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Roger, Retiree From the U.S., Teaching English Online

Bridge alum, Roger

Even in retirement, Bridge IDELTOnline™ grad Roger Ewing, from the U.S., has continued to seek out opportunities to learn, build new skills, and pursue his passions. Leveraging his background as a biology teacher and his seasoned experience in the corporate environment, he dove into English teaching. Read on to find out what led him to teach English, how he set himself up for success as an online English teacher, and how he seized his first-ever Business English teaching job!

Could you share a bit about yourself, Roger?

I’m a retired business professional living in Southern California. I worked for companies like Prudential and Sotheby’s, and I did a lot of training. I have a degree in biology, so I was trained as a biologist and I taught high school biology in the U.S. for around four years. Although it was difficult to make a living on the salary they paid at the time, I enjoyed it very much and thought I wanted to return to teaching sometime in the future.

I also lived and taught high school at a place called Mammoth Lakes, which is a ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After that, I got into the business world. I worked for Merrill Lynch for a few years. During that time, I was a member of what they call the National Training Task Force. I would go around the country training management people. For more than 40 years I’ve trained and mentored people in business careers, so I enjoy teaching very much.

Additionally, I have a son who lives in Seattle and is a medical doctor. I also have a dog and a cat, and my life is good!

Interested in teaching Business English? Learn more about the Specialized Certification course in Teaching Business English.

What inspired you to get into English teaching?

I worked as a contact tracer during the pandemic for the Los Angeles Unified School District, wherein I had to trace the spread of COVID through the school system. I did that online for a year and enjoyed that work and the interactions with people that came with it!

That also made me think about what I could do that would be valuable and I stumbled onto the idea of teaching English remotely. That’s when I started researching the process and ended up discovering Bridge!

I took the IDELTOnline and I was shocked to learn that there was such a large community and robust structure around teaching the English language. So, I became very interested and fascinated by the whole process.

New to TEFL? Read about teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), including the types of jobs, qualification requirements, and typical pay ranges.

You’ve just obtained a position with a company in France as an online Business English trainer! How did you land this opportunity?

I’m also certified in career development and I learned how to help people with their careers, particularly with presenting themselves online. So, when I found the English teaching opportunity, I spent a tremendous amount of time preparing my presentation for online teaching. I used all the things I had learned in my prior certifications, and that helped me a great deal:

  • First, I structured my resume.
  • I made an electronic kind of presentation that included videos, my successful business ventures, and my teaching experience.
  • I put those together and used them as a supplement to my resume.
  • I created a link to my e-portfolio, which includes my resume, academic achievements, and teaching experience.
  • I went online and tried to find the best online recruiting sites, and I put my presentation on a lot of them. The important thing to remember when you send your application is to personalize your resume to the job being offered and not just send your resume out. I modified my resume for each job I applied for, depending on the actual position. It’s a very time-consuming yet very productive process.
  • I saw an email from the France-based language school saying that they wanted me to submit an application for their company.

Interested in teaching Business English online? Learn more about teaching Business English online with Bridge’s corporate language training program.

How can you leverage your business background and skills in your Business English teaching work?

Because I’ve participated in board meetings and communicated with a lot of people at higher levels of business, I know how to structure a professional email, for example, or participate in executive-level meetings. Many people who take Business English courses are interested in either getting a job at a specific company or promoting themselves within the company where they work. I’m very familiar with all those things and I thought I could pass on my insider knowledge about how that works. As English is what they call the lingua franca of the world, it’s really important for people who want to do business to be able to do so in English.

Learn about ways to hyper-personalize your Business English teaching with AI tools.

Can you tell us more about the new English teaching job you’ve just landed?

America is not that geared towards supporting education on a broad scale, and I think America is behind the curve when it comes to education. Meanwhile, many countries out there support private individual learning, and the job that I took in France is interesting because the French government will reimburse students to learn skills, and one of those skills happens to be the English language because they know how important it is for trade and industry. Because of that, there’s a whole industry that’s built up around that concept, and you have to participate in a program to ensure that the government reimburses students for the training.

The company I work for interfaces with the industry because some people are being reimbursed by their companies and not necessarily the government. So far, I’ve been impressed with the company’s systems, whole software program, and capabilities. The way it works is Business English students go to their relationship manager, who tries to pair them with someone with a background specific to their particular needs. So, I think for me, it’s going to revolve around students who are interested in management kind of opportunities.

Read about the increasing demand for Business English teachers around the world.

What do you do when you’re not teaching?

I’ve talked to a lot of people who are thinking about retiring or should be retiring and they still work, and they wonder what they would do with their time. I’m always surprised by that question because I’m always involved in things. In fact, I don’t have enough free time to do all the things I would like to do! I’m interested in music, I play the guitar, and I like to go hiking and take care of myself. One of the laws of physics is objects in motion tend to stay in motion and objects at rest tend to stay at rest, so I’m an object in motion!

