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Teaching Online From Colombia
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:12 pm    Post subject: Teaching Online From Colombia Reply with quote

Hello,

I have taught full time in Asia and the Middle East, but the last few years have moved to part time teaching online relying mostly on my web based business for income. I lived in the Philippines, and am now in Merida, Mexico. I enjoy them both, but both made it impossible for me to work the better online schools due to shortcomings with the Internet service (even 4G in the Philippines which is 4G in price only).

I made a visa run to Medellin a week back after having been turned away by the corrupt immigration officials at the Belize border. I enjoyed the city quite a bit and would like to spend some extended time there.

My hotel in El Pablado had a 10mb line which was sufficient for most things I needed to do. Yet once again it did not possess the reliability or speed I would have needed to effectively run virtual classroom software.

I saw advertisements from a couple companies for 4G. The locals I spoke with said it was good, but did not have personal experience. I was wondering if anybody on this board could give better feedback on my need? I probably will stay somewhere month to month, and hence am not as interested at this point in a line solution to an apartment.

I should also mention that I use a Macbook, which can make a difference for better or worse.
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank for all the responses! I have found out through another reliable source that it is fast and stable enough to run virtual classroom software. Of course, a fair amount of the better online schools test for a wired connection, but the school I was with did not (Saudis are new to online schools and still need to learn the ropes of how to run a successful online school).
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about reliable electric power? Having access to reliable high speed internet does no good if your internet modem has no electricity to power it.
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

esl_prof wrote:
What about reliable electric power? Having access to reliable high speed internet does no good if your internet modem has no electricity to power it.


Good point. Is that an issue in Medellin? The power seemed fine during my time there. 4g, not being a wired source, should be fine provided the local tower has back-up.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimpellow wrote:
Good point. Is that an issue in Medellin? The power seemed fine during my time there. 4g, not being a wired source, should be fine provided the local tower has back-up.


Not sure about Medellin. But regular power outages are a fact of life in many parts of Latin America. That's a good point about 4g not being wired though. I guess you could, in theory, sit at home in the dark and proceed with online classes as long as your laptop has sufficient battery power to ride things out until the electricity returns. It would definitely be worth checking to see if the local towers have back up generators though.
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1186
Location: 24.18105,-103.25185

PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you get a battery back up and ONLY plug in your modem it will keep you going for about 4 hours. The boxes say the battery back up will last 45 minutes to an hour, but it will actually last a lot longer with just one thing plugged in. Use the laptop battery for the computer and turn the brightness down as far as you can, and you should be able to keep working for 4 hours or more. I got one when we lived in Mexico City where the electricity went out pretty much once a week, just like clockwork and I never missed any work thanks to my back up. Now we live in a very small town, where, ironically, in two and a half years we have only had ONE outage, and that was when a truck that was too tall came down our road and tore down not only the electric wires but the phone too, so I had neither internet nor electric.
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read a pretty informative article about teaching ESL in Medellin and was only half shocked at how low the salaries were, not to mention lost time and expense in commuting, etc. Of course I saw the same thing from my last stop in Mexico.

Since stable Internet seems pretty standard in Medellin, I would suggest to anyone not happy with conditions in the local market to explore teaching online. For those with a little experience and perseverance, hooking up with an online gig at 14-18USD is easy to achieve.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimpellow wrote:
I just read a pretty informative article about teaching ESL in Medellin and was only half shocked at how low the salaries were, not to mention lost time and expense in commuting, etc. Of course I saw the same thing from my last stop in Mexico.

Since stable Internet seems pretty standard in Medellin, I would suggest to anyone not happy with conditions in the local market to explore teaching online. For those with a little experience and perseverance, hooking up with an online gig at 14-18USD is easy to achieve.


Thanks for sharing, jimpellow!

Two questions:

1) Could you share a link to the article?

2) How far will $14-18/hour USD take you in Colombia?
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

esl_prof wrote:


Two questions:

1) Could you share a link to the article?

2) How far will $14-18/hour USD take you in Colombia?


