities on Facebook is really beneficial:
18. How to make it a fulfilling experience.
This all comes down to getting to know what you want from the experience. Do you want to make it a career? Is it a part-time job whilst you build your side-hustle?
19. That most schools only offer classes between 7pm and 9pm Beijing Time
This is indeed the most popular time for getting classes due to the students having finished school and had dinner.
With companies such as VIPKID, where you are in control of your own bookings, this is a really competitive time to get classes.
20.That there are so many different ways to make an online income. Teaching is just the start!
I see teaching online as the entry point of online income. The nature of it allows you to explore side income options whilst teaching.
This is exactly what I did when I created my blog:
21.Which companies hire non-natives
Every company has a unique hiring policy. That’s why I have created several lists of companies, including which ones hire non-native English speakers:
22.I didn't need to print and laminate pics for every lesson. Now I just use my cell and the Google app.
Your preparation time is minimal with online teaching. It’s one of the perks of online over classroom!
There are so many ways to optimize the online teaching experience using technology:
23.Better knowledge on how to engage younger kids
There will be some instances when the student gets distracted or they just aren’t engaged with the class.
There are ways to get them back on track and grab their attention:
24.How ruthless some online teaching employers can be
This is an unfortunate truth that I go into extensively in my DaDa Hiring Freeze article:
25.It's fun and creative and totally different
And are so many ways for you to be creative in this job; whether you want to make props, games or even songs.
Here is a Pokemon game I made to add a bit of wow factor to my classes:
26.That children were involved
Online teaching is unique in the variety of age groups you can teach. One minute you can be performing a puppet show to a 5 year old…the next you can be talking about literature with a fluent 16 year old.
That’s why it is good to have activities for young:
Some companies, you even teach adults, such as PalFish:
27.That using a puppet would be a regular feature of my life
I didn’t think I’d have an elephant permanently placed on my work desk…but after all the help Mr Elephant has given me with difficult students, he deserves his place!
28.That using CCQ could be so effective.
ICQ and CCQ are a foundation of ESL and are so crucial for making sure the student is comprehending in class:
29.I have more than 10 years of ESL teaching experience – all in person. I wish that I knew how to create a great video!
Being on camera is a skill your learn. Correct placement and monitoring if the student can actually see your props and TPR within frame are crucial.
I practice my on-camera skills by making YouTube videos:
30. If you need a qualification
Some companies you need a degree and some you don’t. Here are the companies that don’t require a degree:
31. I wish I knew about what to prepare for a mock class
The demo class is what decides your hourly rate for some companies.
That’s why I’ve put a lot of work into helping people prepare for it:
32.How to use TPR method more effectively
Total Physical Response is so important for student comprehension and engagement. And it is a lot easier than the name suggests:
33.That I could be so animated
You don’t have to dance around like a kid on sugar…but using simple TPR gestures can really add so much energy to your class:
34. How to speak basic Chinese
This is not essential…but it may help with younger students.
Personally, I’ve never done it so I’m not sure on resources, but keep checking the books section of DigiNo and I’ll find a good one to put up there for sure!
ManyCam certainly wasn’t designed for online teachers, but it is fast become an essential tool for some.
Below is a video of different ways teachers use ManyCam:
36.I wish I knew I need to stand for myself as a teacher, and doubt myself less as a non native
Absolutely! Have confidence in your teaching skills as well as your English ability:
37. I wish I knew sooner how easy it was to fit around being a stay at home mom
Teaching online is a popular choice for stay-at-home parents as it can slot right in and not affect your responsibilities as a parent:
38.That my 15 years teaching means nothing and someone with no experience can get the same salary as me.
As I mentioned before, the demo class plays a big role in your hourly rate decision.
So it is important to get it right!
39. How to be more tech savvy
You don’t have to be a computer whizz, but having confidence with technology will help you to handle tech issues.
This all comes with trying out new things and working through problems.
I did a lot of free courses on all things digital after I graduated university…with barely any digital skills:
40. I wish I knew about more digital resources available that can enhance a lesson
I’m constantly posting up resources on DigiNo with this exact goal in mind.
Here is one of the latest examples:
41. Examples of people teaching whilst being pregnant
I obviously know nothing about this…but one of my guest posters does!
42.The confusion with taking holidays
You are technically a freelancer, which means you don’t get holiday pay:
43.What is the best company to work for
This depends multiple factors, but I am always working on comparing different companies to find this eventual answer:
44.Wish I knew that most companies only hire American or Canadian people
The big dawgs do, such as VIPKID and Qkids, but there are so many options for non Americans.
SayABC is actually owned by VIPKID. It is there effort to expand beyond just hiring Americans or Canadians.
45. About the History
This is something we are all mapping now. I am trying to create a timeline of online teaching on DigiNo.
And you can be part of it too:
Here is an article about the future as well as the history:
46.What materials I could study to help me teach students better
47. Facebook groups for online teachers!
Eh hem again:
But seriously, there are so many. ESL Education Rockstar is great:
48.You will get attached to your students
I’ve had some regulars for over a year. You really do develop a great rapport with them!
