Understanding what motivates online learners in ESL teaching jobs is important because motivated students are more likely to engage in activities that help them learn and achieve, says Brett Jones, associate professor of educational psychology at Virginia Tech. Based on an extensive review of the literature on student motivation, models of student motivation was developed, which identifies the main factors that contribute to student motivation: empowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring.

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Students feel empowered in online English teaching jobs when they feel that they have some control over some aspects of their learning. This can involve giving students choices. Is there some way that we can give students at least a little bit of control by giving them choices? Is there a way to give students some option to bring in something from their own lives or make some decision about a topic within that narrow assignment that lets them feel like they have some control over it?

For example; an online personal English course: An instructor has students either take an online assessment or attend one or two mini-courses related to the course’s learning objectives. This allows students the opportunity to choose their activities while still staying within the framework and goals of the course.


Students need to see that the course is useful and relevant to them within the course and beyond. In some cases, it will be obvious that the skills that students will acquire in a course will directly contribute to their success in a chosen career field. In other cases, that connection will not be as clear. Jones recommends being explicit about how the skills and knowledge students acquire in the course can be applied beyond school. One way to do this is to have students interview teachers and family members about what skills and knowledge contributed to their success.


Students in ESL teaching jobs need to feel that they can succeed in the course if they make a reasonable effort. The instructor can help students succeed by setting expectations, providing feedback, and facilitating the course so that students have access to additional resources if needed. “What resources do you have available for them to succeed? If you thought ahead you can know what problems students typically run into. A lot of times you can create additional documents or videos that explain the more difficult concepts,” Jones says.


There are two types of interest that contribute to student motivation: situational interest and individual interest. Situational interest refers to an aspect of a course that is enjoyable or fun. For example, Jones incorporates articles from Psychology Today related to the learning objectives to vary the tone and provide a different perspective from the textbook. “These are just little side readings that don’t take a lot of time and that might help students see how the [concept] might apply to the real world.”

Situational interest can be enhanced by novelty and emotions. We as humans are attracted to things that are novel. If you have something that can engender emotion so you get people fired up about a topic or issue relates to your learning objectives that can really draw people in. We want to trigger their interest so that they pay attention enough and are interested enough while they are engaged in it.

Situational interest is often short-lived, but it can lead to longer-term individual interest, which refers to how the content relates to the individual. For example, a student taking a mini-course that the student has a strong individual interest. It is possible for a student to have an individual interest in a course but not a situational interest. A student might think, for example, “I want to be a mechanical engineer, but this is boring.”

Remember that interest isn’t universal. We assume that students think a particular subject is fascinating or that everybody’s curious about it, but that’s not the case.

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Students need to feel that the instructor (and other students) care that they learn. Jones assumed that although caring is a big motivator for children, it would not play a large role in online higher education courses. He was wrong. In fact, in a study of 609 online learners, caring was the number one predictor of online instructor ratings. 


Take care of every aspect of your communication

You’re not watching your students when they take your course. Conversely, students do get to see you and make ideas about you based on how you communicate with them. Not so far, right?

Your posture, movements, voice tone and the words you choose will have a big effect on their learning experience and their motivation for continuing with your course.

Therefore, you should be careful about what you say (your course content) and what you don’t say with words, i.e. your body language. Just an interesting figure to illustrate the point: Nonverbal communication has an impact of 70% in what we communicate.

Throw your shoulders back to improve your posture. This will make you appear more trustworthy and comfortable. Accompany your words with the movements of your hands so they support what you’re saying: your hands let you prioritize different points, display processes and sequences, contrast two concepts and so on.

A very important resource you count with is your voice. Use the volume of your voice to emphasize the most important parts of your speech and make pauses in your narrative to let your students think. Be conscious of  the tone of your voice as Prof. Rafael Briceño recommends:

“If you have a high tone, don’t speak too fast and if you have a low tone, pay special attention to your modulation”.

When choosing the words you’re going to use to explain each concept in online English teaching jobs, avoid using technical jargon, unless it is necessary, because it creates a barrier between you and your students. And no matter if you’re using technical language or not, always include practical examples to show your students what is behind each concept.

Run a test

So far we have covered many aspects you should take into account before creating your course. If you are ready to start recording your online course, but you still think you can go further in order to ensure students motivation, there’s something else you can do.

Set everything up and record a lesson, then use this video to test how people react to it. Show this video to people you know and ask them their comments on topics as lighting, volume and everything we talked about on this post.

Additionally; in online English teaching jobs, you can improve the reach of this test by publishing your video on YouTube, Facebook or any social network you like. Listen to the comments of your viewers, as it will give you an idea of how your students will react (besides it works as a marketing resource for your future course).

These factors are very important factors to consider when coaching in an online job or elsewhere, and the recommended solutions can go a very long way in addressing these factors and ensure your students are always motivated to participate in your course.


Happy Teaching!    

Teacher Daniel 🙂

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When teachers support this need for collaboration by allowing students to share ideas and build knowledge together in an ESL teaching jobs, a sense of belongingness to the classroom community is established, and the extension and elaboration of existing knowledge are facilitated. Students gain the perspective of others while debating topics in the classroom, extending their initial views. Students who work together on a reading task are combining their background knowledge and skill sets, learning from each other, and building a shared understanding of the material.

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Social motivation

Sharing reading is a social experience, whether students are reading in unison, discussing a novel, or working together to decode and define a new word. One of the aspects of school that children enjoy is spending time with friends. When given the opportunity to interact with a friend during class time, students will approach the given task with more enthusiasm for jobs teaching English online. Some online schools have multiple students in one class. If done correctly this can help motivated students. 

Arranging Collaboration Fosters Social Motivation

Students are social beings, and this is apparent both in and out of the classroom. Just as they crave social interaction on the playground, when in the classroom, discussion and collaboration are natural parts of a student’s learning and development, and students will readily embrace collaboration with peers as a reason to read. If you have a big student base how can connect them to create a more collaborated environment? This could be made into a fun project for your students. 

Fourth graders average and below average readers were observed and interviewed while engaging in a discussion of stories during reading class. Students were placed in either peer-led or teacher-led groups and given stories to read based on student interest and reading level. The resulting text related discussions between students in the peer-led discussions were more elaborate than the discussions that were teacher-led. You could have each student read their favorite bedtime and post the videos for other students to listen too. 

In the peer-led groups, students shared their opinions and background knowledge, leading to new interpretations of the text. The students in the teacher-led groups were not actively engaged in discussing incongruities in the text, as the teacher was the dominant member of the group and posted explicit questions, guiding students through the analysis of the text. Student engagement is supported when students are encouraged to read aloud together, create questions together, and extract meaning from text together.

In a literature review of motivation and engagement among Caucasian and African American students, it was found from multiple, experimental studies that African American students benefit from collaborative structures for interacting with text more than Caucasian students. Not only do African American students prefer collaborative to individual learning, but their text comprehension is enhanced relatively highly in collaborative learning activities that are well structured. Even sharing prior knowledge is motivating for students, when they are allowed to find common experiences with their peers, making them feel a sense of belonging within the classroom community. When teaching ESL online if you have a way to communicate with parents then you can create your own community. This would create a wonderful online ESL community for your students. 

When they learn that a classmate has experienced something that they have never seen or even thought of before, this creates a respect for and curiosity about fellow students. Once this kind of rapport is established, and dialogue has taken place about the given topic, students are more likely to engage in reading text communally and recall the resulting knowledge, as seen in a study of African-American fifth-graders. 

Grouping students of varying reading levels in an ESL teaching jobs can also be motivating, as the struggling students gain the perspective of more experienced readers, and the advanced readers clarify their own understanding through explaining concepts and reading strategies to their peers. For example, modeling and scaffolding students to say appropriately, “I disagree with you,” or “I want to add two points to what you are saying,” enables learners to become more interactively effective. Put your student in online reading groups and come up with homework reading activities parents and students can do together. 

In jobs teaching English online, students working individually may be more likely to acquire misconceptions and hold limited perspectives on a text than students in an open discussion. Working individually, students also miss the chance. This also relaxes the dependence on the teacher, and students feel a greater sense of independence when creating meaning with peers instead of always receiving help from the authority figure.

This extension of knowledge and perception leads to the elaboration of text. The initial concepts are read and decoded by the students, but then these concepts are extended beyond the boundaries of the text to include multiple interpretations and a complex structure of prior knowledge, perspective and emerging knowledge that has been building collaboratively. It is important for teachers to model and facilitate elaborative speech in their lessons in order for students to build their skill at collaboration.

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Individual Work Undermines Social Motivation

Some teachers feel that a classroom that is quiet and filled with students working individually and independently at all times is a controlled and well-maintained class. The silence in the room is not an indicator of student engagement nor is it necessarily conducive to complex learning processes such as building an argument or combining multifaceted knowledge to form new knowledge.

Students in this environment tend to feel isolated and do not sense a connection between themselves and a larger unit of scholars. Isolated learners may adhere to faulty logic or inaccurate interpretations without realizing the alternatives, or focus solely on one “correct” interpretation or conclusion.

These students also miss the chance to build social skills that include negotiation, persuasion, and synthesis of one’s perspectives with those of peers, which is something researchers have found students enjoy when given the opportunity.

Mastery Motivation

Students’ goals in the classroom vary from wanting to perform well in order to earn a grade, to wanting to master and become experts in some new reading strategy or conceptual topic. The quest for deep understanding or conquering reading skills is mastery motivation.

Thematic Units Cultivate Mastery Motivation

By emphasizing mastery goals as a reason to read, teachers are contributing to both student motivation and reading comprehension.

In jobs teaching English online, teachers who provide concepts that are complex, and persist over an extended period of time, are supporting the acquisition of deep conceptual knowledge. Goal orientation has been shown to be related to reading achievement. One way to scaffold mastery goals is to place large conceptual learning goals on the blackboard, bulletin board, or chart. As the lessons progress, key information is added and additional concepts are linked to the visible display. A teacher might scaffold mastery goal learning by beginning a large concept map and adding to it during the course of a thematic unit. This focuses students on deep understanding, rather than test scores or pages covered in a text.

