ALO7 ESL teacher and blog writer, Delanie Honda, was accepted into the Master of Education in International Education Policy program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. An online ESL teacher with ALO7 since early 2017, Honda will begin her program at Harvard this fall with the intention of continuing to work for the company if time allows. We at ALO7 are proud of Honda’s accomplishments and are not surprised by her acceptance to such a prestigious university based on her past work performance.
Busy teaching and tying up loose ends before returning to the United States from her current location in South America, I caught up with Honda to learn more about her path to Harvard and what she has planned for the future.
In a previous blog post, you mention that you received a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton in English Literature. What compelled you to make the jump from English literature to teaching English as a second language?
To be honest, I did not have a clear idea of what I wanted to pursue
Following my time in Cambodia, I taught in Malaysia for 10 months as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. I then transitioned to online teaching when I decided to go to Ecuador and explore South America. My boyfriend introduced me to the digital nomad lifestyle. Since I had the skills and experience of teaching English, it seemed like a natural continuation.
“I hope to take a position where I can shape and direct policies that will improve the future for learners across the world. I believe every student has a right to education and I am willing to go anywhere that will lead me to fulfill this vision.”
~ Delanie Honda
When did you know that teaching English as a second language was your passion?
English teaching has helped me realize the passion I have for education as a whole. My family taught me that school and education is the foundation of success, but while living abroad, I have seen that quality teachers and resources are not always readily accessible to many communities. I have also had the opportunity to connect with many students around the world through online teaching. These conversations have helped me understand more about other education systems and teaching methods in other countries.
How did ALO7 influence and support your decision to apply to Harvard? And, what will you be studying?
Alo7 has shown me the potential of online learning and led me to consider ways to leverage technologies to support education development. It’s amazing to me that I can log onto my computer and teach students thousands of miles away. Imagine if we could do that with more remote communities where quality teachers and resources are hard to come by. I will be studying in the International Education Policy program at the Graduate School of Education. Through this program, I will explore the barriers to education and analyze policy decisions aimed at solving these issues. I plan to further explore the idea of using EdTech and information communication and technologies to improve access to quality education resources.
I have felt very supported by Alo7 management throughout my graduate school application process. I knew I wanted a letter of recommendation from ALO7 because it has greatly influenced the direction and focus of what I want to study. I’m very happy they agreed to write one for me! They have also helped me network and connect to people who could give me feedback on my application. When I shared my good news, it was very heartwarming to receive so many congratulatory messages from ALO7 tutors and the Shanghai office.
Tell me about one of your favorite memories working as an ESL teacher.
One that stands out to me happened recently with an adult student I tutor. He worked as a business consultant, but his dream was to start his own company. I suggested we listen to the podcast How I Built This, which interviews innovators and entrepreneurs. During our lessons, we would discuss their stories and the lessons they had learned as they built their company. A few months ago, he announced that he had changed jobs to work at a startup and part of his decision to take the position was because of our lessons. It’s always rewarding to get feedback both big and small that your teaching is making an impact on others’ lives.
What’s your favorite ALO7 teaching moment?
Prior to Alo7, I never had much experience being around very young children. I don’t have younger siblings, and I never babysat neighbors’ children. My previous teaching experience has been with teenage and young adult learners. So, I was pretty nervous for some of my first classes with five-year-olds. What was I supposed to do with them? I reached out to the ALO7 tutor community for advice. By the end of the course, I looked forward to this group of students and laughing with them throughout the lesson. Their English skills grew so much in just a few lessons, and I was really proud of their progress.
Do you have any secondary positions with ALO7? How has ALO7 helped to shape your career?
I am an interviewer and contributor to ALO7’s blog. I also helped with reviewing and rewriting some of the NCE-based online content. Through these positions, I have been able to see more in-depth of how the online tutor department of ALO7 operates as well as gain some valuable skills! Having some knowledge about curriculum development and SEO will surely be helpful to me further along in my career.
Do you plan to keep working for ALO7 while studying at Harvard?
I hope so! I would like to keep tutoring with ALO7 as my schedule allows. It would be a great way to supplement my income while I’m studying.
In general, do you think working online as an ESL teacher for ALO7 is a good fit for college students?
As long as you have roommates who don’t mind you waking them up early in the morning (if you live in North America), I don’t see why not! Working as an online ESL teacher is very convenient for students who are in the North American time zones since the peak hours are early in the morning. This allows you to complete your teaching before your day starts. Since ALO7 provides you with the materials and lesson plans, you do not have to do much advanced preparation which would take away from your studies. It is easy to take some time off when you need extra hours during finals to catch up on sleep, write papers or study for exams. If you manage your time well, I believe it is very possible to balance work with ALO7 and coursework.
Do you have any plans for your future after Harvard, or is it too soon to ask?
If it isn’t clear yet, I’m not always a person with a plan! I like to see how things evolve and unfold organically. I have been lucky so far. If I had had a firm five-year plan after graduating from Wheaton College, I would have missed out on a lot of formative experiences. So my goal while I am at Harvard is to take advantage of as many networking and campus events as possible and see where it takes me.
That said, I want to continue living and working abroad after I finish my degree. I hope to take a position where I can shape and direct policies that will improve the future for learners across the world. I believe every student has a right to education and I am willing to go anywhere that will lead me to fulfill this vision.
Would you like to learn more about what it’s like to be an online ESL teacher? Read Honda’s blog post about teaching online and the digital nomad lifestyle.
Dalissa McEwen is passionate about education and believes that learning is a lifelong pursuit. Her focus on education began when she became a mother, and it grew exponentially as she raised her five children to adulthood. During that time, she founded and ran an educational co-op for over 100 families, and had articles on education published in online newspapers. She was also the Editor-in-Chief of a local magazine with a focus on art and culture. And, she’s worked in the field of social media as a copywriter and social media manager for the past 25 years.
Currently, Dalissa is ALO7’s social media manager and blog editor. In her free time, she volunteer teaches art and tutors students at a local center for Latinx immigrants, and she shows her personal artwork in galleries.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, USA, and TESOL certification.