Working Online as a South African TEFL Teacher

Guest written by i-to-i graduate and online TEFL teacher Nicole

Upon the completion of my TEFL diploma, I felt both eager and slightly nervous to delve into the vast world of online English teaching. I applied to several online teaching companies and after some rejected applications, was fortunate to secure my first job at ‘iTutorGroup’.

Naturally, the anticipation surrounding my first lesson provided me with a combination of fluttering butterflies in my belly and a racing heart rate. I steadily calmed myself and took a moment to remember why I wanted to start teaching in the first place. “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”. I smiled upon reflecting on this Chinese proverb, and reminded myself, that as nervous as I may have been feeling to teach my first lesson, my students were most likely equally overwhelmed to acquire a new language. I completed four back-to-back lessons with students between the ages of 9-14 years and honestly felt quite exhausted. I realized that my time management needed some serious work and that it would take some time and experience to learn how to adapt my teaching style to suit so many different learners.

After some trial and error strategies and about four months of online teaching practice with children, teenagers and adults, I am happy to say that I finally found my “groove” and am loving the world of online teaching. I now recognise the importance of giving yourself time to grow and gain confidence within your teaching, and more importantly, appreciating that you are on your own journey that is ever-evolving. So here are my ‘top five tips’ on getting started with online English teaching:

Tip 1

It is important to note that most online teaching companies require prospective employees to have a bachelor’s degree of any kind, accompanied by a TEFL certificate, I completed the Level 5 300 hour Diploma with i-to-i. Teaching experience is naturally also preferred, but not essential. Try to ensure that you have digital proof of these qualifications as well as a well-constructed resume before you apply for an online teaching position.

Tip 2

Do some research on various online English companies to establish what they look for in prospective employees, and to establish if you would be a good fit for that specific company. Some companies seek individuals from specific countries, while others are open to any citizens that speak English.

Tip 3

Ensure that you have reliable technology as this will be required when you have your first online teaching interview or mock lesson. The essentials include a good quality computer/laptop with a reliable internet connection, accompanied by a webcam and a headphone with an attached microphone. Your technology is your means of teaching and therefore quintessential. Additionally, it is a good idea to consider investing in an appropriate desk and chair for your teaching comfort.

Tip 4

Your teaching will need to take place in a quiet space that has good lighting, as this will ensure that your students can hear and see you clearly. Take time to establish where this will be in your home as this will also become your personal “office space”.

Tip 5

Equip yourself to start teaching by making some teaching props or perhaps purchasing some items that could be beneficial to your teaching. You do not need to spend much money to establish a basis of props that will be used frequently. In addition to this it is very helpful to watch videos online to familiarise yourself with appropriate teaching techniques and to observe other online English teachers in action!


The online English teaching world is expanding every day, and with greater demand for lessons the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to take the leap and begin your adventure, it might just be the start of a vocation that you find to be most rewarding!

Online South African TEFL Teacher, Nicole


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