Teaching English Online: No Degree? No Problem!

Want to TEFL online without a degree? Online English teaching has become a lucrative and flexible way to earn a living. Many people teach from home full-time, while others use it as a side hustle to fill gaps in their timetable and earn additional income. However, many online platforms require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree, something which can rule out a lot of potential teachers. But fear not! I’ve got some top tips to help you launch your online teaching career without a degree.

1. Get TEFL-Certified

Some online teaching platforms, such as Twenix, don’t require their teachers to hold a degree or be TEFL-certified. However, to really stand out from the crowd during the selection process a TEFL certificate like the ones on offer at i-to-i can really help. 

A TEFL course will give you the skills and knowledge to really help your students reach their language learning goals, something that will ultimately be reflected in your teacher ratings and earning potential. 

During the application process for many companies, you’ll be required to record a demo video of you “teaching” a class. Being able to show an understanding of sound principles of language learning on your tape will really give you a leg-up over other candidates.

Online TEFL courses

2. Be Fluent in English

Twenix is one of a number of online teaching platforms that hires teachers from English and non-English speaking countries. I mean, at the end of the day, what matters more important? Where you were born or how well you develop your students’ English language skills? That being said, TEFL teachers from non-English speaking countries are expected to speak and write at a fluent level. So, make sure your English skills are on point before applying.

3. Leverage Your Relevant Experience

It’s the classic catch-22 situation! You’ve got your TEFL certificate, but no experience and all the job ads say “minimum 1 year’s experience required”; so, what do you do? Well, think carefully about your work experience. I’m sure you’ve got some of the relevant soft skills to make an excellent teacher. Think about times when you’ve mentored someone or given feedback, led a meeting or given a presentation, listened to and empathised with a friend or colleague. A big chunk of being a good TEFL teacher is being an empathetic, supportive, and encouraging presence in the classroom.

And don’t just stop with the soft skills. Teaching business English or English for specific purposes, such as medicine or law, can be very lucrative niches for the online TEFL teacher/entrepreneur. So, if you’re transitioning into English teaching from another sector, be sure to highlight your experience in your CV. For example, at Twenix, all of our students are adult professionals working in sectors as diverse as health insurance, logistics, the film industry and IT. So, all that knowledge and vocabulary you’ve built up in your previous career might be a very valuable string to your bow.

Teach and earn from day one with Twenix

4. Do Your Homework

It’s important make sure that you fulfil the job requirements before applying for the online teaching role. Some companies, for example, will only hire teachers who hold passports from specific English-speaking countries. So, make sure you check these restrictions carefully before putting all the effort into preparing your application.

Also, read the small print about what each company requires of their teachers. On some platforms you are required to teach a minimum number of hours a week. While with others you’re not paid for your first class with a new student.

Another thing to consider is the type of platform the company offers. Some platforms are open marketplaces where teachers are required to set their prices and market themselves to get students and classes. On other platforms, such as Twenix, teachers are automatically matched with students based purely on their availability. You just open up slots in your timetable when you want to teach and the system will pair you with students who want to do classes at those times.

5. Tailor Your Application

As with all jobs, it’s important to tailor your application to the specific company. At Twenix, for example, as I mentioned, all the students are adults, so, as great as your puppet theatre rendition of “Old McDonald” might be, it’s not really what they’re looking for! Try to get as much information as you can on the profile of the learners you’re likely to be teaching so that you can show how good a fit you would be. Remember that the recruitment departments in these companies process 1000s of video applications a week, so make sure you read the brief carefully and choose the appropriate tone.

6. Get the Right Kit

To teach online you’re going to need: a stable internet connection, a good quality webcam, a microphone and fast Wi-Fi. Most decent new laptops should do the job, just make sure you’re not being let down by faulty or decrepit hardware!

Teach Online without a degree

7. Be Patient & Look After Yourself

Getting a job in the first place might take some time; the application process for most platforms consists of several stages. Also, if you do choose to go with a “marketplace” provider, it’ll take time and effort to build up a solid student base and a good average rating. 

It’s also important not to run before you can walk. If you’re new to teaching, don’t bite off more than you can chew by taking on too many classes. Even if an online class is only an hour long, it’s an intense hour of constant concentration, which can be particularly draining. If you can afford to, start off small with 10-12 hours a week and see how well you handle it. Balancing your prep time, correcting homework and actually teaching the classes can be tricky in the beginning so be kind to yourself. Think of it like weight training, start light and build up gradually until you find a rhythm and a workload that suits you.

8. Consider Working for Twenix!

If you’re looking for full time teaching work, or just a side hustle, Twenix could be an excellent option. Here are some things that set us apart from some of our competitors:

  • Ultra-flexible schedule: You choose exactly how much or how little you want to teach; just open up time slots when you’re available and we’ll match you with students.
  • Class transfer policy: What if something comes up and you can’t teach a class for whatever reason? At Twenix you can transfer your classes to other available teachers with no penalties.
  • Earn from day one: Once you’re onboarded and activated on the platform you can start earning right away; no need to set up a profile or market yourself to students. Just log on and teach.
  • Adult students: Don’t fancy teaching a class full of screaming kids or moody teenagers? With Twenix there’s no need to worry; all of our students are adult professionals from Spain and Italy.
  • No prep, no marking: Twenix provides you with all the lesson materials you’ll need for class. They’re designed so that you’ll only need 2-3 minutes before class to read over the lesson plan before teaching it. Also, you don’t need to set or mark any homework! Just focus on teaching.
  • Open hiring policy: Unlike other platforms, we hire teachers from all over the world, no need to be a native speaker, hold a degree or a TEFL certificate. If you’ve got the passion for teaching and a willingness to learn, we want to hire you.
  • Competitive rates: Our pay rates vary from country to country, for the US our hourly rate ranges from $13-$16. Also, the longer you work for us, the more you earn; your pay rate increases as you level up on the platform.


If working for Twenix sounds appealing, click here to find out more.

How Hard is a TEFL Course and is it Worth It? | Catherine’s Experience

Have you thought about signing up for a TEFL course in the past but didn’t, because you weren’t sure what to expect? In this blog, I’ll be sharing lots of information in order to answer 2 big questions: ‘How Hard is a TEFL Course?’ and ‘Is it Worth It?”, plus my experience about what the TEFL courses include. It can be quite daunting when you don’t know what to expect so, hopefully, this will give help you to see the real benefits and give you a better understanding and the confidence to get started on your TEFL journey.

What modules do the TEFL courses include?

i-to-i host a wide range of TEFL courses, ranging from the Level 3 120-hour TEFL Certificate up to the full Level 5 420-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma – you can check out i-to-i’s website for more detailed information, including which modules each course covers and the price plans.

Depending on which course you choose to start, it can impact what modules you’ll cover. I completed the Level 5 200-hour course back in 2019 (basically the 180-hour with an online practice element), and this covered a wide range of topics – an excellent starting point for someone who had no prior experience in teaching and no degree!

Each course will cover different material, but the longer the course, the more material that you will cover and learn. I can highly recommend the 420-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma if you are just starting out (which wasn’t around when I did my TEFL course), as this covers EVERYTHING you will need to know to get started on your TEFL journey and will help you to access the higher wages.

It covers topics such as lesson planning and time management, teaching children vs teaching adults, teaching online vs in-person classes, Business English, teaching other subjects in English and teaching students how to prepare for IELTS exams (which I’m studying separately as the 200-hour TEFL course didn’t cover it). It also covers how to manage teaching mixed classes – where students have mixed abilities/ English Language levels, mixed age groups in one class, and students from different countries with different goals. All of these variables can be very common in the TEFL classroom, so it’s an important skill to have, to ensure all the students are receiving the best learning experience.

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How do I manage my time & stay motivated?

Starting a new course on any subject can be overwhelming, especially if you see there are a lot of hours to complete, however, the end goal is definitely worth the time and effort. A year into my TEFL journey I had already surpassed 1000 hours of teaching, thanks to having an accredited qualification, and it’s worth mentioning that I had zero hours experience beforehand. Keep that end goal in mind!

The best way to manage your time when completing a course is to first check how many hours the course is, and how long you have to complete it. Some people will do the course in fewer hours, and some will take more – just do what is best for you.

The time it takes to complete can also be affected by whether you are doing the course full-time or part-time, in between work and study. From my experience, I completed the course whilst in full-time work. I set aside a couple of hours every evening, and then a good chunk of my weekend time to complete the course.

It’s important not to overdo it either – this is something you want to enjoy doing as it has the potential to start you on your new career path, so enjoy the learning process as you go, and take a time out when needed. This will help to keep you motivated!

When it comes to spending time on the assessment (more on this later), it’s important to set aside a block of time to complete it. Studying a few hours each day is fine throughout the units, but with the assessment, I would advise you to spend a morning/ afternoon/ day working on it so you can keep focused and concentrate, as you only have 3 attempts to submit it.

Do I have to do any assignments or assessments? Are they difficult?

The number of assignments and assessments, and the type/difficulty, can vary depending on the course you choose.

Say every course has 10 units, for example, at the end of each unit there is a unit test. This is just a summary test to check your level of understanding before moving onto the next unit. Then beyond this, some courses will have assignments and an end of course assessment, some will just have the assessment at the end.

When I completed the 200hr Level 5 course, end of unit tests, 3 assignments (which were all lesson plans), plus an end of course assessment. I am currently completing the i-to-i IELTS course and, as this is a smaller course, it just has the end of unit tests and one end of course assessment – no assignments.

If you’ve read through the material and made sure you understand it before you attempt the assessments, you shouldn’t have any issues passing them or finding them difficult. Make sure you ask questions if you’re struggling. I always found that the i-to-i team were happy to help and asking for assistance meant I was able to work through the course more quickly.

All the assessments are marked by qualified i-to-i tutors, who will advise if you have passed or need to make changes. They usually get back to you within a week of submission. For the assessments, you have 3 attempts to pass. This is why I would advise you to spend a block of time working on them, to make sure you give them your full attention.

Most of the assessments are marked against set criteria and your submission has to meet each one of these to be successful. If you need to make any changes to your assessments, the i-to-i tutor team will come back to you with really helpful feedback to advise which section needs amendments. Only the section which doesn’t meet the criteria will need amending, so you don’t have to worry about all the other sections that passed!

Teaching English online teacher in a lesson

Accessing the course online

If you haven’t completed a course online before, or are used to studying in the classroom, the online portal is really easy to use and navigate. You will be given access information once you have signed up for the course. From there, you can see what course you are completing, where you are up to, and when your deadline is. Each unit is broken down into sub-units, so it’s easy to follow and all the information is set out in a clear and concise way making it a great way to learn.

Lots of external links and downloads are provided with all the courses too, giving you a wealth of information within your chosen course and helping you on your TEFL journey. I would also advise saving a lot of the resources for when you start teaching, they are really useful and help with lesson planning and activities!

Support and help during the course

As I’ve already mentioned, the i-to-i Academic team are always on hand to help with the completion of your course and can be contacted via email if you have any questions or queries. They also tend to get back to you really quickly, so you won’t have to wait long for an answer!

Along with the tutors’ feedback after submitting assessments and assignments, there’s also the i-to-i graduate Facebook group – an amazing online community of TEFL teachers who help each other, share ideas, and support students completing the different courses, along with support for the newly qualified TEFL teachers too.

