Thinking of teaching English online but worried that you don’t have the skills or experience? You might not realise it, but you can change the lives of others across the world with your single most valuable skill – English. Thanks to new technology that allows distance learning, online teaching has exploded.
If you are looking for a lucrative option that allows you to work from the comfort of your own home, keep reading. If you want to teach English online but don’t have a clue where to start, stick with us. We are here to answer your burning questions.
First things first, why is learning English so popular?
Good question. Let’s look at the facts. Teaching English online is booming right now. Yet the vast majority of English speakers aren’t even aware of this type of career opportunity. Close to one and a half billion people are currently learning English across the world, many of them online. Yet there are only 350 million native speakers worldwide. This shows the vast amount of opportunities out there for teaching English. But why is learning English so popular?
English is an international language – there is no doubt about that. It has become popular over the years because of the British Empire and its influence worldwide, and it has shown no signs of slowing down.
For the typical native speaker, often the ability to speak English is taken for granted. It has almost become too easy to be able to travel the world and get by day-to-day without having to speak another language.
Imagine traveling to Thailand as a native English speaker. You have to check in to your hotel, and are met with an English speaking receptionist upon arrival. If you spoke Spanish, French or German as a first language, do you think you would be able to check in as easily? Probably not. Wherever you are in the world, there are usually English speakers.
Where do I fit in with online teaching?
The easiest way to get involved in online teaching is to train to become an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher. TEFL is how thousands of English speakers thrive in today’s global gig economy. And it’s much easier than you think.
The people you teach will all have a certain level of English. Whether they are children, adults, business leaders or university students. Abilities range from beginner to intermediate and advanced. They all just want to learn from an expert in speaking English – and that’s where you come in.
The first step is to get certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can do this online and learn how to teach the four key language learning skills; reading, writing, listening and speaking. Many online lessons for learners focus on speaking, and again, that’s where you are the expert. Your main job as an online tutor will be to continually assess your students’ level of English whilst making your lessons engaging and worthwhile.
How much can I earn teaching English online?
There are a number of factors to consider when understanding what you can potentially earn as a TEFL teacher online.
Firstly, your earnings may differ depending on whether you are a native speaker or a fluent speaker. Generally speaking, native speakers tend to earn more money than those who are just fluent. However, being a native speaker doesn’t make you a better teacher.
Many non-native speakers feel that they are at a disadvantage when teaching English, but some companies think the opposite. Having experience of learning a language from scratch that is different than your first language can actually make you a better teacher, because you may have to work harder to understand the language than those who have learnt English intuitively from birth. So if you are a fluent speaker and not native, don’t think that you won’t make a good teacher.
Another advantage for earning more money is by having a degree. It can typically be in any subject and it can set you apart. Not having a degree doesn’t rule you out though, so don’t worry if you don’t have one.
The company you work for will also be a determining factor in the amount of money you earn. There are hundreds of companies that offer TEFL teaching opportunities online, but they will usually have different set-ups.
Each company will have their own performance rating scores, class size and hours per week. Starting rates can be anywhere from $10-$30, increasing with experience and positive reviews.
However, make sure to look out for companies that take a commission of your earnings. Some companies don’t take any, but others take up to a third of your earnings. Check out our ultimate guide of online teaching platforms to see more for yourself.
Getting TEFL certified
To become an online TEFL teacher you will need a stable internet connection and a desire to share your knowledge of the English language. You don’t necessarily need a TEFL qualification or a degree. But the more qualified you are, the more you can earn. So investing in getting TEFL certified will certainly make you more employable and provide more opportunities. We hosted a recent webinar where we discussed how and why to do an online TEFL course.
The techniques and knowledge that you learn whilst doing a TEFL course are different than what you would learn if you studied general teaching. There are so many TEFL courses available, so researching different companies and courses is important when deciding which is right for you. The time it will take to get TEFL certified will vary depending on your own circumstances and which course you choose. Some people can get certified in less than a month, others need more time.
Due to the flexibility offered, many people lean towards online TEFL courses. One important thing to remember though – when looking for online teaching jobs, most employers will require a minimum of a 120 hour course. And if you want to work for a Chinese company, then there are new rules that mean you must be able to verify your TEFL certificate.
What else do I need to be a great teacher?
Smaller things that will make your online teaching experience easier and more authentic are a good quality laptop with noise cancelling headphones, a brightly lit place to teach and some props to make your lessons fun and interesting.
If you want to really stand out as an online English teacher, then having some sort of virtual classroom would be a great idea! Props are ideal, and having an interactive background may be more exciting for students.
You might wonder how to make your virtual classroom more appealing. Often the simplest of props can significantly enhance your students’ learning experience. Some examples can include a map of the world poster, a white board and markers, flashcards or puppets. Getting your students attention is easy. Keeping their attention is more difficult, making props an excellent way of keeping things engaging and interactive.
Teaching – even in the gig economy is a valued profession, and good reviews will make the work mount up. Your students are not only paying for great lessons, but they also want to believe that they are working with a professional. So be creative, dress smartly and get great reviews from your students. More good reviews means more students!
OK, sounds great! What are the next steps?
The first step to teaching English online is to get your accredited TEFL certification. Teaching English online may not be difficult, but it does require certain skills. TEFL courses will give you the skills to become the best possible TEFL teacher.
The next step is to search out the best online teaching jobs. Your skills matter and are in great demand so you’ll have a lot of choice when getting started, but it is important to find the right company for you. Figure out what each potential platform pays per hour or session, and look out for the added extras and small print. Do you want to plan lessons yourself or follow lesson plans from the company? Do you prefer to teach children or adults?
Your career options with TEFL are both short and long-term, whether you are trying to earn an extra bit of money or plan to work online as an English teacher to earn a full-time wage. Either way, throwing yourself into the world of teaching English online will open your eyes to the limitless possibilities of learning and teaching virtually.
Last but not least, go in like a professional. Happy students and good reviews lead to more work, job stability and further opportunities. Don’t forget that teaching English online is becoming one of the most valued professions. Not only can you make a bit of extra money, but you can live a life of freedom and flexibility from the comfort of your own home and become the digital nomad you always wanted to be!