Be a DaDa ABC Teacher
For the last couple of months now, my main job has been working from my computer as an Online English teacher. In this post, I will give a complete break down of teaching online and why I love it.
I work for an excellent company called DaDA ABC, and I teach kids in China between 4-12 years old. Their English skills range from true beginners to advanced, and every day, my students surprise me.
I am currently half way through my 6-month contract, and I am 95% sure I will continue working for them for another contract term. It will depend on if I can get another job here in Bilbao and the hours.
The requirements are pretty simple. To be a DaDa ABC Teacher you will need.
1. TEFL Certificate( if you don’t have one already, they do offer a course)
2. FBI Criminal Background Check
3. University Degree
The interview was in two parts and pretty straight forward. The first part was a general interview with all the standards of “tell me about yourself and why you wanted to become an ESL teacher.” The second part involves giving a demo lesson showing how I would teach the basic ABCs and simple words that start with the letters. The catch was the interviewer becomes/acts how a child from China might behave. They are pretty good actors, and after giving classes to many young learners, they nail it.
Be able to set your hours
Teaching English in China works perfectly when you live in Spain and Europe because of the time difference. China is 4 hours ahead of Spain, so my working hours here in Spain are from 12-3:15 pm. So in China, it is 6pm-9:10, when children are home from school and about to head to bed. If you are in California or Pacific Standard time, these hours would be 3 am- 6:10 am. If you are in Toronto or Eastern Standard Time these hours would be 6 am-9:10 am. I am contracted to work Monday through Thursday. DaDa has a minimum of 2 days a week and for at least 1.5 hours per day. Additionally, your first two weeks while you are in a probation period, they limit you to only 1.5 hours per day.
I stayed at 1.5 hours for my first month. Then the company asked if I could add one more hour per day. After the third month, I asked to increase another hour because I was signing up for this block of time for part-time. Sometimes I would get a class and others I wouldn’t, now I’m getting at least half pay during this period.
Be able to have Part Time Hours
If I want, I can work Friday through Sunday. These days I’m either giving trial classes to families who are interested in signing up or filling in as a substitute. If subsequently, the family signs up after a trial, the teacher gets a $10 bonus. An important thing to note, you have to finish 30 contracted hours before you can sign up for part-time hours.
If and when I feel like grinding, I can work a little bit every day. I will typically sign up to work my standard Monday-Thursday times (12-3:15 Spain time) on Fridays. Usually, DaDa will find me 3 to 6 classes between these hours. Other Fridays, I can use to get errands done or travel.
In April, my academy hours dropped, and I worked my DaDa ABC job for two weeks in a row. When I first started “part-time” hours, had to stay in front of your computer in case a pop-up class happens. Recently, DaDa has updated the teaching platform, so can’t have a class pop up by turning a switch. Now if you need to go to the bathroom or eat something, you can toggle it off and not worry about missing a class.
Be able to live in Spain
Teaching for DaDa, teachers can make $15-$25 per hour depending on experience and your interview. When hired, I did not have much experience under my belt, but I did have my TEFL certificate and 20 hours of student teaching. I'm not at the bottom but not at the top of the pay scale and hoping for a raise when I sign up for another term. At the same time, with what I'm making right now on Dada I can live comfortably here in Sopelana, Basque Country, Spain.
Be a Teacher: My Students
You might be wondering how do you get students on DaDa?
Once hired, you are asked to make an introduction video and fill out a small bio about yourself. Families in China can read these and watch your introduction video and personally pick to do classes with you. DaDa will also randomly assign them to you when you first start. Doing trial classes can also result in getting what we call an RS, or regular/returning student.
During the first month of work, expect to be doing many trial classes to get your blocks of contracted time filled. A fantastic part of DaDa ABC is if I don’t have a scheduled class during my contracted hours, they still pay half your wage. Although, I have heard rumors that they have got rid of this perk for new contracts. At the same time, they do a pretty good job filling these free times with trial classes. Also, if the family forgets to cancel or is late, I’m still paid my usual amount. It will happen more frequently for trial classes but sometimes happens with my regular students.
