Teach English in FangshAn Zhen - Lianyungang Shi

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A few months ago I started working as an ESL teacher for a company called Qkids. It is an online education company that offers teleconference-style video English lessons over the internet for Chinese children. Through the use of a webcam, a headset-microphone and Qkids’ interface, I started teaching English lessons from my house in New York to children ages 4-12 in their homes in China. Qkids’ platform also includes complete, progressive lesson plans for students of many different ability levels. This is good for me as a beginner ESL teacher because I don’t have to build lesson plans from scratch and thus I can focus more on my teaching technique and building rapport with students. In my classes I have anywhere from one to four students participating. My video feed is visible and audible to them and all of their video feeds are visible and audible to me with the lesson content occupying the rest of the screen. Students cannot see or hear each others’ video feeds unless I allow it. This feature allows me to exert classroom control quickly and effectively as well as help out students individually as needed. I have taught many lessons with Qkids by now, but their user-base is very large and thus I don’t believe I have ever worked with the same student twice. While I would find it interesting to work with the same students long-term to see how they progress, I enjoy the challenge of starting every lesson with new students because it helps me learn how to quickly build rapport and determine the best approach to teaching English for each student individually. Sometimes my students in any given lesson have different levels of skill with English, different levels of motivation and different interests. This can be challenging if the students have wildly different interests. If most students share a common interest such as superheroes then I can incorporate that content into the lesson so as to make it more fun and engaging. In situations where not all of the students are interested in the same thing, however, sometimes it benefits me to avoid incorporating those elements into the lesson so as not to alienate the students who don’t find that topic interesting. Although I have new students during every lesson, the work I am doing is done almost exclusively with monolingual groups of students i.e. students who understand Mandarin as a first language and who are learning English as a second language. Thus I often find that many students struggle with the same aspects of English. For instance, pronunciation of “R’s” and “L’s” can be difficult for students to differentiate. They also have trouble with pronouncing the “T’s” at the ends of words such at “won’t” or “can’t.” In these instances I often insert drills to give the students more practice saying these words. I will also position my mouth directly in front of my webcam so I can point out my mouth shapes to students as I say the problem words and phrases. Each student is taking the lesson from their home often with family in the room with them. This makes for some interesting situations during lessons. Sometimes the students may become distracted by their siblings running around. It actually helps me sometimes to engage the sibling a little bit as this can cause them to stop distracting the student and to actually help them focus on the lesson. At other times the student may have a parent who is sitting next to them helping them actively. Sometimes this is good and the parents are helpful but at other times the parents assist the student too much, over-correct the student which causes problems or even just cause distraction to the student. Navigating these situations can be challenging at times because I want to build the students’ confidence while also trying not to subvert their parents’ authority. When I first started teaching with Qkids I didn’t need TESOL certification but regulations in China changed recently so that now all teachers must get TESOL certified to continue working in ESL. As I have taught with Qkids I have found that I really do enjoy teaching English and that I want to explore this career more. I also want to expand my skills by getting TESOL certified so that I can be well-rounded and have the right skill-set to do more online teaching or to teach in-person in a classroom.