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Making a Living Online While in the Philippines
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JoeRomano



Joined: 12 Jan 2010
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:21 am    Post subject: Making a Living Online While in the Philippines Reply with quote

I have been trying to work in the Philippines since 1992 as I absolutely adore the country, but it was tough in the past- there were no Koreans yet, online teaching was not developed, and there were virtually no jobs for foreigners, so, basically I would just work in other countries and take long vacations in the RP.

This year, after I did a runner from an unfair Middle East employer, I went to RP and hung out for a while to see if I could finally make a living there.

The first idea was to teach online and it sounded good in theory, but was not easy in practice- I was in Baguio- a great city, but I found the Internet connection there to be substandard. One school in Korea hired me, but they insisted that I have a cable connection and not a WI FI.

Cable connections in the Philippines are not much faster than Wi Fis from my experience, plus, in the whole country it is not easy to have a reliable connection period. Also, you need to be settled and have an apartment to sign a contract with the cable company and I was not yet ready to settle down.

Anyway, things did not work out with the online Korean school because I tried to download their platform and the WI FI connection at the hotel I was staying at was too slow. I tried to use a Smart USB modem in Baguio , but the reception was subpar. In some places there was no signal at all.
In addition, Baguio has no airport now and you need to go to La Union if you need to fly out of there and bus rides to Manila are 8 hours. So, you are cut off from the rest of the country.

I bought a local newspaper and looked for ESL teachers's jobs. There were 'some', but no phone number was listed- you have to show up with you resume. I passed some resumes but no one called me. Anyway, that was it with Baguio. I was also freezing my nose off because of the cold hotel room which also did not have a good internet connection- I had to spend days at SM ordering food so that I could use their wireless.

Anyway, I went to Angeles City where I got a hotel room for 1000 pesos a day with a pretty good Wi Fi connection and started working on two fronts: one was to find a job teaching Koreans or anyone else, and the other was to find an online job. So, every day I would spend most of my time scouring the Internet for jobs. It would take 5-10 hours a day. Every nook and cranny of the Web would be searched.

This is what I did, basically: I googled : "Jobs Philippines" and found all these sites where jobs in the country were advertised. Then, I would type " native speakers ESL teachers wanted" . You could also narrow the search by the province , and I was in Pampanga, so I was looking for jobs there.

Surprisingly, there were some ads, and, eventually, three places called me for interviews- one was for a job at Clark Economic Zone- it was doing some kind of research on the Web. Some kind of verification company run by Americans. Everything was fine except the salary- it was way too low. Keep in mind that even if you make P50,000 pesos a month, you would still be taxed at some 20%+.

Then I was interviewed by a Korean place in Ortigas, whose owner appeared very arrogant and suspicious- his first question was "Why do Americans come to the Philippines?" I felt like saying a thing or two to him- "We were there more than a hundred years before you people arrived" and a few more, but I held back. He had also said that there had been an American teacher at his school who'd hit somebody so now he was scared of hiring Americans. He wanted to see my passport and all.

Eventually he offered me P 30,000.

I told him I was going to think about it, and then I went to look at the cost of apartments in Ortigas and also just trying to see if it was worth it. He also said that the work permit would be P20,000. He would pay for that but I would have to be teaching 8 hours daily. That was too much. Apartments in the area were too expensive, too, So, I emailed them and said "No".

I went back to Angeles City, and there, another Korean place advertised for native speakers. I met with the owner, a very nice guy and he said he needed a senior teacher and would pay me P50,000. This sounded OK and I was about to celebrate. Then when I went to work there, basically, I saw that there was no way I could be a senior teacher. Many guys working there were US military retirees- they looked sullen, tough and many were much older than me. Some of them also treated me with a bit of sarcasm and suspicion. I am a tough person myself, but I just could not see myself being their boss. Some already had bids on that position, anyway, and a johnny-come-lately like me would not be welcome. I saw some smirks coming my way and just felt that that career path was not for me.

So, I stayed on as just a teacher working 4 hours a day and making P 200 an hour. Then, complaints from Korean students started pouring in- I allegedly stifled a yawn in class, I talked too much, this and that. I was told I was not wearing the right kind of pants. And few if any of my coworkers were professional ESL instructors.

Some were only beginning to study for an ESL TEFL certificate.

The Koreans just wanted native speakers- meaning Americans and Brits to talk to. None of my education/skills mattered ( which is an MA in TESL and 25 years of experience).

Anyway, they did not like me and laid me off after three weeks until further notice because of students' complaints- some students were yelling and laughing loudly and I asked them to be quiet which did not sit well with the owner.

As in most private schools, a student's complaint is like being accused of heresy in the times of the Inquisition- you stand no chance and have absolutely no protection.

Anyway, while I was still teaching the Koreans, I continued to look for online jobs. Again, I was surfing in all my free time with the key words" online ESL/English teacher wanted".