Alongside the materials provided as part of the course, i-to-i TEFL provides a free TEFL study guide that has lots of helpful information to support your teaching journey. There’s also the option to purchase the Essential TEFL book (I got the handy online version) which comes with lots of lesson plans, activities and grammar help to get you started.

So, is taking a TEFL Course Worth It? 

I would say it’s a massive YES from me! After completely changing my career and switching to a life of TEFL, I can honestly say I am so grateful that I chose to sign up for a TEFL course. Getting your TEFL certificate is definitely worth it, as you’ll reap the rewards of all the hard work you put in to passing it once you qualify.

Some of the big benefits of being a certified TEFL teacher include:

  • Having a qualification that’s valid for life!
  • Flexible working hours – you can fit teaching around your home life and choose the hours that suit you.
  • Earning good money – you can earn up to £25/hour as a regular TEFL teacher and up to £40/hour as an experienced IELTS coach!
  • Meeting people from around the world and learning about different cultures, while having a positive impact on your students.
  • Being part of a worldwide teaching community – you can share experiences and teaching ideas; everyone is really friendly and helpful.
  • Lots of opportunities to work abroad or online – you even combine the two by becoming a digital nomad and travelling while you teach online!
  • Being able to teach a variety of topics and students – SO many people want to learn English, so you’ll be able to teach all different levels and subjects. You’ll also get lots of freedom, so you can plan interesting and exciting lessons.

About Catherine

For more information on all the courses provided, browse the i-to-i TEFL courses or download their TEFL brochure.

WEBINAR: Top up your income with TEFL

Imagine having a full time career in your home country, while also being able to boost your income by teaching students from all over the world. Sound appealing? Well, TEFL teacher Tabitha thinks it’s great! After stints of teaching English full time in China, France and online, Tabitha decided to put down some roots by taking on a full-time role with a training communications company in London, UK. To keep her passion for teaching and travel alive (and really boost her earnings) Tabitha continues to teach English online part-time.

She went live on i-to-i’s Facebook page last week to share her experience of teaching English as a side hustle with TEFL jobs expert, Jordan, and to answer all of your burning questions. You can watch the full webinar here or read on for edited extracts.


Why did you start teaching English part-time?

My first experience of TEFL was very traditional: I completed my TEFL qualification with i-to-i, moved to China and taught English in person in a classroom. After six months in China, Covid hit. I finished my contract by teaching my classes online from the UK. After about six months, I moved to France where I taught English to really young children as well as studying French. I had a successful period of about eight months teaching online and then landed back in the UK.

I absolutely love teaching English online but I really enjoy the travel component of TEFL and being immersed in a country while I’m teaching. The same applies to the UK: having those water cooler moments, having colleagues and making friends is a great way to put down roots. I can’t travel right now to the places I want to go so I thought, why not make my teaching online passion into a side project and then get a job to achieve some of my other goals and get bedded back into UK life.


How do you find time to teach English as a side hustle alongside a full time job?

I work Monday to Friday, nine to five in the office and have a bit of commuting time. When I decided I really missed teaching online, I had to sit down with a calendar and work out how many hours I could do. I give about five to ten hours a week to teaching English. If I was working from home, I could probably add in a few more hours but I need time to see my friends, family, and to recharge.

When you say ‘side hustle’ people think they don’t have the time: they’re so tired, they’re so stressed, particularly with the current global situation. Of course, you’re going to feel tired waking up an hour earlier so you can teach an English class before you go into the office but, if something is your passion, it doesn’t really feel like work.

Think about your life now: are you studying? Are you working? Have you got loads of time as you’re waiting for borders to re-open? Bearing in mind that you also need time for planning and follow up, how many hours a week could you give to teaching English classes?


How do you find your TEFL students?

I’ve used Preply and italki to find TEFL students. They’re both marketplace sites, where students go to find a teacher who matches what they need in terms of specialisms, timetable, and length of class. You can put up how much time you have available and you can charge a competitive rate.

They’re both fantastic but I personally prefer italki as students can book classes whenever they want. Preply has a subscription model tying students into two classes a week which can be quite a commitment if you’re doing TEFL as a side hustle. Preply also takes a 25% commission at the beginning (although that does go down over time) whereas italki only takes 15%.

LoveTEFL Jobs has details of this type of marketplace sites, including Cambly and Oxinity which are other sites that are popular with TEFL teachers.

I’m also now taking a new plunge and building my own website, www.helloteachertab.com, where students will be able to find me and book lessons direct.


What are the main challenges of teaching English part-time?

The number one challenge for anyone who has a side hustle (whether that is selling clothes online or teaching English) is that it’s tiring having two jobs. You need to prioritise your self-care. You need to sleep enough. You can’t teach at the expense of basic needs. It should be adding to your life, not taking away. You’ll have a lot on your plate, so try to use existing materials as much as possible to cut down your planning time. There are some great websites, such as ESL Brains where you can get access to loads of pre-made, high quality plans and materials.

It’s also important to look at the popular lesson times for students. If you’re free after work at 6pm on a Thursday in the UK, that could be a really good time to teach in South America but a rubbish time to teach in China because they’ll all be asleep. There is a website called worldtimebuddy.com which helps you identify time zones and you can check popular lesson times on networking platforms, like italki.

The other thing, in terms of balancing your schedule, is choice. You’re choosing to follow your passion, help people make a genuine difference and make more money but there are only 24 hours in a day so that probably does mean you’ll have to make some sacrifices. You might not be able to go out every night. You might have to wake up early. It’s a choice. Factor that in and recognise that you might need to make a few sacrifices – but it’s worth it!

Teaching online guide

Individual TEFL networking platforms may focus on a specific market – is this a factor when you’re looking for places to teach part-time?

If you’re teaching online full-time and you can put up loads of slots throughout the day, you’ll have students from Asia, students from South America, students from Europe, students from all over the place.

If you can only do evenings in the UK, then you’re closing off the Asian markets. That’s not a problem if you use the right networking platform. For example, Preply and Oxinity both have a large European market. However, if you only use a website like Cambly or Magic Ears you might struggle because they focus on students in China, and the times you’re available won’t match up with the market on that platform. It’s more of a delicate balance. Decide what times you want to teach and then make sure you find the right platform for that timezone.


What are the advantages of teaching English part-time?

This is a controversial one, but I actually think doing TEFL part time can make you a better teacher!

Typically, students are busy and juggling a lot to fit learning English into their life. If you’re a full time TEFL teacher doing back-to-back lessons, you’re so zoned into the world of TEFL, you lose a bit of that appreciation of how busy they are. When you wake up early to do a class, go to the office, come home, say that you can’t go to the pub because you’ve got a lesson, you have that instant rapport with your students because that is what they’re doing.

When you’re working as well as teaching, there is also much more common ground. When I was teaching lessons all day, unless I looked at the news, I had no idea what was going on outside my window. Now I’m interacting with colleagues and clients every day, there is so much to talk about. If you hit on an interesting topic on LinkedIn or with a client in conversation, there is a great chance that it will interest your students too.

Another big advantage is the added income! Your income from your full-time role will usually go on your rent and essentials which means all the money you earn from teaching can be saved for travelling or spent on whatever you want!


What TEFL courses would you recommend to teach full-time or as a way to top up your income?  

Start with the basics: make sure you’ve got your fundamental Level 5 TEFL qualification for whichever type of role you want to do. In terms of turning TEFL into a side hustle, I suggest you make yourself a specialist in order to carve out a space in the busy online market. If you’re teaching in a specialist market, you can often charge more as well.

Think about what you’re interested in and what you’re passionate about. If you love the world of business, look into the business English course, if you want to coach students for exams, look at the IELTS course. There are some really interesting specialist courses now, like Teaching English through Yoga and TEFL and Technology, for really niche areas!

Many of the specialist courses are included in i-to-i’s diplomas. For example, the Level 5 420-hour Advanced TEFL Diploma includes specialist training in teaching young learners, teaching adults, tutoring one-to-one, teaching English online, coaching the IELTS exam and teaching business English as well as the 180-hour TEFL fundamentals course. The 500-hour Level 5 course even has specialist modules on how to create your own business and market yourself as a TEFL freelancer.

Personally, I want to teach business English classes. I’ve got experience teaching business English, I enjoy it and I come from that business world but, to be on top of my game, I’m doing a top-up 60-hour business English course.


How do you know what to charge for your online English lessons?

It’s really easy to get guidance on what to charge for your online lessons: be the customer. Go on a website like italki and look for English classes as a student and see what the competitive rate is from teachers who have a similar profile and level of experience.

When you do an initial search, you’ll see a load of cheap lessons but these tend to be with less qualified teachers and you can change the search to fit what you offer. For example, if you search for native English TEFL teachers who teach business English, then you can see what other teachers charge for those lessons.


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What is your top tip for teaching English as a side hustle?

My top tip is to get excited about what you’re doing. To do anything in addition to your main job is tiring and may not be that profitable initially. You have to be inherently motivated about what you’re doing.

Teaching English is an amazing job. It’s so exciting to see people communicate in a way that they couldn’t and to see people move ahead in their career just because of your lessons. If that’s not worth waking up an hour early for, what is?

As you build your reputation and become a better teacher, if you can still be excited about getting up every day to teach a lesson, you’re off to a great start.


Where can South Africans find online teaching jobs?

The LoveTEFL Jobs board has a whole array of opportunities for teaching online.

At the moment, over 90% of online jobs that are being advertised on the site accept qualified teachers who have a South African passport, so there are lots of opportunities.


Who do you think teaching English part-time would suit?

I think teaching English part time would suit so many people:

  • Language lovers who want to earn extra money: There are loads of positive for teaching online (you can work from anywhere, choose your own hours and be your own boss) but your income is not stable, you don’t get sick pay and you’re alone. If you’ve got a main job, you’ve probably got health insurance, sick pay, colleagues and a stable income, so anything you make from teaching online is extra. If you make $50 extra in a week from doing five extra lessons, that’s great.
  • People who want to try TEFL before they commit to a full time teaching role: Teaching part time is a great way of testing the water before committing to a full-time TEFL role. You could get qualified with the TEFL Diploma and start teaching a mixture of students to find out what you love doing.
  • Parents, carers, students – anyone who has other commitments: I think doing TEFL part-time is great for people whose time is limited but want to earn money doing something they’re passionate about. This could also include retired people, who were teachers 30 years ago and want to get back into it.
  • Teachers who can’t go abroad due to Covid-19: We’re in a very difficult situation globally and a lot of TEFL teachers are stuck in limbo, as they can’t go abroad. If you take on a main job (so you don’t have to worry about money and you have colleagues) and then TEFL on the side, you’re ready to go the minute the borders reopen.
  • Teachers who have taught abroad and don’t want their skills to get rusty: Like anything, teaching is a skill that, if you’re not using it, you get rusty. You forget things like how to manage a classroom. If you don’t want to give up your day job but might want to teach in the future, part-time TEFL is a great option.



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LIVE WEBINAR: Teaching English Online Q&A

Do you want to teach English online? Are you wondering about how to get started, how long it takes to find a TEFL job or even if you can combine online TEFL with another role? You’re not alone! South African TEFL teacher, Rosland, has been teaching English online for two and a half years and now combines her teaching responsibilities with a management job.

Rosland hosted a live webinar to share her experience of teaching online and answer all your questions. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.



How did you choose your TEFL course?

I was a production manager for an agency in Cape Town when I decided I wanted to do TEFL and teach in China. I had an idea of what TEFL course I wanted to do and I knew I wanted to get a placement in a big city and get a good salary but I wanted to keep my options open around teaching older kids, teenagers, adults or kids in a classroom.

