Teaching English Online – A Quick Insight


In today’s technological world and with an increasing demand for bilingual employees, many people seek English teachers for online classes. In the last few years, the demand for English teachers online has amplified with a genuine need created and companies springing up worldwide.

So what does this mean for ESL teachers? Well, essentially, if you are interested in teaching online either as your primary source of income or as a little extra while working in a school, this could be the article for you. Read on for our guidance regarding online teaching, its benefits, and how to find a job that works for you.

So, why do so many people choose to teach online?

Extra income: Many teachers working in countries where pay is pretty low in English schools choose to teach online a few hours a week for additional income. As an example, a well-paid teacher in Central America may be paid 150 pesos an hour. The equivalent for an hour’s work teaching online is at least double that – which is close to US$15 to US$30 per hour.

You also do not have to pay for travel expenses as you teach from your own home. For this reason, online teaching is a great way to boost your income and save up some extra funds for trips or additional traveling.

Tip: Some classes are one to one, and others will be for larger groups. Think about what you would prefer and what suits your teaching style and approach.

It is really good fun: The vast majority of online classes are aimed at kids and young learners. This inevitably means it involves some fun, games, and educational activities. Materials usually include games, characters, songs, and so on. So this can be an excellent way to practice your ‘total physical response’ approach to teaching younger students.

Tip: Consider your time zone and that of the country your online classes will take place in. Not everyone has the stamina for 4 am classes!

Material is generally provided: Due to the companies offering online classes and the need for uniformity and progress to be measured, most of them provide the presentations and lesson plans needed for classes. This means minimal preparation for teachers, especially compared to a group class in a traditional school setting.

This takes away the planning time that, as all teachers know, can be pretty time-consuming. This makes it relatively simple to teach online. Please note that for adult conversation-based classes, teachers are not usually provided with content and will be expected to create their classes themselves.

Tip: Always consider the tax repercussions for the country you are working in. If in doubt, speak with your local tax office to ensure you pay the correct tax on any income.

There are lots of companies to choose from: Although the majority of corporations seeking teachers for online ESL education are based in Asia, and predominantly China, there are many others across the globe.

From Spain to Central America and even Russia, online ESL has become big business. This is good news for teachers like you as it means you can afford to be picky about whom you work for and where they are based on fitting into your lifestyle.

Tip: It is worth doing a bit of research first to see what suits you, look at teacher reviews of different companies, and get an idea of their core values before accepting a new job.

What qualifications or materials do I need?

Qualifications depend entirely on what your employer requires. Some ask for native teachers; many will only employ teachers with a TEFL or CELTA qualification, and others may ask for a certain number of years of classroom experience.

Always check what is needed before an interview to ensure you are what they are looking for. It is a good idea to have scanned versions of any certificates or degrees to have copies on file if necessary. Be prepared to teach a trial class and try to show enthusiasm and a positive attitude during it. Have a look beforehand at what is expected during a class so you can tick as many boxes as possible during your trial.

In terms of the material, you need to check your job outline. We suggest a decent laptop or computer, a strong internet connection (companies will require particular speeds), comfy headphones, and a microphone that cancel outside noise. If possible, a display with some color, words in English, posters, and so on will brighten your background when you teach your classes.

Tip: Buy a decent set of headphones with a microphone that has good reviews, if possible, from teachers who work online! Noise-canceling ones make a big difference to the quality of your class, and a poor headset can lead to bad feedback.

What companies are available?

The most well-known companies are those such as VIPKID, DADA, Magic Ears, EF, Cambly, and Alo7. Each has its positives and negatives like any traditional school, so research is definitely a good idea. Consider the hours, the pay, the contract provided, how easy it is to take a day off, class cancelation policy, how to pay tax, etc. You may also prefer to work for a smaller, less well known online school, so have a good look online and see what is out there.

Tip: Consider your internet connection and have adequate upload and download speeds to teach online classes. Check the requirements provided by the company you choose to work for.

Conclusion: So, are you convinced? Could online ESL teaching be an option for you? We hope this article has provided a good starting point for your exploration of the world of online ESL classrooms and provided answers to some common questions. To finish off, we encourage you to apply for the jobs you think will work for you and make sure you are prepared before you begin with a good internet connection, comfortable headphones with a microphone, and a comfortable setting from which to teach. Good luck!

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This article was originally published in Dec-2020 and was last updated in Jan-2023.

Author: Sarah Williams

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