Tag Archives: teaching online

Job Hunting Ain’t What It Used To Be — Part 2

After the first three job hunting strikeouts, I went to Indeed for some leads.

I applied to a company that focuses on improving non-native speakers’ American accents. In preparation, they sent me several links to watch videos about pronunciation. Then, I had a Zoom interview with a lovely Eastern European teenager with braces sitting in front of a sparkly shower curtain. My internet decided to act up, as it has been for the past few weeks, and the upload speed during the speed test was only 4.6 Mbps instead of the 10 Mbps it’s supposed to be. The teenager informed me they required a minimum of 5 Mbps. A few days later, I received an email that informed me that I did not get the position. 

Since I was on a roll, I decided to tackle a video interview requested by an online teaching platform based in Costa Rica. The video requests for this company were pretty specific. I needed to wear my favorite color shirt and have some music playing in the background while I answered questions about how I handled certain situations that came up in class. I chose to have Meatloaf playing on Spotify while I talked, and for most of the time, it was ok. But Meatloaf being the exuberant performer he was, started belting it out, and it was distracting, to say the least.

I expect this requirement was to test the noise-canceling capabilities of my microphone. Anyway, it must have been good enough because about a week later, I received an email to teach a demo class with the materials and a few links to watch. 

And here we get to what I’ve been struggling with about this whole job-hunting process. Back in the day, I would turn in an application. If I seemed like a potential candidate, the company called me to set up an appointment for an interview. If, after said interview, they were satisfied with my credentials/answers/availability or whatever, then I began training. After a training period, which varied from job to job, I was set to work.

But these days, all of the places I’ve applied wanted me to teach a class, and THEN they’ll see if my credentials/answers/availability match up. So in effect, I have to train myself, unpaid, mind you, and if I am just as good as the teachers they already have, I’m hired. If not, so sorry. 

Anyway, I taught the demo class but ran into some technical difficulties that left me flustered. I didn’t know how to share a video on Zoom. So I know my demo class wasn’t my best effort. After that class, I had a short feedback session with someone from the company who pointed out where I could improve. Then taught ANOTHER demo class. I finally heard back from them. They decided to go with another applicant because I didn’t have enough rapport with the student. Yeah, ok.

A third company that I managed to score an interview with at first seemed promising. I met with the founder via Zoom, and we chatted about their philosophy and all that. Then the next step was to observe a class and then teach a demo class with provided materials. At this point, I had a bit of a panic attack or something. In addition to feeling out of my depth because the class would be in Spanish rather than English, and I haven’t taught Spanish in over 15 years, the hours seemed extraordinarily complicated. I would be teaching three two-hour grammar classes during the week. Then on Saturdays, I would teach a conversation class. Two evenings a week, I would hold “office hours” virtually where anyone could drop in. Then every month, there were mandatory teacher training and language events. 

All of these were at set times. As you know, my internet can be a bit wonky, and there have been times when I’ve had to cancel classes because of it. With this company, that didn’t seem like a possibility. There was also the pay setup. It wasn’t an hourly wage but a set amount after completing an eight or 12-week course. I would be expected to teach not one but at least two maybe more different classes (each of which met three times a week) plus Saturday and office hours per 8 or 12-week session. I would need to adapt the materials and provide feedback for all students as well. That totaled up to a whole lot of hours per week, and my internet just can’t be relied on for that many hours.

Anyway, I backed out of that demo class with apologies and withdrew my application.


A Woman’s Survival Guide to Living in Mexico Series

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics

A room of her own– the guest room office

Just because I have stopped renting the Little House in Sunflower Valley, doesn’t mean I don’t need my own office space. Of course, I’ve had to be adaptable. Or rather, we all have had to adapt.

A few weeks before we moved, my laptop started giving me issues with the Zoom program that my online classes are taught through. I know the moment it happened, since the class prior to the Zoom update was fine and the class immediately after was not. I tried contacting Zoom who said it was either my computer or my internet.

So I decided to order a new computer. I bought a refurbished all-in-one computer at Amazon and I had it a few days later. The problem with Zoom persisted. Plus the computer would randomly turn off. So I shipped the computer back to Amazon.

Instead of buying yet another computer, I ordered a camera and started using my son’s custom built computer for classes. I was still having problems, but now I was sure it was the internet. This issue led to the quest for the internet. Then with the purchase of another battery, making the current number 4 batteries for our solar setup, we made the move to La Yacata. 

The room that was our bedroom prior to the upstairs remodel became the office and guest room. My son’s computer and a desk are in the corner of the room. The huge blue screen that the company I work for requires as the background is suspended from the ceiling. We have a twin bed set up in case of a guest. There is also another smaller desk that holds all La Yacata community paperwork because I am still called on at times to take care of that business. I hung a blanket on the wall to help with the microphone echo. I had my husband move the fan light from upstairs to into this room. The lighting still wasn’t very good for the video I need to teach classes, so I bought a floor lamp as well, which seems to help keep me from looking so washed out. My husband ran the cable from the modem perched in the second-floor window to the office area.   