I scheduled an appointment with the i-to-i TEFL team so they could advise me on what course would best help me get the job I was looking for. The i-to-i advisor recommended the Level 5 TEFL Diploma which covers teaching in a classroom, teaching English online and teaching business English to adults.

I recommend chatting to the team at i-to-i if you’re unsure what TEFL course is most suitable for you. They will be able to help you choose the best course, based on the outcomes you want to achieve and the experience you have.


How long did it take you to complete your TEFL course?

I did my TEFL course while working full time in Cape Town and it took me about five to six months to complete. I spent one to two hours every day after work plus a lot of the weekend going through the course material. I was trying to get through it quickly, so I could get my certificate and start applying for jobs. I was really excited about starting the journey of teaching English in another country.

Once I completed the course, I got my TEFL certificate emailed to me straight away. The actual certificate arrived in the post about a month later.


How did you find your first TEFL job?

I started looking for jobs in schools in China in the last two months of my TEFL course. I looked on Dave’s ESL Café and the LoveTEFL Jobs boards and found a recruiting agency called Horizon Recruiters. I told them where I wanted to be placed, the type of school I wanted to teach at, the salary I wanted to earn and the hours I wanted to teach.

The recruitment company sent me a host of schools that met my requirements. I interviewed with about five schools so I could keep my options open. I did my interviews in lunch breaks in my car in the parking lot of the company I was working for in Cape Town.

The following day, the recruiter let me know that all the companies were happy with me, so it was my decision where I wanted to teach. I chose the school that had the best offer. It was a private, international school that was also offering accommodation and meals. They were going to pay for my transport to China and all the documentation, such as my visa, my health certificate, my police clearance certificate and the fees for authenticating the documents.


Why did you start teaching English online?

I was supposed to leave for my teaching job in China but then Covid broke out and I was stuck in South Africa. The school didn’t know what it was going to do and they were quiet for one or two months. I could not wait for them, so I started looking into online teaching. I didn’t really know much about online teaching at the time but I had learnt about it in my TEFL course.

I eventually got an online teaching job about two to three months after leaving my job in Cape Town. I taught with them for three months and then my company in China reached out and asked me to teach classes for them online.

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How long did it take you to find a job after completing your TEFL course?

When I applied to teach in China, I was still in the process of completing the course – I had two modules left. Technically, I had my job before I had completed my TEFL certificate.

When I couldn’t go to China, it took me about two to three months to find an online teaching job. It differs for everyone and it depends on how much time and effort you put into it and if you’re ticking all the necessary boxes.


What is your current TEFL job and working hours?

I currently teach three Grade 1 classes. My smallest class has three students and my biggest class is 15 kids. I have 10 classes a week, which are all about an hour long and I create all my lesson plans, class worksheets and exercises. I also have to create the mid-term and end of year exams, as well as marking the test and exam papers and submitting reports for all of the kids.

I have a set schedule which I’m given by the headteacher in China. My first class is at 3am South African time and my last class is at 11am South African time (9am to 5pm in China). You could basically say that I’m a teacher in a traditional school but I teach online because I’m not physically there in China.

I stop teaching at about 11am. I had so much time left in the day that I took on a new management job which I now do alongside my teaching job. I really enjoy doing both jobs but it does take a lot of work and effort to manage the two alongside each other.



How long does it take to find an online TEFL job?

How long it takes to find an online TEFL job really depends on how much time and effort you put into applications, making a good introduction video and researching all the online TEFL companies that are out there to find ones that are a good fit for your situation.

For the majority of companies, you need a TEFL certificate. Some online companies also ask for a degree but, if you have a lot of experience teaching or with kids, you don’t necessarily need one.

I think some people have this perception that, once you have your TEFL certificate you will find a job within that week. It can be quite time consuming as you need to do the research into the companies that are hiring and create a really good profile for every company you apply to. It definitely takes effort – as would finding a job in any field.


How can I create a good introduction video?

If you’re applying for an online TEFL job you need a very colourful, child-friendly background, with a sign saying, ‘Hello’ or ‘My name is…’ and some kid-friendly pictures. You don’t have to dress super formal but do but do wear good, clean attire.

Start your introduction video by saying your name and your qualifications. You should then speak about your experience of working with kids or being a teacher, a little bit about your hobbies, past jobs and experiences followed by why you want to be a teacher in this job.

They want to see how you speak, what you look like and if you’re comfortable speaking as well as get an overview of your experience and qualifications. In an online introduction video, they will be looking at how you use TPR and how animated you are.


Can you give an example of what to say in an introduction video?

As an example, in my introduction video I might say:

Hi, my name is Rosland. I’m an online TEFL teacher and I have two and a half years’ experience of teaching English online. I have a Level 5 TEFL Diploma as well as two degrees. I taught English for a strictly online company for about three months, where I taught one-to-one classes that were 30 minutes long and all the lesson material was prepared. The remainder of my experience is teaching for a private international company online, where I prepare my own materials. I teach Grade 1s and the lessons are about 60 minutes long. My classes have about 15 kids in them and I teach them grammar, writing and speaking. I also do report writing and exam preparation. I also have experience in management roles and marketing. I look forward to working for your school because I like… [what you like about the school]

Thank you so much for viewing my introduction video. I hope to hear from you soon.


What countries are good to teach in overseas?

If you want to teach overseas, sit down and think about what type of life you want to live. Do you want to go to a hot country or a cold country? Do you want to go to a coastal country or a country in the mountains? Do you want to go to an Asian country or a European country? Do you want the country to be close to the time zone where you currently live? Do you want to teach in a private school or a private school? Do you want to teach in an English centre? Think about that first and also your expected salary.

A good place to start is a Vaga Brothers’ YouTube video. It’s four years old, so some of the information might have changed but it’s a nice summary of the different countries you can teach in if you don’t really know where to start.


Do you have tips on how to do well in an interview?

My first tips are to be calm, dress well and write down everything you want to speak about in the interview. List out things like your teaching experience and take time to read up about the company, so you can talk about why you want to work with them.

In the interview, speak about the experience you have with kids or teaching. If you don’t have previous experience, take points from your previous jobs that are beneficial to teaching, such as skills in communication, management, planning or presentations or if you work well in a team. You can also speak about points you’ve learnt during your TEFL course. For example, I was asked about my teaching style. I said that I really enjoyed learning about the PPP method in the TEFL course and would like to implement it in my classes going forward.

Let them know about the equipment that you have, such as a headset and a quiet place to teach. One interview question they often ask, especially if you’re from South Africa, is if you have a back-up power plan for load shedding, so it’s worth thinking about that. Interviewers also will often ask you how to deal with a misbehaving child.

Finally, have an idea about what salary you’re hoping to receive from the company and be ready to ask for the information that you need, like what your schedule will be, the minimum hours you need to work and whether you need to prepare lesson material or if it’s provided.



Can you recommend any resources for online TEFL classes?

Many online TEFL companies provide the lessons. You log on and find the lesson you need to teach and the material. Other companies do require you to create your own lesson material, based on the curriculum that they need to cover for the year.

One of the resources I use for presentations and class worksheets is iSL Collective which is free. I also recently paid for a subscription to Twinkl which allows me to download worksheets, presentations, flashcards and games. Another site I use is K5 Learning which is helpful if I want to find worksheets for the kids.

When I taught grammar to older kids, I used Grammar to delve a bit deeper into grammar rules. For my exams and also to practise listening, I use a site called 123 Listening. The kids listen to the audio and it also gives you the worksheets for the kids to select the correct picture or write down the word that they hear.

I also use YouTube to make lessons a bit fun. Two of the most popular ones are CoComelon where they sing songs about different topics, like colours, fruit, shapes, body parts, and the Singing Walrus which I like when I’m teaching phonics because it shows you how to write the letters.


How can I play videos when I’m teaching a lesson online?

Depending on what platform you use, you can usually share your screen. I share my screen throughout my whole lesson because I create my own PowerPoints. The kids see the PowerPoint and I’m a little circle on the side, teaching.

When I play my videos or want to show them something on Google, they can see my screen so I just play the video and they watch as I play it.


What are the pros and cons of teaching online alongside another job?

I think the pros are that you earn more money and, for me, I have a mix of what I like doing. It also allows me to stay relevant in both fields. If I want to go into either marketing or teaching in the future, I have relevant experience that I can use when I’m applying for jobs.

The cons are that it’s a lot more work, a lot less sleep and lots of time management and planning. I definitely feel it in those weeks when I have not planned my time well and have to say ‘No’ to going out because I have a lot of work to do. The other con is it can lead to a bit of burnout if you’re working constantly – but I enjoy it.


How many hours will I work in an online TEFL job?

Some online TEFL companies set a minimum number of hours you need to cover each week and tell you what times you can teach. You can then decide how many hours within each day you want to do to fulfil the number of slots for that week. Other companies allow you to set your own schedule.

Some people work for multiple schools, so they might teach for a company in China and then, once they are done with the Chinese day, teach for a company in Europe. Most online schools don’t worry about you working for another company as long as it doesn’t clash with their schedule and what you’ve already agreed with them. I work for one school and have another job on the side. It depends on how much time you want to put into it.


How soon will I get paid after starting an online TEFL job?

When you sign a contract, you normally get paid after a month of teaching unless you’ve not reached their minimum fee pay out. The companies that have a policy around minimum pay generally put this in place because of the charges for transferring small amounts of money into an account.

For example, a company may only pay you once you’ve made 200 Rand. If you’ve worked a full month but only made it to 150 Rand, you won’t get paid that month. It will roll over to the next month. However, most of the time, it’s a really minimal amount so it’s easy to reach and get paid out in that month.


How many students will I have in an online TEFL class?

The size of the class depends on the company. You can get one-to-one classes, two-on-one classes (so two students to one of you, as the teacher) or you can get up to five kids in a class.

I teach about 11 to 15 kids but that is because I teach a class in a school.


What are your tips to overcome nerves in your first class?

Nerves is a part of TEFL, I would say. I definitely get nervous if it’s been a while since I taught.

However, remember, you know what you’re doing and you’re well prepared. The kids are on the screen. They are not going to really see your nervousness. Fake it until you make it. Once you’ve done the first class, you will know what to do and what to expect.



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LIVE WEBINAR: What’s Happening in the World of TEFL?

Are you wondering what’s going on in the world of TEFL? TEFL jobs expert, Jordan, has been keeping track of the latest developments and went live on i-to-i’s Facebook page to share his knowledge on everything from the impact of China’s new regulations to changes to quarantine rules in Thailand. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.


Can I TEFL in Thailand right now?

Thailand is an extremely popular place to teach English for obvious reasons: good pay, great benefits, lovely culture, amazing food, wonderful weather.

At the moment, Thailand has established quarantine Sandboxes where you spend 7 to 14 days quarantining when you arrive in the country. However, Thailand has declared that, by the beginning of November, they’re going to create a list of countries that won’t need to quarantine if you’re double vaccinated, which is fantastic news. We’re waiting for the list from the Health Minister in Thailand and will share that with you when it’s available.

This might seem like a small change in one location. However, we’re confident that, once Thailand sets up a list of countries where people who have been vaccinated don’t have to quarantine, there will be a domino effect on other countries – we’ve seen that happen with previous changes.

If you’d like to teach in Thailand, we have good TEFL job opportunities with a number of different organisations on the LoveTEFL Jobs board. On top of that, we have a paid TEFL internship package. It’s something you purchase but it comes with great benefits and support as well as a TEFL course if you’re not already qualified.


