Archive for the ‘freelance english’ Category

A successful week

October 9, 2016

Jobs are beginning to roll in. Many are still short but I am busy which feels nice. I am also getting experience with the type of teaching this group wants.

I have taught youth up to university age for fifteen-plus years and I have taught adults here and there. And yet the groups I am now working with have a different set of needs.  Last week, I taught a 20 hour course in presentation skills in English to Korea Customs personnel. Working in the field of customs meant that they already had strong English skills.  I think all of them had more than ten years experience in their work and a few had more than twenty.

I learned a whole lot about customs.

This group, individually, often gave presentations to customs officials of other nations and to junior members of their own organization.

I have taught presentations skills classes to university students and had them give 2-5 minutes talks about their hobbies or the like.  This crew gave 20 minutes talks that were condensed from one or more hour talks they frequently gave. Their slides were professionally made. The main ESL thing I did was work on pronunciation: the ‘rl’ in words like ‘girl’ and on ‘ths’, especially in ‘months’.

Regarding presentations, we worked on a catchy opening and simplifying slides. Some of the PPT slides they used were very busy and hard to follow.  They were horrified when I told them about the 7 X 7 rule (check the link, but basically, add very little text to your slides).

One cool thing that happened during the three day course was one student didn’t show up one morning. I teach kids; this is not unfamiliar. But the excuse was pretty cool. His staff had intercepted several kilograms of cocaine entering Korea and he had to speak at a news conference on the subject. He returned that afternoon and gave a strong talk the next day.

One of first things I was taught at an adult hagwon in Seoul was that I was the ENGLISH expert, not the all-round expert. Many of my students then were far more knowledgeable in their fields and didn’t need my advice on those subjects. I needed to walk a line; strong in my English criticism and cautious on my outside commentary. As a university instructor, I forgot that advice because a) I have more life experience and b) students needed the high grades that I could give and so needed to accept unnecessary advice without complaint.

Well, time to look for more work and fill in some holes in my schedule.

On Quora, there is a discussion on how to start freelance work. The question is vague and the location of the people asking and answering is largely unknown but the answers chiefly cover writing. Hasan Mirza wrote:

What you need to do is visit sites such as odesk, elance, freelancer, fiverr and sign up. For example on Elance, you can give skill tests to prove how much you know, and how much is demanded. How it works is, you sign up and look at the jobs people have posted, and bid on them. If you can get a job, the respective platforms have quite a few services that assist both the employer and the employee.


A day in the Life

September 24, 2016

…of a guy trying to make a living as a freelance English teacher.

I don’t think this is a rant but a warning to others who might look for this kind of work in South Korea. To some extent I am, not thinking ‘aloud’ but thinking ‘atext’; working things out on paper. Welcome to the way my mind works. Caveat lector!

Yesterday I left the apartment at 8:30 with the expectation of returning home around 7:00 and working four hours during those ten-and-a-half.  Things didn’t work out that way and I am not sure what the result was.

First, I went to a factory that had been taken over by a multi-national which wanted all or most of the employees to speak English. I was there to administer an oral level test of ten employees.  I was never made aware of all the end results of my judgement. I know  in at least some cases, the students were tested to see what sort of English class would be a good fit. All the people I interviewed spoke about job stress and drinking too much alcohol. It is possible that if an employee’s level did not improve, they might be let go. I’m not saying that will happen but, some of the employees seemed tense. The range of ability was from very low to nearly native speaker level.

After the interviews were done, I spoke with the organizer. She works at a corporate English recruiting firm – does that company description sound right? She had placed an ad on Craig’s List for corporate private teaching and similar work and I had applied. Anyway, the original position was to teach an executive at this company. I was accepted. Then the executive decided he would rather have a Korean English teacher. Then they offered me this level testing gig. Then the executive decided he wanted a foreigner and I might have that job. The level testing gig was moved to a new day. …

The people at the recruiting firm were not exactly jerking my chain. As middle-men, they had to adjust to a variety of schedules and whims.

Another similar company has also hired me to teach a few classes in October that will conflict with teaching the executive. I may have to cancel or reschedule two days. It didn’t seem a big deal to me because of all the rescheduling I had been through at the hands of the recruiters.

We discussed this and the recruiter is delivering messages to and fro to see what to do when I miss those days.

So we separate and I have three hours until my next gig, which is maybe forty minutes away. I buy a drink at a Paris Baguette and type for a while.

At the next job I am replacing a teacher who had to return home for a funeral. I actually don’t know how much I will be paid. I had the time free and feel this is the compassionate thing to do. I do expect to be paid.

And when I get there, I learn they have nothing for me to do and I should go home.  I had already worked there Monday and Wednesday and had a schedule for Friday. No, they tell me, I am not needed because the students had come in the day before. I did not raise my voice but noted that I had organized my day around this work and had traveled a hour to get there and would travel an hour more to get home.

I am not good with money.

In this case, as noted, I wasn’t expecting to receive a lot of money for the work, but I do need to convince myself to fight for the hours to be paid for. It hardly mattered what the rate was, I deserved it for the 2.5 hours I had expected to work there.

I think I will be paid for a satisfactory amount of hours there.

At home two hours early, I checked my email and saw an email from the second recruiting company. This is the company with work in October. They have offered me a two day Presentation Skills in English class and a three day Presentation Skills in English class. They interviewed me for the two day class and offered the the three day one as well.  Both take place a significant distance south, in the same town but for different groups in different locations. The two day event will pay X won and the email I received asked me if I would do the three day class for X won. The pay for two days is good if not worth dancing over. The pay for three days – the same pay or 1/3 less per hour – is still good. Better than sitting at home, not being paid.

I am not good with money. Imagine a Victorian trying to explain inter-racial sex to another person’s children and you have an idea of how uncomfortable I am in walking the line between appearing to be greedy and having a desire for fair pay.

After I finish this post, I will craft an email explaining my point. My main concern here is that the same company is hiring me to teach similar material -but of differing durations – at the same cost. If a sixteen hour course is worth X, then a twenty-four hour course should be worth 3/2X.  A complicating point is that the money offered per hour would not be enough for one hour or even two. It would be worthwhile for four or more because I only travel once and the activity causes only one conflict rather than a continuing stream of them.