Schools would pop up . I would contact them and apply. Eventually, I found some Russian and Chinese schools that would teach through Skype and pay through paypal.com. The first two gave me some students, but then they stopped sending them. They, basically, just flaked out.

The main demand with the Chinese was IELTS and TOEFL and with the Russians - ESP type conversation- how to talk with foreigners at some IT company they worked at, how to pass a job interview, etc.

I kept applying for more jobs and found another Russian school and another Chinese school. The new Russian school started sending me student after student and, soon, I had a full schedule. The Chinese school did the same- one IELTS student after another. There were oodles of them now.

Then I rented a room for P 6000 a month + a WI FI already in place- I was lucky, and I was in business.

Neither the Russians nor the Chinese would complain that I 'd stifled a yawn or that my pants were of the wrong kind- they were interested in knowledge and they did not care about the form, just about the substance. The Russians paid $10 per one 45 min. class and the Chinese would pay $6 for a 55 minute class. They would send me money into my paypal account. The Russians were relaxed and buddy-buddy with me, they yawned, drank coffee and smokes, would sit in their bath robes and joke; the Chinese were very much into honing their IELTS skills and getting their grades up. They also liked my way of teaching.

I posted on language exchange and online teaching forums , too, and students would contact me for trial lessons.

All these students were wonderful ,and I, basically ,taught some 8 classes per day- that was a lot, but I was at home during that time. And, after two months, I was making on the average USD1200 a month ( with weekends mostly off) while being employed by the Chinese and the Russians and having a few privates on the side.

Any problems that came up? Well, yes, if there is a brown out, and you have a WI FI, you need to have a Plan B. Be near some place that has a generator- some cafe or something. Get a USB modem with a SIM card- Globe Tatoo is the best. Tell your students that in case there is a powe cut, they should wait some 15 minutes to allow you enough time to get to that lit up place and teach them again.

Also, because most Russians are in the European part, the time lag can be such that you may end up teaching a class at 2 AM. Then the Chinese want a class at 8 AM. So, it is all very patchy and spotty, and classes are intermittent. On some occasions, I would stay up all night because I would be afraid to oversleep and, then, I would end up falling asleep while teaching. No, it is not easy by any means.

(But it beats walking on egg shells and worrying about what a student will whisper behind your back to the director of a school and you, a 50 year old former UCLA instructor being booted out of a job that pays $4 an hour because a 20 year old customer saw you stifle a yawn)

Also, get a good EXCEL program to schedule classes, and make sure you save all the info on the spreadsheet well. Sometimes ,I would close it and it would not save properly, and I would miss the class and then all hell would break loose.

Anyway, $1200 a month coming from Russia and China is basically enough to live on while the Philippines as a tourist, and is doable. The main challenges are 1) getting a cheap place to live with a reliable Wi Fi near to a place with a generator that you could run to in case there is a brown out - make sure you have enough pesos on your Globe Tatoo. 2) getting all the students together from private advertisers and finding active and energetic schools who would refer them to you.

They even made a video about the Russian online school on Moscow TV and I was featured in it.

Anyway, I left the Philippines because I was offered a better job elsewhere, but now I know that it is possible to make a modest living while staying there and working for the Chinese and the Russians.
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TwinCentre



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 271
Location: Mokotow

PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know little about the Philippines, but can I just say from the bottom of my heart....that really was one of the most insightful/engaging and inspiring TEFL related stories I have ever read online.

Thank you.
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Ramblin' Man



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

$6 an hour from the Chinese... WOW!!! If you were in China, and working for them you would be making 3 - 5 times that amount per hour. Granted this is in the bigger cities, where cost of living is a fair bit higher then the Philippines, but still...

As for 200 peso an hour, which come to think of it is actually also around $6 an hour, I probably wouldn't be bothered to get out of bed for that amount, let alone go to a Filipino school and teach, but wow, guess hats off to you that you somehow could.


Anyway, I have lived in the Philippines as well, and there are a lot of things I like about it, but ESL work is not one of them. You made a good choice moving on, to work somewhere else. As you mentioned, you can just go back to the PI/RP when you've saved up enough to kick back for a while again. That's what the Philippines is really best for anyway.
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being from the Philippines, I find your post to be most valuable and informative.

I'm thinking of getting my first ESL job in my native country. I know the Philippines fairly well. And I can stay with relatives. Plus, everything is so cheap there (food, transportation, etc.) in terms of US dollars.

After a year of teaching in the Philippines, I can apply for ESL jobs in other countries. A year of teaching experience will look good on my resume.

So you were offered P30,000 per month salary?

That converts into roughly $689. I think I can live on that for each month.

I now have a salary range. Thanks for the info.
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einimod



Joined: 16 Mar 2011
Posts: 1
Location: australia

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.
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wiganer



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 189

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Captain_Fil wrote:
einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.


