It has been two years since I started tutoring students from around the world on Preply, and I guess it all stemmed from a lack of teaching opportunities during the midst of a pandemic. Despite registering with Preply back in July 2016, it took almost 5 years to finally complete the registration and making my profile live. Unfortunately, it was perhaps the least suitable moment to find an alternative means of earnings during the pandemic, but I was keen to make it work.
Setting Up My Profile
During the initial stages of setting up a Preply Profile, I was required to send documents which would confirm my identification and proof of address. I suppose organisations of any worth are expected to ensure the proper checks were in place and within half an hour, Preply had received a scan of my passport and a proof of address. All this was done via a smartphone application and the whole process was rather seamless.
Once my registration was accepted, I was able to make a start on setting up my profile. Creating an eye-catching and engaging profile takes time, and is something I spent a few days on. I wanted to make my profile as professional as possible, and to do so requires a bit of time and research.
Fortunately, as the Preply platform is open for all, you are able to view other profiles and see how more successful tutors are marketing themselves online. I wrote down some initial ideas and starting to formulate them into something a little more suitable. I guess one has to consider the learners that you one is attempting to market and teach, while also writing something that is graded for that potential client.
The other aspect that I noticed during my research was that tutors were marketing their profile with a headline such as “Professional IELTS Tutor” or “Qualified English Language Teacher”. Looking at the written introduction certainly helped create an eye-catchy headline for potential students.
If you are using a laptop, then chances are you have a built-in webcam included with it. However, the quality of the webcam is likely to be rather questionable and I would always recommend that you consider purchasing a dedicated webcam that connects to your laptop or desktop for use with your online lessons. Here are my suggestions:
Razer Kiyo: this is a budget webcam which combines the use of a ring light and offering a resolution of 1080p, being priced at £54.99
Sony ZV-1 and Canon G7 X MIII: for those that wish to combine video making and use the dedicated camera as a webcam, then the solution is to purchase the Sony ZV-1 or Canon G7 X MIII, each with a price tag of £694.61 and £649.00 respectively. Each camera could be used if you are keen on photography or taking those holiday snaps or videos too
Step 2: Using A Ring Light
If you purchase a webcam which does not include a ring light (much like the Razer Kiyo), then you will discover that during darker periods of the year will impact the quality of the webcam footage. Should you wish to improve the quality of your webcam footage, a ring light would be ideal. These are some suggested investments for your home office:
Gskaiwen 18″ Ring Light: this is an affordable ring light for those that wish to improve the lighting with their webcam and is priced at £44.99
UBeesize 10″ LED Ring Light: this is one alternative ring light that you could purchase which could be used in conjunction with your webcam and is priced at £95.67
Elgato Ring Light: this is the more expensive alternative of ring light that is available for those that wish to improve the overall quality with a dedicated webcam or camera, but it is currently priced at £176.48
If you don’t wish to invest in a ring light, then the alternative is to get a lamp or portable light and place it behind your computer monitor or webcam.
Step 3: Look at the Webcam
When you start teaching it is natural to look at the computer monitor when talking to others, but people will notice that your sight will be focused either below the embedded webcam or away from the external webcam. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you remind yourself to look at the camera as much as possible when speaking, as listeners will feel that you are talking to them. It is natural to look at yourself on screen when teaching remotely, but the more you train yourself to keep your eye level at the camera, the more you will improve engagement with students.
Step 4: Remote Gestures
If you are standing in the classroom, it makes sense to use a variety of gestures when providing instructions or responding to students. Thus, it is important to maintain these when teaching remotely. If the connection drops a little and you do not hear exactly what the student uttered, then respond naturally and ask them to repeat but using a variety of gestures to accompany such a request. If you cannot hear what someone is saying or they are on mute gesture to your ear and explain you are unable to hear them. Just because you are not in the classroom does not mean you do not have to drop such gestures.
Thank you for reading today’s brief blog post and I hope it was helpful. If you have any ideas about using the webcam effectively in your classroom, please do not hesitate to share in the comments.
