Being multilingual gave Bridge grad, Andrés Bermudez, from Mexico, the ability to make the switch from working in the financial world to teaching English as a freelancer. Last year, he even started his own online language school where he and his team teach English, Spanish, and Chinese. He shares how his knowledge of various languages has helped him expand his business and gives tips on teaching English to different age groups.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Andres?
I’m from Mexico City, Mexico. I studied Business Management and Development, and I worked as a consultant and auditor before shifting to teaching languages. I’ve been teaching for two years now. Aside from English, I also teach Chinese. In addition, I teach Spanish to Chinese people. When I was younger, I also worked as a dancer in a Michael Jackson dancing group.
How did you shift to the field of English teaching?
I realized that Chinese people who live in Mexico City want to take English or Spanish classes. Most of the students are kids because their parents get really concerned about their children’s education.
Can you tell us about your current English teaching job?
I work as a freelancer, and I’ve been developing my own online language school, Idiomas Pro, for a year and a half now. In this online school, we teach English, Spanish, and Chinese. I have a team made up of four people. All of them are teachers too, and each member has a different field of expertise. I have Mexican and Chinese students, but most of them are Chinese. I also teach kids, teenagers, and adults.
How have you found online ESL students for your school?
I’ve gotten them through student recommendations and by posting flyers about my courses.
How has your knowledge of Chinese benefited you as an English teacher?
When I was studying Chinese, I realized that many times we make mistakes when using a new word. When we learn a new word, we usually rely on a translator to see the meaning of that word, but we do not learn the use of that word.
The Chinese language has many specific words, and it is common to make mistakes. My background in studying Chinese means that I can give my Chinese students a better explanation and translation of a new word.
I think that the competitive advantage I’ve gotten from this is that I clearly remember my days as a student. Because of this, I can comprehend students’ problems and help solve them.
Can you outline some differences among teaching kids, teenagers, and adult learners?
In my personal experience, teaching English online to teenagers and adult learners is easier to deal with because they’re usually more focused on class content.
There are some extra differences between kids and teenage learners:
What are your tips for keeping children and adult English learners engaged during an online class?
Children’s online classes should include:
Some tips for teaching adult ESL students are:
How has the global pandemic affected you as an English teacher?
I was unemployed for five months due to the COVID-19 crisis. Most of my students did not want to take online classes, and I did not have previous knowledge about how to teach online classes. It was really a challenge.
So, in order to adapt to online teaching, I used my free time to read about how to teach an online class competently. I selected new books, found suitable online resources, prepared teaching tools, and developed the content of my Facebook page. After that, I started offering online classes.
What do you like best and also what’s the biggest challenge in teaching English online, especially in the midst of a crisis?
You took the 120-Hour Master Certificate course. Why did you decide to take this course?
I took this course because I wanted to have a professional profile to show my future students. I plan to get a job in China as an English teacher, and high-quality Chinese language schools request this certification.
In addition, there are many freelancers nowadays, but not all of them get a TEFL/TESOL certificate. I believe that being better prepared gives me a competitive edge.
How was your experience with the course? Has it helped you professionally?
What I like the most are the course assignments. I think they’re very useful since they are practical exercises that really make you think about what you need to develop a class properly.
The course gave me the knowledge to become a professional English teacher.
What kind of school or company would you like to work for in China?
I’d like to work in a school for teenagers and adults because I think I have better skills in teaching them than kids.
I’d also like to work in top-tier cities, although I know there are too many foreigners in these cities, so the competition is too hard. So, it is more suitable to find a second-level city for developing my teaching career, as there could be more opportunities for achieving professional growth there.
What are your other future career plans?
I’d like to establish my own language school and dancing academy because I’m also passionate about dancing. Due to the current crisis, I cannot get a job in China. However, if I have the chance, I will try to develop my goals there.