Be an Online Teacher
After working for DaDa for three months, gradually adding more contracted time, I now have 15 students that I see once or twice a week. My youngest student is around five years old, and my oldest is 13 years old. All my classes are one on one, but sometimes their siblings or parents will pop into the camera, and I will incorporate them into the lesson.
I have given lessons while my students have been in the car, walking, quietly sitting and unfortunately I’ve been “brought” into the bathroom, screaming and crying from the students or their siblings. Yes, it was alarming when the student brought the device into the restroom. The situation was brought up to the management, and they dealt with it very professionally. It happens pretty frequently to online teachers. I would say it is a right of passage. Many people will comment on this happening to them with comments like “Welcome to the online teaching life” on Facebook groups for online teachers. I imagine it is similar to a new teacher in a classroom dealing with a student peeing the pants or throwing up. Every day is a new day. I never know what to expect.
Be able to teach kids in China
Some days my students are chatterboxes, and other times, they are exhausted. In some of my classes, we have entire conversations with them, telling me stories about their day or weekend. I try to limit this for the first three to five minutes as a warm-up. Other classes, it can be quiet challenging to get out a word of them. With this, I get them to practice using the present, past, and future tense. DaDa uses pre-made lessons with book work using their interactive system of pens and star-rewards. It is excellent because there is very minimal teaching prep time.
For my advanced students, I am helping them with their fluency, focusing on pronunciation while reading out loud, and learning new vocabulary. These classes, I keep my talking time to a minimum. Their interactive platform allows me to do a lot of guided practice and call and repeat. For my true beginners, beginners, and intermediates, I heavily rely on a technique called Total Physical Response (TPR). TPR can be as basic as simple hand movements or silly dance moves. Or, it can be as complicated as having the student listen and look at how mouth and tongue move to produce the sounds in English and then repeating it until they make the right sound. Some classes I’m doing the phonics of the ABCs and others I’m explaining the American voting system.
Own my own, and as well as listening to presentations, I have learned about the increasing use of subject-based lessons in ESL. I had a great time explaining basic American political history with one of my advanced students in one of my classes. It was very cool applying the information I studied at University and applying it in an ESL lesson. In other lessons, they learn about science by talking about the environment. Even these kids in China know about climate change and in English, can speak about it. When all else fails, and I can’t get the point across, there is a translation feature from English to Chinese.
Be able to get bonuses
I will not lie their bonus system is one of the more challenging aspects to explain because they are continually changing the system. Just this week they sent us an update.
What hasn’t changed is
1. bonus for converting a trail class~ $10
2. Teacher referrals ~$100 per teacher
If you are interested in working for DaDa, here is my link: https://www.dadaabc.com/teacher/landing?referrer=N5L5K5H5K505
Be thoughtful of:
If you live with roommates, make sure they do not have a problem with your teaching hours. Your roommate may find your job annoying because it can be noisy. Why didn’t I add that additional 3rd hour from the start? Well...that kind of also goes into why I moved into a new apartment in Sopelana. Unfortunately, my previous roommate also worked from home, and it created a conflict. This period was very stressful for me because every day I was frustrating my roommate.
If you are late checking in or more than 3 minutes late to a class, you get fined.
Sometimes there are connection issues with the student’s wifi, stay calm, and their IT department will help out.
My first month, they were updating the teaching platform, which caused many technical issues (command shift+4) will be your best friend. If you have any problems, you can screenshot your screen and send an email to the company, and typically they will acknowledge it was not your fault.
DaDa has been making a lot of changes the past couple months, but I would say just roll with it and if there are significant issues, bring it up to management. They do a reasonably good job fixing things and working with the teachers.
Be curious. Be courageous. Be chivalrous.