After all the work, here I am sitting at the upstairs table on my laptop writing instead of the office. It’s just too dark to be in there all the time, although it works wonderfully for my classes since most of them are scheduled after the sun goes down anyhow.

My son and I are sharing his computer. I use it to teach classes, sometimes up to 6 hours a day.  I know he’s a bit frustrated with that. My laptop is over 2 years old and just hasn’t adapted well to the Zoom updates. It still works for everything else I need it for though.

My son’s computer time has also been limited because of our off-grid setup. With just 4 batteries, we aren’t sure of our electric budgeting yet. Yesterday we did two loads of wash and filled the tinaco on the roof using the pump and used some power tools so by the time evening came around, the charge indicator was orange and my son wasn’t permitted any computer time.

In case you missed it, we did two loads of wash yesterday! With the pure sine wave converter, our washer works just dandy. Our other small appliances also work better, the blender, popcorn maker, and fan. So while we still have hopes of a few more batteries, we are delighted with our current creature comforts here in La Yacata.

That hasn’t stopped my husband’s drive for change though. He’s got a few more projects underway.


Filed under Electricity issues, Employment

Teaching Kids Online


Camille OnlineMost of you already know that I became a virtual teacher sometime last year in preparation for my transition away from private and elementary classes. (See Transition Year) While the pay was so much better being in US dollars, the hours were random.  Sometimes I had 15 hours of classes, sometimes 9. That being the case, the final transition wouldn’t have been possible had not the company I work for expanded their reach to include children ages 7-14. (See Online Teaching)

I wasn’t part of the pilot program, but when the request went out in mid-June for teachers to switch platforms, I submitted my application and soon enough I was one of the first official teacher group for the junior English component.  

The setup is a bit different from the adult classes in that it uses Zoom rather than Adobe Connect.  Zoom is a bit easier to manage with drawing and writing options for all participants (both student and teacher).  There were some technical bugs to work out, however.  When enrollment reached a certain point, Zoom did some crazy stuff.  It would kick the teachers out of classroom saying they were already signed in somewhere else.  My theory is that some of the newest teachers didn’t have their own Zoom accounts yet and ended up signing in under another teacher’s name.  I took matters into my own hands and created my own free Zoom account so that when the unceremonious ousting occurred, I could sign in to my own account and teach the class without issue.

Class length for the juniors is 25 minutes and one-on-one (student/teacher).  Private classes at the adult level are 20 minutes and group classes are 45 minutes.  I believe 25 minutes is just right.  That gives the teachers 5 minutes before the start of the next class to send feedback, recommend advancement or repetition, and set up for the next class.

As the program was launched before all the classroom levels were completed, all students go through the same classes no matter their initial English level.  That is supposed to change soon though and students will be slotted into levels just like the adults.

Most of the students are from Colombia with a handful of students from Peru, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Mexico.  Typically students take their classes after they arrive home from school and on weekends, which means that’s my availability as well so I get the maximum number of hours permitted.  

Most of the students are delighted to be in class and we have a good time progressing through the lessons.  On the other hand, there are the reluctant learners.  They fall into two categories, those that are sullen in class and those that have parents feeding them the answers, so basically are not learning a thing.  The poopy students usually loosen up after I acknowledge their lack of enthusiasm for the class and make faces at them.  

The parents are another story altogether.  I’ve tried addressing the student, who denies anyone is giving them the answers even though I can hear it myself.  I’ve also tried addressing the parent, who denies giving the answers.  Frustrated I brought the topic up in the company group chat and requested a letter be sent out reminding parents that their interference is impeding their child’s learning.  We’ll see if that happens.

Another more recent issue is the hiring of a Latin crew of English teachers.  Reading the teacher feedbacks (Student taked his time.  Him and his father were disappointed.) makes me doubt the wiseness of hiring non-native English speakers to teach English.  It’s not that I think the company should hire U.S. citizens only because there are definitely some positions that are more suited to Spanish speakers.  For instance, sales, technical support and responding to student’s questions about grammar or course issues are certainly better done in the student’s native language.  However, as this is an online English course, parents pay the big bucks to have native English speakers teach their children.  If they wanted Spanish speaking English teachers, well, they already have that at the schools in their area.

So, I’m working 3 evenings a week and all day Saturday and Sunday.  It’s the first time in years that I actually have a “weekend” even though it is in the middle of the week.  I’ve been enjoying the days off, the teaching experience and the better income.  All is not smooth sailing, however.  Last month something happened with Telmex (the only internet provider in my town) and there was no internet for hours, right in the middle of my shift. (See Internet service back after 3-hour outage)

Then I was worried that the recent hurricanes and earthquakes might cause connection issues, but that didn’t happen, at least to me.  Quite a number of teachers were affected though.  So it’s a bit nerve-wracking being so dependant on such an unreliable service.  Well, I guess I’ll ride this wave as far as it will take me.

Meanwhile, I bought the tile for the entire second floor of the house with my earnings.



Filed under Employment, Teaching