Cecilia Nobre ELT Blog

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The joys of teaching online

This is my first ever post and I’ve decided to start with it because it makes me happy.

I’ve been teaching English for 16 years in different settings: language schools, private primary schools, State schools in the UK. Besides that, for the past 10 years I have also been teaching students privately whether it be in their homes or workplaces.

It has always given me some extra money but, above all, I’ve always truly enjoyed it. For me, personally, I feel flattered to be chosen by my students to help them achieve their dreams and goals through their language-learning journey. I like to know my students, the reasons why they have their language dreams and how I can help each one achieve them. Most of my students are quite self-motivated and committed, which makes my job more exciting and effective. So much so that for the last five years I decided to quit the job I was doing in a school and dedicate myself to teach only one-to-one. Mind you, I hope to go back to teaching in a language school one day, especially if they have small groups.

Teaching one-to-one would be perfect except for one little thing: traffic. You see, I live in Rio de Janeiro, the second biggest city in Brazil, and commuting is a real pain. I drive here (because I have to) and sometimes I would waste up to two hours commuting out and another two hours back – yes, by car. Doesn’t that sound crazy? I’ve lived in the UK and I know you can drive to another city in two hours there. Sometimes I’d say to a friend “it would be faster if I flew to São Paulo (45 min flight) than going to the city centre in Rio.” On top of that, Carioca (people born in Rio) drivers are some of the most dangerous I’ve ever known. When I’m driving, I feel like I am in a battle and I have to fight to survive.  After having talked to a few colleagues who had been working mainly online, in the beginning of the year I decided to set a deadline to myself to shift half of my current lessons to online.

My colleagues could not emphasize enough: you MUST have a good structure! Strong bandwidth, digital materials, virtual learning platform and a cancellation/rules policy. Except for the latter, I needed to work on building my teaching hub before I talked to my face-to-face students. I knew some of my current face-to-face students would not be fond of the idea of having online classes and I am still teaching them twice a week.

But I started teaching online a month ago, three times a week, and I’ve never been happier. It feels so good not having to leave home and face that nasty traffic. I can teach back-to-back, rather than scheduling one class and the second 1 or 2 hours later because, you know… t r a f f i c! It feels great being able to wear flip flops and having more time for myself and my dogs. I can even walk my dogs for a while when I have an hour break between classes. It feels amazing not having to spend money on petrol. It feels great being able to deliver the same type of class now online, without losing the personal approach and effectiveness. It feels amazing striking a balance between work and life. The only question I keep asking myself is “Why did I wait so long for this?”

 

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12 Comments

  1. Arthur Luiz says:

    Amazing to see that you could make it. Anyways, I was kind of reluctant as it seems that quality may go low. Do you have any tips? What mechanism have you chosen (skype, interactive material)…? I am not that good at technology.

    Best and good luck,

    Arthur

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mariangela Contente says:

    What do you do to get students to your classes. I’ve been trying hard to do that but I can’t find students interested in having classes online.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mariangela,
      At the moment my online students used be have classes with me face-to-face. Some learners are still a bit reluctant to the online context, though.
      A few things I did were offering a free class for each student so they can evaluate whether they like it or not. I also showed them how enthusiastic and committed I am. Have a look at the links I suggested in the other comments 🙂
      Good luck!

      Like

  3. Daniel Shiro says:

    Dear Cecilia,
    I’m really glad that you are seeing the benefits of teaching online. I hope more learners also see these benefits. As I think I’ve already mentioned to you, some of my students can wear pijamas while having class from the comfort of their home. Others can have classes from their offices while they avoid rush hour.
    I wish you all the best in this new adventure that is teaching online and I hope to meet f2f soon. 😀
    Daniel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Daniel, so sorry for only answering you now! I’m still getting used to blogging.
      Your tips helped me a lot, thanks for that! I love the freedom that online classes give me. We’ll surely meet soon 🙂

      Like

  4. I love online classes too!
    In the beginning I myself had a little prejudice, first as a student, then as a teacher. But after teaching online for 2 years, I see how much the learning and teaching processes improved with online classes, for the variety of resources is incomparable. Not to mention all the benefits you have already written about. It is definitely my favorite kind of class.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. dirci says:

    I just loved to read about your experience and the comments so far. I’ve been trying to find more information on how teaching online works and the resources available to enrich both teacher and student’s experiences. I find it a little hard for me to prepare one-to-one classes. If anyone is willing to share experiences, to send me suggestions I would love to hear from you 🙂 Congrats, Cecilia! Wish you more and more success ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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