You’ve completed the IDELTOnline™ and the Specialized Certificate in Teaching Business English. Why did you decide to take these certifications?

Firstly, I did a lot of research and most employers look for a minimum 120-hour TEFL certification. Many people are doing this and there are a lot of TEFL programs out there. I wanted to be competitive and be at the top tier of whatever I do, so I chose the IDELTOnline™. It has more hours and it’s more thorough. I was very impressed at how rigorous and well-done the course was!

The people who were in the class with me were very high-quality individuals and many of them were already school teachers. I was impressed that everyone in the cohort was well-educated and interesting. In the program, you have to participate with your peers, so you read their work and comments, and I thought that was very valuable.

Ready to become qualified for English teaching jobs around the world? Learn more about the 120-hour Bridge Master TEFL Certificate.

Roger receiving the Friend of Las Virgenes award.
The Las Virgenes Unified School District superintendent awarded Roger the Friends of Las Virgenes award.

Are there any strategies or techniques you’ve learned from your courses to make your online Business English classes more engaging?

Bridge not only teaches you how to teach people, but the courses also model the teaching strategies you’re learning. They use the techniques and processes that they’re teaching us to use, which is pretty refreshing. My IDELTOnline™ mentor was also amazing and I think those kinds of role models are really great! That’s why it’s wonderful to get certified by an organization like Bridge that is professional and uses modern technological tools and training techniques.

The key to it is a lot of varied resources and there are so many online; it’s remarkable! As I was prepping myself for my first class, I looked back at the articles, graphics, and other materials from my Bridge course that I had kept on my computer to use in my class. For example, we had a needs assessment template, which is really well done and covers the four major learning processes: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. So, I can take pieces of the tools I saved and create my own or use my own.

Another important thing, particularly for teaching Business English, is using authentic materials. Use things that resonate with your students. So, if I have someone who’s looking to apply for a job in a company that uses the English language, for example, one of the things I’m going to use is a SWOT analysis. I can use it with my students not only to learn about their weaknesses and strengths but I can also pass it over to them to use for projects and things they’re doing from a business perspective. I also have a great template from Bridge for that!

Looking for resources for your Business English classes? Download the guide, Business English: Empowering Teachers With Dynamic Resources, to find a curated collection of resources ranging from podcasts and videos to print documents and textbooks.

As part of the IDELTOnline™, trainees have to create their own teaching philosophy. What is your teaching philosophy?

That was really the gist of the course at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be a long philosophy, but mine was about three paragraphs. But it was packed with what I believe is most important.

I actually made a circular graph, which is like a wheel around fluency for Business. The top of the wheel starts with fluency, then it goes to wisdom, reflection, learner-centricity, agency, and automaticity. The focus of the philosophy is to have adult students participate in the development of their learning and the direction of their learning. Developing agency is important. Being learner-centric is also crucial so that you can focus on the needs of actual individuals and not just on what you want to teach. This focus also ensures you can be flexible enough to change according to student needs, while also being rigorous in your presentation. So, making this wheel of learning was really the crux of my philosophy.

Read more about developing an ESL philosophy of teaching statement and why it matters.

How would you like your English teaching career to grow?

I don’t really have a long-term career plan at this point in my life. I just want to be teaching and enjoying it, having fun with my students, having good experiences, and learning something new along the way. I don’t have a desire to someday own my own language school, to get into management of language schools, or anything like that.

My quality of life has always come ahead of other things. Someone said life is to be enjoyed and not endured. Too many people endure bad situations in their working life for many, many years and they hate it. You’re spending so much time working, particularly. When you’re younger and you’re building your life, you have to do things that you enjoy. So, I think this is a great spot for me. I don’t have any plans to expand my role into something else at this point.

Read about how to get a job teaching Business English, including resume, search, and interview tips.

Do you have other tips for people who want to get into English teaching?

Make sure teaching is what you want to do, to begin with. You don’t have to teach to know if it’s something you would like. What you have to do is be a student and enjoy learning, and I think if you enjoy learning and being a student, you can enjoy teaching. As a teacher, you’ll be engaging with your students and learning about them.

Diversity is so very important in today’s world and too many people in the world are afraid of diversity and new ways of looking, thinking, responding, acting, and living. The truth is we’re in a worldwide economy and a worldwide culture that’s melding together. Diversity, embracing a variety of perspectives, and learning new things are what make individuals, companies, and nations successful. This is why it’s so critical to be authentic and embrace diversity. Look for new things, be a lifelong learner, and empower other people.

Ready to gain the training you need to teach Business English? Learn more about the 60-hour online Specialized Certification course, Teaching Business English.

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.