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Tutoring with Cambly: A fun way to increase your cultural competency


Evelina Silveira

It happened one night when I was fully awake, lying in bed and thinking of a fun job I could do at home.  I wanted it to be something that would complement the work I do in my business.  Generally, when I decided to take on part-time or temporary work, I do it to enhance my skills and knowledge for my training business, Diversity at Work.

I “Googled”  teaching English online without an  ESL certificate and came across, Cambly.  I had looked at other sites before and read their reviews, but I was not interested in having a job that would take a lot of preparation or had a pre-determined schedule.  I needed flexibility to  work on my business.

I completed the quick application form and sent them a video. Within about 10 days I was working.

Cambly is an app which helps English as a Second Language Speakers to practice their conversation skills and learn grammar with tutors from around the world. They choose the number of minutes they want to speak each week and the tutor(s) they want to work with.

Most of the students are from Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, China and Taiwan.  The app is picking up popularity and users from other countries are emerging now as well.  Because I specialize in business English with intermediate and advanced speakers, my students tend to be professionals.  When you complete your profile with Cambly you can specify your areas of interest.  Do you want to work with beginners? Advanced speakers?  Do you want to teach listening skills? Grammar? Students will read your profile and determine whether you are the right fight for them.  If you are, they will click on your profile when you are online and choose you for a lesson.

I was a little nervous on my first call as I had not really figured out the app that well, by this time.  I still remember the first call. It was a man sitting on a carpet wearing traditional Gulf-style clothing; the white long chemise and pants along with the red scarf draping his head.  He was sipping coffee that his servants had brought him.

Since then, I have had over 1000 chats. I have met professors, doctors, tons of IT professionals, teachers, students and retirees. Sometimes, students are calling me from their cars, they are walking, in the middle of a family gathering; or they might be drunk getting out of a bar on a Saturday night!  I laugh all of the time with my students. For nervous students, this helps them relax and they re-book with me because I make learning fun.

At first, I thought I would just do a few hours a week in the evening or on the weekend.  But, before I knew it, the time I had used to  devote to unwinding with surfing social media or watching re-runs of  Grey’s Anatomy was now being taken over by working for Cambly.  Why?  Because it is enjoyable and I have extremely intelligent students who I enjoy interacting. My thirst for learning about other cultures, engaging in political/social  discussions combined with my fascination with linguistics, made this the JOB FOR ME!

You see, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Is Cambly for you?

· You need to be a native English speaker.

· You must like to talk and meet people.

· You need to be able to make conversation with people of all different language levels.  (They do offer you conversation starters, if you are stuck).

· You must be happy and smiling in all of your interactions with students. Remember, many students are nervous about speaking. They have learned grammar in school but have not had a chance to practice.  A smiling facing and gentle encouragement contributes to them opening up with you.

· A  computer with a high-speed internet connection, camera and microphone are essential.

· You must be punctual for the sessions you sign up. Repeated tardiness could mean you will be penalized for a few days unable to access more teaching opportunities.

. A neat appearance and clean background free from distractions.

· Remember, you are teaching students English.  If your speaking skills are on the sloppy side or your grammar is not the best, this might not be the best job for you.

What I have learned:

· How English is now spoken all across the world and is the dominant language of business.  EVERYONE is learning English.  I have had anyone from a doctor to a clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts use Cambly.

· Having English speaking skills is considered an global asset competing for jobs.

· Multinational companies have opened up EVERYWHERE and locals are often expected to learn English to speak with counterparts in other countries.

· How the quality of public education varies from country to country.  For example, in Saudi Arabia all education is free but the public education in Brazil is considered inferior.

· In the Gulf States, labour and trades are done mostly by migrants from Asia and Africa.  Wages are determined by nationality.  Working with your hands in these countries is considered work for people of lower status.

· Students have unreal expectations when it comes to Canada.

· Most people do not know much about Canada and what they are unaware of our recent political problems.

· Students who consider immigrating usually want to go to Germany, England, Australia, United States or Canada.

· How difficult it is to learn English because it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

· The role of a tutor/teacher is highly valued in other cultures.  Students will often refer to me as “Teacher” or “My Teacher”.  Their appreciation for the new grammar, vocabulary or sound I have helped them make is extremely rewarding.

· I have improved my listening skills.

· I have increased my knowledge of linguistic features of many languages.

· I can decipher the messages communicated by a speaker of any language

· About human rights in different countries; how some disenfranchised groups are struggling to be recognized while other countries care very little about them.

· How countries around the world are struggling with fake news, political corruption, censorship of the media and seemingly unaware of what is often happening in their own countries.

The downside:

· The pay is not the best.  If you are relying on it for main source of income, that will be challenging. You get paid by the number of minutes you speak.  If you are doing it for the same reasons I am, the pay is a bonus.  I would likely do this even if I wasn’t getting paid.

· Sometimes, the platform doesn’t work or there can be a lot of technical difficulties based on poor internet connections in other countries.

· The students taking the free trial can be impolite.  There may be a lot of hangups, or they might stare at you like you’re an oddity.  In three cases I have had to hang up and report students on a trial because they were exhibitionists or crude. But, this doesn’t happen too often.  Three vulgar calls in 1000 is not so bad.

· You may be penalized if you have to cancel the schedule you have signed up for if you do so with less than 12 hours notice.

All, in all, I think Cambly is a fabulous app for people wanting to practice their English conversation skills but also a fine casual or part-time job for those who want to work a few extra hours.

If you want to learn more about Cambly

You can tell them that I referred you and use my code:  https://www.cambly.com/en/tutors?referralCode=eva533

 

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