Also, if you don't mind, what are some online places that pay $14-$18? And are they places with a set curriculum or do you need to prepare? And how many hours can you get?
(yes, I've seen numerous threads on the topic but they tend to be somewhat dated and hard to find the gist. Thanks!!
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always happy to share what I can, no matter how inaccurate or dated most everything I have to offer is.

The article was on the medellinliving website.

As for how far 14-18 will go, you are asking the wrong person on this board. I only spent a vacation there living it up in El Poblado, As people are fond of saying it really comes down to a lifestyle choice. Right now the dollar is strong as you know so that helps. But the fact that the US owes up to 220 trillion, when you include unfunded liabilities, denotes that eventually the sky will turn blue again in the financial world and the dollar will deservedly suffer badly. Plan ahead...

Material is always prepared unless you taught independently. You find that in some cultures people just want to talk to a native speaker. In other cultures students prefer to follow the curriculum.

In terms of where to look for better schools, the following observations are what I can offer.

Japan and to a lesser extent Korea pay very well. They do insist on good wired Internet. They also age discriminate a lot. Seems to deal with how they like to market their schools.

Chinese online schools are popping up all over the place. I spent 5 years in China and am of the opinion that is due to the new visa regulations and the desperate shortage becoming even worse.

I worked for a big one called English Tone until I quit due to the bad Internet in the Philippines. They gave me 11 an hour plus bonuses for students who signed up. You can pm me if you want the skype for the gm.

Russian companies pay well but some schools have not been paying or closed due to the financial crisis Russia has been having. Buyer beware if you go that route.

European companies pay fairly well and are of good reputations overall. ISUS out of Spain is always hiring and you can find some smaller ones with a little digging.

I was working for a firm out of Saudi while in Mexico that I had to stop doing because of Internet issues. Three hour class that paid $45 a class. 4 days a week. You can do two classes a day if you want. You can pm me for the HR Skype on that if you want. The teaching methodology is quite pedantic for the group class. But interesting for me as many female students who are very motivated. I did a contract in Saudi and did not renew due to the male students being so lazy. I will go back to them after relocating to Medellin next month.

I have seen more schools out of the US. Looking at the ads I was astounded how many hoops they want you to go through for lesser wages than other industrialized countries offer. But I am no expert here.

If ESL were my main source of income I would be an independent. This is by far the way to make the most money. Most who go this route make little to no money as they lack the staying power and businesses acumen to make it work. Not to be arrogant, but you have to have drive and the ability to learn how to attract and retain clients to consider this route. If that is not you, don't waste your efforts.
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimpellow wrote:


In terms of where to look for better schools, the following observations are what I can offer.

Japan and to a lesser extent Korea pay very well. They do insist on good wired Internet. They also age discriminate a lot. Seems to deal with how they like to market their schools.

Chinese online schools are popping up all over the place. I spent 5 years in China and am of the opinion that is due to the new visa regulations and the desperate shortage becoming even worse.

I worked for a big one called English Tone until I quit due to the bad Internet in the Philippines. They gave me 11 an hour plus bonuses for students who signed up. You can pm me if you want the skype for the gm.

Russian companies pay well but some schools have not been paying or closed due to the financial crisis Russia has been having. Buyer beware if you go that route.

European companies pay fairly well and are of good reputations overall. ISUS out of Spain is always hiring and you can find some smaller ones with a little digging.

I was working for a firm out of Saudi while in Mexico that I had to stop doing because of Internet issues. Three hour class that paid $45 a class. 4 days a week. You can do two classes a day if you want. You can pm me for the HR Skype on that if you want. The teaching methodology is quite pedantic for the group class. But interesting for me as many female students who are very motivated. I did a contract in Saudi and did not renew due to the male students being so lazy. I will go back to them after relocating to Medellin next month.

I have seen more schools out of the US. Looking at the ads I was astounded how many hoops they want you to go through for lesser wages than other industrialized countries offer. But I am no expert here.



