Teaching English as a foreign language is an excellent career option. It gives you the chance to work in stunning locations, experience different cultures, and travel to your heart’s content.
Teaching English online takes all those benefits and throws another huge one on top. As long as you have a laptop and a solid internet connection – you can work anywhere in the world.
Why Teach English online?
For a start, there will always be a need for English teachers. English is a global language that allows people from anywhere in the world to communicate with each other, regardless of where they’re from. It’s normal, for example, to see tourists from all over converse via their shared knowledge of English.
Learning English is also seen as a sign of progress and advancement. Ambitious adults, the world over, want to learn English to further their careers and create more opportunities. Parents, meanwhile, want the best for their children, which often means learning English to improve living, studying, and work opportunities.
When it comes to teaching online, you have access to hundreds of millions of potential students around the world, from wherever you are – which is incredibly convenient. With no commute to and from work and no travelling between different schools or language centres, you can potentially recoup hours every day.
Also, if you were considering venturing abroad to become an English teacher, teaching online lets you dip your toe in the water before fully taking the plunge. It’ll allow you to see if teaching is for you before moving to another country – all while making a little extra money.
What You Need to Teach English Online
Fortunately, you only need a handful of things to get started as an online English teacher.
A Laptop or Computer
First, you’ll need a desktop computer or laptop. Now, while it is indeed possible to teach on a tablet or smartphone it limits both your options and effectiveness as a teacher. If you plan to teach while travelling, however, a laptop is your best option. Also, on the subject of hardware, you’ll also need a headset with a microphone.
A Good Internet Connection
You can teach from anywhere – as long as you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Without one, you’ll experience lag, disconnections, and it’ll be less productive and more frustrating for you and your students. When you apply for an online English teaching role, a test will be conducted to determine your connection’s strength.
A Teaching Qualification
You’ll need to learn how to teach by studying for an English teaching qualification, like a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Now, there are tons of websites out there offering courses, so how do you choose?
Look for providers that are reputable, well-known, and recognised by employers – they offer the best quality courses. The TEFL Org is a great example, as they’re the UK’s most accredited course provider. In fact, they’ve helped over 120,000 students accomplish their goal of becoming an English teacher! Choosing the right TEFL course not only gives you credibility with employers and students, but it’ll also increase your confidence as a teacher.
Video Conferencing Software
You’ll need an app to communicate with your students. Zoom is a popular choice and is used by many online English schools, while Skype is also a great option.
This includes, at minimum, lesson plans, learning materials, and exercises for your students. Depending on the path you choose to take as an online English teacher, these could be provided for you or you may have to provide your own, we’ll look at this in more detail below.
How to Teach English Online
You have three main options for teaching English online:
o Find a job with an online teaching company
o Freelancing on a teaching platform
o Start your own teaching business
Let’s explore each in greater detail.
Finding a job
Finding a job with an online teaching company is the simplest way to get started as an English teacher. With a huge number of companies serving the Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japan, and South Korean markets, they’re always in need of competent, well-trained, English teachers.
The main advantage of working for an online English school is everything, from finding students to planning and creating lessons, is done for you. All you have to do is show up and teach! The downside, however, is that you have less control over who and when you teach and how much you earn.
Working as a freelancer on teaching platforms such as Italki and PalFish is similar to working for an online teaching company – only you’re responsible for finding your own students. Fortunately, some of these teaching platforms are well-known and get a lot of traffic, but it’s up to you to stand out from the pack in order to generate an income.
The main way to market yourself is with your profile, on which you can list all your skills, qualifications, and experience. One of the best ways to distinguish yourself from other teachers on the platform is to have a niche – an area of teaching in which you specialise or are strong at. This could include teaching students of a certain age or focusing on a particular aspect of English (e.g. writing).
Although new teachers do go down the freelance route, it’s more suitable for teachers with a little more experience, who understand their strengths. It can also act as a bridge between working for an online teaching company and setting up your own online teaching company.
Your Own Teaching Business
Lastly, there’s the self-employment option: setting up your own teaching business. This option requires the most work, as you’re responsible for finding your students and preparing your own materials. It is, however, the most potentially lucrative option, as you can set your own prices. Your income is only limited by your imagination and how hard you’re willing to work.
This option becomes more viable once you’ve got some experience as an English teacher and are confident in your abilities. The best way to start is to simply set up your own website. This can be done cheaply and easily with platforms such as WordPress or Wix.
From there, you should promote yourself on your preferred social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. This could include a word of the day, aimed at helping learners build up their vocabulary; addressing common areas where English students get stuck, such as they’re, there, and their; or any other area where you can lend a helping hand to the millions of eager students around the world.
Now, this won’t happen overnight and it will be hard work, but it’s the most rewarding route.
Teaching English online offers you the chance to do something that’s incomparably stimulating while allowing you to work autonomously. Best of all, there are tons of opportunities to teach English to students from all over the world, so all that’s left to do is find, or create, the opportunity that’s right for you.
Find out more about teaching English Online.