There are many ways that you can teach English online. You can work for a company which provides you with a curriculum, schedule and also provides you the students. You can also advertise your services on a platform which will also help you find your students. But, the platform will earn a percentage for each lesson you teach. Or, you can go it alone by acquiring your own students and using your own platforms to facilitate your lessons. This option is the life of an independent and freelance TEFL teacher.
Being an independent and freelance TEFL teacher offers you complete freedom. You can implement your own curriculum and lessons, follow your own timetable, acquire your own students, and more. As a freelance TEFL teacher, you will essentially be your own boss. Want to sleep in on Mondays? Sure. Want to deliver lessons that aren’t tedious and boring? Great! Want to charge five digit numbers for each lesson? We can’t stop you, I guess (but maybe you shouldn’t).
However, there are certain challenges that come with being an independent or freelance TEFL teacher. You need to know how to facilitate language acquisition, advertise your services, and maximize your earnings for all of your hard work. To succeed in operating an online English teaching business, teachers need to master three skills. These skills are;
- Teaching skills
- Marketing skills
- Sales skills
Why Freelance TEFL Teachers Need These Three Skills
Being a good teacher isn’t enough to maximize your earnings and experience as a freelance TEFL teacher. With this newfound independence and freedom, you will have to muster all of your strength in order to attain and maintain students, and to plan and deliver lessons.
Becoming an independent or freelance TEFL teacher is no easy feat. Whereas most online English teachers only worry about their virtual classrooms, you’ll have to run your business as a… well, business, obviously. That includes providing a curriculum, acquiring your own students through marketing, grading their work and tracking their progress, managing payments and accounting, and much more.
Developing Teaching Skills for Freelance TEFL Teachers
Firstly, to be a successful freelance TEFL teacher, you need to have the skills to be able to deliver English lessons effectively. This one is a given. If you have the marketing and sales skills to advertise your products, but not the skills to effectively provide your service, you won’t get far.
While students and their parents may be enticed by your effective marketing, who in their right minds would continue to pay for classes which amount to nothing?
Follow a Structure
To be an effective freelance TEFL teacher you should be following a structured curriculum, whether it is yours or another institution’s. This will allow you to guide your students and track their progress effectively. You need to have an effective plan in place to help your students attain particular objectives in order for them to develop their language skills rather than aimlessly teaching them disconnected lessons.
Additionally, by teaching students who are following the same curriculum or lesson plans, there will be fewer aspects to plan for your lesson. This means less prep work outside of your actual lessons, and more money for the time you’re spending on being a freelance TEFL teacher.
Become TEFL Certified
But before you build a curriculum to structure your lessons, you should have a TEFL qualification to teach English online as a rewarding career. Government regulated TEFL certificates are available online at Premier TEFL and are easily accessible. By becoming TEFL qualified, not only will you be able to display your certification to potential customers to enhance your reputation, but you’ll refine your skills as a TEFL teacher.
Premier TEFL offers a range of TEFL certificates, ranging from 120 hour courses all the way up to 310 hours. Our most popular courses are our Ofqual Level 5 and can include live teaching practice with a qualified instructor to improve your skills. Our Ofqual Level 5 TEFL Courses include;
- 180 Hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course
- 240 Hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course
- 300 Hour Ofqual Regulated Level 5 TEFL Course
These CELTA-equivalent self-led courses offer personal tutor support, comprehensive training and flexible self-paced study as well as an internationally recognized certificate approved by government regulation upon completion. The courses which offer 240 and 300 hour TEFL training also offer specialized subject training, such as Teaching English Online, Business English, and more.
If you want to take an extra step to boost your teaching abilities, you can take part in expert tutor-led sessions and teaching practice. This can be done through a hybrid course (study and practice) or as a standalone course.
Online teaching practice allows you to gain experience in a controlled and regulated environment. The course allows you to put theory into practice, all while gaining constructive feedback from an experienced TEFL teacher endorsed by Highfield Qualifications. Online teaching practice is available from these courses;
- 10 Hour Virtual TEFL Course
- 130 Hour Hybrid TEFL Course
- 250 Hour Level 5 Hybrid TEFL Course
- 310 Hour Hybrid Master TEFL Course
There isn’t a TEFL course which is objectively the best TEFL course. Each of these courses have their own benefits. While some provide more affordability and flexibility, others provide more learning materials. While some offer teaching practice, others are entirely self-paced, meaning that you can take as long as you like.
