I am Momma to three daughters, a pre-teen, teenager, and a college freshman. By day, I am an elementary school teacher. BUT during predawn hours, I am an online ESL tutor to children who live on the other side of the world.

Online Esl Teacher Tanya
Here I am pictured with one of my favorite props while saying hello to my students.

Two years ago, if you would have told me or asked me about being an online ESL tutor, I would have probably asked you two things… What in the world you were talking about, and if that was even a real job while giving you the side-eye! 😉

I saw a Facebook post about a summer gig, and I thought to myself, why not? I can make a little money. It will be something to do, it will be different, and it may even be fun. I thought, let me see what this online tutoring thing is about. I can do this at least until school resumes in the fall again.

“Being an online tutor has changed my life, my view of teaching, and my view of the world”.

Now, two years later, I am still an online ESL tutor and enjoying EVERY minute of it! Being an online ESL tutor has given me a window into another culture. I have learned about how education is valued and viewed as well as the importance of family. I have noticed that as I teach my lessons, sometimes parents or grandparents watch from the sidelines. They may take notes of words or phrases used in class, or created by their child or grandchild. They may be there to provide assurance, praise, or encouragement. Sometimes, they provide gentle hints towards the answers. Either way, their involvement shows how important education is in their country.

I have been privileged to learn about and experience Chinese festivals such as the Dragon Boat Festival, Children’s Day, and Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year. I have witnessed first hand the excitement and anticipation as the children prepare for these special times and experiences.

My favorite festival is Spring Festival. As I taught during this time, my students would share their spring couplets. They would talk about traveling to their grandparents’ homes, having big dinners, and eating lots of yummy food.

During Spring Festival, I have experienced fireworks, as well as the thundering sound of beating drums during community celebrations. Students have shared their favorite Spring Festival traditions, as well as the ones that are not their favorite. One of their most beloved traditions is the receiving of red envelopes filled with money.

Chinese New Year Red Envelope
Here is a sample of the red envelopes given to children during Spring Festival

When I taught about red envelopes, my students would scamper off to retrieve theirs as I shared my red packets via the internet. I have incorporated the red packets with my own kids as we celebrate Spring Festival. I have also shared the cultural traditions with my students in my brick and mortar classroom. As a teacher, I have also evolved into a student! Teaching online has been one of my most rewarding opportunities!

During Pre-COVID days, I would awaken at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to teach a class or two before prepping breakfast for my family and then heading to my brick and mortar school. But, now I can teach 4 -5 classes every morning.

Here’s a glimpse of my routine:

Step 1: Review the weekly schedule and the lessons to prepare for my tutoring sessions.
Step 2: Review my schedule before going to bed. Prep my props, if using them.
Step 3: Wake up before the break of day (usually 4:30 or 5:00 a.m.)
Step 4: Make coffee or tea and a snack to get ready to greet the kids.
Step 5: Check in.
Step 6: Enter the class. Wait for it to begin. IT’S SHOWTIME!
Step 7: Complete any reports or written feedback as needed.

Those are the steps that guide my routine of being an online ESL tutor. I am usually done by 8 a.m. CST. During this pandemic, I still rise to greet and teach my students, but I don’t have to scurry off to my brick and mortar school. Sometimes, right after class, I go for a walk afterward or prepare for the rest of my day.

Being an online ESL tutor allows me to teach language skills ranging from letters and sounds to structuring responses and correcting grammar and punctuation. As an online tutor, I must think about the most engaging ways to communicate and extend the lesson content to my students, who may have varying English proficiency levels. Extending the content could be to ask what or why questions to challenge my students to create organic responses. I love seeing my students grow in their confidence and use of English. Teaching online is fun and games, but it is also serious business.

Teaching ESL online has opened a whole new world for me. I would not trade these experiences for anything! Thank you for sharing a day in my life as an online ESL tutor.

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