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With 2020 coming to a close, it’s important to reflect on what was a challenging year for many in ESL, with the global community of English language professionals adapting to a shift toward online teaching as well as to new restrictions in international mobility. The BridgeUniverse articles that resonated the most with our readers seem to reflect these trends, with plenty of interest in the online sphere as well as in courses and certifications to become a more competitive ESL teacher.

Here are the top 10 BridgeUniverse articles of 2020:

1. 11 Low-Prep ESL Games for Teaching Online

It comes as no surprise that this year saw a spike in teaching English online. Games provided a fun way to keep students learning, while also distracting them from the oftentimes bleak COVID-19 news.

In this fun article, Krzl Light Nuñes describes 11 games that require minimal to no teacher preparation. A couple of examples include ESL Jeopardy, which is great for older learners, while the little ones love Hidden Objects. For even more game ideas, you can enroll in one of the Bridge Micro-credentials in Teaching English Online, such as Games and Activities for the Online Classroom: Young Learners.

Read the full article.

2. 13 Easy ESL Icebreakers to Get Your Students Talking

Icebreakers are a way to get your ESL students talking, as they help students to build confidence, encourage oral fluency, and can set the tone for the rest of the day’s class.

As the article’s author, Camille Turner, notes, “Icebreakers aren’t just for day one!” Rather, they’re an excellent way to get sleepy students to wake up in the classroom or online. Some popular ones you can use are the classic Would You Rather?, or you can opt for The Hot Seat to get some vocabulary practice into your lesson.

Read the full article.

3. Yes, You Can Teach English Abroad Without a College Degree!

This article answers one of the most common questions for those looking to live and teach English abroad. Even though COVID-19 has made international mobility harder this year, rest assured that you do not need a bachelor’s degree to pack your bags and make a living in Spain, Costa Rica, Cambodia, or a number of other countries listed in this article, when global travel resumes.

Keep in mind that even though the article specifies that a college degree isn’t a requirement to move abroad, you’ll still be required to hold a TEFL/TESOL certification.

Read the full article.

4. What Is TESOL? Which Certificate Is Better – TEFL or TESOL?

This popular article addresses another question that people often wonder about when getting started in the field of English teaching. The terms TESOL and TEFL are usually used interchangeably when it comes to certifications in teaching English. One is not better than the other, but it is still important to understand the slight differences between them.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. As the author, Jennifer Collis, tells us, it refers to teaching English in a country where English is not a primary language (rather, it is a foreign language). An example of TEFL would be a teacher from the U.S. teaching English in Argentina.

TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and it’s broader than TEFL. TESOL includes teaching English as a foreign language as well as teaching English as a second language. This would include a teacher at an English language institute in the U.S. who teaches students from around the world.

Read the full article.

5. What Is a Typical TEFL Salary When Teaching Online or Abroad?

In this article, Betsy Ramser Jaime addresses how much English language professionals can expect to earn while teaching English online or in a classroom in a different country. She explains that there are many different factors that affect salary, such as the job location, the company, and the hiring requirements.

When it comes to teaching online, ESL teachers tend to make between $12-25 USD per hour. It’s common for tutoring companies to have a specific base pay where all teachers start. The other option is to go freelance, set your own rate, and live anywhere you want. If you choose this route, you’ll have to find your clients, of course, and handle other aspects of working for yourself.

As for teaching in the classroom, the region and country where you teach is probably the single most important factor in how much money you’ll make. On average, a TEFL teacher’s salary can vary anywhere from $600-$4,000 USD per month. Given the huge disparity, make sure you do plenty of research before choosing, especially if salary is one of the key factors you’re considering before taking on an adventure abroad! Countries such as Japan and the United Arab Emirates are known to pay their English teachers very well, while teaching in countries in Latin America, for example, typically pays on the lower end of the scale, although the cost of living is also lower.

Read the full article.

6. Do You CCQ? Using Concept Checking Questions in the ESL Classroom

Concept Checking Questions are a way to make sure students have understood the class material. These types of questions ensure that students aren’t just nodding in agreement when you ask if they’ve grasped different concepts. In this article, Jalena Johnson examines the different ways teachers can use CCQs to ensure proper learning.

For example, after a lesson on the simple future tense, instead of asking the class, “Do you understand?” you could wrap up the lesson by asking students to come to the board and write one thing they will do after class (i.e., I will eat lunch/I will study/I will do my homework).

The article stresses how important it is to prepare the CCQs in advance, to ask simple questions, and to use media to mix it up and test the students even more.

Read the full article.

7. No Puppets Required! Teach English Online to Adults With These Companies

In this article, Camille Turner goes through the different companies that cater to adult ESL students. If your target is to have more mature interactions, then going through this list will ensure you can teach adults online or in different classrooms throughout the world. EF English First and E-Space Vietnam are popular online options, while Topica Native caters to students in Southeast Asia if you’re looking for a face-to-face experience.

As the article notes, it’s important to keep in mind “while each company has slightly different requirements, the majority of jobs teaching adults ESL online will ask that you have a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

Read the full article.

8. Announcing Bridge Micro-Credential Courses: Your Next Achievement Is Just a Click Away

This article highlights the launch of the first suite of  Bridge Micro-credential courses, providing TEFL/TESOL professional development within reach for all teachers.

Some of these short, targeted courses include Teaching English Using Podcasts and Error Correction in the EFL Classroom. When you enroll, you’ll have a course tutor to answer questions and provide feedback. All Micro-credentials also offer stackable digital badges upon completion.

Read the full article.

9. The 10 Best Places to Teach English Abroad in 2020

While 2020 would turn out to be a very different year, it started much like any other, and in January, Bridge compiled its annual list of the best places for English language professionals to embark on a new adventure in the coming year.

The “best-of” list included forever favorites such as Vietnam and also dove into the rich cultural experience that is teaching English in Turkey. There were testimonials from ESL teachers around the globe so that you could decide whether you want to head to the UAE and earn a high salary, or perhaps venture over to Thailand for world-class street food and a beautiful coastline.

By the spring of 2020, most teachers had to put their plans to go abroad on pause, but this article still provided a good place to start for those optimistically planning ahead for the future.

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10. Pros and Cons of Teaching English Online

While it’s been noted that teaching English online has seen a big surge during 2020, this article takes a comprehensive look at the positive and negative aspects of the job. The pros are easy to imagine: competitive hourly pay, no commuting, and connecting with students from all over the world.

The cons don’t stand out immediately, but some do exist! For example, while setting your own schedule may appear like a gift, keep in mind you might be working at odd hours since many students who take online lessons are based in Asia. Therefore, if you’re in the West you may be teaching really late at night or early in the morning.

Read the full article.

There’s a whole range of subjects in this top-ten list of articles, reflecting Bridge’s interest in and commitment to all aspects of English teaching worldwide. While exactly how 2021 will unfold is a mystery, there’s no doubt that on the cusp of a new year, English language professionals are ready for any challenge.

Rashmi is a culture vulture who hopes to travel the world. News is her second love, after coffee.