The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English Online 💻🙌
We all want to get paid to travel, right? Well, what if we told you you could?
From the comfort of your own home (away from home). For a few hours a week.
Here’s everything you need to know to join the waves of intrepid, long-term travelers that are earning income while living in dream locations—read on to learn the inside scoop on getting paid to teach English online!
What is teaching English online?
Long gone are the days where you could only become an international TEFL teacher by teaching in a classroom with a small (or large) group of students. With the onset of technology and the magic of the internet, it’s now possible to be a remote, digital teacher for students abroad.
Most of the time, online English teaching involves one-on-one arrangements with individual students. The students can range in age from young preschool ages to professionals. As for the coursework, this is largely determined by the student themselves or by the academy/agency that hires you. Though you’re not interacting in person per se, this is a brilliant way to give students the chance to listen to/speak with a foreigner (and a foreigner’s accent) and learn in a high-impact, close-knit way.
How to find teaching jobs online
Finding teaching jobs online is easy peasy if you follow the following steps.
Fulfill the requirements for hiring.
Get TEFL Certification—Specialize in Teaching English Online
Did you know that you can get a TEFL certification specifically for teaching English online? If this is the main type of teaching that you’ll want to participate in—sayonara, awkward classwide ice breakers—then you can opt to specialize in this certification rather than a typical 168 hour course.
If you want to prepare yourself for opportunities to both teach English online and AND in person, you can add this optional course on top of your regular course. You’ll be a TEFL superstar in no time!
This course specialization is important to have because it prepares you for the nuances and challenges of teaching English online, like how to establish strong personal connections with students, how to troubleshoot technical problems, how to ideate and plan effective lessons that can be taught virtually, etc.
Have a School Degree
Some agencies will require you to be a college grad, others might be okay with having a high school diploma only. Regardless, you will need some sort of qualification related to your education level, and they rarely hire individuals who are under age 18 without a high school degree.
Speak English Fluently
For non-native English speakers, teaching English online can be a great option, as hiring standards can be less-stringent than for in-person teaching opportunities. You will likely need proof of your fluency, such as TOEFL or IELTS exam scores, but jobs will still abound whether you’re a national from a native-English speaking country or not.
Know what kind of job you want.
Think about things like…
- What hours are you willing to work? If your students are in China and doing classes after school, that can mean clocking in in the wee hours of morn or late at night.
- How many hours do you want to work? Since teaching English online is a bit of “choose your own adventure,” you might be able to negotiate the number of hours you work for a company. Know in advance if you want to teach super part-time, like five hours a week, or if you’re up for a bigger workload.
- Do you have preferences on where your students are from? Perhaps you want to use this as a foray into learning more about Korean culture or you’ve heard great things about Japanese students. Most of the time it probably won’t matter where your students are from, but you can be strategic with their location from a cultural-perspective if you’d like.
Find an online agency to hire you.
There are more and more online teaching agencies popping up every day. It’s up to you, freshly TEFL certified job seeker, to vet organizations that you could potentially work with. Ideally, you’ll be able to read reviews online of the company or talk to current / past teachers about their experiences. You’ll want to make sure the company is trustworthy, that they remit payments on time, that they will actively connect you to possible students, and that they aren’t going to “go under” any time soon.
Sign the contract and get to work!
Make sure you read the contract and its stipulations thoroughly—maybe even have a friend give it a once-over, too. Understand in advance what it looks like to quit the job and if that will impact your earnings or ability to get your last paycheck. Work out the details of getting paid in cash, direct deposit, or through a regular check. And finally, be on the same page about how many hours you would like to work each week, what your availability is for those working hours, and maybe even where your preferred students are from.
You might not have a full workload from the get-go, but your clientele will build over time as you prove to your company that you, as well, are reliable and trustworthy.
How to do the job right
Here’s our best advice for not just being a good online English teacher but being a GREAT online English teacher. #jobsecurity
There’s nothing more frustrating than a teacher teaching “on the fly.” Your students might not always be perceptive of this happening, but their parents likely will be. And if the student isn’t improving their English skills at a decent progress, they’re going to have questions.
Plan in advance your course load for each class, and even plan a few backup games and activities in case your original plan doesn’t take as long as you thought it would—or your student just isn’t connecting to your curriculum. Use the skills picked up in your TEFL class to make the lesson plan as focused and comprehensive as possible.
It does take more work, but it beats ‘wingin’ it’ every time.
Have the right equipment.
You’re teaching online—you need the tools and resources to allow you to do this well. This means a strong internet connection, a laptop that is fully charged and ideally plugged into the wall, a desk or table, headphones, and a working microphone. This cannot be stated enough: if you don’t have the basic equipment to allow you to do your job well, you’re not going to do your job well. Period.
Have a quiet environment.
Coffee shops or libraries aren’t the best locations for getting the job done. You need a dedicated quiet work-space—preferably in your home or in a private co-working space—to be able to clearly and comfortably communicate with your students. Remember: They don’t speak English fluently or natively, so trying to hear you over background noise is just going to complicate their learning and slow down their progress. Instead, set aside space where you can talk openly without distractions.
Their parents will likely watch.
Don’t be surprised if a student’s parents sit-in on the lesson for young children. This is most helpful since the kiddo might be easily distracted or less-likely to participate since “you’re not really there.” It’s not that they’re trying to make you uncomfortable, really! 🙂
Don’t look sloppy. And yes, put on pants.
^^ Enough said.
Get out there and find jobs for teaching English online!
Teaching English online is a brilliant way to work and travel. Though the hours can be wonky, it provides a great deal of location flexibility and potential income earnings that will allow you to sustain your life abroad or at home. Get your online-teaching TEFL certification then strap in for a whirlwind—it could be the ride of your life!