What is happening with TEFL in South Korea?

We’ve spoken to individuals in South Korea who’ve suggested South Korea is moving towards a ‘living with Covid’ approach. Our understanding is that South Korea is going to introduce changes which will allow more people, such as TEFL teachers, to come to the country and where people will be able to do more things within South Korea. At the same time, they will take steps to help people to try not to contract Covid.

If you’re interested in teaching in South Korea, we do have some TEFL posts advertised on the LoveTEFL Jobs board. We have a paid TEFL internship for South Korea too, so do take a look at that as well.


Is it safe to teach in China during Covid?

As with everywhere around the world, we have to be aware that we are still in this Covid period. However, China has taken Covid very seriously and is as safe as any other country to teach while there is a pandemic in place. Our colleagues and graduates who are based out there have informed us that there have been lockdowns in specific cities but also places that really feel free of the Covid grip.

If you want to teach English in China we do have a lot of jobs advertised on the LoveTEFL Jobs board. However, please be aware that, due to changes in legislation for Covid, it’s currently more difficult to get the permission letter (PU letter) from the government that you need to teach in China and this can stall the process. The organisation you apply to, the school’s location and the school’s relationship with the government will have a massive influence on whether you get the PU letter. This is likely to be a temporary situation but it’s important to know about it if you want to teach in China.


Are there any TEFL jobs in Dubai and Saudi Arabia?

Prior to Covid, we had a number of TEFL job opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. We have reached out to these organisations to ask about current TEFL jobs and we’ve received nothing back.

We believe this is down to the Covid pandemic. It’s put a lot of restrictions in place and made it difficult for individuals to apply for jobs right now. On top of that, some organisations have changed their requirements and are now asking for a PGCE rather than a degree and TEFL / CELTA qualification. However, we did have one job advertised for Saudi Arabia recently and I’m sure there will be more opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the future. It just needs more time.


When will the TEFL market re-open in Turkey?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Turkey has kind of opened up but we’ve not yet had any confirmation from the organisations we work with there about what is going on. We’re trying to get as many jobs as possible on the LoveTEFL Jobs board but we want to make sure that they’re legitimate and current.

At the moment, it looks like the TEFL market in Turkey has temporarily dried up. We can send you links to schools that we’re aware of but we’re not advertising jobs in Turkey until we’re confident that they’re definitely recruiting.


What is the situation with TEFL across the rest of the world?

We look at the lists of what countries are opening up, which ones are on the red lists, which ones are on the green lists. There are lots of changes all the time. At the moment, the red list from the UK government includes a couple of Caribbean countries and a lot of South American countries. South America is often a very good nugget for TEFL teachers who don’t have a degree but please do be patient if you want to teach in a country that’s red-listed for Covid as it’s not very safe right now.

With regards to TEFL job opportunities, we’re seeing lots established in Asia. If you don’t have a degree, Europe is also beginning to open its doors – Spain, Italy. Have a look on the LoveTEFL Jobs board as we’re expanding those opportunities. We’re very transparent with regards to employer information. If you want to find out more about the organisation you’re applying to, take a look at the employer information next to the job advert and you can see what they’re all about.



What are the changes to teaching online in China?

A few months ago, China put some regulations in place regarding profit-making organisations tutoring children outside of school hours. These organisations were charging a lot and the Chinese government wanted to ensure that families were not spending lots of money on courses, as they had increased the number of babies each family can have and wanted to lower the cost of living to ensure people have more expendable income.

The online TEFL companies in China were a massive part of the online teaching community. With these legislation changes a lot of these organisations are now closing or turning non-profit. It’s been a very scary time: big organisations with lots of TEFL teachers were all of a sudden telling these TEFL teachers there was not any work any more due to this internal law change within China. We’ve written an article that goes through the changes of the new Chinese regulations in more detail if you want to find out more.


What is the impact of the Chinese regulations for online TEFL teachers now?

Some of the online TEFL companies are still advertising for teachers for Chinese students. From what I understand, they have contracts that they need to fulfil and need teachers to complete classes for those customers. For instance, Magic Ears is doing a massive push for South African teachers to teach on their company website right now.

However, we can also now see online TEFL organisations stepping forward and making changes. One of those organisations is VIPKid which is huge organisation based in the US that caters to Chinese students. They have announced VIPKid Global. It’s early stages but it sounds like they’ll be catering to a global market, not just Chinese students.

This is very telling of the market. I’m sure we’re going to see more organisations pivot to try to grasp the audience on a global scale. I am also confident that the TEFL networking sites, like Cambly and Preply are ingesting a lot of the TEFL teachers, now that they are free from the contracts with Chinese organisations. We’ll keep you informed of any changes going forward and put jobs up onto the LoveTEFL Jobs board as they emerge.


How easy is it to get an online teaching job?

We’ve put 87 new jobs on the LoveTEFL Jobs board over the past couple of weeks. That’s not 87 positions but 87 different organisations with opportunities ranging from one teaching post to lots. This includes a lot of online teaching opportunities.

How easy or difficult it is to get an online teaching job depends on how much work you put into your application. I’ve seen a lot of applications recently that have put in CVs that are too general, too long, too informal, not very neat… It’s up to the individual but if you’ve crafted a good resume and you meet the application requirements, we have such a plethora of jobs opportunities on the jobs board that it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find work.

If you’re having difficulty finding a job, get in touch. We’re more than happy to help you and offer you some advice and support.


Is online teaching lucrative?

There’s quite a range of pay for online TEFL jobs. For some posts, the pay is quite low but they can still be good places to work when you start teaching. For other TEFL posts the pay is much higher.

You can earn more if you look at niche markets, such as coaching IELTS or teaching business English, especially if you’re looking for work on networking platforms like Preply and Cambly. We offer specialist courses that cover these subjects, if that is something you’re interested in.

The other option to applying for posts with companies, is to set up as a freelance TEFL tutor and set your own rates.


Can I find an online TEFL job without teaching experience?

There are some opportunities on the LoveTEFL Jobs board for online TEFL teachers that don’t specify experience. Alternatively, have a look at volunteering online. It’s a great way of building up your experience and confidence and adding real weight to your CV.

Nevy’s Language on our LoveTEFL Jobs board is a brilliant organisation that employs TEFL teachers voluntarily to teach English to students who are migrating to an English speaking country. The great thing about Nevy’s Language is they will also coach you, observe you and offer you advice and support. It’s a good way to build up experience and get a real feel of what it’s like to be a TEFL teacher. You can do it alongside your TEFL course if you want to and you can then feel confident when you’re applying for your next TEFL opportunity.



Can I teach online while I’m studying for a degree?

Absolutely! Online teaching is a bit of a favourite for students. It’s a really great way to earn money whilst you’re studying. There are plenty of organisations on our LoveTEFL Jobs board that don’t request a degree so you can earn money while you’re at university. Once you do have a degree, that will open the door to even more opportunities.


Do I need a degree to study or teach business English?

No! You’re not required to have a degree to do the business English course that’s included with a number of our Diploma courses or to take it as a specialist course. The course covers what you need to teach business English.

It’s also not necessary to have a degree to teach business English. For example, I’ve seen TEFL teachers on networking platforms like Preply who have completed the business English course but don’t have a degree.


Do I need a PGCE to teach other subjects in English?

A PGCE can open doors to teaching in countries where the native language is English, such as the UK or US. However, if you’re looking for an overseas or online teaching opportunity and the job information asks for a degree, you normally just need to have a degree in any subject.

There are jobs for TEFL teachers to teach multiple subjects, like maths and science in places like Thailand and Vietnam as well as online. If you’re able to cover those subjects, that definitely opens up more opportunities. Have a look on the LoveTEFL Jobs board or get in touch and we can help you investigate your options.


Can i-to-i help with my CV and cover letters?

Absolutely! Send us an email with your resumé and cover letter.

As a bit of advice, a lot of people are applying for jobs in the TEFL market using a CV they had for a different job, such as administration or customer services or sales. TEFL employers will see that the resumé has not been really aligned to their industry and will ditch it. On top of that, there will be loads of transferable skills from your previous work that you won’t have identified if you just put forward the same resumé.

The TEFL market is very particular. TEFL employers really want a snapshot of your education, career history and who you are on that first page. You need to clearly show your relevant skills on your resumé to make sure that you look like a good TEFL teacher. Check out our articles about building your perfect CV for more tips and advice.



These webinars are going to be regular forums where we can have a chat about what’s going on in the marketplace.

Send us a question for our next webinar

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LIVE WEBINAR: How to Teach English to Different Age Groups Online

Do you fancy teaching English online, either at home or around the world? Are you wondering how to adapt your online lessons for different age groups? TEFL teacher Tabitha went live on i-to-i’s Facebook page to give you her top tips on everything from preparing for trial lessons to where to find materials to use with students of different ages. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.



What are your top tips for teaching early learners online?

It’s funny, before I got into TEFL, I really didn’t know if I was much of a kids’ person. Teaching early learners completely changed my perspective – so my first tip is to be open-minded. You might go in thinking that you want to teach Business English and discover something totally different.

With early learners, it’s really important to get the buy-in. An adult who’s signed up to the class has chosen to be there. A kid might have been signed up by their parents – there is not that automatic buy-in, so you have to give them that.

A top tip with early learners is to treat the virtual space as an extension of the room you’re in. If your room has got lots of books, think what you can do to bring the books into the lesson. If there’s anything weird or unexpected in your room or your student’s room, that can go into the lesson too. There are some amazing virtual tools you can use online but I really can’t over-state the value of using the stuff in your house.

Don’t feel like you always need to draw on the screen or create amazing PowerPoints. You can simply use a pen and paper. I had a really nice class with a 6 year old from Korea, where we were reading a story and then broke up the lesson by storyboarding, exactly as I’d do in a real classroom. We were holding up our drawings, talking about them, explaining what we’d drawn. It worked really well and felt really interactive.

A lot of people worry about whether they’ll be able to build a connection with students when they’re teaching virtually. I do think it’s possible – I’ve developed the nicest relationships with my virtual students. Being open and transparent that I’m a real person in a real house is a good way of breaking down the ‘I’m in a box’ feeling.


What are your top tips for teaching teenagers online?

A lot of people are scared of teaching teenagers, as they have some of the reluctance of children combined with self-consciousness and insecurities. Teenagers want to share their opinions but might not have the vocabulary yet and that can be frustrating.

I think people often pitch their teaching tone to teenagers as if they were older kids. In my experience, it’s better to teach teenagers as if they’re smaller adults. Don’t shy away from big topics – when I was a teenager, there was nothing I liked more than feeling important because I’d got to talk about climate change or drugs. It’s a way to get their buy-in and show that you respect them and want their opinion. Obviously, it has to be age appropriate and culturally appropriate so check with their parents first if you’re covering a sensitive topic.

I think one of things people struggle with when they’re teaching teenagers is they’re so quiet. I wouldn’t try to get teenagers up and moving in the same way as I would with kids because they’ll find that excruciating. Leave the silence a little bit longer than is comfortable and they’ll start to talk and tell you things.


What are your top tips for teaching adults online?

My top tip for teaching adults is to choose topics which are relevant. A lot of adult learners are aged 18 to 25. There’s no point in bringing up a hot subject from 10 or 20 years ago, like David Cameron being Prime Minister in the UK. Pick something current, pick something interesting and try to tailor it to your student.