Placing an emphasis on mastery of new material, not just the performance of tasks typifies a teacher with a focus on mastery goal orientation. In her classroom, concepts are introduced and then related to each other to form a complex web of knowledge. Students are able to explore topics in depth and at length, and come away with an understanding of the text that can then enhance future reading experiences.

Even at the lower elementary grades, students are capable of learning multiple concepts and making connections between those concepts. Although at first, they may appear more challenging, decodable texts that include conceptual knowledge are more likely to sustain student interest and foster curiosity, thereby creating engaged readers. Teacher’s attention to mastery goals for students is facilitating this conceptual learning. Making a lesson conceptual also facilitates the integration of domains such as science or social studies.

There is also a connection between other motivational practices and mastery orientation for an ESL teaching jobs. Teachers who supported student choice, intrinsic motivation, collaboration, and self-efficacy were effective in promoting mastery goals in their third-grade classrooms. This finding was based on an intervention study that increased opportunities for students to complete challenging assignments in a small group setting. Ratings of performance and work avoidant goals decreased, and mastery goals remained stable for the students in classrooms where teachers were rated as having a high implementation of the intervention.

Disconnected Units Undermine Mastery Motivation

In lessons that emphasize factual knowledge and disjointed topics that lack consistency, students are taught to avoid mastery and focus instead on short-term gains that do not result in the meaningful building of strategies or knowledge. It is important for teachers to be cognizant of the goal orientation of their classrooms, as students experience fluctuations in orientation as they move into the upper elementary school years.

Student engagement is diminished when the topics change daily, and students are left with no clear conceptual reason to read the text. Teachers who jump quickly from one unrelated topic to another are not giving students the chance to reflect on or digest new information. Even if the teacher is choosing appropriate conceptual themes, this is not effective unless students are given the time to manipulate these concepts and integrate them with existing knowledge. When students are made to read unrelated texts and then questioned in an oversimplified manner, such as asking them to recite dates that have been memorized or other surface knowledge without any connection to larger systems, their disposition for deep understanding is discouraged.

Finally, in an online English teaching job, students may learn new reading strategies while reading the text just for factual information, or to receive a grade for their performance. This does not mean that they are engaged readers or that they are mastering anything more than a skill set to be used within a specific context. Teachers who emphasize performance instead of mastery tend to stress formal assessments and grades, rather than engagement.

My final thought is that we need to create our student’s own sense of community like in a traditional classroom. The more we can do this and make a way for them to interact with other students in a positive way it would accelerate their learning. This is the future of online ESL.

Happy Teaching!    Teacher Daniel:)

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The Dilemma: Teach English Online with a Chinese Company OR Teach English in China?


English teachers in China may take interest in teaching English online. There are various web sites now that feature Online English jobs with Chinese companies due to increased demand. Demand for English teachers in China is high since Chinese schools, sadly, are overcrowded and Chinese English teachers aren’t as skilled in English. This is why Chinese people of varying ages are constantly trying to find English teachers who will train them to be proficient in English.

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Here is a list of websites that have Online English Teaching Jobs and some of them are with Chinese companies:

Some English teaching jobs are in regular Chinese schools which want their students to be proficient in English. Someone who wants to become an English teacher in China should learn a little Chinese as well. This would help that individual communicate English language concepts to her or his students better. If you don’t know Chinese, all isn’t lost since you may still find openings for those who are only skilled in English. But you have to be careful about where you select to instruct, as an English teacher in China.

Furthermore, just like teaching English in China you must select your Online English school carefully. The ESL industry has many shady schools and some that don’t pay on-time or at all. While others take unexpected deductions Also, learning about the culture and the language will help.

If you decide to teach in China, it is best if you sign up with a language school that has truly a good standing in the international language teaching community and pays on time. You should review Glassdoor and other sites to see the teachers review of the school you are applying. You may also want to get a position as a personal tutor for Chinese kids, especially those who are of elementary school age.

In addition, you may want to find a good Online English school. To do this you need to get involved in online ESL group on Facebook etc. Also, create a good ESL network of teachers that you can trust and go to if you need help. Try to find a mentor or someone that can guide you on your online teaching journey. This is a great way to find the best English teaching position online.

However, If you know your way around China, you might take a greater risk of being truly a freelance English language instructor. This gives you the benefit to take on more contracts than a worker position will allow. But this could be tricky based on your visa status. You can also freelance part-time online English teacher. This is a great way to add to your income without having to travel to meet student and the hassle of going from one school to the next.
Teaching English online gives you more flexibility than in a language school. In an English language school, you have to commit to a semester at a time or longer. When teaching English online you can change your schedule from week to week. This gives you the flexibility that you need in your life. Traditional English teaching jobs don’t give you the flexibility you need in today’s fast-paced environment.

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