As the sun sets on the coastal town of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, the sky fills with a tangerine- and mango-hued sunset. I breathe a sigh of relief as the day’s heat begins to fade and order a mojito in preparation for the evening’s beachside party.
Once a remote fishing village on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is now a buzzing little town with a hypnotic allure that would tempt even the hardest of souls into a prolonged stay. The consistent heat, relaxed surf culture and live-and-let-live attitude create a refreshing sense of freedom from society’s usual stresses.
Santa Teresa has been home to me ever since I discovered a flexible income that’s a traveller’s best friend—teaching English online.
You can set your own hours. It can be done from anywhere in the world. And, as long as you ensure you’ll have a good internet connection, you’re free to travel when you please.
I’ve created my own schedule, teaching from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., Monday to Friday. I earn about $1,300 a month doing this. You can earn $2,000 or more if you open up your availability and pick up extra hours. But for me, this schedule is ideal. By 8 a.m., I’m done with my work day and I spend the rest of my time at the beach and meeting friends.
If you’re interested in funding your life overseas by teaching English online, here are some tips that will help the process move quicker. It’s worth noting that your pay rate often relies upon what your interviewer decides, so impressing them with the following ideas could increase the amount offered.
Your online interview will usually consist of a trial lesson. In it, the interviewer pretends to be a student and you’ll need to be prepared to teach a lesson. This allows potential employers to see your skills firsthand, but it also gives them an indication of your setup: computer, internet speed and “classroom setting”.
For my first interview, I failed to check the speed of my internet. Skype kept cutting out during the interview. The interviewer let me know, right then and there, that I couldn’t work for their company unless I had a faster, more stable connection.
Teaching online requires a simple setup and shouldn’t cost you much—if anything—to put together. You’ll need a decently running laptop, a webcam that’s clear and headphones. I use my white headphones that came with my iPhone.
Set the Scene
Every single one of the teaching programs I applied to required a clean background. As one of my interviewers put it, “We don’t want to feel like we are looking into your house.” For me, the solution was a white wall. You can also impress your interviewer by adding some visual aids in the background, such as a poster of the alphabet or a simple-to-hang chalkboard.
Relax and Have Fun
Not only did my initial interview suffer because I had an unstable internet connection, but I was also nervous. Because of my nerves, I wasn’t as engaging, fun and dynamic as I usually would be. I was able to overcome those nerves using Total Physical Response (TPR). TPR is a teaching method using body language and actions to help students understand a concept more clearly. For example, if you are teaching the word “bird”, you can act out a bird flying with your hands.
After completing a short TPR workshop (which was a free online course) I was almost immediately offered a position. Now I have the freedom to work my own hours and live where I please.