During a recent Bridge TEFL/TESOL info session, we were joined by guest Krzl Nuñes, a freelance online English teacher from the Philippines who lives in Chile. Krzl talked about how she got started in the ESL industry and how being a non-native English speaker has helped her as a teacher. She also gave us the lowdown on her experience earning a certification in teaching English online and shared tips for finding students as a freelance ESL teacher. The following is a transcript of her interview from the Bridge info session (scroll to the bottom to watch the video).
Hi, Krzl! Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, everyone! I’m Krzl, and I’m an English teacher from the Philippines. I’m currently living in Chile, and I’ve been teaching English now for eight years. I’ve been teaching both in the physical classroom and online. Last year, I took the 120-Hour Teaching English Online course.
How did you get into the field of English language training?
It all started when I was looking for a side gig back in the Philippines. I used to work as a writer at a TV station, but when I was working there, I also wanted to travel around the world and explore other countries. So, I wanted a job that could supplement my income.
I found an online English company named Bizmates, which is a company based in Japan that recruits most of its teachers in the Philippines. I applied there as a Business English language trainer. I wasn’t certified back then, but I was accepted because of my English proficiency and also because I did some volunteer teaching work back when I was in high school and university.
When I relocated to Chile seven years ago, I decided to continue working as an English teacher and do that for a living.
Prospective trainees often wonder about the opportunities that are available to non-native English speakers. What are some ways that being a non-native English speaker has benefited you as a teacher?
Are there any challenges that you’ve faced in the process? If yes, what are those and how did you overcome them?
To be honest, I’ve never had major problems being a non-native English speaker here in Chile. In general, most of the language institutes or centers here welcome teachers from different countries.
I think the only time I had an issue with this was when I saw a job post on Facebook. It was from someone who was looking for English teachers. I contacted him and the first thing he asked me was, “Where are you from?” I told him, “I’m from the Philippines,” and he said, “Sorry, we only accept native English speakers.” Obviously, I was a little sad, but I moved on and actually found better opportunities after that.
What are some of the advantages of working online?
Since I started teaching English online, I’ve been able to work anywhere I want. Before the pandemic, I used to work in Santiago, the capital of Chile, as an English teacher in a real classroom. I had to travel to different places and commute every day.
But since I started teaching English online, I’ve just worked from home. Because of that, I also decided to relocate. Before the pandemic, I used to come to the beach every weekend just to surf, as I like surfing and being on the beach. So, when I transitioned all of my classes online, I decided to move to the coastal side of Chile.
Do you have any niches that you specifically focus on?
I do teach a variety of courses. I teach General English and Business English, depending on the needs of my students. I also give conversational classes and teach IELTS preparation.
I think that IELTS preparation is a very good teaching niche, especially in this country because there are many people here who want to immigrate, study, or work abroad. IELTS is the top proficiency language exam they take, and many look for IELTS teachers here. I’ve prepared many students for the IELTS.
Aside from that, I think one of my specializations is teaching absolute beginners. I’ve developed my techniques when it comes to teaching beginners and helping them achieve a conversational level of English.
What does teaching Business English entail?
Teaching Business English is specifically focused on different work situations. For instance, many of my students worry about receiving visitors from other countries or explaining problems in English. Most of these students work for multinational companies or have clients in other countries. So, they basically want to speak fluently in these kinds of situations.
Many students here start with General English, but when it comes to technical English or specific situations at work, they need to practice for those situations. That’s what teaching Business English is about.
How do you market yourself as a freelance English teacher?
Why did you choose the 120-Hour Teaching English Online course? What was your experience like?
Before I transitioned my classes online, I had already been teaching online. But last year, I felt that it was necessary to update my skills, especially when it came to teaching English online.
I felt I had to keep my teaching techniques and methods up-to-date, especially when it came to teaching different types of learners. The techniques for this kind of teaching vary depending on whether you’re teaching kids or adults, for instance. So, I wanted to learn more, and the course was really helpful, especially for my professional development.
Why do you think taking a specialized TEFL/TESOL course is helpful?
There are so many fields of English teaching. For instance, there’s Business English or IELTS prep, so there are fields that require specialized techniques. I think that taking different courses is a great way to develop your teaching skills and continue your professional development.
Who was your tutor in the course? What were some of the benefits of working with her?
My tutor was Katie, and I loved her as a tutor because her feedback on my assignments and my teaching demo was very detailed, and it was very helpful not just to my performance in the course but also to me as an English teacher. I also really appreciate that she helped me a lot and that she replied very quickly even if I had a simple doubt or a complicated question. She was really helpful, and her feedback was useful to my growth as an English teacher.
What did you learn from this course that was helpful to you as an online ESL teacher?
I did learn a lot. When I taught English online some years ago or before the pandemic, I thought I knew the most necessary platforms. But when I took this course, I learned that there are so many online resources that we can use as online English teachers.
For instance, I learned how to use the application Screencast-O-Matic, which is software that you can use to record your voice while showing a presentation, for instance. I realized that it’s very useful for leaving comments on students’ homework, and if you’re going to send homework, you can give instructions – especially to beginner students – by recording your voice using this application. I thought it was amazing. There are so many platforms that you can use, especially for teaching English online.
When and how did you use the digital badge you earned from this course?
I claimed it a few days after I finished the course last year and posted it on my LinkedIn profile.
Do you have any tips for those who are looking to teach English as a freelancer?
Watch the recorded info session with Krzl: