Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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John V55
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Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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Just a bit about teaching online. Opinion based on why I never got involved with it and factually based on what I know.

Online teaching is a relatively new phenomenon, starting in schools where the wealthier students asked native teachers for extra out of hour’s lessons, but the native teacher was too busy to oblige. They did however know foreign teachers who would, but why not do it via the Internet? The native teacher organized it, no need for a classroom, received the payment(s) and gave the foreign teacher some of it. It operated like an employment agency. Gradually the private sector smelled a profit, got involved and whole companies sprang up around the ‘gig.’

The average rate promised is around $15ph (¥105ph), which means you’d have to do ten hours a day non-stop five days a week to even make a living out of it. That’s not going to happen. If you’re getting around ¥100 an hour, be very sure the company is charging the student ¥200 and that’s a lot of money in China. Very few Chinese are going to pay ¥200 an hour to talk to you on your mobile phone for any length of time.

These Internet teaching jobs have a near 100% turnover and they’re continually looking for new teachers. There is no get rich quick scheme in teaching and as soon as you’re promised a fantastic rate, beware. Maybe if you’re working as a part time weekend sideline, but you are not going to make a living from it. The only way to teach is to get out there, stand in front of a class of 60 and give it a try, which means going to the country in person.

Several years ago I put the syllabus I’d been teaching online. A whole year of lesson plans, but how would you teach this on a mobile phone? It would be impossible. Which means it’s not teaching, it’s talking and that’s something very different.

https://www.academia.edu/11730502/ABL_TEFL_SYLLABUS (No download, scroll down to read).
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John V55
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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I’m surprised this thread isn’t being answered as online teaching is becoming a popular subject. Some time ago there was a thread that went into detail, but I haven’t got the patience to dig through the old threads to look for it.

The west is heading for an economic downturn and people are looking for a regular, secure, well paid job. They’ve become very rare to find and it’s the marketing lead online teaching businesses are trying to sell. If they existed and you could earn easy money we’d all be online teachers and no one would be going abroad to teach, right?

The first thing to say is online teaching doesn’t apply to schools. They’re one to one and from either students, or working people who have the time during the evenings or weekends. It’s a part time job.

Second, the companies don’t lose out, but you will. The ‘customers’ pay for a course or time period up front and so if they drop out or get bored the company already has a non-returnable payment, but you don’t get the work and so don’t get paid.

Third, in the coming predicted downturn that’s already starting, these kind of promises of easy money and scams will increase. It’s time to downsize dreams and if you’re lucky take any job that’s available to see you through, the same as everyone else.

Google ‘online teaching’, it’s absolutely saturated with promises of work and money. They’re not even asking for qualifications and often no experience required. They’re deliberately preying on the desperate. In my decade of teaching in Thailand and China I never met one real teacher, not one, who was teaching online, because we all knew the adverts often with links to ‘come and join us and make lots of money’ didn’t exist. Start using some common sense and don’t be left disappointed. If you’re going to be a teacher go abroad and do it, but don’t fall for promises that don’t exist.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

Unread post by DanielLee888 »

