Bridge grad, Lena, is an online English teacher based in Charleston, South Carolina. Her love for personal development and helping others has led her to many opportunities in education and travel. She discusses her path to teaching English online, handling a multi-faceted lifestyle, and how she and her family have adjusted to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Tell us a bit about your background.
A few years after graduating from high school, I decided to enlist in the United States military. I could no longer afford to pay for college and I knew that I wanted to travel. Traveling would be a way to clear my mind, gain motivation, and experience the many different cultures around the world. Upon completing boot camp, I moved on to my first duty station in Italy. This was the first and longest time I had been away from my family. However, I still felt at home in a foreign territory. From then on, I’ve found comfort in traveling freely and frequently in search of new and fulfilling adventures.
How did you get into teaching English?
During my time in the military, I completed a bachelor’s degree in marketing with an English minor and a master’s degree in organizational management. Additionally, since separating from the military, I have been working towards my doctorate in business administration, which I am expected to complete this year. Living and traveling overseas, working with foreign colleagues, as well as earning an education online, was a complete eye-opener! I also began to discover my love for teaching and remote work. I started organizing educational classes for co-workers while in Europe. Additionally, I did tutoring work on the side when time permitted.
With a master’s in marketing and now working toward your doctorate, what are your career goals?
Two of the most difficult questions that I have ever been asked are “What do you want to do?” and “What do you want to be?”
This is never a simple answer for me because there is so much that I want to accomplish! But I understand the intent behind the questions, so a typical response might be “teach!” or “start a business!” It’s true, but in reality, I’m working on many things! Yet, teaching and entrepreneurship are my primary goals and I am going full steam ahead with both.
Although I was certain that I would take on teaching in some form, I had made up my mind that I would only teach secondary education or above. I absolutely love children, but having kids of my own discouraged me from taking on a classroom full of kids of the same ages. NO way! However, after separating from the military and moving back to the U.S., I came back to educating. I then found that teaching any age was equally rewarding to me and just required a bit more patience. After some time, I began working from home and teaching English online with companies such as Qkids and GoGoKid, while currently homeschooling my children as well! Let’s just say “Whew!”
Overall, learning new things and sharing knowledge is my passion and teaching will always be an answer when asked about career goals. Enthusiastically, I embrace it whole-heartedly.
You took the Bridge Teaching English Online Certification Course. What did you like best about that specialized training and has it helped your teaching?
Yes, I took the course and YES, it helped a lot! The 120-hour Teaching English Online course that I completed with Bridge was essential to my growth in teaching English online. It is also a new requirement for most online English companies now. One of the companies that I work with offered the Bridge TEFL certification to me at no cost, so I took advantage.
The course is loaded with tons of useful information that I can use immediately or reference for future teaching roles. What I liked best about the course was how well the information was organized and the mini-quizzes (not graded) in between to check your knowledge in each section. These mini-quizzes are very similar to using concept checking questions in the ESL classroom (CCQs). These questions are great for any aged student and helped me easily retain what I’d read, while also demonstrating how to implement CCQs in the online classroom.
Browse online TEFL courses to get certified.
Tell us about your online teaching jobs.
I currently teach with two online English companies, which are Qkids and GoGoKid. Both of these platforms are simple to use, professional, and always improving!
The Qkids platform is the primary company that I teach with. They have a desktop version and an app that can be downloaded for convenience and scheduling purposes. This company offers one-on-one and group classes (of up to 4 students and same pay per class/hour) which are scheduled according to the teacher’s availability. They are usually very flexible and offer a variety of ways for teachers to get the assistance they need, including assigning individual coaches.
GoGoKid is the second company that I teach with. They also have a desktop version and a corresponding app. The difference with this company is that they only offer one-on-one classes and incentives increase depending on each teacher’s “credit score.” This company is equally flexible and helpful, while also offering a small variance in the teaching English online salary. However, the students’ parents schedule classes directly with the teacher rather than with the company.
The world is currently suffering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. How has that affected you as an online English teacher?
During the current coronavirus pandemic, I have found comfort in being an online English teacher and value the importance of preparing myself for such emergencies.
What I am grateful for the most is that my day-to-day life hasn’t been too affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of my students live in Asia and are quarantined in their homes, which has boosted my teacher bookings since they are unable to attend school. I have also been grateful to witness that majority of my students remain healthy and devoted to their education during this time. Also, my children’s homeschool routines were already set in play when the pandemic began. Although we had to make minor adjustments due to environmental changes, there wasn’t as hard of an impact on my family’s daily routines within the household. Additionally, the quarantine has allowed me to spend time on much-loved hobbies (including writing and photography) and start on new projects as well.
How have you seen the crisis impact your community?
Ninety-seven percent of the United States is currently on strict quarantine orders as of today. There has been an increasing amount of businesses shutting down, schools closing, companies furloughing, and essential workers putting themselves in harm’s way to help fight a global crisis. Social distancing has become the new (temporary) norm, store shelves are empty and randomly being restocked, restaurants only offer carry-out or delivery, and personal health and hygiene have become everyone’s primary defense (use of face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, immune boosters, etc.).
Seeing this rapid global change reminds me that this pandemic is being fought by all of us. In spite of still working myself, there are many that aren’t as fortunate. We can only hope for better days to find us and find us quickly!
How have you been able to use your experience teaching English online to help others during the coronavirus pandemic?
As we continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic, I have been sharing teaching opportunities with other qualified individuals, offering homeschool and business coaching, and even making face masks for family and friends by hand! Nonetheless, I have found that what people need most during these times are hope and encouragement. This is where I have found myself most useful outside my home that is still achievable without physical contact.
Take care and stay healthy fellow teachers!