With so many online ESL companies to choose from, it can be really difficult knowing which company is the right fit for you during your career as an online teacher. Every company will have its own policies and procedures, level of resources they provide and personal support to assist you with teaching online. Here, are 5 pros and cons relating to the online ESL company, Dada, to help you gain more of an insight into teaching with them.
Regular students make up most of your teaching schedule at Dada. Some students will only have one lesson per week with you, but most book at least twice a week. This means that you see them on a very regular basis, every week, which helps to build a professional, friendly relationship rather quickly.
You get to know each child individually and are able to find out their likes/dislikes to tailor lessons to interest them further. For example, one of my regular students loves football, so we incorporate a reward system relating to this topic. Another student adores her pet cat, so we ensure each lesson to set aside a couple of minutes for her to show me and talk about her cat.
Seeing the same students each week makes it easy to see your hard work pay off with the progress that they are making. You also build a rappor with their parents, particularly of younger children, as they mostly sit with their child throughout your lessons. This is great for not only helping to keep your students on track with their learning but also to gain feedback on your teaching performance.
I love hearing back from my student’s parents about how much their child has learnt or their love for learning English since taking lessons with me.
After every lesson you teach, you are required to complete an assessment. For trial lessons, assessments only take around 2minutes to complete as there are tick box options for their level of English plus a small summary of their performance within the lesson.
However, with regular students, the assessments are a lot bigger and more time-consuming. You are also required to complete appraisals for each student every few weeks.
Lesson assessments tend to take me a further 30 minutes for 6 classes after I have finished teaching and I do not get paid for this time. I am very thorough with my assessments and do not write a generic passage to all students, hence why it takes longer. For each assessment, I provide my pupils with positive feedback and an area of improvement from that specific lesson to help them reflect upon their learning.
Trial classes are mostly 14 minutes long and enable potential students to gain a feel for Dada’s platform, learning online and the teacher’s teaching style. Trial classes are so much fun. No two classes are ever the same. You could teach a 3-year-old with no prior English knowledge and then move onto a confident, advanced 13-year-old, followed by an advanced 6-year-old. Trials really are a complete mix and can make your teaching time move very fast.
You can be extremely flexible in a trial, showing off your teaching style and be really creative using props, singing songs, playing games, conversational questions. Dada just like you to also demonstrate the platform, tools and lesson sample content so that students and parents gain a full view of what is to offer.
Some trial lessons are now being booked for 30 minutes, which I personally think is brilliant as it allows you more time to be able to assess that individual’s ability more accurately. It also provides you longer to encourage shy, nervous students who may take a little longer to warm to the class.
In addition, you also receive a bonus of 50RMB for every trial class you convert, i.e. for every student who signs up to classes with Dada from your lesson.
Related Post: How to Apply and Teach Online with Dada
Con 2: Trial classes
As much as I think trial classes with Dada are brilliant, they can become extremely repetitive and draining. On many occasions, when I have booked additional hours, I have been booked the same trial class with a different student 4 times in a row.
For example, I may be teaching the letters A-D, to four different low-level students for an hour. Each trial class takes up a lot of energy as you engage with the student, being extremely visual especially for lower level students who have no English knowledge.
Some students, particularly the younger students, it is the first time they may have seen someone who looks different, speaks differently and via the internet, so it can be overwhelming and a little scary at times. Therefore, they may cry, not want to sit still or even look at the camera. It can take half a trial class to engage their attention and gain their trust before they have built up the courage to say hello.
So, though trial classes can be great fun, ensure you have a large flask of tea or coffee and a biscuit if you have a few booked in succession.
This one is a huge bonus with Dada compared with most other online ESL companies. Many companies expect you to get through a number of slides or a whole lesson within a set amount of time. But with Dada, there is no expectation, as a teacher, you are allowed to use your professional judgement to adjust classes accordingly to your students.
For example, student A might easily pick up animal vocabulary, whereas student B might find it difficult to pronounce ‘ow’ for a cow. For student A, you could add additional activities to extend their learning, looking at basic sentences and adding descriptions, e.g. The cow is black and white. Student B, however, may need a further lesson to practise the ‘ow’ sound, going over different words such as cow, brown, down. This is a fantastic advantage if working with Dada.
Part-time hours are fantastic, in that you can pick up additional work to increase your monthly salary as and when you choose. However, bookings are not guaranteed and can fluctuate greatly. If you picked up a 3-hour shift, you may be working 3 hours straight, or you could find that classes are dropping off your schedule last minute and you only end up teaching for 30 minutes.
It is great if you have other things you can be doing whilst awaiting a class, but do be aware to keep checking your screen for last minute/late bookings to ensure you are not penalised for entering the class late. But, it can really feel like a waste of your time if you don’t have anything else to fill your time up with as you have to sit at your computer during these hours, whether you have classes or not.
On a positive note, Dada does provide half pay during your contracted hours even if you do not have any bookings. This is fantastic especially for individuals who have just started their contract and are in the first few weeks when your schedule isn’t quite filled up yet with regular students.
It is also brilliant if students cancel for any reason, you know you will still receive some pay for that time. If a class is cancelled and you have already entered it ready to teach, you are also paid in full.
RMB is not very strong and seems is fluctuating quite a bit presently, dropping in value quite a bit, which means you may end up with less in your local currency in a few months than what you started with. You are also charged quite hefty fees if you aren’t careful from your banks, receiving your pay.
There is an initial charge where the RMB is then converted into Dollars prior to it being paid into your account (it is converted as RMB is not allowed to be paid outside of China), then your banks or PayPal will add on a further charge receiving dollars and converting this.
When working with Dada, you gain support from the CS and IT team. CS support you with the majority of queries ranging from classes, student advice, timetabling, holidays and pay. Whereas IT focus on whilst you are in a class and there are technical difficulties such as the student’s network is not very good, they are late or you cannot hear them, as well as any difficulties you may be experiencing.
The majority of the time, I have spoken with some really lovely individuals, who really do try and go out of their way to help you with a problem. IT is fantastic at dealing with technical issues in the class, respond relatively quickly and can communicate with parents on your behalf. CS, though can take longer to respond, will try their best to answer your questions and assist you in making your teaching life a little easier.
Dada has 1000s of teachers that work for them and so you can easily feel more like a number than an individual. Previously, teachers were assigned a CS individual who they could contact directly relating to any issue they had and it felt like you were supported 100% and matters were quickly addressed.
Now, every teacher goes through to an online message service and you could be speaking to anyone in CS. Unfortunately, this does mean that you can receive a completely different response depending upon who you speak with. You are also informed of different answers for things that should be quite clear within the policy booklet such as pay for cancelled classes, or being given a late class and not penalised for it. However, this is not the case.
A way around this is that teachers will contact CS a couple of times, to speak to different people until they receive the correct information/support they require. It is time-consuming, inefficient and quite stressful, especially if during an emergency and needing an immediate and accurate response.
If you have worked for Dada, let me know your experiences below in the comments.