How can I teach English online?

If you’re TEFL certified, teaching English online is a brilliant alternative to traditional classroom-based TEFL. You don’t even need to leave your house to go to work (although we’d recommend changing out of your PJs before you switch on your webcam!).

Here’s our guide on how to teach English online.

Freelance or online school?

There are two main ways to teach English online: set up your own freelance business or find a job at an established online school.

Freelance English teaching gives you the flexibility to set your own rates, work the hours that you choose and teach the types of classes you want. But you’ll also need to do your own marketing, create your own courses and find your own clients for your online business.

On the other hand, teaching English for an established online school can be a great way to build up your experience and your contact list – but you’ll generally receive a lower hourly rate and have less flexibility over when and what types of online English classes you teach (are you up for those 4am lessons to catch the Japanese market?).

Get the technology to teach English online

If you’re teaching English online for a school, they will normally have their own online teaching platform that you can tap into – although you’ll still need to have a quiet, well-lit space from which to deliver your online English lessons.

If you’re working for yourself, you’ll need to create your own virtual classroom to teach English online – even if that’s just Skype, a microphone and headphones at the beginning. At the very least, it’s essential that you have a reasonable computer and a good broadband speed. The last thing you want is for your online English lesson to be cut off mid-way through as the internet has gone down!

Decide what type of online English you want to teach

Most online English teachers teach conversational English classes. However, it’s worth having a specialism such as teaching business English or teaching English to students who need to pass IELTS. You can market your online English teaching more effectively if you have a niche – not to mention being able to charge more.

Remember, teaching English online is not only about delivering English language lessons. You can also develop online English language courses to expand your offer.

Market your online English teaching

Unless you’re teaching English via an online school, you’ll need to find your own students. Make sure you have a clear, attractive website with lots of ways to turn visitors into paying students for your online English lessons, such as short clips of classes or free resources when they sign up.

Top this up with a positive social media presence and then join online English teaching communities, add your name to online English tutor databases and consider paying for a few well-placed online adverts. It shouldn’t be long until students sign up for their first online English lessons!

How will you get paid to teach online?

How much you charge to teach English online is up to you – but do remember that you can increase your rates if you teach specialist English classes online. Check out what your online English teaching competitors are asking before you set your prices and consider whether to offer discounts to entice new or returning students.

Many freelance English teachers use PayPal to take payments but it’s also worth looking at website packages that include inbuilt options to take payments online.

Get connected

Networking is essential if you’re teaching English online. It’s a great way to be inspired by other online teachers, find business and share ideas for how to make online English lessons as exciting as possible. Specialist TEFL forums, such as i-to-i’s Facebook page and the British Council’s Teaching English Facebook page, are great places to start.

Oh, and if you’re not yet TEFL certified why not start today with i-to-i’s Ofqual regulated TEFL certification course. You can even study online if you really don’t want to get out of those PJs!

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