Let me paint you a picture.
It’s Monday morning.
You’ve had a restful weekend.
Your lesson plans are loaded up and ready to go and it’s time to start your busy week of teaching.
But there’s no need to pack a lunch, don a necktie or high heels or navigate the morning commute.
Instead, you leisurely finish your coffee, sit down at your kitchen table and just switch on your laptop. You may not even need to change out of your pajamas.
Does this sound too good to be true?
The reality is that an increasing number of language teachers and their students are opting for the convenient alternative of the online classroom.
Could this lifestyle change be for you? Read on to find out why, how and where you can make this happen.
Reasons to Love the Online Classroom
Lest you’re still unconvinced, here are a few reasons why online teaching could be a dream come true.
- Convenience. Students can ask you questions anywhere, anytime, and you can respond when it’s convenient. They can also ask you questions privately on their schedule and without embarrassment.
- More one-on-one interaction. We all know that students learn better if they have the opportunity to receive individualized instruction, but this is difficult to achieve in a classroom full of students.
In an online classroom, you can easily adapt to each student’s learning style and provide support and scaffolding as needed.
- Better organization of course materials. Remember the days when you had an assignment to hand out to the class? Remember planning for hours ahead of time every day to locate all the props and materials that you would need for just one class period?
Fortunately, technology has eased the stress and chaos of preparing materials, but we still sometimes experience that moment when we go to put our hands on a book or a paper… and can’t quite remember where we left it.
In online teaching, all your course materials are neatly organized ahead of time. Many online teaching platforms even come with features to help you organize and present materials. It’s just a matter of clicking on the correct folder and the correct file, saving valuable class time (and personal time too).
- More student engagement. Our students today are digital natives. Using technology and digital media for their learning process just comes naturally to them.
Meeting them in their (virtual) comfort zone can increase their motivation. You can even take them on a trip across the world all from their computer with online authentic materials.
Tips for Making the Experience Even Better
Online teaching sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? But how do you actually do it?
If you already have experience teaching in the face-to-face classroom, many of the same skills apply to the online space. Powerful classroom management, personalized instruction and thorough planning are the hallmarks of good teaching no matter where you are.
But the online teaching environment does have some quirks. Here are a few pointers to help:
- Do your best to iron out technical glitches seamlessly. You already know how quickly one technical problem can derail your lesson even in the face-to-face environment. In an online class, such problems can lead to student discouragement and frustration, negatively affecting the learning experience.
Ensure that navigation throughout the site is smooth. Check for broken links. Embed some video tutorials to help students become comfortable with the space. And always have a backup plan… preferably several of them.
- Make course content as engaging as possible. Get to know your students and make course content reflect their interests as much as possible. It’s no secret that students learn better when they’re engaged.
One great resource to liven up your digital classroom is FluentU. This tool provides real-world target language videos, like movie trailers, news clips, inspiring talks and more, which have been transformed into language learning experiences.
Each video comes with interactive captions, tailor-made flashcards and exercises to build your students’ vocabularies through authentic foreign language content. Plus, as an educator, you’ll appreciate the built-in tools for designing a curriculum, tracking student progress, assigning work and more.
It’s a great way to make your online course content instantly entertaining and engaging, without sacrificing educational value.
- Combine synchronous and asynchronous elements. The asynchronous elements of online learning are a big part of the appeal. Students (and teachers) are able to come and go as they please and complete tasks at their own pace.
But students also learn better when they can experience a sense of community in the classroom. To achieve this sense of community, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of opportunities for synchronous work, such as weekly video chats and group/partner collaboration.
9 Surefire Sites to Find an Online Language Teaching Position You’ll Love
“Ok,” you’re saying, “I’m sold! Where do I sign up?”
Hundreds of platforms and websites exist to nurture online teaching and learning. Here are a few that are definitely worth your time to check out.
Verbling connects you with students that want to learn English, Spanish, French and Japanese. It rolls out other languages as needed.
You build your student base by posting a one- to two-minute introductory video as part of your profile. Teachers have the freedom to set their own hours and rates, and often can charge higher rates for languages that are in higher demand.
Be aware that the site takes a 15 percent commission off your earnings. Also, teachers are only allowed to teach their native language.
Verbalplanet is one of the more popular online language teaching platforms out there, which means it’s relatively easy to build a strong client base. It also allows teachers to keep 100 percent of their earnings, which are distributed via PayPal.
All you have to do is submit your profile and once it’s approved, you get an easy-to-use booking and invoicing system to manage your clients.
Every major language in the world is represented in their offerings and you can teach students from all over the globe.
An offshoot of the educational tech giant Pearson, Connections Academy is an tuition-free, online school that provides a complete virtual school experience, including licensed school counselors and college and career planning services.
Just go to the Search Open Jobs page and type in your language to see what home-based positions are available.
Many language teaching positions on this site are adjunct or part-time, but full-time jobs aren’t excluded. Available positions are categorized by state, so different opportunities may exist depending on where you live.
As an educator through Connections Academy, you’ll receive training in all relevant teaching tools and software for successful online classes.
mYngle, another of the oldest and most well-known language learning sites, is often used by businesses who want their employees to build skills in a particular language.
Teachers (called “coaches”) must be native speakers of the language. You can set your own rates. Experienced, high-quality teachers are encouraged to set their prices accordingly.
One potential obstacle to note: you may have to be on a wait-list for a while before taking students if your language is not in high demand.
Born in 1998, tutor.com is one of the pioneers of the online tutoring industry. Mentoring services and tons of professional development materials make it ideal for those who may feel uncertain about the online teaching environment, and provides a nice sense of community.
Language positions for K-12, college and adult education can be found here—German and Italian in particular have been marked as high-demand subjects on this platform.
Although pay is low for beginners, opportunities for advancement exist. Even so, this gig is better suited to those seeking a part-time “side hustle” rather than a full-time position.
Chegg Tutors provides an on-the-go app that allows you to connect with students quickly and conveniently, making this an opportunity that’s easy to balance with other teaching responsibilities.
Unlike some other sites, you can tutor in more than one language if you wish, and you receive a bonus for tutoring in-demand subjects. Reputation on the site is largely dependent on student reviews.
Teachaway prides itself on matching great teachers with international schools all over the world. But besides offering plenty of opportunities to live and teach in international cities, it also provides frequent postings of online teaching vacancies.
Positions include full- and part-time employment to online teachers at all levels from kindergarten through college and adult education. While ESL educators might have the best luck on this platform, keep an eye on the job board as well as Teach Away’s online tutoring platform, Skooli.
Note: Teach Away prioritizes educators who have classroom teaching experience under their belts.
BuddySchool has some of the widest options for language teaching, with dozens of languages supported.
Here teachers create their own ads in an effort to recruit students. You have the option of creating a paid ad to get more attention and visibility. Getting started is super easy—you just make a free account, fill out your teacher profile and availability and you’re good to go.
Because teaching on BuddySchool can be competitive, positive student reviews are critical to your success.
This site specializes in English language instruction for international business professionals. Their platform advertises current available positions and asks you to send a resume or a CV in response to these.
As with most of these sites, you create your own schedule. Full-time teaching on goFLUENT can be very profitable as long as you don’t mind losing pay during vacations, holidays and times when you’re unavailable.
Applicants must be native English speakers, usually with business or corporate experience.
So now that you have the 411 on online language teaching positions, head to your home office and get started on a new adventure. Who knows? You may learn some new skills that’ll enhance your face-to-face teaching too.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach languages with real-world videos.