Digital Nomad Interviews: My Experience Teaching English Online with Say ABC
Guest Post by April from JustLeavingFootprints.com
April Thompson is an online ESL Teacher from Canada. She currently lives in Mexico City with her husband, Arturo, and also runs a travel blog called Just Leaving Footprints which focuses on sustainable travel. Teaching English online allows April to be at home with her pug and explore more of Mexico without having to always request time off.
Being able to work while you travel or live abroad is a dream for so many people. Please tell me a bit more about where you are and the job you are doing.
I currently live in Mexico City and I work for a company called SayABC as an online ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher. The company I work for is a Chinese company so all my students are children in China.
And what made you decide to teach English online and how did you make it happen?
While I was exploring job options I realized that if I took an ESL Teaching job here in Mexico, I would be spending almost the same amount of money to get to work that I would be making at work! This is because technically, my husband and I live a bit outside Mexico City, in a place called Huixquilucan. I also wanted the freedom that comes with teaching English online. I wanted to be able to make my own schedule, stay at home with our pug, Mowgli, and also have more time to explore the city.
In order to teach English online with SayABC I first studied online to get my TESOL Certificate. I already had a Bachelor’s Degree which helped as well. Part way through completing my TESOL Certificate I took a part time ESL Teaching job here in Mexico for a few months which gave me some hands on experience as well. I also watched a lot of helpful YouTube videos about teaching online and used those to help prepare me for my interview.
What do you like the best about teaching English online?
There are so many things I love about my job that it’s impossible to pick just one. I love the kids that I get to teach, they are so much fun and they brighten my day every day.
I also love the flexibility that teaching English online offers me. Since I can make my own schedule, I can easily just say I’m not available to work on certain days if I want to go somewhere or if a friend is coming to visit me. If I’m already scheduled for classes that I need to take off, I can still take those days off too (up to three times in three months) in case I get sick or there’s an emergency. Right before Christmas, my grandma passed away, and thanks to my job, I was able to take some time off that same week to go to her funeral. I don’t think I would have had such an easy time taking work off with any of the other jobs I’ve ever had before.
Oh and teaching English online pays quite well too! (USD$21 for 40 mins) Add onto that the fact that I don’t have to drive or Uber to work, I end up saving a good amount of money.
But nothings perfect right? Are there any downsides?
The one downside, I will admit, is that because my students are in China, and I’m in Mexico, I have to wake up really early to teach classes. I have the option to start work at 4am but since I make my own schedule, I teach from 5:40am until 7:10am or 8:10am depending on the day.
This ‘downside’ is also a bit of an upside though, because once I’m done teaching, I have the whole day to work on my blog, walk my dog, explore or do whatever I want. Plus I can always take a nap after my early morning classes.
Do you have one standout highlight or biggest achievement from teaching English online?
I’ve only been working for SayABC for about three months so far so I think my biggest achievement with SayABC so far has been that I’ve only had to request emergency leave once. I try not to take time off when I’m sick so the only time that I’ve had to cancel a class I already had scheduled was for my grandma’s funeral. I’m also hoping to help more people become teachers with SayABC as well.
And what has been the greatest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me has been teaching English online to students whose first language is one that I don’t speak. I speak Spanish (almost) fluently so when I was teaching students in Mexico, it was easy for me to explain something they didn’t understand in their mother tongue. With SayABC, since I don’t speak Mandarin, I have to use actions, or just phrase questions differently in English if my students don’t understand something.
What do you wish you had known before you started teaching English online?
There’s honestly not much that I didn’t know about before I started teaching English online with SayABC since I did so much research on what it was like to work for them before I applied. At first, though, I was apprehensive to apply for the job because I had been turned down by another online ESL company already. Plus, the company I was turned down by only required me to teach one student at a time.
With SayABC I can teach anywhere from one to four students at a time, and I had read online that many people considered this a downside. They said it can be harder to control that many students at a time. However, once I started teaching English online with SayABC I actually found it very easy to teach multiple students at a time online. So I guess I wish I had known that it wouldn’t actually be that hard, and if I had known that, I would have applied a lot sooner.
So, what are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I’m hoping to continue teaching English online for SayABC and helping more people become ESL Teachers with them. SayABC not only pays you for teaching, they also pay you when you refer a new teacher to the platform. If you refer lots of new teachers to the company, you can even become a brand ambassador.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what tips would you give for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I would say the first thing you need to do is get a TESOL Certificate. Next, do your research. SayABC has a four step application process so you want to do each step really well. You can read this article I wrote here that explains the application process in more detail, or you can watch this video.
Teaching English online is a great way to work online that gives you the flexibility to work from home or anywhere in the world which means it can be a great way to make money while traveling. Check out the Say ABC website and if you want to apply then click on this link and use April’s referral code: EHE6B5
Looking for more ideas about how to make money while traveling – check out my other interviews with digital nomads and people working abroad.