Marketing Skills for a Freelance TEFL Teacher
Can you teach if you don’t have any students? Just like your marketing skills will be negated if you don’t have the skills to maintain your students, your teaching ability will go to waste without the right marketing tools.
Establish How You Can Help Your Students
You need to be able to improve your marketing skills in order to have a classroom of students. Teachers can build multi-regional websites, advertise their services on social media, create content or wave reviews in potential students’ faces, but what matters is what the teacher promises to offer to his or her students.
An effective marketing strategy will have you not only saying that you’re an English teacher and you can help students. It needs to be profound enough in order to make students and their parents act. You need to highlight what your lessons can help them to achieve.
Don’t undersell yourself. English is the business language of the world. The fact that you have English proficiency is enough to help students in their social, academic, and occupational pursuits. By offering comprehensive English lessons, you are able to improve a student’s employability and their future careers.
You could list all the things that English proficiency – which is what your service can offer – can do to improve future opportunities. You can combine this with call to action methods in order to maximize student acquisition. For example, something like “secure your place today to improve your career prospects!”
Define Your Niche
Teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes) is also an excellent teaching skill which can tie into your marketing strategies. Most TEFL teachers only offer general English skills. Be sure to use your work experience or knowledge of a particular field (e.g. law, engineering, cooking) to offer English learning in a specified context. By offering more than general English skills, you’re giving your student the edge, helping them develop their English in particular environments.
Whether students want to study abroad, work abroad, or merely improve their English and international network of friends, your services are exactly what can help achieve these goals.
It makes a huge difference when you can market your skills in a way which highlights what you can offer. You don’t just “teach English”, you can help students improve their employability and prospects. Everyone knows what a teacher does. However, students need to be inspired by knowing what a teacher can help them achieve.
Read about our 7 tips to market yourself as a freelance TEFL teacher here!
Sales Skills for Freelance TEFL Teaching
You also need to develop your sales skills to be able charge the rate that your service is worth. Only then will you be able to have an effective career as a freelance TEFL teacher. Once you’ve grabbed the attention of eager students, you need to be able to show to them that you can deliver what is promised.
Offering an Intro / Demo Lesson
Independent online teachers can host a free demo lesson in order to intrigue students and give them a hint of what your lessons are like. This is also an opportunity to build trust and rapport with your potential student. You can even see this opportunity as a sales pitch! There’s nothing to lose for the student taking the free lesson, and by making a good first impression as an engaging and reliable teacher, they’re likely to come back.
Offer English Lesson Packages
However, free demo lessons aren’t the only sales strategies that freelance TEFL teachers can employ. In fact, many other teachers may be offering these, so you might need to diversify your sales strategy.
Another option for freelance TEFL teachers is offering a bulk of lessons in a package. Package deals can offer a discount for students if they commit to having a certain amount of lessons with you. Rather than paying $15 per lesson, they can reduce the cost to $12.50 if they secure 10 lessons in advance, for example.
This guarantees that you have this specific amount of lessons to teach locked in your schedule. Your students receive a discount, whereas you receive guaranteed lessons and fixed hours. This is a win-win situation for you and your student!
Establish the End-Goal of the Course
Teachers can also employ other strategies in order to entice students. If students want to reach a particular goal, teachers can provide a framework to measure their progress. For example, students often study in order to pass an IELTS test or improve their Business English proficiency. Teachers can promise that they will be able to achieve these goals if they were to learn with them. Just as long as the goal is realistic and the promise is honest on the teacher’s behalf.
During the demo lesson, teachers can assess their students’ levels to assure them that by lesson 10 they will have mastered particular target language points. For example, “by lesson 10, you will be able to utilize these Business English terminologies within the right context. Or, “by the end of this course, you will be able to independently discuss the topic of climate change.”
By introducing a progression framework or course objectives early on, students will see a glimpse of their future abilities if they are to put in the work with you as their teacher.
Teach Online as a Freelance TEFL Teacher
To be competitive in the freelance TEFL market, you can’t just be a master of one trade anymore. You need to improve on areas other than teaching in order to maximize your student acquisition and salary potential. Marketing and sales are necessary skills to develop if you want to ensure that your teaching skills can be fully utilized. You may be the best TEFL teacher in the world. But, no one may know because your lack of marketing or selling might be doing your talent a huge disservice.
Panicking? Don’t. Help is here. Let us introduce you to James Liu, a successful freelance ESL Teacher himself, who became a consultant and who now coaches other ESL teachers to achieve their dreams as freelance and independent teachers. His popular 21-day Challenge starts on the first day of the month, and is designed to revolutionize your ESL teaching business.