Teaching English online as a second language is an amazing way for native English speakers to earn money without having any formal experience as a teacher. With their natural ability to understand grammar, idioms and phrases, native English speakers have a natural grasp and understanding of the English language, making them ideal candidates for teaching English online.
So, for those with a desire to teach English as a foreign language, rest assured there are a huge number of students wanting to learn the language that people use worldwide: English!
Whether you’re yearning to discover the world and teach as you travel, want to work in the evenings around another job, or just want a more flexible way of life, why not get paid to teach English online?
It’s a no-brainer for us – so here’s how to do it…
To teach English online, you’ll need an internationally-recognised TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, like ours!
Our TEFL courses are regulated by Ofqual – the English Government department responsible for ensuring qualifications are of the highest quality.
With one of our certificates in hand, agencies and employers looking to hire English teachers online will put your application to the top of the pile.
A decent computer with a reliable internet connection is your main priority. The faster the better, as there’s nothing more frustrating for you or the student to try and communicate over a shaky line that keeps dropping in and out. Many companies ask for 3Mbps to 10 Mbps as a minimum with a wired connection (not wi-fi) as a minimum and a computer with at least 2GB of RAM.
After that, a webcam, and headset are your next investments. Many laptops have these built in, but sometimes you will be required, or will at least benefit from, better quality equipment such as the Microsoft LifeChat range of headsets, and Logitech’s USB webcam range.
Whether you’re teaching English online from the comfort of your home or pursuing the (dreamy!) digital nomad lifestyle of travelling while you work remotely, you’ll need somewhere you can work quietly without being interrupted (from poor wi-fi or fellow travellers!)
There are a few wonderful FREE platforms which are perfect for online teaching, the most popular being Skype and Google Hangouts. Most online teaching companies have their own platforms these days, and a tailored curriculum.
Most online classes are evenings or weekends for the students, so you will need to consider which countries will fall within the time range that you are available. If you are in North America or Europe, classes in Asia will typically need to be during your day time hours, whereas Asia classes will often be late in the evening for those in Australia or New Zealand.
First, you’ll need an internationally-recognised TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. As we’ve mentioned, all our TEFL courses are Ofqual-regulated, so you know you’re in safe hands as you start your journey to teach English online.
As well as a TEFL qualification, you would also benefit from combining one of our core TEFL courses with an additional ‘Specialist TEFL Course’ for greater knowledge and ultimately, employability.
The specialist courses we run can help prepare you for teaching English online and include ‘Teaching Business English’, ‘Lesson Planning’ and ‘Teaching One-to-One’.
You have the opportunity to teach at a time that suits you and fits in with your schedule, possibly be your own boss as well as get to teach a huge breadth of students from all over the globe!
Teaching English online is a great way to add to your existing income. It’s also possible for it to become your sole means of income – provided you’re prepared to plan how best to get yourself up and running.
A great benefit that comes with teaching English online in a one to one environment is that the usual distractions in a traditional classroom are absent. Students don’t have a chatty neighbour sitting next to them or the issue of any classroom dramas or politics to deal with. They are naturally more focused and eager to get their work done.
Even younger learners can benefit from learning this way. You’ll find that you don’t have the behavioural issues with children that normally crop up in a group scenario.
Teaching English Online is hugely rewarding and satisfying. You’ll have the opportunity to teach students in Saudi Arabia, China perhaps even Brazil within a matter of hours. This gives you the chance to learn about other cultures and ways of life, as well as learn about a vast variety of topics you may never have been exposed to otherwise.
So you’re qualified and ready to teach English online! Your next decision is whether you’d prefer to work for an online school or set yourself up as an independent self-employed teacher.
We recommend starting out for an online school and then progressing to self-employment if that’s something you’d want to do.
Online schools such as 51Talk, DaDaABC, OpenEnglish, Myngle, 91waijiao, Learnlight, Berlitz, Telelangue are great places to start. Here’s a few reasons why…
– Students are provided for you (don’t have to market yourself).
– Lesson plans are provided.
– Can still dictate your schedule, but probably not as flexible as if you were self-employed.
If you prefer to go it alone, a good place to start is the i-to-i TEFL job’s board, where many positions are advertised each month. If you want to be self-employed but need a bit of help in getting started, check out iTalki and Verbling as a starter for ten.
iTalki is a language learning marketplace that connects teachers and students. Teachers apply to be featured in the Teacher Listings, enabling students to search for and contact them. Online classes can be conducted via Skype or using their free VOIP software. iTalki handles everything for the teacher: marketing, scheduling, payment (15% charge on each transaction) and even student management.
