Wilbert Wu
English Teacher
July 18, 2018

Interview with Wilbert, an ESL teacher that remotely teaches English to kids

Wilbert is an ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher that made the jump to remote work to gain more freedom from his office job.

How did you get started with remote work?

I’ve just started doing remote work again after God knows how long. Before I decided to go back to do remote work, I previously worked in an office based setting for the past 10 years. 8 years of that were more on the BPO industry while the remaining 2 years or so as an office based ESL teacher.

Everything was all good while I was working in an office setting, you get up in the morning then go to work, and afterwards you go home and rest. Then you do the same thing all over again on the next day and get paid each month. Sounds easy right? Since most of us have done this kind of thing in our everyday life.

However, after doing the same thing over and over again for the past 10 years, you would soon realize that what you were doing was kind of boring and tiring at the same time.

Especially the daily commute going back and forth from the office. Sure the advantages for working in an office setting is that you get paid for sure by just being in the office as well as getting health benefits. But sometimes, that’s just not enough and you don’t get much free time in doing things that you want to do.

That is why I decided to go back in doing remote work again just to have that extra freedom. Though it wasn’t easy considering I don’t have much feedback or experience to show to online companies when I would apply for a job. Luckily there was a lot of opening for online ESL tutor and it was easy for me to get hired considering it was related to my last job.

Usual challenges at first is that you tend to get lazy when you're at home or you get preoccupied because of family matters or housework. It took a while to get used to, but after a few weeks, that’s when I started to get serious with my daily routine.

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What are you working on?

Day to day I teach Chinese students how to speak English. Specifically more on kids around 4-10 years old.

Our focus is more on learning new vocabulary and practice in pronunciations. I teach them new keywords that are available in the materials that are provided by the client.

After each lessons, I then documented it on their website and give feedback/review as well as pointers to the students I teach.

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What's your typical work routine?

Ever since starting remote work, every day is not always the same.

Why? Because this time I have the power to choose what time I wake up, start work or even have a day off.

And even when I am on vacation, I can still do a couple of hours of teaching when I have a lot of free time during the trip or just staying at the hotel.

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

When I’m at home, I normally do my work in my room. I have a basic PC setup as well as a laptop, in case I need to move around.

It’s very important that you work in a quiet environment so that you can be more focus on the task at hand and not be interrupted.

Because for some of us, we tend to lose our momentum in doing the required task if in cases that someone interrupts us or diverts our attention to something else.

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What contributes to being a successful freelancer?

In order to get more job offers, it is very that you treat your clients well.

Be friendly, be more responsive and meet deadlines.

Because once a client is satisfied with what you’ve done, and plans to have more projects in the future, this will help assure that you would be one of their first options.

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

Most of it is actually being provided by the client. The software, the logins as well as the materials, which would make it start working.

Though when you are teaching kids, those tools are not exactly enough. You need to add more personal touches, such as using 3rd party apps to add animations that you can use in your class as well as making visual aids or handheld puppets.

This helps to make the class more entertaining for your students as well as making it easier for you to manage them.

The other tools that I used for documentation purposes are Google Docs and Microsoft Excel. This is in order for me to track the lessons that I have handled on a daily basis.

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How do you stay on task?

Now I know some of you might still have trouble managing kids. I mean, they normally have short attention span. Meaning they tend to not focus in class.

You just need to be a little more patient with and try to understand your students more. Like, what are they into? What food they like to eat? Who is their favourite superhero? And so on. Every student is not the same, so you have to be more flexible and just have fun when doing the class.

In order to maximize your time for the day and get a lot of students to teach, you need to open a lot of what we call "slots". This is in order for the students to see if you are available in that time of day so that they can reserve it for their lesson.

Do not teach or open slot on days where you think that you are going to be busy or having a bad day.

Because what is going to happen is that you might not be able to provide a excellent quality lesson to your students if you are in a bad mood. And you might get a bad review for that as well. Bad review means, less students.

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What do you like about remote work?

I enjoy doing remote work simply because of the fact that I get to choose my own work schedule. It’s more flexible for me and I can still do it even when I’m on vacation.

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What do you not like about remote work?

The only downside in doing remote work is that it can be unpredictable at times.

There are times where there are no students available and you don't get paid.

The other problem is the internet connection. In cases where there is a typhoon or where the connection suddenly becomes disconnected, you can't work. No work means, no pay. But as long as you keep a backup such a prepaid internet, then your all set.

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Biography

Wilbert Wu

Wilbert is and ESL teacher who is currently working from home. He lives in the Philippines and enjoys playing computer games and collecting robot figures.

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