This doesn’t mean that you have to plan a unique lesson for every student. Let’s say you have a lesson plan about holidays that’s pitched at your student’s level but is generic. Rather than spending an hour planning a new lesson, take that lesson plan and spend 10 minutes swapping in a section about something you know your student is interested in, like scuba diving. You could teach some vocabulary about scuba diving and include pictures as a good trigger to talk. It feels more tailored, even though it’s your generic lesson plan that you’ve just changed a little bit.

In terms of top tips, remember every student is different but the levels are the same. Even if your student is a professor in Philosophy, if they have an A1 level of English, you’re going to have to focus on the basics in your lesson before you plan a discussion about philosophy. You can’t run before you can walk. Always talk with respect, smile and make the lesson interesting and fun – it’s fine to play games with adult students. They’ll probably enjoy that more than being lectured to.


What are your top tips for teaching Business English online?

There’s a lot of demand for Business English. If you can teach it, it’s a brilliant way to charge higher rates and make more money.

However, my number one top tip for teaching Business English is: don’t say you can teach Business English if you can’t! Business English lessons are priced higher and students expect you to have a really sound knowledge of business terms and business culture and to be able to teach them a lot. i-to-i offers courses on how to teach Business English which I’d highly recommend if you’re interested in teaching in this area. Don’t feel like you can wing it.

My other main tip is that Business English classes don’t need to be super-boring. It doesn’t have to be memorising the words you use for an Excel spreadsheet. You could play a memory game or talk about something controversial.


What are your tips for teaching exam preparation classes?

There’s a big demand for exam prep classes because people need specialist coaching to get past certain levels in those exams. If you’ve got the tools to teach those classes, you can build up a really good student base but be mindful of your own capabilities. If you haven’t been trained to teach exam prep classes and can’t provide the level of expertise that they’re looking for, you’re going to frustrate the student.

I’ve had lots of students approach me but I don’t teach exam prep because I don’t know the IELTS, TEOFL or Cambridge English exams in enough detail. I would hate students not to pass the exams because I don’t have the tools to teach them how to pass.



What types of online lessons can I offer?

There are lots of different types of lessons that you can offer, from conversation practice, which is usually pretty cheap, all the way to expensive, specialist classes such as Business English and exam prep. Formal lessons and kids’ lessons are somewhere in the middle of that.


What are your top tips for conversation practice classes?

For a conversation class, don’t think you can just show up and it will be fine. If you book a conversation class, you still want to feel like you’ve learnt and practised something. When I started teaching, I always planned the conversation practices. The students’ feedback was, ‘Wow, I got so much out of it and it was only a conversation practice.’ Be the teacher that puts the effort in.

My top tips for a conversation class are to find and edit an article to the level of the student, so you have lots of vocabulary that they already know with some new words. Read the article once and talk about the new words, the comprehension and the pronunciation. For example, ‘I noticed that you said X. Let’s go through those,’ or, ‘This article is about recycling. What are the recycling rules in your country?’ It’s still a conversation but it’s a guided conversation. They’re getting something out of it and it looks like you did some work.

With lower-level students, pictures are a really good tool. I once did a lesson using wildlife photographs. I closed my eyes and said, ‘Describe one of the pictures to me. Can I guess what it is?’ It won’t take you much time to plan but you will get a lot out of it. Even if you just write a word on a piece of paper and say, ‘That’s our topic today,’ it will help put your student at ease and make your life so much easier because there’s a point to the conversation.


What are your top tips for a formal lesson?

In a formal lesson, your student will expect to practise reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary. You need to structure the lesson to make sure you hit all of those key skills. My approach is to pick a topic, go through the new vocabulary and grammar, and then build a reading activity, a writing activity and a speaking activity out of that.

It’s good to create a fairly generic lesson that you can then adapt. Plan the lesson with the idea of, ‘I’m going to use this for Tony and then Rebecca and then Sam and then hopefully I’ll get a new student who I can use it with as well.’


What are your top tips for teaching group lessons online?

All of my tips for teaching one-to-one also apply to group lessons but it’s more of a balancing act because you need to keep everybody engaged at the same time. When you’re teaching one-to-one it’s very easy to bring in your books and your props or have a flipchart behind you. With a group class, it’s more difficult – if you’re concentrating too much on what you’re doing, you’re not seeing what your students are doing.

I think you need a plan that facilitates teamwork and that’s where technology comes in handy. All of these platforms have amazing tools to do pair work and group work. It ensures the students are taking part and talking.

As long as it’s not a massive class, you can split the class down the middle and do a kind of relay where everyone has to give their opinion really quickly – or you even could lean into the craziness and have everyone talking at once. Breakout rooms are brilliant. Send them off in pairs, get them to write questions, you can even broadcast a message that goes out. You could say, ‘You’re on mute. You need to use the chat box. You’re off mute, you need to read what’s in the chat box and correct it orally.’

Don’t be scared of the fact that you’re online. As much as possible, it should still be them talking not you talking.



What websites do you use to find teaching materials?

A good website I use for TEFL materials for lower-level adults and kids is iSLCollective. It has thousands of worksheets created by teachers that you can download for free. It’s a really good website for basic materials but don’t just download a sheet and think that’s your lesson sorted – teachers can make mistakes and some of the sheets are really old. Read a sheet through carefully and adapt things. For example, I change the names of the people and the photos to make them more diverse and global.

With iSLCollective you can also copy a YouTube link and insert questions, so it becomes an interactive video. I use that all the time with my younger learners, so every 10 seconds, there’s a question like, ‘Quick, what colour was the ball?’ or, ‘The boy is…’ and they have to say something like, ‘Running,’ or ‘Walking.’ It’s really good as it means they’re not just watching a film for four minutes.

Another site I use for adults is ESL Brains which has whole lesson plans. It’s is a subscription service but they do have lots of free lesson plans as well and you can filter by price as well as level and select ‘free’.

The BBC website and newspapers like The Guardian are good if you’re looking for articles and the British Council’s LearnEnglish site is really good for both articles and exercises. It’s also got a page that gives you an overview of what each level of student should know, which I sometimes use as a kind of checklist. Alphablocks is brilliant for phonics and specific pronunciation tips for children.

You can adapt children’s lessons for adults and adults’ lessons for children but do make sure it’s appropriate, even if you’re teaching adults. For example, some people really hate swearing – never assume, always check.



What are your top tips for preparing for a trial class with a student?

Before a trial class, I always make contact with the student. As well as showing that you care, it really reduces the chance of a no-show. If your teacher contacts you saying, ‘Hello, I’m so excited for our class,’ and sends you a few questions, it’s a mental prompt. You can also briefly ask them why they’re learning English but I wouldn’t go into too much detail as you’ll cover that in the trial class.

I nearly always encourage students to complete a placement test or share their level of knowledge before the lesson, so I can plan. There are loads of placement tests online. If a student has no idea about their level, send a placement test to them and then you can talk through the results in the trial lesson.

It’s also good to confirm the details with the student before the lesson, such as where the class will take place and the time zone. I know it sounds obvious but it takes away any confusion. I then always send them a reminder on the day of the first lesson, saying, ‘Hi, I’m really looking forward to seeing you later.’


What are your top tips for structuring a trial TEFL lesson?

The first 15 minutes of a trial TEFL lesson is introductions: warming up, getting them comfortable and you can also go through their placement test results. You can ask the student about themselves, how they pronounce their name, if they’ve had lessons before and if they’ve used the platform before. If they haven’t used the platform before, you can show them some features of the website

Now you’ve had 15, 20 minutes, teach them something new. You don’t need to plan a whole hour-long lesson as often you don’t get paid for the trial lesson or only get paid 50 percent but definitely teach them something new, rather than just having a random conversation, so they can understand your style and see if you’re a good fit for them. They’re probably not going to book again with you if they don’t know what your teaching is like.

Spend a lot of the class talking about their goals, how often they want to meet, what their price range is like, etc. At the end of the class, give them some feedback and ask them what they thought of your class – it’s a good opportunity for you to work on yourself as a teacher.  Set a short homework exercise and encourage them to book another class. You can say, ‘You’ve talked about this today. Maybe you can do this part for homework. When will I see you again?’ It’s not a guarantee that they’ll book another class with you but it’s pretty likely because they’re motivated to keep going.


How should I follow up after a trial TEFL class?

After the trial TEFL class, message the student to say, ‘Thank you.’ Encourage them to book their next class, mention something specific that they learnt with you and praise them – everybody likes to be praised. Even adults like it when you say, ‘Today we talked about this and I thought it was fantastic when you mentioned X,’ or, ‘I thought that was really interesting and I really liked the way that you used this vocabulary. Maybe you could use this one next time.’ Pull out a specific learning point and the feedback feels much more tailored to them.



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Live Webinar: TEFL & Travel with i-to-i

Imagine travelling all over the world and earning money at the same time. Sound appealing? TEFL is your answer! And to help you on your way, i-to-i TEFL & travel experts Jordan and Nikki hosted a live webinar all about teaching overseas. The session covered everything from how Covid’s affected teaching abroad to the qualifications you need for a paid TEFL internship. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.


What’s been the impact of Covid on TEFL abroad?

It’s really exciting to be able to talk about travel again. As you know, 18 months ago we were introduced to this new global climate: Covid-19. The overseas teaching market dramatically changed – borders were closed, schools were closed and, all of a sudden, the whole online teaching market exploded. Now, schools have moved from being closed to hybrid learning and many are back to fully face-to-face teaching.


We have also seen this impact on our LoveTEFL Jobs Board where we advertise job opportunities for teaching online and teaching overseas. Over the past 18 months, the jobs board has been flush with online teaching opportunities due to Covid. While it’s still in the early stages of building back up, we’re now seeing more and more opportunities emerging to teach in Asia, South America, the Middle East and Europe.


As well as adding these schools to our LoveTEFL Jobs Board we’re also introducing TEFL internships. These are inclusive packages to help people explore overseas teaching, supported by a very well-travelled team, who understand all about visas and documentation gathering as well as the impact of going overseas to teach for the first time.


What’s the difference between a TEFL job and a TEFL internship?

Finding a TEFL job independently is like applying for any job in any market: you apply for the job if you have the qualifications and you carve out your own experience independently. You’re responsible for obtaining your own documentation and organising everything yourself. You might prefer to do things yourself, meet people by yourself and do all the in-between parts that make up a job. If so, the LoveTEFL Jobs Board is a great place to look for opportunities.


The other alternative is to do an internship. An internship is a product that you buy but it comes with the security and benefits that you may not get with finding a job by yourself – potentially things like accommodation and flight reimbursement as well as a guaranteed job and orientation. With that security and support, you can gain an experience that really gives you a taste of what it’s like to teach and travel.


I did an internship and found it was a great stepping stone into the TEFL market before I began teaching by myself. It’s a great way to avoid those mistakes people often make when they go overseas by themselves.


Why should I do a TEFL internship?

Primarily an internship is there to give you an additional support network. It might be your first time going into a job in education or it might even be your first time travelling overseas. The internship helps you with all the trickier aspects, from organising your visa and accommodation to things you might not even consider, like sorting out a SIM card and bank account when you arrive. You know that someone has got your back and is there to make sure you’re getting the best experience.


The last 18 months have been really uncertain. The internship gives you the security of knowing you have got a contract for a school that has been vetted – and that you’re not going to arrive and find it’s closed down because of Covid. There are also additional benefits for some internships, like the reimbursement of your flight, paid for accommodation and the opportunity to extend your contract if you want to jump in fully to a career in teaching.


