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Issues to Know When Instructing On-line English in China and Taiwan

For teachers who are new to China and Taiwan, here are some tips! China is a populous country, the demand for English teachers is growing across the educational spectrum. There are a LOTS of online teaching platforms out there, it could very overwhelming without knowing which one to choose from. However, here are some commonalities among them. Here is a guide to help you understand the general terms of those platforms and their slightly different focuses.

Why Teach English Online in China?

Some of the advantages of online teaching could be very apparent, relatively flexible schedules with minimal weekly commitment, part time, good pay (some are up to USD $25 with bonus), work from home, relatively steady income as working for part time job which is great for ones are traveling and work or stay home parents and beyond. Few disadvantages are that lack of physical interaction that all we human desire and time zone differences could be a problem for some. Working for platform companies will typically require a minimal weekly commitment for a period of at least 3 to 6 months depending on the program, especially during peak hours.

Most companies provides their own class curriculum and teaching materials and some preparation on your side. The teaching is delivered over laptop or tablet with good Internet connection and good microphone and speaker are critical as well.

Class Sizes

There are typically few different session-types

a. One-on-one: the teacher and a student.

b. Small Groups: around 2–6 students

C. Group Lesson: 20~25 students per classroom

Class Levels

Student can roughly divided into few categories, preschooler (age 3~6), K12 (elementary and middle schools), high school, college prep, to business professionals as adults. Most online English teaching platforms are specialized in specific one or multiple categories of students and demographic. Here are some examples, SinceWin only teach preschoolers ages 3~6; VIPKID focus on teaching for children ages 3~12; DadaABC focuses on ages 4~16; 51Talk conduct from K12, college prep, to adults; some like Hujiang focuses on college exam preparation and even teach multiple languages.

Here are class levels

– General English: help students with their English via class teaching materials

– Examination preparation: college entry exam for foreign students, such as IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge proficiency. College exams like SAT, GRE, etc.

– Business professional: focus on topics pertaining to business conversation, business writing, presentations, some also emphasize on particular subject matters or industry.

How Many Hours will I spend on teaching English online?

The beauty of teaching English online is that you have relatively flexible hours and the schedule. While some online teaching companies may require you to teach a minimal number of work hours and cover the peak hour traffic, but you can decide to teaching a few hours per week or turn it into a full time job with 40+ hours per week.

Due to the nature of the school and business working hours, the available hours for students is typically range from 4pm~10pm, with peak hours 6pm~10pm. Furthermore, since platforms have different focuses on the age group, therefore you often will teach in a specific period of time with a teaching platform. For example, VIPKID/DataABC/51Talk will require high volume of teachers from 6pm~10pm, but they might not have class or enough class for the off peak hours in the morning or early afternoon. Teaching platforms generally will not nor cannot ask for exclusivity for working for one platform. As a result, you can look for another teaching platform like SinceWin which teach students from 9am~12pm. A good complementary hours give you a full time like job. However, platform often requires a 6-month or up to a year minimum contract commitment. So choose and plan wisely!

How Much Money can I Make Teaching English online?

The hourly rate is often depends on the teacher’s teaching experience and factors like level of qualifications in certification, native/non-native, etc. Generally speaking, online English teachers typically earn around $15~$25 USD per hour, which is usually paid every month or bi-weekly. However, I’ll highly recommend you check with the HR of the teaching platform for the detailed and precise Online Teaching compensation directly.

What are the Common Requirements for Teaching English Online?

Online English teaching has less strict requirements compare to onsite English teaching. However, that said, here are some common basic prerequisites,

– A Bachelor’s Degree (already obtained one or currently pursuing one)

Here are ones will definitely give you an edge,

– A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification

– Native speaking capability or natural North American accent preferred

– Teaching experience. Especially the ones teaching lower grades or preschoolers.

– Understanding of United States educational system or teaching methodology (this is particular important for onsite, but perhaps less applicable to online class).

Which Online English Platform to Work with?

