HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) A Hewitt woman is teaching English as a second language to Chinese school children via the internet, making real connections around the globe.
“It’s a blessing financially and extra special because I get to work from home, but most important are the connections we are making across the globe,” said Angie Warkentine, who works for VIPKid.
VIPKid connects teachers in the US and Canada with children throughout China.
In fact, KIPKid is available to kids “in 63 countries around the world for real-time English immersion learning online,” the company’s press profile says.
Founded in 2013 and operative in 2014, “VIPKid’s mission is to inspire and empower every child for the future.”
The organization enlists teachers, then matches them with prospective students in China and their families, Johanna Goodrich, media director for VIPKid, said.
“I love it,” Warkentine said, who’s been teaching for VIPKid for two years and over that time has interacted with several Chinese children, who range in age from 5- to 15-years-old.
She teaches seven 20-minute sessions each morning on weekdays to a group of school children who currently average about 8-years-old and who’ve been with her for between 6-months and two years.
“A couple of them have been with me my whole two years I’ve been teaching with VIPKid,” she said.
The relationship between student and teacher can continue for years, she said, because the teacher gets to know not just the student, but the student’s whole family.
There is the curriculum exchange, for sure, but especially teaching language, there is a cultural exchange, too.
“We talk a lot about holidays and my students just celebrated the Dragon Festival so I learned a lot about that from them,” Warkentine said.
“Now we have the 4th of July coming up and they all are interested about learning the history of our Independence Day,” she said.
“We’ve been talking about that lately,” she said.
Warkentine said she’s never actually met any of the children she teaches in person, but “I’d love to and someday I may.”
Some VIPKid teachers have travelled to China to meet their students, including Nury Araya, of Gladewater, who met two of her students in Shanghai and spent several days touring their hometowns.
“It still feels so unreal that I got to meet with some of them and do so many cool things together,” Araya related on her Facebook page after she returned to Texas.
She remembered learning to play badminton and visiting the Shenzhen Zoo where she saw pandas and llamas.
“VIPKid’s vision is to build a global classroom that empowers students and teachers through personalized learning, connects cultures across the world and sparks a passion for lifelong learning,” Goodrich said.
VIPKid serves a community of well more than 600,000 students worldwide and 70,000 teachers in the US and Canada.
Many teachers choose to work with VIPKid after retirement and several in the area do just that.
One recently said teachers may retire, but they never quit teaching.