Doing an internship is also about knowing that you’ll be with other people who are in the same position as you and making sure you’re getting that fun social side as well. You’re moving to somewhere you’ve never been before and a way of living that is different. Going out with a really sociable group, getting acclimatised to the culture, the language, the sights and the sounds and having that network of individuals that may end up being friends for life is a great way to start out.


What is the Paid TEFL Thailand Internship?

teaching and beaching in Thailand

Our most popular internship is our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship. It’s for a minimum of four to five months and then, if you decide to stay for longer, you have the opportunity to extend your contract. Thailand is an absolutely incredible country: it’s got vibrant cities, very zen mountainous and rural areas and gorgeous beaches as well. If you want to teach overseas in a country that has a little bit of everything, Thailand is an absolutely phenomenal place to choose.


Once you arrive in Thailand, you have an orientation in Hua Hin, which a really gorgeous coastal city about three hours from Bangkok. This is your chance to meet other people who are on the internship and start building those relationships. You’ll go to one of the local temples and meditate with monks, you’ll do some Thai lessons and you’ll visit a non-profit organisation, which deals with relocating street dogs and cats. You’ll also do a traditional Thai cooking class but, rather than just preparing the food, you’ll go to the local market to source your food and practise your Thai as well. The orientation finishes with a big beach BBQ. You’ll then get ready to travel out to your different schools but still have that contact with the team for additional assistance.


You’re paid a monthly salary of about 40,000 Thai Bhat when you’re teaching on the internship. You do need to pay for accommodation out of that but the team will help you to find it. On average, interns roughly spend between 15% to 30% of their wages on accommodation and bills, so you can save quite a bit if you want.


The Paid Thailand TEFL Internship is a really great programme to get a taste of what it’s like as a TEFL teacher and you have the possibility of extending your contract again and again if you want to. The support from the in-country team really makes it a fantastic experience.


What is the Paid South Korea TEFL Internship?

Gyeongbokgung palace in spring, South Korea

South Korea is a fantastic country with some really exciting teaching opportunities. The South Korea TEFL Internship is for an initial 12 months with the opportunity to extend your contract further and there’s flexibility in terms of location. It’s the perfect opportunity if you want a longer internship or would love to really experience South Korean culture.

This is another paid internship, with average salaries of between $1,700 to $1,900 per month. It also includes a one-way flight reimbursement to South Korea and the chance to get an extra completion bonus at the end of your contract. One of the great things about this internship is that your accommodation is taken care of, so you just have to cover your utility bills and day-to-day living costs. You can easily put away around a third of your salary each month, so it’s a great one to do if you want to save.


Similar to Thailand, your preparation courses, TEFL qualification and all the support, (including with getting your visa, going to the school and negotiating your contracts) are all part of the internship. For the South Korea internship, your quarantine costs are also included, which a huge tick off the list. Your orientation will be online and then the team organises activities throughout the year – they’ve been doing a lot of coffee mornings, quizzes and student meet ups recently.


If you want to experience somewhere new or really build up your TEFL teaching experience in Asia, the South Korea TEFL Internship is an amazing opportunity.


Can I apply for the Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship?

TEFL teachers with students at Vietnamese football match

Our Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship is another fantastic programme and includes accommodation and a great rate of pay. We’ve already filled up the spaces for January 2022 but you can apply for our next departure date which is in August 2022.


Do I need teaching experience for an internship?

No! Our internships are the perfect pathway if you want to try teaching for the first time. All of our internships include an orientation where you can meet other people and get a bit of experience of what it’s like going into the schools.


We also have amazing preparation courses within our internship programmes that are tailored specifically to the country you’re going to. It’s a great way to get a bit of an insight before you even arrive in your destination of what you can expect going into the classrooms.


Are there any internships that last less than a year?

Yes! The Thailand internship lasts for four to five months. One semester runs from November to March, there is then a six to eight week break and a new semester runs from May to September followed by about a month’s break. If you want to go out for just one semester and still get paid to teach, the Paid Thailand TEFL Internship  is the perfect opportunity.


Do I need a degree to do an internship?

You’re required to have a degree to get a visa to work and teach in both Thailand and South Korea. However, we do run a volunteer programme in Thailand for teachers who don’t have degrees. As you’re not required to get a work visa for the volunteer programme, you don’t need to have a degree.


The Volunteer Thailand Internship is quite short – you’ll spend seven to eight weeks in Thailand – but it gives you a stepping stone into the market. We know individuals who have moved on from the volunteer programme to full time teaching. Some have moved over to Cambodia, as you’re don’t need a degree to teach English in Cambodia.


Can I do an internship if I’m in my 50s?

Yes! You can apply for our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship up to the age of 59.


We do consider people who are over the age of 59 if they’re a good fit for the programme and we feel that it will be right for them. If you’re over 50 and you match the eligibility requirements, get in touch at [email protected] and we’ll talk you through your options.


Can I save money when I’m doing an internship?

Yes! There are two ways of doing an internship. One is to live like a local, really embrace the culture and save a lot of money. Alternatively, you can go all out, eat in five star restaurants and live it large. You can do that because you’re living on a wage that’s pretty high compared to local standards but you probably won’t save any money.


Some people want to save so they can do lots of travelling. Some people want to go out to restaurants and hotels each week. The choice is your own.


Can I get a TEFL job after the internship?

Yes, absolutely! An internship is a stepping stone into the TEFL market with a lot of support and hand-holding to really help you enjoy yourself. It’s a product where you get a fantastic experience and you don’t have to sweat about the issues that sometimes come with the job.


Once you’ve finished an internship, you have the option to renew your contract or you can bounce into a new opportunity. It could be in Thailand, it could be in Cambodia, it could be in Europe or you might even go back home for a bit and travel in the future. It’s really up to you but you’ll have a lifetime of support there if you need it.


Are there TEFL opportunities for non-native English speakers?

Some schools do just look for native English speakers but there also are many that will accept non-native English speakers.


When we set up our TEFL internships, we create eligibility requirements. These ensure that individuals are able to successfully apply for things like working visas and fit what the local schools are looking for. If you’re a non-native English speaker, check out our Volunteer Thailand Internship. Alternatively, take a look at LoveTEFL Jobs which has numerous opportunities for teaching both online and overseas. You can search for TEFL jobs based on your passport and education, so you can find suitable opportunities there.


Is the TEFL course included in the internship?

Yes! We include our Level 3 120 hour qualification in every internship and you can also choose to do a Level 5 Upgrade course if you want to maximise your earning potential.


Every internship also includes a confidence building course and a travel blog course as well as a lot of preparation for the internship. There is loads included to ensure you’re really prepared and ready to teach.


What type of person might be suited to the South Korea Internship?

The South Korea TEFL Internship might suit someone who wants to explore a country that is really technologically advanced and is one of the more western of the Asian countries but also has a different culture to experience.


It might suit someone who’s a bit nervous about leaving home or travelling overseas for the first time and wants the support network over there. It’s also great if you want to embark on a big expedition. Twelve months a big deal – you get a lot for your money!


What type of person might be suited to the Paid Thailand Internship?

The Paid Thailand TEFL Internship is perfect if you want to get a taste of what TEFL overseas is like. The four to five month programme really ensures that you get that taste without having to commit too much for too long or to one country.


We have a lot of individuals who book the Paid Thailand Internship because they want to bounce into Cambodia after they finish and teach there or move on to a different Asian country to teach English.



  • Apply for a TEFL internship
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Best Gap Year Program for 2021/22

Feeling the urge to explore new horizons before you settle down to study or work? Or do you want to shake up your routine with something different and exciting? Then you need a Gap Year!

Traditionally gap years were reserved for school leavers, as a year of travel or work (or a combination of both) between finishing school and starting university. Although this is a great time to take a gap year, you can now take one at any time of your life! As well as having the option to take a gap year before starting university, you could also take one from your job or in the middle of your university course (in between years).

So, why take a gap year? There are so many reasons, but we have listed the main ones below.

First of all, you can earn some money and gain valuable skills and experience that you can use in your future career. A gap year program looks great on your CV and could give you an edge over other applicants for the same job!

Secondly, you have the opportunity to travel to new places and experience amazing new cultures and landscapes!

So, what’s the best gap year program for you? There are lots out there to choose from but TEFL Internships are a perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture and earn money at the same time. We have listed some of the best gap year programs for 2021/22 below to get you started!


Paid Thailand TEFL Internship

Thailand beach

Best for:

    • Taking a break after university (as you’ll need a degree for this one)
    • Taking a break from your job

What’s included?

    • 120 Hour Online TEFL Course – an introduction to the essentials of TEFL to get you started
    • Teaching in Thailand Course – to get you up to speed on what teaching in Thailand will be like
    • Internship Preparation Course – info about classroom management & building your confidence
    • 4–5-month teaching internship, with the opportunity to extend
    • Monthly salary of up to 40,000 Thai Baht (approx. £860/17,500ZAR)
    • In-country orientation week – an insight into life in Thailand!
    • Ongoing in-country support

Why choose Thailand?

Where do we begin?! Well for starters, it’s called the ‘Land of Smiles’ for a reason! The people of Thailand are extremely welcoming, so you’ll never be far from a friendly face, especially at the schools as Thai teachers and children tend to be extremely enthusiastic. But you don’t have to take our word for it, the images from Ben’s internship photo diary speak for themselves!

It’s also no wonder everyone is so smiley with the beautiful weather you’ll encounter (especially if you’re used to British summers). Just make sure you stick to the North in monsoon season!

Another great reason is the incredible landscape; from the jungle-covered mountains in the North, where you can hike or visit an ethical elephant sanctuary, to the pristine beaches and islands of the South, where you can snorkel, dive, or sunbathe to your heart’s content. You’ll never be far from an amazing view or adventure!

There are also over 40,000 temples for you to visit and they are some of the most beautiful in the world. Travelling around within the country is very easy, with numerous buses and trains, and booking services are often available in English, so you don’t have to limit yourself to exploring just one area of Thailand.

Thailand is also an amazing place for foodies! Delicious street food is available throughout the country and it’s incredibly budget friendly, at around 30 – 60 Thai Baht for a full meal in Bangkok (approx. £0.70 – £1/13-26ZAR).

If you’re more of a night owl, there is a lively nightlife scene. This is especially true in the South, with numerous restaurants, night markets, clubs, bars, and even the famous full moon parties, to choose from!

Need more info? Get yourself one of our online Thailand Internship guides or, for some more weird and wonderful reasons to visit Thailand, you can read our 10 Crazy Facts About Thailand.

Ready to explore? Get yourself on the Paid Thailand TEFL Internship now!


Paid South Korea TEFL Internship

South Korea TEFL Internship

Best for:

    • Taking a break after university (as you’ll need a degree for this one)
    • Taking a break from your job

What’s included:

    • 120 Hour Online TEFL Course – an introduction to the essentials of TEFL to get you started
    • Teaching in South Korea Course – to get you up to speed on what teaching in South Korea will be like
    • Internship Preparation Course – info about classroom management & building your confidence
    • 12-month teaching internship
    • Monthly salary of up to £1350/26,700ZAR, with a completion bonus at the end of the internship
    • Accommodation
    • One-way flight reimbursement
    • Korean language lessons – so you can really immerse yourself in the culture!

Why choose South Korea?

It has flown under the radar in the past but South Korea is rapidly becoming a popular travel destination and it’s easy to see why, as there is something for everyone!

