Despite the economic shock we’ve felt in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, it’s encouraging to hear about online English teachers who are able to make the most out of this situation and who still strive to give quality classes. Bridge Teaching English Online Course graduate Sheyla Monteiro, from Brazil, is one of these teachers. Currently living in the US, she was already teaching private online classes before the outbreak hit, and in this interview, she tells about how her English tutoring business has thrived, even in these challenging times.
How has the COVID-19 virus crisis affected your work as an online English teacher?
Little by little my online classes took over my other part-time jobs and now, during the quarantine, I am so happy that I have so many classes every day to keep me busy and allow me to still make money.
How have you and your students adapted during the crisis?
I have many students who work from home so now they are taking advantage of the quarantine to take more classes. I also have other students who canceled for a while because they are prioritizing the essential bills. So now I am offering one free class per week to my loyal students who cannot spend money during this crisis, but I know that they will continue with my classes when this situation is over.
What’s the biggest challenge about teaching online, especially in the current situation, and what’s the best thing?
My biggest challenge is to keep the students feeling that each class is really worth the money they pay. The best thing is to see the results and receive good feedback from the students whenever they succeed in their personal experiences.
What types of students do you teach?
I teach Brazilians who live in the USA, Canada, and Brazil. My students are all adults. Sometimes I think about teaching kids but I have been so busy that I haven’t gotten the time to focus on it.
How long have you been working as an EFL teacher?
I have been teaching English for more than 15 years. I had previously taught in language schools and in private classes before I switched to online teaching more than two years ago.
You work as an independent English teacher, not for a company. How did you start and how did you build your online client base?
I started off by putting an ad on a Brazilian Facebook page where the community shares information with the immigrants in the USA. The first week that I put the ad up, I filled up a schedule with four classes per day.
What’s your schedule as an online teacher? Do you make your own hours?
I do make my own hours and I try to work only during the week. I work mostly in the evening because that is the time most adults can take classes. I try to begin on Monday evening and finish on Friday morning, that way I can always enjoy my weekend. I would rather finish work earlier, but I believe it is part of the job to teach in the evenings. And I only do evening classes from Monday to Thursday; On Fridays I finish in the early afternoon.
You took the 120-Hour Teaching English Online course. Why did you decide to earn this certification?
I started to teach English online without much guidance to do it. After running out of ideas, I decided to take a course not only to add the certificate to my CV but also to get ideas and learn how to explore the Internet in my favor.
How did the specialized course prepare you for the virtual classroom?
I got many good ideas from Bridge and I still use them. After taking the classes, I started using some tools that helped me explore different topics with my students.
What are your plans for the next weeks or months as the world deals with the global pandemic?
My plan now is to use my free time to organize all my material and have many activities ready that I can use with new students. Also, I am planning to try to conduct some group classes for free, just to get the hang of it. I would like to offer this type of service, too, but I have no experience with it yet.
Do you have any advice for people new to teaching, who are now looking at teaching English online as a possible job option?
I truly believe that online class is the future of private English classes. It saves time, it is safer, and the classes really work! My advice is to give it a try. There are many companies you can work for but if in your country many people need to speak English, you can easily work for yourself. All you need is to advertise your classes in the right places and social media is right there to help, too.