Christian TEFL graduate Lucy (Elsie) Rutledge had planned to continue teaching overseas but when Covid interrupted her travel plans, a change of direction to online English teaching opened a wealth of exciting options. We asked her more about her journey so far and the outlook for her future.
Hi Lucy. Please tell us more about you and what led you to Christian TEFL?
I first heard of Christian TEFL soon after completing my degree in French and German. But it was a few years later, when I started teaching refugee women English and German in Greece, that I contacted Christian TEFL again. I was very thankful for their relevant resources (worksheets and the guide on teaching English in church).
On returning to the UK I signed up to do the ESOL Introduction course, which was brilliant. My idea was to teach English to women in the Middle East having made great friends from the region. However, Covid interrupted my travel plans, so instead, I enrolled on the Teaching English Online course, run through the sister organisation Global English TESOL. Louisa mentored and encouraged me, which was so practical and useful, and I learnt so much!
Why did you decide to go down the independent online teacher route afterwards?
I love the buzz of entering a classroom. Yet, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teaching individuals online. I could now tailor classes to individual needs and interests. And despite thinking it would be hard to get to know students online, the opposite was true. One lady I’ve been teaching I had only met once in a group setting. We have now been speaking weekly for almost a year and meeting up for a walk and coffee. She has become a great friend. So, I started to pursue this direction, realising it could fit well with my plans to move between countries serving in humanitarian settings. Trying to find language school work would be hard. However, online, I can teach anywhere, anytime to anyone in the world.
Where do you get students from?
I have my own website https://englishwithelsie.wordpress.com/ because at the time some of the most popular third party teaching platforms were closed to new online English teachers as they were inundated. I am really glad I didn’t give up! Instead, I created my own site (thanks to my graphic designer sister) as it has helped me really spread the word. When the platform Italki re-opened I signed up.
I’ve only been ‘live’ for a week and have connected with students from Poland, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, China, Italy, Russia and South Korea.
What difference does being a Christian make to lessons/your approach?
If you love what you do, I think it really shines through. I sincerely care about my students and I count it a privilege to have a window into someone’s life through language lessons. I love hearing about their dreams of where English might lead them.
The most significant thing I can do is pray for my students. I pray for good ways to encourage with feedback, for creative lesson ideas to engage and inspire, for wisdom in topic choice. I try to pray before each lesson that this time would be meaningful and impactful for their life.
What do you hope for the future in terms of your English teaching?
This last year has taught me more than ever that I’m really not in control and can’t see the bigger picture or beyond the next steps. But I can trust that God’s ways and thoughts for my life are truly higher than mine. I want to stay focused while remaining open to being led. My dream is to live abroad, teach online part-time and face-to-face sometimes.
One step at a time and for now I’m thankful for open doors – and I’m excited to grow a consistent schedule and help my students’ skills and fluency grow. That to me is really rewarding.
Thank you, Lucy. We are excited for you to see where God will lead. For now, praise God indeed for the option of online English teaching and for how this can open doors to ‘tent-making’ and worthwhile international connections.
Interested in following in Lucy’s footsteps? See our TEFL course options or contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.
Discover more about Lucy and the learning options she offers: