Is teaching TOEFL satisfying?

Qiao“I know you’re busy, but I wondered if you’re fulfilled…”

I saw the Skype chat message from a teacher I’ve been training as I juggled my call with the credit card processor and my website’s shopping cart tech support. In the middle of the headache and as I pressed down feelings of hold-music-induced stress, I was grateful that she asked me the question.

Do I like what I do?

Yes. I love what I do.

And she’s concerned that her first TOEFL student with me was an anomaly. Well, it’s true that he was fabulously motivated but… I do get a lot of great students in general. Over time, I’ve learned how to attract stellar students and I analyze scores for many students who I would add to my own schedule in a heartbeat, if only I had the space.

It’s only because I love teaching TOEFL students so much that I’m willing to endure the administrative hassle of having a business.

For the last 8 months, my business has been growing like a Labrador puppy. It turns out that there’s a huge demand for experienced, personalized, private TOEFL lessons.

I won’t lie that sometimes it’s hard to keep my head above the water, and if I didn’t have a personal team of support, I’d never make it. I now do all the school stuff that I though I would never have to do when I quit: the data management of hundreds of different people and lots and lots of information about each specific person; the credit card processor; the endless time zone conversion; the website drama (keeping out hackers; helping students log in; the files and the endless flow of pixels).

But then, when I have a lesson with any of my truly fabulous students, I’m so happy to be there. I’m thrilled that I’ve built an online TOEFL school that filters out the procrastinators, so I’m left with bright-eyed, hard-working English champions. I leave my lessons with the glow because when I spend time with awesome people, I feel awesome.

Dealing with credit cards doesn’t make me feel so nice, but today — as if the universe knew that I would need a pick-me-up — two students reached out to me to tell me about their speaking scores of 26 and 27.

The fact is that if you know how to teach TOEFL well, you can be a catalyst for improving lives.

There’s nothing inflated about that statement.  There’s so much blocked energy around TOEFL scores — getting the right scores literally becomes a giant wall in their lives.  And when they pass?

One of my students was able to finally get married because for her, getting 26 on TOEFL speaking meant that she could claim her acceptance at her PhD program which was in the town where her fiance was living.

I know another woman who was able to accept an $80,000 scholarship from Harvard because she got 100+ on TOEFL. 

They move to new countries, embark on adventures, dive into their academic passions or even contribute ever so simply to their own little corner of the world by earning more money and providing better lifestyles for their families.

I helped a guy finish with TOEFL after his 32nd time of taking the test over 8 years — 18 months later, his wife still messages me on Facebook updating me on how much their life has changed since then.

“Hmm… would I rather teach a group of elementary students how to find a bank, or help these brilliant adults move closer to their very tangible, inspiring goals?”

I will always pick the latter option.

The feel-good factor gets addicting.

If I get to be a catalyst for that, then I’m willing to stick myself in the middle, get a bit caught in the gears as the business machine cranks and becomes bigger.

What amazing life changes have you witnessed because students got the TOEFL scores they needed?