There are many, many, many of them out there. Here are some major distinctions among them might help you deciding which platform to work with,

  • Hourly rate — average $15~$25 USD, but could also range from $10~$40
  • Class duration — range from 25-min to 90 min session with a break
  • Class level — preschool, K12 (elementary, middle, high school), college prep, adult, etc.
  • Class size — one-on-one, small group 4~6, large group 20~25
  • Minimal hour commitment per week — range from 2 to 8 hours
  • Training — onboarding and ongoing teacher training. Paid vs. unpaid training.
  • Time zone — no worry, the entire China and Taiwan are in the same time zone, UTC +08:00.

You can check out the following websites to learn more what are the platforms out there.

Application Process

Oakary is here to help you with the process and connect you to wide varieties of platforms and opportunities. We also provide consultation for the job candidates for questions like interview process and advices free of charge.

  1. Fill in the application https://oakary.com/apply
  2. We’ll either connect you to the HR of the specific platform specified or we will also try to match with the similar role you desired. You can also leave your application in the database so we’ll able to reach out to you if new opportunities open up. Some teachers only work for one platform, but many do mix and match with multiple platforms to fill up the spare time slot.
  3. HR will reach out to you for interview if it’s a good match. HR will walk you through the process with their process. However, you’re alway welcome to contact us at support@oakary.com for help or feedback!Which Video Software App to Use for Teaching?

Majority of the time, the teaching platforms use their internal teaching software that you need to installed on your computer to perform the teaching.

However, for smaller or relatively new programs, some platforms use Skype or Zoom. Due to the Great Firewall in China, service like Google hangout won’t work and is not be reliable due the unstable Internet over VPN network.

Time Zone, Time Zone, Time Zone

Time zone conversation could throw everything off if you’re not too familiar with it, especially the daylight saving could be very confusing first. Luckily, even China acrosses multiple time zones, but is using only one time zone in China as Beijing time and Taiwan is Taipei time. Both countries, Taiwan and China, are in the same time zone, UTC +08:00.

Communication

There are two important part of the communications to be aware here, the medium of the communication and the interpersonal communication.

Let’s talk about the medium of the communication first. China is rely on mobile centric communication, which mean most of the communication happens on mobile phone in China instead of email communication, including the class schedule, events updates, and class materials, etc. Skype and WeChat or perhaps platform’s internal software would be your pal for communication.

Here is another critical part of the communication, the interpersonal communication. There are often conflicts occur between the teachers and platforms due to the language barriers and cultural barriers, which leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding of each other. As a writer, I’ll elaborate on some personal experience and understanding as a person who received education in Taiwan until middle school, then high school and college education from United States and currently working in San Francisco, but also had worked in Taiwan and China before. I’m doing a lots of generalization and assumption here, which do not necessary applicable to specific individuals or cases, but a general idea to help you understand the potential circumstance.

In Chinese culture, the conversations between hierarchical relationship are often less open compare to the western culture, which includes parent-child, teacher-student, and employer-employee type of relationships. As you might heard of the term, tiger mom, which imply Chinese parent(s), but not always Moms! The parents that are coming out of good deed but overly emphasize on enforcing specific skill, especially in academic measurement like straight As. However, the good deed often turned into the constant conflicts between the children and the parents, because the decisions are drawn directly from the parent(s) in commanding manner without much room for open conversation and negotiation. So don’t be scared or shocked when the situation is presented to you, but perhaps it is an opportunity for you to show some compassion toward both the children and the parents or act as a mediator among the them as those type of conflicts occur. However, the same principle might be hinting in the employer-employee circumstances, where employer might have the default attitude of that there is no explanation toward employee is necessary. However, it usually turns out to be a unpleasant experience for both parties, especially people who are not expecting nor custom to those kind of mentality. However, you should not be discouraged by the situation if that ever happened to you, but try to reach out to different people who are open to the discussion and be persist in a subtle and less intrusive manner. Intrusive and direct manner might be interpreted by the manager as you’re questioning the authority or doubt their abilities or the system, which might trigger a worse scenario and result a closed conversation.

Please let us know If you have any comments or the things you want to know further at info@oakary.com

If you’re excited and ready to apply for the online English job, here is the link https://oakary.com/apply.

Good luck on your English teaching journey!

#onlineEnglishTeaching #onlineESLTeaching #ESL

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