Thanks for sharing your experience, online teaching sounds really interesting to me. I speak Korean at a rather decent level, would like to try teaching it via this service https://preply.com/en/skype/korean-tutoring-jobs , the competition among Korean tutors is rather low as for me, meanwhile the language by itself is rather demanded.
Last edited by DanielLee888 on 04 Feb 2020, 14:34, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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DanielLee888 wrote: 17 Jan 2020, 14:04 Thanks for sharing your experience, online teaching sounds really interesting to me
Good luck with it! :)
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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marceltr wrote: 24 Jan 2020, 14:24 I have same experience. I wish you good luck my friend.
Yes, the online teaching companies specifically target non-native English speakers, those without the required qualifications to teach and the young looking to make easy money. If it did work there’d be no more teachers in schools and everyone would be sitting at home chatting all day on their mobile phones. It’s just a shame that those who are desperately looking for work remain the most disappointed.
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Mel1959
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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Online teaching is mostly about big business sticking it to the little guy in demeaning and inequitable ways. It's the old dancing bear methaphor come to loathsome life. It's mostly for the kids of Generation Z, who seem unfazed by and unaware of the disparaging nature and negative effects of working for The Man—jumping through all their monkey-suit hoops and following all their corporate rules and regulations; all the while with a silly puppet in one hand and goofy realia in the other, and with a constant, obsequious smile on the face and fake, daffy feedback repeated ad nauseam. Such are the over-the-top requirements of the job, along with a colorful, Romper-Room background for good measure. And the average pay, after taxes, fees, and commissions, is probably in the $12 range. Of course, plenty of passionate and dedicated soft-skills worker bees are also earning decent wages for their online corporate-sponsored circus bear acts. As young adult bears, many of them are hung-ho and take their roles as educators very seriously; this isn't a bad thing, just a sad thing. Like all other wage-earning clock punchers in the world of big business, they have very little, if any, power or say in the matter. To survive and thrive as a kids' online teacher, they must conform to the edicts and whims of their employers.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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John, your post about online teaching was interesting and timely because you wrote it shortly before the pandemic. What are your thoughts now? The global pandemic has led to huge growth in this business, hasn't it?
Personally, in 2020, I tried to find work online teaching adult students because my brick@mortar background has been with more mature students. I found nothing—in spite of my substantial credentials and experience. Almost all the companies want teachers for extremely young kids. I was even asked to do a demo for a two-year old!
I am afraid the brick@mortar schools will remain closed until 2021, so I am in a bit of a quandary right now.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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tenneray wrote: 11 Sep 2020, 20:03 John, your post about online teaching was interesting and timely because you wrote it shortly before the pandemic. What are your thoughts now? The global pandemic has led to huge growth in this business, hasn't it?
Personally, in 2020, I tried to find work online teaching adult students because my brick@mortar background has been with more mature students. I found nothing—in spite of my substantial credentials and experience. Almost all the companies want teachers for extremely young kids. I was even asked to do a demo for a two-year old!
I am afraid the brick@mortar schools will remain closed until 2021, so I am in a bit of a quandary right now.
What the so-called pandemic has done is close down schools and limit travel. Into that vacuum has stepped online teaching. The lure of online teaching only works if people believe there’s a huge market of students willing to pay big money to learn which there isn’t, or a huge surplus of ‘no experience required, work from home and earn big money’ people looking for work, which there is.

Politicians having had a taste of authoritarianism and wanting to cling onto it means it’s a matter of waiting it out and the bad news is that the recession and unemployment is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

This is a time when the scammers and those peddling promises are going to be most active. It’s simply a matter of waiting it out.
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alamanda
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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You are right there are a lot of scammers out there and it is nigh impossible to make a living while teaching online. Teaching online is supposed to be supplemental.

On the other hand, there are teaching platforms that do offer a high level of interactivity; therefore, more than "just talking" happens in a lot of online classrooms.

To the latest response: The schools I work for require experience, a degree and a certification. Actually, trying to find an online job without any of the three would be very difficult right about now.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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Alamanda, would you be able to suggest specific employers? I am qualified and experienced. I prefer not to teach children. Thank you.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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I work for 2 schools and starting my own. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, the highest demand is in teaching ages 5-13, but I do teach at a school called "Fluentbe" (Polish based school), they are mainly in the business of teaching adults. The pay is on the lower end (8-10 usd), and it shouldn't be considered a "get rich" thing; nevertheless, the company has never been late on a payment and they have been honest. They use Zoom (not as interactive as some other platforms, but still works well.) I hope this helps.

Why is this forum so depressing?
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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alamanda wrote: 08 Feb 2021, 21:33 I work for 2 schools and starting my own. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, the highest demand is in teaching ages 5-13, but I do teach at a school called "Fluentbe" (Polish based school), they are mainly in the business of teaching adults. The pay is on the lower end (8-10 usd), and it shouldn't be considered a "get rich" thing; nevertheless, the company has never been late on a payment and they have been honest. They use Zoom (not as interactive as some other platforms, but still works well.) I hope this helps.