Thanks, I probably will PM you for the specifics of the $15 per hour one. I'm a 50 (soon to be 51)-year-old female, so if places age (and/or gender) discriminate they probably won't work for me -- I'm not sure whether the Saudi one also age discriminates and whether they are looking for women as well as men (I guess I could stand the sexism if it's only via Internet for $45 a class). I have looked at the lists here as I've said, and also via google and other sites and haven't found anyone who pays $14-$18, so I'm not sure where you find the schools, and whether ISUS is in that category, since the only other name you gave you say actually pays $11, which is more in line with what I've seen ($5-10 per hour perhaps with a bonus). ISUS says their pay depends on your country of residence (without saying what it is) -- I currently live in the US and should earn higher, but if the idea is to earn well in Latin America but they then reduce the pay there, I'm not sure I like the idea. Also, I have a Mac and I've seen some places say you have to have a PC (even though Mac owners can install Windows if we wanted to).

I like the idea of online vs. independent because then I can have steady work even if I move (or wander). In-person I want the social aspect of going to a school (institute or other), as well as a routine of leaving the house, though working independently is a great way to supplement that income at a higher hourly rate.
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I shouldn't have included the Chinese schools as they do not pay well. Even my 11 was higher than they gave most native speaking teachers, and if you couldn't keep your schedule full you lost money. They also did not pay for cancelled classes though they charged the client. I was able to keep a pretty full schedule and was good at converting test students into clients. But overall the Chinese are the Chinese. Best thing about Chinese schools is they are not too concerned about Internet quality. Still, they are easy and stable jobs and a base income that still seems tp pay better than a fair amount of the ESL jobs in Colombia.

The better online schools do not need to advertise much as is true with bricak-and-mortar schools. I have found the better paying ones by googling on keywords for particular countries, sometimes using the translation features of Chrome to find them. German, Russia, Japan and Korea offer the best. Having the ability to walk the walk with specialized areas of ESL such as business, medical, IELTS prep etc.. opens the doors and gets one the better pay.

Interesting about ISUS and something I did not run into. I would assume that some schools are in a sense paying lower now, or so it would seem to an American at least, as their local currency has most likely depreciated against the dollar.

Anyways PM me if you want on the Saudi School. You or anyone else can find the others if so inclined.

Trying to get Dave to open up an Online ESL School group here, lets see how it goes.
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jimpellow wrote:
Always happy to share what I can, no matter how inaccurate or dated most everything I have to offer is.


Thanks! Interesting information.
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philipjmorgan42



Joined: 08 Feb 2013
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi I have been reading this forum with interest. I currently teach exclusively online from the UK, mostly through skype. I will be travelling to Colombia next year and am planning on staying a minimum of 6 months maybe as much as a year. I don't really want to go down the road of working for local companies for low salaries, it would be a lot easier/better paid if I could just keep doing what I do at the moment.
I taught online from Mexico and it was just about ok, but I was just teaching Mexicans who knew there could be internet problems from time to time, whereas now I work for a company that gives classes to professionals in France, Italy, Spain etc.
I would be interested to hear about anyone's experiences teaching via Skype in Colombia. At this stage I am not sure where I will be staying but it will probably be a city like Medellin, Cali, Bogota or Santa Marta. ideally I'd like to stay a month or two in each place and keep working whilst moving.

Someone said the best internet option is 4gb. What is this in terms of download/upload speed? How reliable is it?
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jimpellow



Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 904

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, to follow up my post as the OP, I have made it to Colombia and am now teaching online. I had to limit the places I could live in Medellin, but am staying in a place that has a fiber optic connection. It usually runs very fast but on occasion has an annoying short super slowdown that cuts my Adobe Connect virtual classroom off with my students. But only to the tune of once every other day during the 4 hours class.

I have decided to add in some privates doing Business English as I can easily get 25 an hour, rather than the school skimming. I have a few students already via Skype and will grow that to my needs with time. Luckily having run other web businesses and coming from a business background means I can market more effectively than some of the stuff I see out there. For example, a 23 year old showing off her college degree in Sociology with English diagrams of fruits and vegetables on her Business English home page. That doesn't really have a lot of credibility with a fifty year old businessperson.

Not to knock her, but taking the private route is best done by finding a niche you can credibly teach that has a market and margin. Then laser marketing to that niche and demonstrating your knowledge and ability to get the student to his or her goals. Just my 2 cents for those looking for a way to live here comfortably.
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