If history and culture is your passion, there is so much to explore. The relative geographical isolation of South Korea means it has managed to preserve a wealth of rich cultural traditions and heritage sites. This is great for you, as it means you get to experience amazing traditional Korean dancing, visit one of the incredible teahouses or explore a number of stunning royal palaces and temples.

We also can’t forget that it’s the home of K-Pop! If you’re a music lover and K-pop fan, you need to get yourself to Seoul where you can visit one of the many K-pop themed cafés, take a K-pop dance class or, for the real K-pop star experience, get a makeover complete with a photoshoot at the end! And if you want to practice your favourite songs, you can go to one of the many karaoke bars, as karaoke is a very popular pastime in South Korea!

If exploring nature is more your vibe, South Korea is home to 22 national parks, so it’s a nature-lover’s paradise! And South Korea has 4 amazing seasons, so you will be able to see nature in all its glory, from the beautiful cherry blossoms of spring to the snow-covered mountains in winter.

Need more info? Get yourself one of our online South Korea Internship guides or read our South Korea: An Epic TEFL destination for more reasons to visit this amazing country.

Ready to explore? Get yourself on the Paid South Korea TEFL Internship now!


Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship

Boat on river in Vietnam

Best for:

    • Taking a break after university (as you’ll need a degree for this one)
    • Taking a break from your job

What’s included:

    • 120 Hour Online TEFL Course – an introduction to the essentials of TEFL to get you started
    • Teaching in Vietnam Course – to get you up to speed on what teaching in Vietnam will be like
    • Internship Preparation Course – info about classroom management & building your confidence
    • 5-month teaching internship
    • Monthly salary of approx. £570/11,400ZAR, with a completion bonus at the end of the internship
    • Accommodation
    • In-country orientation – all about life in Vietnam! Read our 10 Top Tips for your orientation week

Why choose Vietnam?

So many reasons! But a big one is the food. Vietnam is a haven for food-lovers, and you’ll find delicious dishes on every street corner. The food is also very cheap, around £1.50/20ZAR for a decent meal, so you’ll never need to cook for yourself!

Die-hard coffee fans will also be in heaven, as Vietnamese coffee is excellent quality (they are the second largest coffee exporter in the world) and readily available. It’s also experimental, with additions including everything from fruit to egg yolk! Some are difficult to get your head around, yoghurt topped with coffee being top of that list, but coffee with condensed milk and ice (known as ca phe nau in the North and ca phe sua in the South) is very dreamy and well worth a try.

The varied landscape is another massive attraction, from the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the tropical islands of Halong Bay and the misty mountains of Sa Pa, there is something to suit everyone.

Need more reasons? Find some more great ones in our 7 Reasons to Visit Vietnam.

Need more info? Read our 5 Reasons to Take Part article or get yourself one of our online Vietnam Internship guides.

Ready to explore? Get yourself on the Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship now!


Volunteer Thailand TEFL Internship

thailand beach

Best for:

    • Taking a break before university (no degree needed!)
    • Getting some experience before applying for jobs

What’s included:

    • 120 Hour Online TEFL Course – an introduction to the essentials of TEFL to get you started
    • Teaching in Thailand Course – to get you up to speed on what teaching in Thailand will be like
    • Internship Preparation Course – info about classroom management & building your confidence
    • 7-week volunteer teaching internship
    • Accommodation & some meals
    • Orientation and full support throughout

Need more info? Get yourself one of our online Volunteering Thailand Internship Guides.

Ready to explore? Get yourself on the Volunteer Thailand TEFL Internship now!


Teaching English Online

Not sure if an internship is the right fit? If you are a more experienced traveller, who would prefer less support and more flexibility in your working hours, then the best gap year program for you could be Teaching English Online.

This is a great way to be your own boss, as you can decide what teaching hours you do and when, and a way to visit multiple destinations while you’re working, as all your teaching is done through your laptop. All you need to do is get TEFL qualified, if you aren’t already, make sure you have access to good Wi-Fi, and then sign up with one of the many online schools out there. You could be travelling and earning in as little as 6 weeks!

If you’re new to teaching online and don’t know where to start, don’t panic! We have lots of different ways to help get you started. The Online Teaching Practice session gives you a 2 hour zoom session with a TEFL expert, where you can practice the skills you’ve learnt from your TEFL course and ask any questions you might have before starting your online teaching adventure! There are also some amazing additional resource packs available, where we’ve done the hard work for you and created fun and engaging lesson plans as well as putting together all you need to know about freelancing. Basically, everything you need to hit the ground running and start travelling and earning as soon as possible!

Teach English Abroad Guide

Now you’ve seen all the amazing options on offer, which do you think is the best gap year program for you? If you’ve already decided, head to the internships page to make sure you get booked on in time! If you still need some help deciding, our team of TEFL experts are ready and waiting to assist. All you have to do is request a free call back.

5 Key Preparation Tips | Thailand

With travel reopening, Thailand has been paving the way for a return to normality. You can actually enjoy quarantine for once, on the dreamy islands of Phuket or Koh Samui, and we TEFLers are already being welcomed back into the Thai classrooms. If like me, you’ve decided to TEFL in the land of Pad Thai (and other amazing food), preparation is often the most overwhelming stage!  Whether you’ve secured a job independently or have signed up for a Paid Thailand Internship, ensuring you’re ready to undertake a new way of life is very important. But fear not, in this blog I’ll be taking you through 5 key preparation tips so that you can waltz onto your flight stress-free!


Learn basic Thai

Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to learn a new language? Now, you have the perfect excuse! Not only will learning basic Thai provide a more immersive cultural experience, but it also allows you to build rapport with the locals!

While there are over 44 consonants, 28 vowel forms, and four tone markers- don’t be disheartened, as you can work up to learning these. Instead, start with everyday phrases (hello/goodbye, thank you, excuse me, how are you?) that’ll help you navigate social interactions, and get a feel for the tones and vowel length. Phrasebooks are super handy for this because Thai is one of the only languages that sounds the same when spoken as it does when printed on the page! I’d highly recommend the Lonely Planet Phrasebook & Dictionary; it’s compact, lightweight, and has a list of “survival phrases” accessible on the first page.

Here are a couple of tips to help get you started. It’s crucial to note from the beginning that, akin to French, Thai has masculine and feminine variations. Whereas the french use “la/le” at the beginning of words, in Thailand, you’ll place “ka/kráp” at the end of every sentence depending on your gender: even to say hello! For women, you’ll opt for “Sá-wát-dee-ká” alongside your friendliest smile- whereas men will say “Sá-wát-dee-kráp”. Similarly, the pronoun “I/me” is gendered, and it’s customary to refer to yourself as “pom” if you’re male, and “dí-chan” if you’re female: simple!

Thankfully, resources are plentiful! You can easily digest the Thai phenomes by listening to YouTube channels, music, or podcasts. There’s even an app called thaipod101, which would be a great way to pass the time in quarantine or on your flight!


Research the cultural Do’s and Don’ts

Thailand has an endlessly fascinating culture: rich in myth, kaleidoscopic colours, and traditions that span centuries. As such, I can guarantee you’ll have a wonderful time just researching the customs of this beautiful country. Knowing the cultural dos and don’ts has added benefits of course, such as avoiding embarrassment or unknowingly offending your hosts. After all, nobody wants to do the Thai equivalent of queue-jumping in the UK!

Luckily for us, Thailand has been on bucket lists worldwide for decades now, meaning there’s a huge amount of information and resources online. You won’t even have to go as far as opening a new tab! The i-to-i blog archives are full of informative articles, including “10 Crazy Facts About Thailand” and an abundance of “Day in the life” stories from past interns.

Excitingly, if you’ve opted for i-to-i’s Paid Thailand Internship, you’ll receive more detailed cultural advice and info in the course package. Split into 2, the Teaching in Thailand and Internship Preparation courses will leave you feeling clued up on Thai customs and help you to avoid experiencing culture shock.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the most useful points that I’ve picked up from my research on Thai culture. The first is one that you might already be familiar with, that every greeting is accompanied by a type of bow, or “wai”. In these opening interactions, it’s deemed respectful to place your hands in a prayer position and gently bow your head. There’s an embedded hierarchy of respect in Thailand, and while you’ll be expected to bow to monks and seniors, but not to children, it’s better just to “wai” wherever you go!

Wat Chai Wattanaram , Thailand

The most prominent idea informing daily behaviour in Thailand is that of “face”. This basically refers to your public self-image, and how you appear to others. Remaining calm, collected, and polite should be your mantra anyway, but in Thailand showing respect to others is a way of life! The last thing you want to do is lose face by losing your temper in an exchange, be it with a stall vendor or one of your students. In Thailand, there’s a wonderful phrase that everyone lives by: “Mai pen rai”, meaning “no worries” or “It’s OK!”


Packing essentials

This is definitely the most exciting part of preparing to TEFL in a new country, and there’s no happier sight than seeing your belongings laid out and ready to pack. It’s the ultimate affirmation of “wow, this is really happening, I’m moving to Thailand!”. However, before zipping up your backpack for the last time pre-flight, make sure you’ve included these essential items:

  • Suncream. This might sound like a given but, especially if you’re quarantining in Phuket (more on that later!), suncream/lotion carries a surprisingly high price tag. This is especially true in touristy locations, so stock up before you leave.
  • Documents, documents, and more documents! Make sure to pack copies of all your important documents, especially your TEFL certificate, Degree/relevant qualifications, insurance information, and other visa documents.
  • A mosquito net and lots of anti-bite spray/cream. Essential, because swatting these critters off your legs gets tiring after a while! When purchasing a mosquito net, make sure it comes with thin rope and rings so that you can drape it above your bed. No more waking up to 10+ new bites!
  • A filter water bottle such as LifeStraw (and extra filters). While this isn’t a necessary item, being able to drink the tap water wherever you go will save money and, more importantly, the planet!
  • Teaching realia. Your students will love learning about you, so it’s important to bring objects from your life at home. These can be your local currency, family photos, Christmas cards, or even a childhood toy. Items such as takeaway menus are useful for modules on food/drink, and photos of your family pet can be used in lessons about animals!
  • Slip-on, close-toed shoes. As it’s customary to remove footwear when entering shops or homes, it’s best to avoid shoes with too many straps or buckles. When you’re teaching, schools will prefer you to wear close-toed shoes with a smart-casual vibe.


Create a budget

While TEFling in Thailand is one of the more budget-friendly options, there are now additional costs to factor in as a result of Covid, so creating a budget is crucial. Trust me, your future self will thank you!

Once again, if you’ve opted for i-to-i’s Paid Thailand Internship, you’ll receive a welcome pack that breaks down all the costs for you, so there are no hidden surprises! Your budget as an intern will differ from someone finding a job independently, as your TEFL course and accommodation come included in the internship fee.

Teach English Abroad Guide

However you’re planning to get to Thailand, there are some unavoidable costs that’ll crop up in the months, weeks, and even days before leaving. Thankfully, these are all very manageable, and the things to pay for are usually numerous but not too costly! Important things to factor into your budget include vaccinations (costs will differ depending on where you live), quarantine accommodation (between £100-£800 for 14 days), and a pre-flight PCR test (around £70).

One of the most important things to remember is that you won’t get paid until the beginning of your second month, so you’ll need to be able to live on your own funds for the first 4 weeks. While this is very doable in somewhere like Thailand, with its low living costs, I’d recommend taking a minimum of £700 with you. This way you’ll be able to gorge on the delicious Thai cuisine and spend your weekends exploring the local area!


