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Local mother teaches Chinese abroad while staying home

Staff writer

When Keri Collett, her husband, Zach, and their two-year-old daughter, Rosalyn, moved to Marion from Ft. Collins, Colorado, her job came with her.

Collett is a private contractor for a Beijing-based company, VIPKids. She teaches English to Chinese children online. The service is available to children ages 4 to 12. The curriculum is provided.

Using visual aids, Collett works from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. every weekday and at other times on weekends.

A booking page lets her show the times and days she is available, and parents book classes with her for their child.

She hardly ever sees the same child twice, but they can interact and see each other online using Zoom software.

“They love props,” she said, “so I have a lot of props.”

Collett doesn’t know Mandarin, but much like regular classroom teachers, she shows pictures to go along with the words she is teaching. She can also show emotions, like hugging a teddy bear.

The online classes are 25 minutes each, and there is no limit to how many classes can be taught.

Pay is based on teaching experience. Collett gets $8 a class, but if her classes start on time and she teaches more than 40 classes a month, she gets an extra $2 for each class taught during the month and an extra $1 per class for being on time.

After each class, she submits a report on how the student did, rating him or her on a scale from struggling to

excellent. She also leaves tips for the teacher who will have that child next.

She said the classes are extracurricular for students. They attend school during the day, where they are taught elemental English in the first few grades but most will not take English again until high school.

She said some of her students are disinterested, others are passive, and some are engaging, showing laughter and enthusiasm. A student can shut down the session with a touch of a button.

Technical help is available when needed.

Children get one to five stars for doing well.

“It’s pretty fun when you get them able to read,” Collett said.

She went through an extensive application process, including a background check and conducting mock classes in front of an adult acting as a child. She was required to have a bachelor’s degree and some teaching experience. She was head coach for girls’ high school basketball for five years and was a full-time substitute for two years. She also had to get a company-issued teaching certificate in child development, which required taking an online course.

Collett said it was worth it.

“I like that it’s flexible,” she said. “I have the whole day with my daughter and can still help support my family. I enjoy learning about a new culture, and I don’t have to get dressed for work.”

She and her husband are expecting their second child in January.

“I may quit teaching for a while then,” she said.

Last modified Sept. 11, 2019

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