Are you Thinking about Teaching ESL Online? Must Read Interview with David at 51Talk


Are you thinking about applying to work at 51Talk? David tells why he does.  David is an ESL teacher in China and an online ESL teacher with 51Talk.

1)Did you have any teaching experience before 51Talk?

Yes, I have worked as an ESL teacher and a subject teacher in seven counties: China, Korea, Libya, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and the United States for over 10 years.  However, this is the first time I have taught online.  It’s a lot different than classroom teaching but I like it better.  I can see the results quickly in my students and that is very rewarding.

2) What was the hiring process like at 51Talk?  Did they offer any training?

Well, to be honest, 51 Talk was not my first interview and demo. I had interviewed with several other online ESL teaching companies, five altogether and each time I thought I had done well. But I was rejected by all five of them. I was determined to do well on my interview with 51Talk; so, I watched and studied some online ESL teaching demo lessons on YouTube and I studied the PDF demo and the TPR video 51 Talk sent me prior to the interview/demo. Then I practiced my demo lesson several times until I felt good about it.

The actual online ESL Skype interview with 51 Talk was conducted by a very pleasant and friendly Chinese woman who was totally fluent in English. She asked me to tell her my bio and she listened politely. Then she asked me to perform an online teaching demo. As suggested in their pre-interview instructions, I had several small cute Chinese doll props which I used in my demo as well as the TPR (Total Physical Response) hand gestures I had recently learned. I performed the 10-minute demo for her as she was pretending to be a young student. It was fun and relaxed and I smiled a lot. Afterwards, she said I had done well.  She hired me right then so I didn’t have to wait for the dreaded rejected/accepted email letter! I felt great about it!!! She scheduled me for my training class right then as well, the training was only two days later. The four-hour training class was conducted over Skype from the Philippines by a 51 Talk Filipino teacher. She was great and explained how everything in the 51 Talk systems and website and their 51 Talk classroom platform worked.  She also gave the training class student teachers several instructional PDF files and video downloads for us to read and study.  The next day, I received an email password and log in instructions to the website and the online classroom teaching platform.  I started teaching that day!

51 Talk also offers an extensive library of self-study video training lessons and ongoing online training course that a teacher must take before being promoted to a higher salary.

3)Do you have any advice for people looking to get started teaching online?

Yes, prepare do not think as I had originally thought that this would be easy. Watch several online teaching videos; buy some teaching props, watch a TPR video and practice in front of your laptop watching yourself on the cam.  If you do these things then you have a very good chance of passing the interview. If you don’t do them then you will not do as well and may be rejected.

4)What are some challenges online English teachers might face?

You need to be flexible and remember to be customer service oriented, be pleasant, be fun and upbeat and either like kids or pretend to like kids.  Most or about 80% of 51 Talks students are young Chinese students from 4 to 14. Teachers have to be able to adapt their behavior to make the student feel comfortable and to have a good enjoyable learning experience.  You should be able to swing your method and attitude from teaching a 5-year-old child to a 15-year-old student or a 50-year old medical doctor within a few minutes and make each feel like they are getting what they are paying to receive, a good enjoyable rewarding learning experience.

5)What is your current teaching schedule?

I work as a classroom ESL teacher in China. My school allows me to work from my apartment rather than having office hours and I only have to teach 12 40-minute classes per week. My classes are spread out at various times throughout the school day which in China is very long from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm.  So some days I will have a 7:40 am and a 5:05 pm class and nothing else.  Fortunately, the distance from my apartment to my classroom is only a five-minute walk.  This allows me to open my online teaching schedule for the void in my days and in the evening.

6)What are some of the biggest benefits of teaching online?

In a word the “money”, I have been able to teach 17, 16, and 15 online classes several times. I made close to $1,000 US in my first two weeks of online teaching. This is a huge boost to my savings and I feel nothing short of a Godsend for me and my family!  In addition, I really enjoy online teaching and find it satisfying and rewarding.  

7)Why work for 51Talk?

51 Talk is listed in the top 10 of innovative companies in China and it is listed on the NYSE. It has tens of thousands of customers, retail sales stores throughout China. It is either the largest or soon-to-be the largest online education company in China which is a huge market.

51 Talk has a good online teaching platform and well-designed lessons which are easy to teach and require no advance preparation.  They also have a helpful friendly teacher and tech support teams with easy access. They offer generous bonuses from time to time. For example, double pay all day on Thanksgiving Day Holidays for every open time slot whether booked or not.  They also have good quality helpful ongoing teacher training classes.  They also offer free trial classes and give bonuses if they get a new student enrolled.  This is great for new teachers because they get more booked classes sooner.  



3 thoughts on “Are you Thinking about Teaching ESL Online? Must Read Interview with David at 51Talk”

  1. Where can I get more detailed information regarding 51Talk?
    Also what are personal thought about it? Did you really work with them? Do you like it?


  2. Yes, I agree.. 51 Talk is one of the best online ESL Teaching Platforms. I started 3 months ago and the experience has been fabulous. Great Job David!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s