Stay current on quarantine rules

How does spending 14 days roaming a tropical island sound? The Thai government has recently launched the Phuket Sandbox quarantine scheme, allowing fully vaccinated tourists to quarantine on the beautiful island of Phuket in specific hotels. Providing you’ve tested negative for Covid, you’ll have free reign of the island’s many beaches, mountains, and jungle pathways. The best part? You can stay in a luxury hotel for a fraction of the original price!

In the space of a few weeks, the government has also launched the 7+7 extended Sandbox, allowing you to spend one week in Phuket before travelling to another designated quarantine area, such as Krabi or Koh Samui. While it’s exciting, this goes to show that quarantine rules are constantly changing, and so a big part of staying prepared is keeping up to date with the changes. To help with this, there are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to Sandbox reviews. For interns on the Paid Thailand Internship, your coordinators will keep you in the know and guide you through any changes.


The final step? Get ready for a life-changing adventure in The Land of Smiles!

Molly Higgs

Live Webinar: What to Expect from your First TEFL Class

You’ve landed your first TEFL job – fantastic! Now, you need to get ready for your very first TEFL class. To give your preparations a boost, TEFL teacher Shelby hosted a live webinar all about what to expect from your first TEFL class, whether it’s online or in person. Watch the full webinar or read on for edited extracts.




Preparing your online TEFL workspace

What your online TEFL workspace looks like depends on the company you’re teaching for. For example, I teach for an online company that requires a backdrop with their logo on it. To prepare for my first lesson, I had to print the logo, make sure it would stay on the wall and check that my camera was set up so students could see both my face and the logo. For another company, I needed a green screen behind me, so I had to order that online before I started teaching.


As well as the backdrop, you need good lighting and a good computer or laptop that will run the system your company uses. You also need a camera so the student can see how to pronounce words, as the way your lips and mouth move changes the pronunciation. I also use software called ManyCam as I like to do different things with my camera to make my lessons special. For some companies you might need a headset and, if you use an iPad, you might need an Apple pin to write smoothly.


I also always have water in a small glass, my phone near me (so I can easily see the time) and my iPad next to me, so I have my notes and know what is coming up. In my kitchen, I have crackers, fruit and coffee so I can get food easily – but I highly recommend you don’t eat during your class.


If you’re not sure what to wear, ask the company that you’re working for. I work for one company where I have to wear a blue shirt and for another company where I have to wear a collared shirt. I don’t wear business clothes because I’m an English teacher and they should be able to connect with me as a person. They should not feel intimidated by me.


I encourage you to test your equipment in the same environment as you’ll be using for teaching – make sure the lighting and the sound is the same. I tested my green screen at night and it looked great. The next day, when the sun was up, there were different shadows, so I had to change the way it was set up five minutes before the class started.


Planning online TEFL lessons & materials

To prepare for your online TEFL lessons, you need to plan the curriculum and know what goals you need to hit. You don’t need to write every lesson plan until the end of the course but you do need to know where you’re going so you can scaffold with your students – you don’t want to teach present continuous if you’ve not taught present, for example.


Review your lesson in advance, so you can find any props or print any pictures that you need. I sometimes buy props like finger puppets from a cheap store and I look up images on Google – if they’re free to use, you can add them to your webcam. You can also find a lot of props in your house, such as a lamp or a phone. Make sure you have all your props ready and within reach before your class. You don’t want to say, ‘Let’s learn “spoon”’ and then have to leave the camera to get your spoon.


When you’re planning individual lessons, think about the timing. For example, if your student isn’t a big talker, you’re not going to spend five minutes saying, ‘Hello.’ I have a lot of extra activities related to a lesson so, if a student is ahead of their schedule, I’m able to add games, activities, stories – ways for them to get the full time they’ve paid for. I encourage you to find resources and bookmark them on your computer, so you can easily pull up something if you need extra activities.


Preparing for your first day in a school

When you’re teaching in person, typically you have to go somewhere, so plan and test your route. Go to your school before your first class and see how long it takes you to get there –you don’t want to be late. I make sure I pack my backpack the night before. That has my laptop, my iPad, my water and any special props that are not at my school. If you need snacks, check if there’s a snack bar or vending machine in your school or buy your own and bring what you need for that day.


Before you start teaching at your school, make sure you have a conversation with the School Director. You need to know what type of course you’re teaching and what level the students are, so you can prepare your lessons. Another important question to ask if whether the school will give you the curriculum. Normally, a school or a language centre has a curriculum and then you make your lesson plans within that curriculum but you might encounter a school that wants you to make your own curriculum.


Another thing to check is if there’s a dress code. Some schools have uniforms or require you to wear a suit and tie. I wear business casual which, for me, is jeans and a shirt that has a collar of some form. I look relaxed and approachable but professional.


I went to my school to meet the Director before I started teaching. It allowed me to see the school and the classroom and to check what resources they had, so I could plan my courses. It really helped me.


Find out about students and resources

When you go to a school for the first time, people will offer a lot of help. Take advantage of that, go out to eat with your co-workers, hear how their experience has been. They might have taught your course or students and give you a lot of useful tips and tricks. That happened to me – because I interacted with the staff before my first day of actual teaching, I was prepared for situations such as which students were not active in class and which students didn’t ever do their homework.


You typically don’t need to buy a lot of equipment to teach in a school as they have most of it already. If they don’t have particular colours of paper or specific books, the school might buy it for you or you can try to make another version. I’m very fortunate that my school has advanced technology. My classrooms have whiteboards, monitors, computers, screens and pins for the students to write on the board digitally. I can print at my school and we have a large resource room. I highly encourage you not to buy too much for an in-person course. You don’t want the majority of your money to go towards props.



How to start your first lesson

When you’re meeting new students, remember they’re nervous of you as well. You’re the fluent English speaker, you’re the one with the authority. Be charming and create a positive vibe in the classroom. I think it’s important to be very professional, even if you’re teaching little kids. That doesn’t mean you can’t be fun and engaging but their parents are paying for these classes. They want a good teacher that the students can respect and learn from.


Always understand your audience. If you’re introducing yourself to a class of kids who don’t speak English, keep your introduction very simple. If you’re talking to adults or younger students who have a good base of English, you can use full sentences and say who you are, what you do, where you come from, what your hobbies are.


Ease your students’ nerves by bouncing around, so you don’t call on a student more than once and interact with them, add videos into your courses, add projects – working in groups helps them to be less nervous than if they’re waiting for a teacher to ask them to say a grammatically correct sentence.


How to manage a TEFL lesson

It’s important to introduce your lesson to your class or else your students will be anxious that they don’t know what you’re talking about. I write everything I’ll be teaching on a whiteboard at the start of the lesson. For example, it will say, ‘September 3rd. Food vocabulary. Present continuous. Animals,’ so they know exactly what I’ll be teaching that day. They are ready. They can flip in their notes or book and see what I’m talking about.


In your TEFL course you’ll also learn how to work with presentation of vocabulary and presentation of grammar. A lot of teachers will say, ‘Today we will learn this. What is it?’ and everyone is silent. Instead, you should present: ‘This is a cup. We drink from a cup. Jim, what is it?’ ‘It’s a cup.’ ‘Yes, very good.’

Take the time to get to know your students and make them feel special. Talk to different students and bounce around. Students can be very easily distracted, especially when you teach online, so you need ways to keep them engaged. I use in-person props and pictures on the screen, which allows the lessons to be versatile. Changing things in your lesson to keep them engaged and using new words is incredibly important.


Students also really thrive when they’re learning through project-based learning. For example, when I was teaching vocabulary related to sustainability, my students had to make a poster board about sustainability and present it to the class. They were using the words while talking to the students in their groups, they were writing them on the poster board and then they were presenting them.


It’s also important to stay on track with your schedule. If you know you’re presenting grammar for five minutes, present your grammar for five minutes and move on. If you present grammar for 45 minutes in an hour class, the students will be bored and you’ll not have enough time for production, games and activities. You need to manage your class or the students will never achieve their goals.


How to end a TEFL lesson

I always end my TEFL lesson by asking, ‘What is a new word you’ve learnt today? Can you use your word in a sentence?’ I want the last thing that they remember is saying something new. They’re normally paying a lot of money for these English classes. They need to be taking something home with them.


I also write their homework on the board and have them write it in their books. I don’t like excuses of, ‘I forgot what page it was.’ I leave those last two things in their heads so we’re prepared for their next class. I also will often tell them what we’ll learn in the next class – some students practise beforehand, which is always okay with me.



Tools for Planning & Delivering Lessons

I plan my lessons in Google Sheets (which is like Excel). I make tasks for each course, have columns for different students and track what I taught that student in the class. I can keep up with what tenses we’re learning, what practices we’re doing and if we’ve read books, so we don’t read them again. I also can easily search the history of what I did with a student.


I use Google Docs for my teaching files. It’s full of books, images and resources. When I see something that I like, I save it, which allows me to have so many resources that I can use on demand. I also use resources and lesson plans from i-to-i’s resource packs and find short videos on YouTube to explain things.


For online teaching, I highly recommend Zoom. I’ve used other platforms but I find they’re more restricted. My camera is ManyCam so I can interact with other features and can have my students drawing. You just need to turn on those settings.


I like to have everything digital but lots of people write out their lesson plans. I keep my iPad on my desk in class, so I can see my lesson plan. It’s very easy for me to access my Google Sheets or find an extra resource.


TEFL Pay & Bookings

If you work for a school, your school handles the bookings and fees. I normally have an average of 10 students for an in-person class with my school but I’ve had some larger classes and a class with only two students.


If you teach for an online company, they’ll tell you their pay and how their booking system works. For example, I teach with PalFish and parents can choose to have a class with any teacher. If I open a spot on PalFish, it books immediately because the parents enjoyed the classes and they told their friends and then their friends told their friends. I also teach on Magic Ears where every student gets a random teacher. You could be the best teacher for Magic Ears and the student never gets to see you again because they don’t get to choose the teacher.


If you’re teaching privately, you set your own price. You know how much you’re worth and you know how much you need to survive and save. You might live in a country where you can charge students $5 or you might need $15 or $20. In Italy, I would say an English teacher would charge a minimum of 15 Euros and a maximum of 35 Euros – but that’s really pushing it. You need to find the middle ground and what is going to get you students. My schedule is fully booked so, hypothetically, I could probably charge more but I’m satisfied with where I am right now and I enjoy my students.



If you’ve not started your TEFL course yet, I recommend the i-to-i Advanced TEFL Diploma. A shorter course might get you a job but I did that and am now backtracking and doing my Diploma because I want those skills and to be even more competitive. In retrospect, I wish I’d done the Diploma in the beginning.


When you start teaching, there’s no such thing as over-preparing. Think about everything. What do you need that you don’t have and how will you get it? How early do you need to order it before it shows up? If you’re teaching at an in-person school, when will they give you the books you need to prepare your lesson? Will they give you a curriculum? How do you submit a request for the school to buy resources for you?


Think also about how you’re going to get to your school – both within the city but also how you’ll get to that city. Are there relocation expenses provided? Will the school pay for your apartment? Will you have WiFi if you’re teaching online the next day?


If you want to find out more, I’ve written a blog with my top tips for teaching English in Italy which is also relevant to moving to other foreign countries. Good luck with your TEFL course and the TEFL classes you teach!



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Find Shelby on Instagram and Facebook: @shelbyelkins

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