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How I Made a Living in the Philippines Teaching Online

Discuss working and making a living overseas, starting a business, or studying abroad.

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How I Made a Living in the Philippines Teaching Online

Postby ladislav » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:53 am

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 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 smoked, sat in their bath robes and joked; 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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Postby YoucancallmeAl » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:32 am


Have you heard of ?
It's been recommended at several other sites like in this article: ... mment-4823
so I paid the $30 for the download.
Then my Kaspirsky anti-virus says it denied part of the download because it contained a Trojan.
here's what it said it detected:


So I emailed the guy who sells it asking WTF. And I then deleted it from my downloads and emptied my recycle bin.
They've still got my $30. Let's see what they say.

Afterwards I google searched the website, the author (John Buchanan) and trojan/scam, but could find nothing but positive reviews.
so again, WTF?
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Postby Winston » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:16 pm

I've stickied this thread because it might be useful to others and addresses a common question here.
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