The rise of online tutoring

By Harold Waters Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/16 16:18:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

When I first arrived in Beijing over eight years ago, it was an eye opening experience. I arrived fresh with a Z visa and an English teaching job at an international school. At that time, I didn't know how immense the English education industry was in terms of tutoring.

Within the first week, I already had several proposals for one-on-one tutoring. They came via email, mutual friends and even private messages on various websites. It was overwhelming and posed a very big risk. Taking one of these "extra jobs" would have been grounds to terminate my Z visa.

Needless to say, I turned down the offers; 200 yuan ($30) an hour was good money back then, but to travel to districts far away was too much. I just could not be tempted. I wasn't going to take the risk for such a little reward. The offers only intensified over the years. LinkedIn and WeChat allowed offers for private English tutors to go to the next level. Instead of weekly offers, it was daily. WeChat groups were formed and others were spammed. My LinkedIn inbox was overflowing with English tutoring jobs. Pay ranged from 200 to 400 yuan an hour. Physics and math teachers could make 400 to 600 yuan an hour. The demand was fierce but the supply was limited.

However, a little over three years ago, things started to change. WeChat started becoming more mainstream and the online tutoring business started to pick up. A variety of companies realized the potential this market had. I was also drawn in. I didn't need to leave my apartment anymore; actually, I could work laying in bed. Of course, the pay was lower, but it was convenient. No commute, descent money and you weren't even required to put on pants. How could you say no to that?

Today, face-to-face tutoring jobs have started to dry up. I can make more by doing a class online. We spend most of our day with our phones and computers, so why not learn from it. This is the future of learning English.

I could make between 100 to 150 yuan an hour and work on my computer or phone in my free time. WeChat has allowed people to give English lessons while on the subway, in a taxi or even in another country.

All the limitations have been lifted. It is now a grand time to be a tutor. You don't even need to be in China anymore; several people I know in America are supplementing their income with online tutoring classes. They are paid by PayPal in US dollars and are making more than double the minimum wage.

Our time is one of the most valuable things in our life. It's not just teachers who can do this, but anyone who has the ability to pose as a native speaker. Like it or not, online tutoring is the future and until this bubble bursts, let the good times roll. It's a win-win for everyone because our time is something we can never get back!

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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