What does Michael Jordan have to do with teaching English?

What does Michael Jordan, one of the world’s greatest basketball players of all time, have to do with teaching English? Absolutely nothing but his quote about “never say never” applies to everything in life.

When I left ESL teaching last December after 20 years, I believed that I would never return. I felt that I lost my passion, creativity and to be honest, felt unchallenged. It was better to move aside and make room for teachers who felt the way I did years earlier.

At the end of July, I finished teaching two online post-secondary level courses. Then in August, I realized that I was bored. It seemed like a long wait until September before my new courses would start. Even though I had a few things to do (like getting my son ready to go off to university, and preparing for a 2 week assignment in Guyana), I was restless.

A few weeks ago I read a guest blog post by Chris Rush on Elena Mutonono’s website http://elenamutonono.com/2016/07/14/teaching-online. Chris wrote about the great success he has had by teaching online using a platform called italki. My interest was piqued! For those of you who have never heard of italki.com, it is the world’s largest marketplace for language teachers and learners. You can also teach (or learn) any language that you want.

italki seemed like the best way to find students quickly so I set up an account, made an introductory video, uploaded some credentials and set my price. My account was approved in about 2 weeks. (There are several other ways to teach English online and this post is in no way a promotion for italki!)
I have to say that the best feature is Instant Tutoring. This feature allows students and teachers to connect immediately and have live one-on-one language lessons. Because I am already sitting at my desk writing, I thought I would switch it on for those English learners who wanted an on-the-spot lesson. When the bell rang on my computer speakers to indicate that I had someone interested in an instant lesson, I was so excited!

My first student lived in Turkey and we had an interesting chat for 30 minutes. Then the bell just kept ringing and ringing! In the past two weeks, I have spoken to a doctor in Brazil twice (and 2 other Brazilians wanting to practice job interview skills), 3 people who wanted IELTS speaking preparation and a few others who just wanted to chat using English. In about one hour, I have a lesson with a student from Japan. Some of the students who contacted me via Instant Tutoring have booked other lessons.

It would definitely be more lucrative if I had my own students and they paid me directly (italki gets a 15% commission on all sales) but this is very time-consuming. I know how much time is required for marketing my e-books so at this point, I am not ready for this additional challenge.

If you are thinking that italki might be for you, make sure you read Chris’ blog post! I am also happy to chat about my experience as well if you have any questions. Check out my profile tool https://www.italki.com/user/3420587

I have to say that being on italki and speaking to students all over the world has reminded me of how much I loved that part of teaching English. I guess in the future I will avoid saying “never”.

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