Much of the same applies here. Teachers must submit an application through the site to apply. Native speakers with some experience are preferred. Both group lessons of up to 9 students at a time and one to one classes are conducted through Google Hangouts. All classes are 1 hour long.
Teachers set their own hourly rates and are paid through PayPal. Verbling offers a 100% guarantee that teachers are always paid for their teaching.
There are many different students looking to learn English online. From businesswomen and men to those looking to pass English exams with flying colours; it all depends on who you’re interested in teaching.
The different types of English you may teach online are:
This is where you’ll give English learners some help with their fluency and correcting basic errors. These sessions don’t normally don’t include in-depth grammar study.
Business English lessons usually cover topics like writing emails, proposals and presentations, and more informal things like general advice on etiquette and how to sign off correspondence. If you do specialise in teaching business English, you can increase your earning potential by tailoring lessons towards a specific industry. For example, the oil and gas workforce, marketing or engineers.
If you want to specialise in teaching business English, we offer a TEFL add on that helps get up to speed on the best way to deliver a winning class. Find out more information here.
English learners preparing for their IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge proficiency exams often want extra tuition in the run up to their exam.
If you want to specialise in helping people running up to these exams, we offer a course which covers everything you need to know about Becoming an IELTS Coach. This specialist course will include theory and practical suggestions designed to help you create and deliver confident, inspired and effective English language lessons to ensure your students are effectively prepared for exam success. Find out more information here.
These lessons might take the form of a typical job interview where you’ll be helping the student practice talking about themselves, their strengths and achievements, and what they can bring to the role.
Similarly to teaching Business English, you can tailor these sessions to particular sectors or workforces to enhance your earning potential.
Sometimes students prefer a bilingual teacher so they can communicate in their mother tongue whilst learning English. Depending on the learner, you’ll want to tailor your lesson to the strengths and weaknesses of that particular nationality. For example, certain nationalities struggle with English pronunciation more than others.
Sometimes students don’t want to commit to paid lessons before they have met you over Skype (or whatever you choose to use), so offering a free taster session is often a good idea. Be wary of people just signing up and not showing up though – this sometimes happens when the sessions are free. A top tip is to ask for USD$1 to be paid as a fee – even though it’s a small amount, it encourages people to stick to their commitment!
So how much can you really earn being an online English teacher? Well, it’s probably more than you think. Obviously it all depends on which company you’re teaching through, how many students are in the sessions and how many times a week you’re teaching.
On average, we would advise that you can earn around the below:
General or conversational English – £8+ per lesson
Business English – From £20+ per lesson
Examination preparation – Around £20 per lesson
Job interview coaching – Around £15 per lesson
English lessons for specific nationalities – £10+ per lesson
Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and EFL forums to boost your online presence
Create your own website. Think of yourself as a business and what good business nowadays doesn’t have a website?
A great low-cost way to market yourself while staying top of potential student’s minds.
Use a platform like Blogger or WordPress. Your blog can contain useful articles and information for learners and possibly even fellow teachers; helping to establish yourself as an expert on what you offer.
Make short YouTube videos of you teaching. This lets students get an overall picture of who you are, what you’re like as a teacher, your niche, etc.
When you teach English online, you’ll need to have a good online presence. This is so people can find you and see what you’re offering – this will be your main source of new business so we cannot stress how important this is!
As we said above, a good way of expanding your presence is through social media – but it’s important to make sure your social accounts are professional, keeping your work life and social life separate! No prospective client wants to see you partying at 3am.
There are, unfortunately, some unprofessional ‘online schools’ who exploit teachers, especially new ones, looking to teach English online. Even if you’re starting out, you still should be paid an acceptable price for your work – so don’t let anyone offering low pay for work take advantage.
I always feel that I have achieved something under difficult circumstances and find it very rewarding, especially when at the end of the lesson I get a big smile and “thank you teacher”! My biggest success to date is a boy from Syria who hated learning English and spoke totally incoherently. Five months later, at his lesson last week, we discussed at length ancient civilisations – a particular interest of his. He now loves to speak English and has gone from being the worst in his regular class to one of the best.
Marilyn Coates Hansen,
Online English Teacher