So, as you may know from reading my previous blogs, I started my online teaching experience with a charity called Paper Airplanes. I started teaching with them in January and I am about to start my fourth term with them! They are a great company and there is a great online community between teachers and students. I would highly recommend looking for volunteering opportunities if you are new to teaching online and teaching in general. There are lots of benefits, and it provides a wide range of experience and encourages the use of lots of different skills too.
I found Paper Airplanes through one of the online TEFL providers, however there are many sites and platforms available to look for volunteering opportunities. Search online or check out your local area and see what charities are around and if they may need English teachers to help. I also sent my details to a few local companies and went from there to see which was the best fit.
The charity I work with, provide full training and full classroom material so you the teacher can concentrate on providing the best classroom environment for your student. As Paper Airplanes helps students in Syria and across the MENA region, training is provided about the region, issues the students face and the impact this can have on lessons so you are fully informed and can respond appropriately when necessary.
Working with a charity is a great way to build up your teaching experience and help people from different backgrounds, where they may not have the opportunity to learn English otherwise. Most of the students with Paper Airplanes want to learn English so they can improve or finish their education or to improve their work career. Students are incredibly grateful for the time and effort we put into lessons and it is great to see their improvement week on week. Students can take part in end of term exams if they wish so they have a formal review of how they have progressed.
Before Covid-19 struck, I looked into working with another charity providing group English lessons to a local refugee charity based in Manchester. Here I was going to provide weekly lessons to a group of adults with mixed ability on different topics, but topics that would be relevant to their needs such as shopping, medical assistance, and travel. Again, the charity provided a base for lesson material, but I was able to adapt and change as necessary – a great way to practice and improve my lesson planning skills. We were all really excited to get the program up and running and had had a lot of interest after advertising the lessons at the centre and online, but unfortunately, the day before my first lesson, lockdown started, so hopefully we can pick it up again in the future.
As I said at the start, I cannot recommend enough looking for volunteer opportunities at the start of and throughout your teaching career. There are so many different charities and causes out there, and people from all over the world wanting to learn English. Options to teach online, face to face, 1-2-1, group lessons, adults, and children. It is a great community to be part of and to know you are helping people achieve their goals.