A side gig to his career in finance, running his own online ESL school has enabled Rory Falls, from Canada, to teach learners from Brazil. After connecting with Rory at the recent Language Summit event, we interviewed him to ask about building his online ESL student base in South America, specializing in teaching Business English, and how he upgrades his skills through professional development (scroll down to watch the video).
Hi, Rory! Can you share a bit about yourself?
My name is Rory, I’m 25, and I live in a city called Chilliwack. It’s in British Columbia, Canada, one hour and a half from Vancouver. I’ve lived in British Columbia for about 10 years now, and before that, I was in a different province, Alberta.
Can you tell us about your teaching job?
I’ve been teaching for just over two years now, and I created my own company. It’s called The Language Mountain. The idea behind that is that it’s not just about the view, it’s about the journey, so I help people kind of reach those new heights. With that, everything happened really naturally and organically. I first got on my schooling, done through Bridge, and I started networking through other applications. And my network actually really started to grow in South America. Now, two years in, my entire student base is out of Brazil — all of my students are Brazilian.
I do have another full-time job that pays the bills, but then as I started teaching more, I realized that I absolutely love it. So now, my entire student base is from Brazil. I have eight full-time students a week — on top of my full-time job. It keeps me busy, but I absolutely love it. The company is now advertised through them, and they’ll be like, “Hey, my friend recommended me to you.” Everything happened really naturally and congruently.
What is your full-time job?
I work in a manufacturing plant in the finance department. It’s a completely different, completely opposite side to everything, but that’s kind of allowed me to teach Business English from a different perspective because I understand the business side of things. I got my Business English specialization so that I could actually teach what I know with my own experience, which has helped a lot.
How do you market your online English classes?
What do you like best about teaching English online?
Honestly, everything. The ease of it, to be able to just have a class and a conversation with my students who are in different time zones. South America is kind of my target demographic, so teaching online allows me to do that. I’m not limited to what’s happening in my city, for example. The city that I live in is very small and it’s not very diverse, so if I were to have in-person classes, it would be a lot more difficult. So, having it online allows for so many more opportunities, and I can help so many more people. What ultimately drives me to teach is that I can inspire and motivate and encourage my students wherever they are.
Can you share a memorable experience teaching online?
For two years now, there are countless numbers of interesting conversations. I teach in a way that’s very relaxed. I’m not a very strict teacher because my philosophy is that English is fun and it shouldn’t be a chore to learn; it should be interesting. Students are like, “I have English class today!” So, that’s what I try to portray. Because of that, my students are really comfortable and have a really fun time with it.
I think something I’m really proud of is that I’ve helped one of my students who finished his Ph.D. and he mentioned me in his thesis. That was really cool. He sent me a screenshot as he was writing his thesis, and his acknowledgments included so many doctors and professors, and it was really cool to have me there and that genuine gratitude of getting a “Thank you. You really made the difference for me.” That was really cool to have.
What inspires you to teach English?
Being able to at least be that one person in a student’s life who can be encouraging and motivating for them. I always try to be their number one fan because everyone has so many things going on. I try to be their teacher but also a friend — someone they can really rely on with consistency. Life’s crazy nowadays, so if I can at least be that one piece of encouragement and say, “You got this. You’re doing great.” That really motivates me to help them because I see the difference.
I think as adults — I only teach adults — people don’t get that anymore. It’s hard to say like, “You did a good job.” Unfortunately, that’s a lot rarer when you’re an adult, and especially when you’re learning something new. So, if I can provide that, it’s pretty cool.
You took several Bridge TEFL/TESOL courses, including the Master Certificate, Teaching Business English, and a Micro-credential in Teaching IELTS Exam Prep. How did you choose these online TEFL certifications?
What’s next for you?
Watch the interview with Rory: