A day in the life of an online ESL teacher Digiteachesl > Post

A day in the life of an online ESL teacher

You aren’t sure if online ESL teaching is for you? I think a lot of people may not understand what their life would be like if they cut their 40-hour work week, right down to 25 hours. I thought I would give you a little breakdown of what a standard day will look like for me whilst I am staying in the Netherlands, as that is where I am based for now. 

I always open my schedule for teaching times between 10 am and 4 pm. This is perfect timing because it coincides exactly with the peak hours in Asia. I live mostly in the Netherlands but also go back home to South Africa, and luckily enough these time zones are great for teaching students who live in China. 

A day in the life of…me! 

8:20 am – Wake up slowly and make a cup of hot water with lemon (I don’t drink caffeine, shock and horror) Whilst I drink this I log into my teacher’s platform and write down all the class times I have lined up for the day whilst checking the lessons I will teach. 

9:00 am – Go to the gym which is in my apartment block. This only happens three times a week. I am not a fan of this either but hey, that’s normal right? After a 30-minute gym session, I have a quick shower. 

9:45 am - Log into my teaching platform and test my equipment. 

10:00 am – I have my first lesson of the day. It is an 8-year-old, who has basic English skills. The lesson involves key vocabulary, comprehension and a bit of simple grammar points at the end. 

10:25 am- Write a 3-minute feedback memo for the student on how she can improve and what she can practice on. Highlight any vocabulary she must revise. Show as much praise as possible and motivate the student to keep doing a great job.

10:30 am – My second 25-minute lesson, with a five-minute memo to fill out. This is a regular student of mine, she is super consistent but struggles very much with pronunciation and reading. I focus on correcting all of her words and repetition to make sure she learns the correct pronunciation. 

11:00 am – My third lesson for the day. It is a 12-year-old with pretty solid English skills. It is a new student, and I can suss out their English level during my warm up to class. Before the lesson, I always ask a few questions like "What is your name? How old are you? What did you do today?" I can tell how beginner or advanced they are by their responses to this. 

11:30 am- I have a half an hour break and I make breakfast (I eat breakfast late I know). I always make delicious and nutritious fruit and vegetable buddha bowl with nuts and seeds on top. I am a huge fan of breakfast! 

12:00 pm- Fourth lesson. This is a five-year-old who is a total beginner and is learning the phonics Aa and Bb. He has his mom with him to help keep him focused. I do loads of clapping and repetition. He surprisingly sits and focuses throughout the entire lesson. 

12:30 pm – Fifth Lesson. This student is a 9 year old who is also still a beginner and a slow learner. I speak more slowly and succinctly, using very basic sentences. If the student does not understand me, I use google translate to send the Chinese word translation. This helps a lot! 

13:00 pm – the Sixth lesson.  This is a repeat student of mine. Her name is Susie, she is 5 years old and never stops chatting fluently in English. She called me Michelle Obama once. I love her. 

13:30 pm – I have a half an hour break. I do some odd things around the house and have a rest from smiling and talking. 

14:00 pm – Seventh lesson. This is another regular student, his name is Kevin. He is super engaging and also very talkative. I really enjoy lessons with him because he always has new stuff to tell me. 

14:30 pm – the Eighth lesson. This is a 17 year old regular student. Her name is Tina and she is one of my few older students. She is great and I love lessons with her as she is older and we can talk about more advanced topics. 

I am done teaching.  It is 15:00 pm in the afternoon and the rest of my day is mine! 

From here on out my day varies, but I mostly spend the rest of the afternoon working on my blog and website. I cycle to the shops, buy some groceries and make a nice dinner for me and my boyfriend who so kindly works on my website too.  If I were travelling another country, I'd go walking around in the afternoon and explore the area. The time is all your's, do what you want with it;-) 

In a nutshell 

The most lessons I do a day is 9. This means it is 4.5 hours of teaching time, and I have noticed that nine is my maximum whilst still keeping up good energy levels and giving a quality lesson. One thing I will tell you is that this job is tiring! You are interacting and smiling for hours and it saps the energy fast. Those of you who do like caffeine, you will like it a lot more once you start ESL teaching!

My schedule will change all the time, depending on when I want to work. I plan my schedule 3 weeks in advance. If I want a late start I teach from 12 onwards and in Chinese summer holidays I can work from 8:00 am until 4 pm if I really wanted the money. I always open 9 slots and most of the time I get booked 7 to 9 slots a day. Some weeks I work 6 days a week, other times I work four days a week and go away for a few days. It really is entirely up to you.

As you can see, this life hardly resembles the 9-5 cubicle life job. Where you wake up, sit in traffic, get to work only to sit in a cubicle all day, return home back in traffic, cook dinner, feel exhausted and go to sleep only to start all over again.  I work when I want and how much I want. To me, that is pretty much invaluable. 

So cutting a 40 hour work week down to 25 hours really does leave you with more time during your week to do the things that actually ‘fulfill’ you. I am able to build up my own side business of coaching and guiding people into teaching English online. This would have been significantly harder had I worked a full 40-hour week. Yes, I do earn a high rate per hour and so it is easier for me to live off a 20-25-hour work week, but I also started at the bottom and worked my way up. You can do this too!  

A day in the life of an ESL teacher involves whatever they want it too, plus some teaching hours.  You could be living in Bali, waking up late,  going for a surf and lunch and then teaching a few hours afterwards. That is the beauty of the work we online teachers do. Whilst serving others by teaching them a language that will open amazing opportunities for them, you are also regaining your time and freedom to live the life you want. You want to live on an island, cool! Teach English online and go do exactly that. I'd suggest Bali or beautiful Phu Quoc in Vietnam. You can't go wrong ;-) 

I wouldn't trade my time, flexibility and mobility for a stable set salary any day. I will never go back to that way of life again! If you would like to have the same style of life whereby you choose the hours you work and can work anywhere in the world then become an online ESL teacher. How? Simply click here and download my FREE cheat sheet: The First Four Steps to Becoming an Online ESL Teacher.