If you were born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog as a first language then you are not a native English speaker. Wink
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.


If you were born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog as a first language then you are not a native English speaker. Wink


I actually emigrated to the United States when I was very young.

So I grew up and lived in the United States for most of my natural life.

And I hardly remember speaking any Tagalog.

Technically, I could be considered a native speaker.

Very Happy
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wiganer



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 189

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.


If you were born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog as a first language then you are not a native English speaker. Wink


I actually emigrated to the United States when I was very young.

So I grew up and lived in the United States for most of my natural life.

And I hardly remember speaking any Tagalog.

Technically, I could be considered a native speaker.

Very Happy


Technically, you are not a native speaker at all by anyone's definition - English is your second language.
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.


If you were born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog as a first language then you are not a native English speaker. Wink


I actually emigrated to the United States when I was very young.

So I grew up and lived in the United States for most of my natural life.

And I hardly remember speaking any Tagalog.

Technically, I could be considered a native speaker.

Very Happy


Technically, you are not a native speaker at all by anyone's definition - English is your second language.


Keanu Reeves was born in Lebanon and he looks Asian.

Arabic may have been his first language.

Would you consider him a native speaker?

Cool
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wiganer



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 189

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
einimod wrote:
to captain FIL

they offered him 30,000 because he's a native speaker and in your case, though you're living abroad, still the offer would be a bit lower.


Actually, I hold a US passport and my English is perfect.

Thank you.


If you were born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog as a first language then you are not a native English speaker. Wink


I actually emigrated to the United States when I was very young.

So I grew up and lived in the United States for most of my natural life.

And I hardly remember speaking any Tagalog.

Technically, I could be considered a native speaker.

Very Happy


Technically, you are not a native speaker at all by anyone's definition - English is your second language.


Keanu Reeves was born in Lebanon and he looks Asian.

Arabic may have been his first language.

Would you consider him a native speaker?

Cool


That supports my argument does it not? Especially if neither of Keanu Reeves parents are native Arabic speakers.

In your case, where you were born has a lot to do with it (if you have two Filipino parents and with yourself being born in the Philippines will stop you getting a lot of English teaching jobs) or even where you live or even what type of passport you hold.

What I suggest you do is go and get some certification, teach some English somewhere and stop arguing linguistics with people who know what they are talking about. Wink
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
That supports my argument does it not? Especially if neither of Keanu Reeves parents are native Arabic speakers.

In your case, where you were born has a lot to do with it (if you have two Filipino parents and with yourself being born in the Philippines will stop you getting a lot of English teaching jobs) or even where you live or even what type of passport you hold.

What I suggest you do is go and get some certification, teach some English somewhere and stop arguing linguistics with people who know what they are talking about. Wink


That's what I plan to do.

I won't let anything stop me.

Very Happy
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wiganer



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 189

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
That supports my argument does it not? Especially if neither of Keanu Reeves parents are native Arabic speakers.

In your case, where you were born has a lot to do with it (if you have two Filipino parents and with yourself being born in the Philippines will stop you getting a lot of English teaching jobs) or even where you live or even what type of passport you hold.

What I suggest you do is go and get some certification, teach some English somewhere and stop arguing linguistics with people who know what they are talking about. Wink


That's what I plan to do.

I won't let anything stop me.

Very Happy


Instead of talking about it on here, how about doing it? You have a degree, nothing is stopping you so what are you waiting for?
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Captain_Fil



Joined: 06 Jan 2011
Posts: 604
Location: California - the land of fruits and nuts

PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wiganer wrote:
Captain_Fil wrote:
wiganer wrote:
That supports my argument does it not? Especially if neither of Keanu Reeves parents are native Arabic speakers.

In your case, where you were born has a lot to do with it (if you have two Filipino parents and with yourself being born in the Philippines will stop you getting a lot of English teaching jobs) or even where you live or even what type of passport you hold.

What I suggest you do is go and get some certification, teach some English somewhere and stop arguing linguistics with people who know what they are talking about. Wink


That's what I plan to do.

I won't let anything stop me.

Very Happy


Instead of talking about it on here, how about doing it? You have a degree, nothing is stopping you so what are you waiting for?


I could take Cambridge University's 4-week CELTA course in San Francisco. Smile

But that would mean a month away from my job. And it costs $2500! Shocked

Recently, Cambridge announced a new online CELTA course. It would combine online instruction with classroom teaching practice. This means flexible hours and reduced cost. It will be available later this year. I can't wait! Very Happy

http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/exams-info/faqs/celta-course-online-faq.html
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Ramblin' Man



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, what matters more then your English abilities, is how you look, and your skin tone/color.

Are you a Phil/Am or 100% Filipino?

How dark are you?


If you look very Filipino, you will have a tougher time getting an ESL job, and they pay likely will be lower then it would be for a white westerner, even if you do.
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