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The Biggest Mistake a Learner Can Make

This is a guest blog post from Alex Podtynny. Alex is a teacher and the author of the book; Boost Your Learning! If you are working on improving your own memory or interested in helping your students to develop their learning habits then I recommend that you have a read.


Hi! I'm Alex Podtynny, an ESL teacher, translator and writer. I really enjoy helping people to achieve their goals in learning. I have Master's degree in Education. After graduating from my university in 2012 I've been teaching English to adults as well as to children, mostly as a tutor. I've travelled quite a lot and now I live in Mariupol, Ukraine, with my beautiful wife, Lily.


The Biggest Mistake a Learner can Make

As I am a teacher, I often speak to people about learning. And I like to ask one question: "What do you consider the biggest mistake a learner can make?" My answer to this question is: a learner can lose motivation. In the context of studying nothing can be worse. If you get a bad mark,...

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Moving from Face-to-Face Teaching to Online Classes

Teaching online is fairly similar to teaching face-to-face (F2F) in many ways, in other ways it is very different. This means that some of what works well in your traditional F2F classroom will not be as successful in your new online lessons.

Although this is a common move for teachers to make nowadays, there are some things that you should consider when preparing for your first online classes. Some of the natural rhythms you base your teaching on in a physical classroom will be different. For example, I found the slight delay on some video calls really confused my teaching style at first. This showed up in my teaching as a lack of confidence. Prior to this I had not actively noticed how much of my teaching was based on reacting to my students. Once I realised this, I adjusted my teaching accordingly (pausing for longer than I would naturally to allow for the technology) and had some great feedback from students once again.

I had initially assumed it would be very similar to my...

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What the CELTA Was Like For Me


The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) was my first step into working as a teacher. I had previously worked for a language school chain as an Activity Leader during university breaks, and the school I was based at offered the CELTA course. The Academic Manager suggested that I might enjoy the course and said that I would be hired as a teacher for the summer with them if I passed the course. I had never considered working as a teacher before that, but was hooked for the first time I taught.

This was over a decade ago now, but many of the fundamentals of the CELTA course remain the same. You can find more information about the course, along with a list of registered providers on the Cambridge English website.

The CELTA is the most prestigious and well recognised TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification in the world. It is standardised, with inspectors and assessors from Cambridge University visiting course providers to ensure that...

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How to make sure you get paid as a freelance EFL Teacher

You've done all of the hard work; you've set up freelance, you've marketed and you have your own students now. Congratulations! But what happens if they don't pay you?

This is a fear with many freelancers, across many industries. The upside is that as a someone who works from themselves, you can choose your own terms of payment making it easier to avoid situations where you are out of pocket.


The safest way for you to set yourself up and to ensure some legal protection is to draw up a comprehensive contract.  I would recommend hiring a legal professional to do this and always ensure that it is signed by both parties (you and the student) before you start teaching.

Your contract should include details of the service being provided, the costs of that service and the payment terms. This makes it clear to your student what is expected of them. It also gives you something to fall back on if they later do not pay. 


If you are lucky enough to secure a...

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What I loved about the IATEFL Annual Conference and why you should attend

The short answer is everything! If you want the long answer keep reading....

2019 was the first year I attended an in-person IATEFL (International Association of Teachs of English as a Foreign Language) event. I had attended a few of their excellent webinars over the years, but previous employers hadn't seen attending as a priority. Taking the time off and self-funding the trip made it a tad out of reach. 

In 2019 I had the time and the money, so I went. I'm not a big fan of meeting new people on mass and the thought of networking makes me cringe, but I had heard so many great things about IATEFL that I braved it. I traveled to Liverpool a day before the PCEs (Pre-Conference Events) started, as part of the Annual Conference. 

The PCE I attended was the Learning Technologies day. We played with AI, learnt about feedback and assessment in increasingly digital classrooms and indulged our geeky ed tech selves. I got so much out of talking to people with...

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What do my £100/hour EFL lessons look like?

I posted a reply to a question in a Facebook group for teachers over a year ago. The question was about hourly teaching rates as freelancers. I answered honestly; mine now varies from £35/hour to £100/hour depending on what I am teaching and how many lessons the student books in one go. I was swamped with replies, DMs and friend requests. All of those people wanted to know how I charged that kind of top-end rate.

The answer is simple; I ask for that rate and I offer a service that matches that rate in terms of value for my customers.

Let me be really clear here, I only sell a few lessons at that top rate and many more at my lower rates. Most of my students book packages now and all of my packages work out at lower hourly rates. The idea is it is better value for the students to bulk book lessons. This also suits my business model as I get larger payments and certainty over student bookings and numbers in advance. I also actually only offer 45 minute lessons, so the...

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5 places to find students as a Freelance English Teacher


The 5 main places I find my freelance students:

  • My existing network 
  • Online freelancer platforms for teaching and other services
  • LinkedIn
  • Social media groups
  • Specialist course providers in your niche

In the video I talk a bit more about how I use these places to find students and how they could work for you and your teaching niche.

If you have any questions, come and ask them in our Facebook Group - EFL Teacher Advice and Support.

If you are thinking about becoming an online or freelance teacher our ebook is a good place to start;  Getting Started in Online and Freelance Teaching Ebook


Written by Claire Collis, Founder and Managing Director of The ELT Skills Academy

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BETT 2020: An EFL Perspective

For those of you who don't know the BETT Show at ExCel London is the world's leading education technology show. This was the 36th edition and in my opinion it gets better every year!

This year there were 850 companies, including over 100 start-ups exhibiting over 4 days. It is a great opportunity to see (and play with) the latest technology. There is also an excellent series of workshops, events, seminars and talks throughout the show. There is so much going on in fact that I have never managed to get to see everything I would like to fit in! 

I always enjoy the show and get a lot out of it, but how much of that relates to my work in English as a Foreign Language and not my Digital Education studies (and general nerdiness)?

Well, there is an argument to be made for the value of spending time with other educators and seeing what they are up to in general, but these were more tangibly EFL-related things I saw this year:

  • uTalk - this language learning app is great for beginners...
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Tech Tools for Teaching EFL Online

The dreaded tech!

Fear, uncertainty and the unknown hold a lot of people back from teaching online as freelancers.

“How can I get a fancy teaching platform myself? Is it expensive? What about resources and equipment? There’s just too much to learn….”

There are so many options, it can get overwhelming. There are also some big companies out there with expensive teaching platforms, which freelancers would struggle to replicate themselves but, guess what? You don’t have to do it that way! The chances are that your ideal customers won’t be shopping for the type of teaching that requires a fancy online platform and that is why they came looking for you in the first place. They probably want something more individualised, which makes finding the right tech for you and your teaching easier.

When deciding what tools will work for you, always keep the customer experience in mind. Will using this make it easier for them to book, easier for them to learn, to...

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How to Choose Between CELTA and TEFL


The list goes on and one; the Teaching English as a Foreign Language industry is full of acronyms, some are more obvious than others. The first two you are likely to need to fully understand as you move into a career as an English Teacher are TEFL and CELTA.  These will come up as you research different training courses designed to help you to become a teacher.


So what do they all stand for?

TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language

CELTA - Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults

DELTA - Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults

TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

EFL - English as a Foreign Language

ESL - English as a Second Language


And what does that mean for you?

TEFL, EFL, ESL and TESOL, although different, are often used interchangeably to talk about teaching English to people who speak another language.  

CELTA and DELTA are the specific names for certifications in...

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