The pandemic led Bridge grad Juicy Mae Ligad, from the Philippines, to reroute her teaching path from being a college instructor to an English teacher for an online Chinese school. Since she shifted to virtual classes, she’s made a lot of great changes to her career, teaching methods, and goals. She shares how her online ESL work has progressed and offers tips for engaging online English learners.
Hi, Juicy Mae! Can you share a bit about yourself?
Hello, everyone! I’m Juicy Mae Ligad, but most of my students call me by my nickname, Arya. I’m 23 years old and am from Davao City, Philippines. I’m currently studying for my master’s degree in English language teaching, and I’ve been in the teaching field for almost three years now, both online and offline.
How has your teaching career progressed since the COVID-19 crisis started?
Just recently, I’ve had to resign from a college institution to find better opportunities in public schools. I’m actually working full time as an online English teacher because I’m still waiting for a vacant position in a public school, but I already passed the Registry of Qualified Applicants (RQA), which is like a ranking that is used as part of the application to be a public teacher in the Department of Education (DepEd).
Why did you want to start a career as an English teacher in a public school?
Even when I was in elementary school, one of my teachers asked me what I wanted to become when I grew up. I told her that I wanted to be a teacher, not just a teacher but a public school teacher. That’s why I really want to pursue that dream. At the same time, I had this scholarship from STEP UP Philippines, where we have to teach for at least three years because they help us with our studies — they give us some financial support. So, that’s why I’m also looking forward to joining the DepEd field.
What was the application process like to become a public school teacher in the Philippines?
First, they gave us a list of the requirements that we have to submit:
Aside from submitting those documents, you also have to:
How have your teaching skills developed since you first shifted to online teaching?
I believe I’ve grown a lot ever since. I think I’ve mentioned that I used to work in a Chinese education institution. For online teaching, most of the materials are provided, so they’re prepared and all I have to do is just preview the material and think of ways to deliver the lesson.
Right now, I’m also working independently. I have my own students. At the same time, I’m working now with three companies: HelloTalk (China), DIA Global, which is based in Kazakhstan, and another one based in South Korea.
How did you find your private students?
While teaching online, I’ve met friends who recommended some of their friends who have kids. Then, we had trial classes. So, through word-of-mouth, I was able to get my students privately.
How do you juggle your classes for those three companies and your private students?
I usually use Google Sheets to manage my time from 7 a.m. up until 11 p.m. I write out where I work and who my students are. I usually plan it weekly so I won’t forget about the classes I have.
What is your advice to build rapport with online English learners?
This advice is specifically for teachers who decide to work independently:
What is your advice on encouraging online ESL students to participate in class?
I can think of plenty of ways to encourage student participation in class:
How have you coped with the pandemic so far?
The years 2020 and 2021 have been really challenging for everyone. A lot of things have changed, and even our actions are limited due to health and safety protocols, and there are continuous lockdowns and quarantines in the city.
What I notice is that this pandemic has really changed my lifestyle and habits. Before, I was used to commuting, but now I don’t have to because I work from home, so it’s easier for me to save some money these days because there are fewer temptations, as I rarely go out. Aside from that, I can eat more healthy food because I live a bit far from the shopping malls, so there are no fast food temptations.
How has the pandemic affected your teaching work?
I’ve lost some things in the process, but a lot of new opportunities have arisen. I’m super thankful that I still have a job right now to put food on the table despite this COVID-19 crisis.
You took the Specialized Course in Teaching English Online. What were some of the teaching strategies that you learned from this course that you applied to your own classes?
I will always remember the different teaching approaches I learned in that course, such as Total Physical Response (TPR), the direct method, and communicative language teaching (CLT), and I think these approaches really helped me to create activities that I use to reinforce the students’ language learning. For example, I’ve incorporated realia and a reward system.
I also use the app called ManyCam. It’s really cool to use virtual effects to brighten up the mood. Let’s say, for example, I want to show students a car. I can’t have a real car in my room, so instead, I just show one virtually. This makes the class more fun and engaging.
Aside from pursuing a career in public school teaching, what are your other plans?
I would like to pursue further higher degree studies, like getting a doctorate, maybe in the Philippines or abroad if I can. I think that would be very helpful.