What's it really like being a Buddy at IQBar?
So, I reach that stage in my life where I desperately need a job—and fast. I start applying to as many places as I can, including applying for one of those awful catalogue distribution places. Then I stumble upon a place called IQ Bar. From what I could tell, it was just online tutoring company and I applied because, having tutored for five years, it seemed a natural thing to have a go at. I expected the job to be slow, with minimal work opportunities (as, from experience, I’ve found many online tutoring jobs to be) and to ultimately be a side thing that I’d sometimes use to make a bit of spare cash. What I ended up with was the perfect income all from doing something that I love—although it’s nothing like what I expected.
When I was first contacted about doing online English lessons for Chinese children (and adults!) my thinking was: but I don’t speak Chinese! In fact, everyone I tell about the job says the same thing. But what’s great about the job is that you don’t need to speak Chinese. All you need is to be friendly, outgoing and—the golden rule for working with kids—not afraid to make yourself look a bit daft sometimes. As I mentioned, I have worked as a tutor for a long time, but this role as an online tutor is a completely new experience. The children are an absolute delight and there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing how proud of themselves they become as their skills improve. On top of that, they all have such lovely and vibrant characters. Just the other day, I asked a child whether he found it easy or difficult to write a poem and he, rather than saying it was simply easy, told me about how anything is possible when we work as a team— did I mention that these kids are really smart? Whether it’s seeing a shy child come out of their shell as they get used to you, or having an outgoing child tell you you’re the best teacher they’ve ever had (probably a lie, but I’ll take it!) there’s not a single day that these kids don’t put a huge geeky smile on your face. And the truly beautiful thing is that you are helping them. Speaking with a foreign tutor is one of the best ways to learn and in working with these children we are opening up a world of opportunities for their future. I’m always a little embarrassed to say I haven’t learnt a second language yet, and when you see how clever these kids are it really hits home how wonderful the power of education can be.
Alongside this, we are given a great deal of independence. We are able to edit our own resources so that we can personalise each lesson with songs and games to play with the student. Because of this, we know that we have personally added our own touch to their learning experience and hopefully, one that will leave a lasting impression on them as they continue on their journey towards fluent English.
Alongside the adorable little ones, we also communicate with adult learners, giving us an opportunity to learn ourselves as we talk about Chinese culture, the different jobs they are in and the goals and aspirations they have for the future. I’ve ended sessions thinking, ‘Man, I wish that person lived over here so we could hang out’; but that’s also the beauty of it—we are connecting with people in a totally different part of the world. It is an opportunity I never thought I’d get and I’m loving every minute of it. Everyone I’ve taught has been interesting, friendly and unique. We’ve talked about everything from movies to philosophy and I never have a boring conversation with them. It really makes me feel proud to tell them how much stronger their English speaking can get from just one conversation.
As well as being a lovely job to do, we have an amazing team who are all in touch with each other and open to helping each other out. The managers both in in the UK and in China are a really supportive group of people and my fellow tutors are all happy to give each other advice when needed. The only downside is that with the job being a stay-at-home online job, we can’t all go for a drink together when the day’s work is done. Nonetheless it’s great to know we have an awesome community all working hard, all over the country! I’m so proud to be part of this team and to have made the connections I have made. I can genuinely say that at the end of the working week, I’m excited for the next one to start. How many others can say that?
I’m not going to tell you online tutoring is always easy—but it’s rising to the challenge that makes the end result so rewarding. So, the question to you is: are you outgoing? Are you friendly? Are you interested in helping open up opportunities for young people by giving them the gift of gab? Then maybe you belong on the lovely team at IQ Bar. To find out more, visit http://www.iqbar.co.uk, and see how you could be part of this vibrant community.