Why is this forum so depressing?
‘Why is this forum so depressing?’ Now that’s an interesting question, but I think you’ll find that occurs across the Internet and most TEFL sites don’t even allow a forum anymore. I think that’s because TEFL has generally become a for-profit industry with the purpose of education taking a back seat and if you now Google for TEFL information you only find a bunch of private organizations competing to sell you something and in-fighting amongst themselves.

Similarly with the previous ‘language centres’ who have become ‘schools’ and where many of the problems stem from. Perhaps it’s not so much a problem of ‘depressing’ as that of many finding the often harsh reality that private education is more about customer bums on seats and entertainment than education. Personally, I’d require by law all private education establishments to declare they’re businesses, but that’s never going to happen and so it continues.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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I get it. We need catharsis and there are serious issues in the business of SLA. I mean, it doesn't take long to see that this business is inundated with scandalous practices on and offline; also, the absurd notion that technology is at the point to where AI can take the place of a teacher, it's all quite worrying. It just seems as though there is something that can be done.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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When anything becomes privatized it stops being altruistic in any sense or even meaningful and becomes just another profit venture. Privatized education, online teaching, no degree or experience required, everyone just pile in and make $$$ … It’s where the phrase ‘performing monkeys’ stems from.

The death knell sounded when business found a way to circumvent education department requirements. Schools became language centres, teachers became company employees and TEFL became an online industry selling promises to the gullible/greedy. It’s not going to change; there are too many making money out of it.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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John V55 wrote: 09 Feb 2021, 15:23 When anything becomes privatized it stops being altruistic in any sense or even meaningful and becomes just another profit venture. Privatized education, online teaching, no degree or experience required, everyone just pile in and make $$$ … It’s where the phrase ‘performing monkeys’ stems from.

The death knell sounded when business found a way to circumvent education department requirements. Schools became language centres, teachers became company employees and TEFL became an online industry selling promises to the gullible/greedy. It’s not going to change; there are too many making money out of it.
It seems as though this the "sky is blue, because it is blue" kind of reasoning. But I can empathize with what you are saying.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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alamanda wrote: 10 Feb 2021, 01:50
John V55 wrote: 09 Feb 2021, 15:23 When anything becomes privatized it stops being altruistic in any sense or even meaningful and becomes just another profit venture. Privatized education, online teaching, no degree or experience required, everyone just pile in and make $$$ … It’s where the phrase ‘performing monkeys’ stems from.

The death knell sounded when business found a way to circumvent education department requirements. Schools became language centres, teachers became company employees and TEFL became an online industry selling promises to the gullible/greedy. It’s not going to change; there are too many making money out of it.
It seems as though this the "sky is blue, because it is blue" kind of reasoning. But I can empathize with what you are saying.
My point is that the sky is as blue as you want it to be. The further down the pot of gold at the end of the TEFL rainbow one goes, the murkier it becomes. The answer is to stay at the teaching level and leave the businesses to fight it out amongst themselves.
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Re: Online teaching: The fallacy of making a quick buck

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John V55 wrote: 10 Feb 2021, 07:50
alamanda wrote: 10 Feb 2021, 01:50
John V55 wrote: 09 Feb 2021, 15:23 When anything becomes privatized it stops being altruistic in any sense or even meaningful and becomes just another profit venture. Privatized education, online teaching, no degree or experience required, everyone just pile in and make $$$ … It’s where the phrase ‘performing monkeys’ stems from.

The death knell sounded when business found a way to circumvent education department requirements. Schools became language centres, teachers became company employees and TEFL became an online industry selling promises to the gullible/greedy. It’s not going to change; there are too many making money out of it.
It seems as though this the "sky is blue, because it is blue" kind of reasoning. But I can empathize with what you are saying.
My point is that the sky is as blue as you want it to be. The further down the pot of gold at the end of the TEFL rainbow one goes, the murkier it becomes. The answer is to stay at the teaching level and leave the businesses to fight it out amongst themselves.
I completely understand that the closer we look at "anything" the more complex the "thing" becomes. And I agree with your last point to a certain extent. I remember the day I found myself fretting over financial projections and business meetings instead of worrying about whether or not learning is taking place. So, I quit doing "that" and started teaching again, but as life goes on I have found that I need to reconcile both, if I want to survive and do what I enjoy.
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