Currently, there is a high demand for tutors. However, the number of tutors is going to be greater than the number of people that are in need of tutors. In addition, during vacations and holidays, professional teachers may also be looking to make some extra income through tutoring, making the supply then even greater than the demand. Due to many educational facilities having been shut down during COVID-19, teaching has changed. This may mean that many parents will be signing their children up for tutoring as they are not getting their usual level of tuition. 

This article covers an interview with an online English tutor, Ola, for Preply and discusses the ins and outs of being an online tutor. From how to sign up and what is important when creating a profile to what the best parts of teaching online are. Ola offers a unique insight on her teaching style, typical students, and how to leverage online platforms to earn money on the side.

Ola is a part-time teacher for Preply while working full-time for a start up in product development. She currently resides in Poland and has lived internationally in places such as Italy, Panama, and the United States while previously working as an international exchange organizer through a non-government company. She has worked in many different fields from teaching to project management and has a diverse background. 

Ola found Preply while searching the Appjobs website for a part-time job. She was interested in working part-time and the teaching category caught her attention so she decided to apply for a position online after reading the short description. 

What is it like to be an online tutor?

I work with a lot of people from different backgrounds and experiences because Preply is an international platform. Thanks to that I can learn a lot about others and every single class is for me unique and it’s a lot of fun. I started off teaching adults and then I started also tutoring some children which has challenged me to adjust my methods and techniques towards every individual. Sometimes I prepare a lot especially when coming up with games for kids to spark their interest and so they enjoy learning English. While other times the classes are me listening to others speaking English and asking them questions so they can improve their speaking abilities. 

Did you have any previous experience as a teacher? 

Yes and no. I don’t have any formal education to be a teacher and I never finished any course related to teaching others. Although, I have experience in tutoring kids before and have conducted different workshops and classes for people all of ages. I was clear and truthful about my education and experience and pointed out that my goal is to focus on helping others to break their language barrier. I focus my lessons on conversation for adults and learning through fun and games for kids.

What are the requirements to become a teacher with Preply? 

There are no formal requirements. Everyone can sign up and create an account with the platform. I had to go through the signup process and create my teacher’s profile on the Preply platform which is pretty long so there is some effort required. The steps of creating a profile were:

  1. Fill out every detail about my teaching experience in the profile 
  2. Record and upload a short video that would introduce me to my future students. 
  3. Spend some time to make sure my profile is very detailed and it catches the student’s attention as there are a lot of other teachers on the platform. Having an accurate, detailed profile and presenting myself well was very important in the process
  4. Every account is reviewed by Preply experts and they confirm if a tutor is skilled enough (based on their profile) to teach others.
  5. At the end of the day, the students choose their teachers so experience, certificates or diplomas are important to have and to show

When I first began, I was not searching for students but due to the effort that I put into creating my profile, she noticed it and booked a trial class with me. The review from her is why more people started booking classes with me.

Some tips for creating an online profile with Preply:

  • Make sure your profile stands out – add some creative title
  • Get inspired by other profiles (check what other tutors have in their profiles) 
  • Focus on accurate information
  • Start from lower pay rate and build your way up

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How much do you make as an online tutor with Preply?

I started with charging $5 for a class, now I am charging $15. It depends on a tutor and how much they want to charge for a lesson. I started very low because I didn’t have much experience. There is around a 25% commission charge that Preply collects from the $5 I collect.

Describe your typical day as an online tutor

I don’t have a typical day, as this is my part time job so I adjust my schedule as I wish. I let my students book classes with me according to my calendar (which is adjusted to my other obligations). Based on that I have some students that take a class every week at the same time but I also have students where every week varies. I prepare in advance for most of the classes but it doesn’t require a lot of effort so I do it in my free time.

Who are typical students?

I would divide my students into two groups: adults and children. I teach adults who would like to improve their conversational skills – so usually they already speak English well but want to become fluent or feel more confident in their skills so we spend our lessons focused on their ability to communicate. On the other hand I also tutor children – some of them speak English well, some of them just started learning the language and want some additional help.

How did you find your first client on Preply? 

My first client, a 9 year old girl from Greece, who’s mother booked a lesson with me on Preply because although her daughter could speak English, she wanted her to have weekly English practice. The main expectation was to go read stories and discuss them and after 10 months we are still working together. When I first began I was not searching for students but due to the effort that I put into creating my profile, she noticed it and booked a trial class with me. The review from her is why more people started booking classes with me.

The satisfaction from explaining something to my students and seeing on their faces that they’ve understood and are grasping new concepts.

Do you have regular students? How often do you have a new one? 

I have around 10 regular students. There are no noticeable trends for when people are looking for a teacher. However, more people are interested in having classes in September which is the beginning of the new school semester in Poland and also during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking about the pandemic, how much has your job changed due to COVID-19?

Due to the coronavirus, I get more requests for online lessons. Especially at the beginning of lockdown there were a lot of people interested in learning English as they had more time at home or they wanted something for their kids to do. On the other hand I had some students drop out in order to save money as their job situation changed.

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How do you prepare for the classes?

First, I gather expectations from my students because I believe the most important thing is to understand what they want to learn and what they expect from me as well as how they learn. For adult students, I don’t have to prepare as much because I focus on having conversations and sometimes I send podcasts for when they have extra time.

For my younger students, I research stories in English and some exercises but there are plenty of resources online so I already have a solid base of different materials. Before lessons I choose the topic of the class and I search through the materials that I already have and adjust it slightly towards the particular child I am working with. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

There are a few things that make tutoring online rewarding.

  • The satisfaction from explaining something to my students and I see on their faces that they’ve understood and are grasping new concepts.
  • I am learning new perspectives from teaching diverse individuals
  • It’s a nice distraction from everyday problems. During the lessons I am 100% focused on my students so I don’t think about anything else and it’s pure joy. 
  • I’ve learned a lot about communication, patience and empathy as every student is different with a different learning curve and I have to adjust my approach towards every individual.

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

The fear that I might not be helpful at all or not meeting my student’s expectations. I am afraid that even though I put my whole heart into teaching, I won’t be able to do it effectively for people who trusted me and who expect results from me (taking into consideration I don’t have a professional background to teach). 

What would you like to know before becoming an online teacher?

I would have loved someone to help me with filling out my profile as it was not an easy task. I would also like to know how other teachers conduct their lessons because I’ve never met other tutors so I have no idea how it is for other people.

Photo by bongkarn hanyaki

Sign up today to become an online tutor!

With the rise of demand for online tutors and COVID-19 changing the education system, signing up to tutor online can be beneficial for anyone looking to supplement their main income. The main takeaways are to:

  1. Create a profile that stands out amongst over tutors
  2. Do not over sell or use inaccurate information while creating your profile
  3. Start offering classes at a low price until more experience is gained then increase prices

Online tutoring is a rewarding job where you can help people from all around the world and from all backgrounds and age groups learn a new skill while not necessarily having professional experience as a tutor or teacher.

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