Regular students is a huge PRO of online teaching:
49.How much I didn't know about teaching english as a second language
It goes so much deeper than the ABCs for sure. You don’t have to be an expert on ESL theory for online teaching, but it certainly helps to do some reading if you’re passionate about it:
50.You can learn about other cultures
Once you start conversing with students with higher levels, you can learn so much about how life is different in their neck of the woods.
51.To prepare games for the kids to go along with the courseware
It’s always good to have a set of go-to activities in mind:
52. What nationality can I teach?
A lot of the companies are primarily Chinese children…however there are companies such as PalFish and Cambly where you teach students from all over the world:
53.How hard it would be to get adjusted time wise
This absolutely depends on where you are in the world.
When I was in England, I started classes at 11am…which was nice and I had a lot of energy.
However, when I travelled around Thailand, I started at 5pm…where I was either really hungry or lethargic from dinner.
54.Whether you’re able to work any hours you’d like to without having to teach a minimum amount of hours per week.
For this kind of thing, it’s best to browse each company to check their working times. One of the more flexible companies is Hujiang:
55. That I didn't need to spend time creating, printing and laminating flashcards – I can download images through ManyCam and use them as my flashcards instead!
ManyCam certainly has its uses! Here is how I used it to optimise my breaks in-between classes:
56. I wish I wouldn't have been so nervous
It’s all about having fun. I was so nervous at the beginning and it was making my students nervous.
If you feel nervous…then do something goofy! Make the student laugh. This game always helped me:
57.Pick a company that calculates earnings in USD or Euros, not in RMB
All currencies fluctuate, but this is great advice to optimise your earnings.
One of the more progressive companies I’ve covered financially is SayABC:
58.Not to expect a full schedule immediately
There are some cases of teachers coming in and expecting to be filled up with students. It doesn’t really work like this. It can take time, so don’t get discouraged!
This is possibly referring to the DaDa situation with time-off policy:
60.Things change quickly in this industry so always have a plan B
It is a young industry, so things are always in development. So absolutely have a few companies in mind that suit you:
61.That there are so many teaching opportunities out there
I was unemployed for so long with my degree. I wish I’d stumbled across this sooner! And it’s not just online teaching…there are plenty of classroom opportunities across the world as well:
There is such a resourceful and helpful community surrounding online teaching…as we are all in this crazy situation together!
That’s why it’s good that we help each other out and share as many helpful things as possible:
63.How to deal with being fired or being rejected from a company
It’s an unfortunate part of life. Here is how I deal with it:
64.I never knew about daylight savings time and that it didn't apply in China!
This stumped me too! I went from Teaching at 11am to 10am without realising.
It’s easy to forget that you are teaching kids from all over the world.
But you can set up email reminders to yourself using automation tools:
65.How hard it would be to sit all day!
It is hard on the ol’ back to be sitting at a desk. But there is always another way:
66. I wish I had saved my kid’s toy animals
You never know what could come in handy as a prop!
67. How much I could potentially earn
It depends how many hours you want to work or if you wish to go down the referral route, or you could even take up another role at your company.
I was a mentor for DaDa before they stopped the mentoring program:
68.Which companies are reliable and ethical.
Unfortunately, some companies have dodgy hiring policies…but good news is, these companies don’t last long!
The reason I feature SayABC so much is because of how ethical they are:
69.That there are so many teaching gadgets
I’m obsessed with finding ways to turbo-charge education. If I find something that I think will upgrade the classroom, I’ll write about it:
70. How often it gave me other things to do throughout the day!
It really is a great job for pursuing a side hustle:
71. I wish I had more examples of great teachers and mentors that would help me navigate working with overseas companies.
I’m always trying to collect the best guest posts from teachers with top advice:
72. The best ways to get paid
There are a lot of factors to consider so that you can avoid conversion fees:
73. That not all companies are based in China
This is a worldwide thing and it just keeps growing. There is even a company based in Russia:
74.The tools that make travelling with the job easier
You can just pick up your laptop and go, but there are things that make the experience a whole lot better:
75. That parents can be really harsh when you think the lesson went great
Sometimes parents do sit in on classes and sometimes they will specify things that they want you to focus more on.
Take it all as constructive!
Or you can always teach adults instead of kids if it’s not for you:
76. Don't spend so much time writing reports
I used to agonize over the DaDa reports for ages…and then I realised that no one was really reading them and it was making a huge difference to the student as they are too frequent to really matter.
77. It's not nearly as scary as the contracts make it sound
All contracts seem intimidating. Just remember to always read through it, as some of it can be poorly translated. But once you get past the hiring stage, you’ll realise that you shouldn’t have been so concerned.
78. I wish I had more games for older students
This can be tricky as a lot of ESL games might be too easy for them. But I have found riddles to be lots of fun for older students:
79.That I would need a TEFL by the end of this week…
This is referring to a policy change in Chinese legislations. Most online teaching companies will require you to have a teaching certification in the future.
80.More ESL strategies for children and adults
Always good to go into some advance ESL learning techniques for adults…as then these strategies will be easy to adapt for children.
81. Not everyone can do it
You have to imagine you are a children’s TV presenter that has to keep the show moving.
However, you don’t have a whole audience watching you…just a student through a laptop!