A number of days ago, I asked on Twitter a question about how to go about a task within an online environment. I received a number of practical suggestions including Pete from ELT Planning and Leo Selivan of Leoxicon. This prompted me to record a video (available below) about the suggested applications and review some which I had used in the past.
The task that I was trying to organise within a remote environment required placing headings in order and then matching the descriptions to the headings. A simple enough idea, yeah? In a physical classroom this would work fine, but in an online environment how does one achieve it? Thank you to all who contributed their suggestions.
In this post, I will be sharing a few of the applications that were recommended as well as some of the others that I have used to ensure that lessons are interactive, engaging and memorable.
In my last post/video, I shared my grievances and negative experiences with an online English company, iTutorGroup. However, in this post, I would like to consider what is required to make English teachers happy – whether they are teaching remotely or within a physical school.
In this post, I outline three points which will improve the happiness of all teachers and is reaction to a TED Talk that I had watched a few days previously.
In 2020, many teachers around the world were forced to teach online. However, many were unfamiliar with this area of teaching and spent most of the Spring and Summer terms learning. Personally, I spent the whole of the summer teaching a university pre-sessional course to students resident in numerous countries and I would like to share with you my ideas on what makes an excellent online English teacher. It would be great to hear your thoughts on what makes a great online English teacher in the comments.
One of the biggest challenges about finding private students is being able to source them. If you think about traditional ‘brick and mortar’ schools, they have the ability to source students for their language institutes, with the use of agents acting in the interest of the language school. Agents will work on the basis of every student that they send to the school, they will be remunerated 10-30% commission – I have heard some agents in South East Asia receive up to 40% whether a student signs up. Anyhow, with the global pandemic forcing private language schools (particularly in the UK) to close, with many institutes being forced to lay off staff, it makes sense for teachers to source potential English students online. However, how does one find students to teach? In this post, I shall share my tips for sourcing possible English students.
In the context of COVID, we are sure that you are curious about where the English Language Teaching world is from a teaching perspective? This is a year that has affected all of our lives in so many ways and the effects of COVID have obviously had a major impact on the ELT markets around the world. In short, the ELT industry is still coming to terms with all that has happened this year.
To truly understand where ELT is at the moment, The TEFL Academy went about conducting an in-depth study of the industry as a whole. It is clear from their findings that many people are considering teaching English for the very first time. This is due to the increase in online English teaching English work that is now available, coupled with the emergence of ‘working from home’ being the norm for so many people around the world. Ultimately the closure of in-classroom schools did not cause a decrease in demand for teachers but indeed an increase with schools switching to online learning methods.
The TEFL Academy learned that many of their students and TEFL teachers’ original plans and ambitions have been altered this year. Perhaps your own teaching plans have been changed too? If this is the case, the following 6 findings from the recent survey will be of interest to you and may even surprise you somewhat!
The new norm for language teaching is conducted remotely. It has been thrust upon all practitioners due to circumstances beyond our control, but much of the field of remote teaching and learning has been underestimated prior to the pandemic. I remember a few years ago, I was discussing why online language teaching and learning was not included in the CELTA and one practitioner declared that it was more unregulated with many institutions based in China seeking to exploit language teachers and pay as little as possible.
When it comes down to responding to the CORVID-19 as a teacher, many are being required to deliver lessons and content remotely to their students. In fact, today I was informed that all teaching would be suspended until the following week with all courses being delivered online. Obviously, the amount of teachers that I have been in touch with via Twitter and Facebook have faced similar situations – even the PM, Boris Johnson, has recommended that all people who are able to teach online, where possible. It is drastic action, but it is necessary.
When teaching remotely, it is important to prepare and have the necessary equipment, skills and environment suitable to deliver remote lessons. In this blog post, I am sharing some things that need teachers should consider before delivering a lesson or input for a course.
In my previous post, I recommended one book for online teachers which really helped me gain the confidence for online English teaching. In this post, I look at another book which will provide an opportunity for students to interact online via a platform which has been developed to coincide with either their digital online or face-to-face lessons. This book has been co-authored by Lindsay Clandfield and Jill Hadfield and is published with the support of Cambridge University Press, under the series of the Cambridge Handbook for Language Teachers.