The old saying goes, “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.” With VIPKid, your first impression to parents is your bio, video, and profile pictures.
In this blog post, I’m going to share a few tips to help make your bio stand out to prospective parents and students.
Qualifications & Basic Info
Put your unique information at the beginning of your bio.
What do you think sets you apart from other teachers? Is it your classroom experience? Are you a zookeeper who likes to bring animals into class? Whatever it is that makes you special should be highlighted at the beginning of your bio. Remember, everyone who teaches for VIPKid has a bachelor’s degree, so unless it is in a field that could specifically relate to teaching their child English, I would place it at the end. (Mine is in communications, so I left it toward the beginning.)
Limit the information you share about your university.
I don’t think most parents are very familiar with the states, much less all of the universities within them. Unless you have a degree with from a very well known, internationally acclaimed university, I would stick to the basics.
You should use your show name (so parents can find you again) and your classroom name (what students will see in class.) I started out thinking that my nickname would be easier for a child to say. While this is true, if they don’t see it anywhere, it will be hard to remember, and they might also get confused.
Grammar & Punctuation
Use simple but precise words.
Spend some time thinking about the exact meaning you want to communicate. Many parents may not speak English, so it is important that the words translate correctly.
For example, one teacher said, “I like to make my students smile and laugh.” In one translation, that turned into “I like to make my students smile and smile.” Perhaps a better sentence would be “I like to have fun in class,” which translated to “I like to have fun in the classroom.”
Limit compound and complex compound sentences.
Sometimes these will translate fine. Sometimes they won’t. If you can communicate your idea in multiple simple sentences, it will be easier for your parents and their students to understand.
If something is worth mentioning, it’s worth having it’s own sentence. I am particularly bad at this and I use them far too often. (I really do.) I’ve read that if removing the parenthetical phrase changes the meaning of a sentence, then the phrase should not be in parenthesis.
Avoid slang, excess punctuation, or other things that could cause confusion.
Remember, your readers do not know American culture. They do not know our slang. Things that might make a sentence cute or add emphasis to a native-speaker could just confuse someone with English as a second language.
For example, if I were writing to someone who lived near me, I might say, “I grew up in the rolling hills of Missouri, but I have lived in Mississippi for the last 11 years, y’all. Hotty Toddy!!!” There are a few problems with this for my bio:
- Parents probably don’t know where Missouri and Mississippi are, nor can they visualize the lovely rolling hills of the Ozark mountains. So for them, it’s just extra words that could cause them to lose interest.
- “Y’all,” though endearing to those in the south, is probably going to confuse them. It’s slang and would require explanation, at best. It could also be seen as incorrect grammar unless you happen to live in the south. 🙂
- “Hotty Toddy” is an even more select form of jargon. If you aren’t familiar with the University of Mississippi, you probably won’t even know what that means, so it comes across as jibberish.
- The extra exclamation points could be seen as punctuation errors, not enthusiasm.
If I were writing something for a local audience here, the above example would be fine. But I’m writing for parents in China who want me to teach their child correct English.
Keep it short.
There are 60,000+ other teachers out there. You want your bio to be short, direct, and easy to read. If it’s too long, your prospective parents may lose interest.
Let your parents know what to expect.
If you have been teaching ESL for a while, maybe there is something that parents would like (or not like.) By including it in your bio, you are more likely to attract parents whose styles and preferences fit your own. I chose to include that I use technology in my classroom because I’m a big fan of Google Slides. I also included that I write detailed feedback. If a parent doesn’t like those two characteristics, it’s better that they find another teacher. There are plenty of parents who do appreciate this!
Run it through a Chinese translator and back again.
No, I don’t do this with feedback I write, unless I have something that is an unusual sentence structure or wording. But for something as important and lasting as a bio, I do. Sometimes when English is translated, the words change just enough to change the meaning of what you are trying to convey. I worry less about grammatical errors in the translation because these are sometimes very difficult to correct. But I want to ensure the meaning is accurate. You can use any online translator. I usually use google translate just because it’s so easy to use.
To give you an example of how I’ve put these into play with my own bio, here’s an example of my before and after:
Before: Hello! My name is Amelia, but your child can call me Teacher Amy! I am happy to meet you, and I’m excited to get to know your child. I have a bachelor’s degree in communications from Missouri State University, and I was a corporate trainer for customer service for many years. I love traveling, and have spent the most time in India, the Philippines, and Honduras. My favorite experience was working with children in Honduras. They loved teaching me Spanish, and I loved teaching them English! My goal is to help your child learn English, and to help them have fun at the same time. I look forward to working with you and your child!
After: Hello! My name is Amelia. I am very happy to meet your child! I have a degree in communications, and I have been a company trainer for many years. I like to travel, and I have spent the most time in India, the Philippines and Honduras. My favorite experience was working with the children of Honduras. They enjoyed teaching me Spanish while I taught them English! My goal is to help your child learn English by teaching grammar, pronunciation and conversation skills. I also hope that they can have fun at the same time, and I use technology in the classroom to help achieve this. I usually write very detailed feedback after class because I know that your child will continue to learn and practice at the end of the lesson. I want to help you continue to work with your child. I look forward to meeting your family! Thank you, Teacher Amelia U
I hope you found this helpful. What other tips do you have for writing great bios? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
If you are a new teacher and looking for someone to help guide you through this process, I would love to be your mentor!
If you are looking for an objective critique of your profile (bio, pictures, video) you can also check out the facebook group VIPKid: Marketing Yourself Online.
It’s a great group of people who can give you constructive feedback as you look to improve your profile.