1. Where do I start teaching English online as a South African?
As a South African who wants to join the exciting and ever-growing world of teaching TEFL online, the good news is that your starting point is pretty simple. You will need a computer – either a laptop or a PC with a webcam, a stable internet connection (more about that shortly!) and a TEFL qualification.
Mobile phones can be great for Zoom and Whatsapp calls with friends, but they simply aren’t suitable for teaching. You will need to share documents, use the interactive whiteboard or other online tools, type up corrections and notes – all of which is much more professionally handled on a computer.
You’ll need to set up your virtual classroom in a space where you won’t be disturbed, which is well-lit, and where you can be comfortable and focussed for the period of time in which you are doing your TEFL thing.
Let’s jump right in and talk about internet. Historically our biggest obstacle to working virtually, South African online teachers have to be smart and have a Plan B, C, and even D!
Most online employers will require you to do a speed test to ensure that your internet is fast and stable enough to handle teaching over video (a minimum of 10Mbps upload and download is generally required). Uncapped data packages, while they are often easier on the pocket, are often not the fastest solution – so look into the options available to you and consider speed as a top priority. Dealing with power cuts is another challenge, but one that you can overcome with a power bank to charge up your computer during eventual blackouts, as well as a mobile internet option (eg. a dongle), which you can keep charged and ready to go if your main internet provider goes down. If you can get a dongle with an alternative service provider from your main internet, it also means that if towers are down, you can switch to a different system and keep teaching.
In terms of qualification: you can get teaching with a basic 120 hour TEFL qualification or you could give yourself the advantage of a more comprehensive course, which opens up a wider scope within the job market and access to higher rates of pay. For more information on this, and for advice on what best suits your needs, click here.
2. Do I need a degree to teach English online?
The short answer is no! Some employers and locations advertising online jobs do require a degree, but many do not. As you are scrolling through the job sites, be sure to check the requirements for each job, they will very clearly state what they are looking for. If you tick all the boxes – go for it! If not, keep scrolling, there will be something out there for you.
3. Do I need experience to teach online?
Some positions require a certain amount of experience, but many online teaching jobs don’t as they provide training themselves. Once again, this will be clearly stated on the job posting. Another factor you will often see is that they are looking for native or native-level English. If you aren’t sure whether your level of English is good enough, feel free to call i-to-i’s experts on 021 300 2852 and they can advise you.
4. How do I find a TEFL job online?
The best job sites to look at are:
If you search using the keyword “online”, it will bring up the relevant postings. You can also keep an eye out for the following online employers, who hire a lot of South Africans:
Bear in mind that the volume of applications has increased a lot over the last year and employers don’t always have the time to respond to those who don’t fit with what they are looking for, so if you don’t hear back – don’t let it get you down. Keep looking, keep applying and keep at it. The students are out there and they need you!
5. Can I freelance as a South African online TEFL teacher?
If you would like to do your own thing and plan and deliver your own lessons, but don’t know where to find students, you have several options. There is a range of sites where you can sign up, create a profile and offer your services to students who scroll through and choose the teacher that most appeals to their needs. The advantage here is that you can set your own rates and choose your own areas to focus on in terms of lessons. It may take a bit of time for your schedule to fill up, but once it does, you are pretty much running your own online business without having to deal with marketing and payment – it all happens via the platform. These options are good for South African online teachers:
6. What else should I know about teaching English online as a South African?
It can seem like a big wide world to navigate but remember a few things: firstly, there are SO many students learning remotely these days that a qualified TEFL teacher is still a growing commodity, so it’s definitely worth jumping in and getting your certificate!
Secondly, it sounds like a paradox – but experience gets you more experience, so sign up some private students, volunteer and practise whenever and however you can so that you can add those experiences to your C.V. Consider getting a qualification that includes an online teaching component, for example (add the relevant i-to-i course here), which will help you to stand out from the pack. You could also sign up for an Online Teaching Practice Session by clicking here (link to OTPS sign up) and you will have the chance to deliver and receive feedback on an online lesson from an expert TEFL trainer.
Thirdly, be persistent. If one way doesn’t seem to be working for you – try another. Go freelance, sign up to a couple of platforms, be tenacious! The benefits of teaching students from around the world online from wherever you are so worth it.
For more tips and a whole of useful stuff, download i-to-i’s Teaching English Online Guide for South Africans
South African online teachers: ready, set, go!