After his Global English TESOL course, Lea Hook started teaching English by Skype online internationally from the comfort of his own home. Now a seasoned ‘online veteran’ Lea gives over 45 classes a week. We asked him how he got started and to share any words of advice.
Hi Lea, what made you change careers?
I used to manage and oversee multi-million pound contracts installing electrical installations to care homes etc. before being made redundant. Then, after visiting Asia to see some old friends who had started teaching, I had the holiday blues so looked into TESOL courses. I found Global English gave me the best options and I haven’t looked back since. I now have so many different options open to me here and overseas.
How did you get your first jobs teaching English online?
I applied for several online companies which were advertised on various job sites (ESL jobsite, Dave’s ESL Café etc.) Most want good TESOL certification and expect you to be reliable, patient, professional and friendly. They prefer native English speakers with a UK/US/Canadian accent.
I had to attend a 40 minute Skype interview followed by a 15 minute trial lesson, an online training session and a system PC and connection check.
It is very important you have a good internet connection and a white background (if you have to use the webcam) and a good quality headset. When I am asked to use my webcam I usually wear a shirt and tie.
How did the TESOL course help you?
It has proved invaluable. I had no confidence in English and my grammar was not the best. It taught me all the English teaching essentials. One of the most helpful sections was on how to correct students. You have to correct very carefully as some cultures feel ashamed when they have made an error.
What are the 3 main advantages of online teaching?
I have taught classes of six students together in a single 45 minute lesson. Students get upset if they feel someone else is dominating so you have to ensure you give them all equal speaking time. This can be challenging.
What kind of things do students want to cover in lessons?
The most popular lessons are on hobbies, family, cultures, sport, music and films.Some students ask for business lessons and then there are grammar lessons. I have also taught on random themes from Coca Cola, to Bob Dylan.
Anything else of interest or words of advice?
This is a very enjoyable experience and you get to spend your time with some really interesting people. Smile, be happy, look as if you want to be there and be interested in what they say. Enjoy it.
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Updated October 2019
Since this article was written, pay and conditions have increased dramatically, especially with the increase in online English teaching in China where demand is highest. Some of the best companies pay up to $28 per hour with pay delivered on a base rate plus no. of lessons accrued, punctuality, student ratings and group or 1-1 class dynamics.
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