82.To remember to wear pants
Working from home in front of your laptop has many benefits. Wearing your pyjamas to work is certainly one of them!
83.That you need to smile all the time 🙂
It is true that you should keep a positive atmosphere in class for younger students. Making sure the class is fun for you as well as the student will make it easy to keep a smile on your face.
If you get the student laughing, the class will always be fun:
84. How to get permanent students?
Some companies, such as DaDa and SayABC, book you permanent students, as opposed to just one-off-bookings. The ways to get them is to simply do all the things that got you hired in the first place.
Show up and teach the best you can, and they will come. Here are some crucial fundamentals for getting hired and being a good online teacher:
85. I started 8 months ago and I was nervous. Now I actually like conversing with my students and seeing them grow.
The job is so rewarding once you can start conversing and really getting to know your students. Building a low-ability student up to conversation level takes time – but it can be done, through the Web of Conversation:
86. It’s an exciting yet tiring career choice… especially for South Africans.
Absolutely. There are some companies that do hire South African native English speakers like SayABC and Acadsoc…and then there are companies that only hire North Americans, like VIPKID.
There is opportunity for all…as long as you can speak English well enough to teach it!
87. How long it takes to create props.
You can do as much or as little prep-time as you choose. Therefore you can choose to buy props, use digital props or even make your own.
The length of time, depends on how elaborate you want to make them. Here’s a great post from a really creative teacher:
88. All the platforms available to use
There are so many teaching platforms with different kinds of course material.
I have heard that Landi has really started to up their class material game.
89. I would need lots of equipment to keep the children amused.
Using things like props or ManyCam really helps with the younger students…but you can get by without if you’re incredibly energetic or a massive coffee fiend.
The only things you really NEED are the essential teaching tools:
90. It's exhausting – rewarding and fun – but burn out is a problem!
I used to teach a lot of hours…and I crashed and burned. That’s when I came up with the methods to make teaching online so much easier. A huge element of this method were my ManyCam Games:
91. How much nicer it was than teaching in classrooms
Online over classroom is certainly a massive difference. Check out this guest post from a teacher talking about the benefits teaching online has over classroom teaching:
92. Where to get the best TEFL certificate
This is a tricky one. There are many untrustworthy sources. I posted a free one on DigiNo after I guinea pigged it during the DaDa new legislations requiring teaching certification.
It was accepted so I decided to share it…but for brick and mortar schools, I think they would want a widely recognised establishment.
So if you’re going to spend money on one – make sure it is one that you trust.
93.To not sign up with the first online teaching company that came my way
It’s crazy how many companies there are. And they all do things a little differently. So do some research and see what is best for you.
I have plenty of comparison articles to help you do the research, like the one below:
94. I wish I knew that I could do it full time. I would have saved myself a lot of headaches and two years of trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life.
The beauty of online teaching is, you can generally do as many or as little hours as you want. So you can make it into a full-time job!
And because of the good hourly rate, this would bring in a decent salary.
Here’s an example of an article all about how much you can earn with SayABC:
95. That my life would come to depend on a strong internet connection.
Yep! You need good internet to do the job. The minimum for DaDa is 10 mbps download speed and 2 mbps upload speed.
The main issue with travelling with online teaching, is the dependancy on good internet…but don’t worry – travelling with the job is still very much an option. Check out your internet speed below:
96. There is not any progression between weeks, especially if you teach the same student 2 times in a week or weekend, but over a month, then yes, over a month you would have seen some changes.
You will have to give regular reviews of the students, and also give them a test. But don’t worry about the assessment test…it’s nice and easy:
97.How to work with my computer more intelligently: how to do routine maintenance, use dictation, organize files, understand the computer language, work with glasses and different programs, etc.
The more time you spend online…the more tips and skills you pick up!
98. That sometimes, 4G is better than WiFi.
No! It is forbidden. I certainly wouldn’t ever recommend teaching on a 4G hotspot made from your phone to be able to use on your laptop…which you can do by going on to your phone settings and then searching for it in your Wifi list on your laptop.
Never, never, never.
TransferWise is a god-send. It has saved us DaDa teachers so much money on fees.
Receiving pay from DaDa via bank transfer or PayPal always took a significant chunk from my pay, so I’m glad I switched to TransferWise when I did:
100. I wish I had taken an acting class or something like that.
Sometimes it can feel like acting or performing a routine with younger students. Most of my teaching method is improvising with what is in front of me:
101. I wish I had spent more effort on my teaching background
A decent background is a requirement for some companies. When I started I had a lame alphabet posted hanging just barely on my wool with tape.
The atmosphere of my class just wasn’t right.
If you gotta do something, do it with a don!
If you made it through all 101, I salute you.
If you skipped through them, then I don’t blame you.
But thanks for anyone who originally downloaded this free ebook! I hope it has helped. I decided to publish it to make it much easier to access.
And thanks for becoming part of the DigiNo Community. If you haven't done so yet:
I’m always trying to produce as much helpful content for you guys as possible…so having you as part of the DigiNo team is really handy for actually asking you what you want!
Enjoy your life! And if you want to teach online, you've just got to…
All the best,