Online English Conversation Classes

Discussion in 'Self Employment' started by Jorge Ruiz, Jan 24, 2015.

  1. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Hey all.

    Back in the day, before I changed jobs and "retired" after 32 years as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, I found a great way to make ends meet during the summer months when academies closed for vacation and few students wanted to study: Online English Conversation Classes.

    I found a great platform, Japanese run, that was just getting started (I was one of the charter teachers there). It was basically a place where Japanese people bought points and spent them on conversations classes over Skype. I did do more than simple conversation (even did Spanish conversation with one housewife, whose husband didn't know she was taking lessons, funny that one, once she lied to him and told him she was chatting with her old school friend in the US! ha), but most of the time it was Japanese people who wanted to chat away in English.

    Don't know how it works now, but it got to be a pretty popular platform over there, it was cheap and easy, just and Internet connection and a headset with mic and you were making money. The time-zone change was sometimes challenging when scheduling classes, but teachers set their own rates, gave simple descriptions of the type of classes they gave and students would browse and try you out. They gave little heart icons if they liked you (reminded me of Hello Kitty!) and I always had five (the limit!)

    Anyone interested can PM me and I'll see if the platform is still up, or if I know of others. It did get me through a couple of dry summers, not a lot of bucks, but doing it from home meant no gas money spent!

    peace,
    revel.
     
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  2. Mal Campbell

    Mal Campbell Well-Known Member
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    Did you have to speak Japanese? I would love to do something like that, it would be fun to talk to people from other cultures and who could say no to earning a few extra dollars. If you have any information on it, I would love to investigate the opportunity. Thanks!
     
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  3. Jorge Ruiz

    Jorge Ruiz Member
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    Hey Mal and all.

    Nope, no Japanese (they seem to instinctively know that not a lot of non-Japanese people speak Japanese and are eager to practice their English!), I only speak English and Spanish, so no problem there.

    It was an interesting "job", I had a long-term class with the owner of a Metals company who didn't want to talk about work at all, just enjoyed chatting with me about different things. Another was an engineer who was getting ready to present a special low-friction generator for energy-producing windmills in the States and wanted to practice that presentation with me and get some ideas on how to organize it for an American audience.

    Other students were just the run-of-the-mill ESL students who wanted to converse, sometimes asked specific questions about grammar or idioms or the like. I even gave some lessons to a five-year-old girl, but that one was too challenging for my bandwidth at the time, as the PowerPoints didn't load quickly enough.

    I almost always chose some interesting news article for each class, skimmed it through with the student and let the conversation go from there. Also, if you're quick with finding links, you can send them through chat so that both you and your student are looking at the same things. I was able to show one student exactly where I lived using a Governmental Satellite site with excellent air photos of my village.

    The service was called "CafeTalk", haven't used it for years, browsing it right now I see it's changed a lot from the early days, you might find it interesting. I know I enjoyed it.

    peace,
    revel.
     
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  4. Mal Campbell

    Mal Campbell Well-Known Member
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    Thanks, I'll check it out. I'll also give the link to my husband - he's really the talker in the family. Me, I'm a little on the shy side - but it does sound like fun.
     
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  5. Richard Lee

    Richard Lee Member
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    It may be worth taking a TEFL course first - this will teach you how to teach foreign speakers English (and a good course will include 8 hours of real experience, monitored, which will help with the nerves too). I spent a few years teaching at University here in Thailand and always in English - I can read and speak Thai, but it should be avoided whilst teaching, after all they are paying for the chance to hear native English speaking; they can get the grammar etc from Japanese teachers - it's learning to hear English and speak decipherably that they need, and this only comes from a native speaker.


    //Edit: TEFL courses are usually only 4 weeks full time. This can be combined with a holiday - like visiting Thailand and doing a TEFL course. This is useful because the kids you teach in monitored experience, will have the same issues as the students you will really need to teach. Things like "r" and "l" sounds - "v" "f" "TH" etc - all problems with Asians both in hearing the sound differences and forming the sounds themselves. Compound letters are often a problems too; things like starting the word with "Sp" (e.g. Sprite) most Asian languages do not have such a construction and it is hard for them to form without adding in vowels (here they would say "sah-pry" - also missing the hard "t" at the end). You only get this training in Asia.

    If anyone fancies doing a course in Thailand, there are many good and bad places - drop me a PM I will give you details of the only ISO90001 approved TEFL course in the kingdom - 4 weeks costs around $500 all told (that's an estimate - but it will be close) - not affiliated, but know the people that run it and have even studied there myself (and taught a few classes too years back) - it's in Chiang Mai by the way.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  6. Kevin Matthew

    Kevin Matthew Member
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    Richard, that's really interesting about the TEFL courses in Thailand.... I'm especially interested because next year I'm going for the summer to teach in Bangkok. I guess in a strange way I'll be teaching English, but to Deaf kids. I won't need to worry about their pronunciation - except in Sign Language! :D
     
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