THE present economic environment has been pushing many families to shift from having one source of income to having multiple income streams. This humble ekonomista’s household is not an exception.
I recently wrote about the micro-enterprise that I and my nieces ventured into. So far, it is doing quite well. But for an extended family like the household that I belong to, there is a need for more income streams in order to be comfortable.
An opportunity opened up for me to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) online. It was a chance to have another income stream. It caught my interest because the job pretty much provides enough mental challenges that would not stress me a lot and the schedule is quite flexible, too.
At first, it seemed that one may not get much money from teaching ESL, particularly in the ESL school that I am affiliated with. However, as days go by, the number of students that are assigned to me starts to increase, which also increases my opportunity to earn more.
I had the notion that this is just a small industry and that very few companies have really thrived in this industry in the past. Individuals who have managed to corner clients on their own have started their own home-based practice that survived despite the pandemic.
But I was wrong.
This is a growing industry, especially here in the Philippines, particularly here in Baguio because it is known to have many residents who speak English very well.
Citizens of non-English speaking countries in East Asia like South Korea, Japan, China, in the Middle East like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, in Africa like Sudan, Nigeria are the main clientele of ESL academies and companies offering tutorial services.
I knew for a fact that there are a number of academies/companies here in Baguio that cater to this clientele with face-to-face interactions. But recently, I learned that there are also several companies catering to students who are abroad using advanced technology to provide one-on-one tutorial services.
My first few days were not very eventful. I met students who are very eager to learn English while some give half-hearted responses or lukewarm treatment.
I have learned from experience that at the end of the day, no matter how dedicated teachers are in teaching students, the students’ attitude towards learning still determines whether the students excel or not.
I have always believed I was excellent in English, both spoken and written, especially on pronunciation and grammar.
I have a reputation among my very close friends as a judgmental grammarian. I would sound condescending whenever I correct their wrong grammar. Once I start doing that, they would poke fun at me, and say, “ayna, banatan na tay manen ti S-TV-DO-IO!”, pertaining to the sentence construction pattern that has a subject, transitive verb, direct object and indirect object.
I am thankful that I was attentive to my English teachers back in high school and university. My stock knowledge on the parts of speech like noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, article, connectives, conjunction, preposition, etc., on tenses like the simple present, simple past, past participle, present participle, present perfect, past perfect, etc., on figures of speech like simile, metaphor, hyperbole, juxtaposition, onomatopoeia, oxymoron, irony, paradox, etc., on phonetics and phonemic symbols, etc. came in very handy.
One challenge that I am still doing my best to overcome is to speak with an exaggerated American accent. I do not have a particular accent, that’s why. I have to admit that I used to judge those “cawlcenner” (call center) agents who I hear conversing in English with a dragging American accent.
I take back all those judgments because I now have to use an American accent in my ESL classes. I’m getting used to it... slowly but surely.
Most of the classes are actually audio calls, but there are video classes as well. The audio classes are easier because the students at the other end of the line can’t see whatever that is that I am doing while having our class.
For video classes, I find them intimidating, but it is exciting at the same time. The students can see my facial expression and my full attention should be on the student during the class. I am now more comfortable looking straight into the camera rather than the screen.
As I mentioned earlier, it is a thriving industry, and it continues to expand. The company that I am affiliated with, Brent Oxphone, an online ESL tutoring service provider is looking for teachers/tutors.
It is pretty much open to all applicants; no discrimination with respect to age, religion, civil status, etc. as long as who can speak good English, think he/she can teach (even if with a teaching background) and are teachable (willing to learn). There are options for working from home as well.
If you are interested, DM me on Twitter, @jpthinkingaloud.