There a lot of misconceptions about how to start teaching English online, and many people think that it is a difficult process. In reality, it is quite easy to get started teaching English online, even for beginners who have no experience. Many people also believe that teaching English online is only for university educated people and that they must be native English speakers. Neither, however, is correct! In this article you will discover how easy it is to get started teaching English online, even if you have no experience or are not a native English speaker.
There are many reasons why someone would want to start teaching English online. Maybe you want to earn some extra money, or maybe you want to help people learn a new language. Whatever your reasons, there are plenty of opportunities to start teaching English online.
As long as you have the internet and a device with a headset or microphone, you can start teaching English online from anywhere in the world. You must also be able to clearly speak and write in English.
You can do this in a variety of ways, including working for an online school such as Open English or BetterLesson, starting your own ESL business, or becoming a freelancer on sites such as iTalki and Preply.
There is no requirement for prior teaching experience or qualifications, but these are certainly advantageous!
Since the changes to Chinese laws and the closure of many big companies such as VIPKid, many teachers left the industry under the belief that there would be no jobs anymore. However, this is not the case. In fact, there are more online English teaching opportunities now than ever before!
There are many reasons for this – the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of online education, and schools and parents alike are realising the advantages of having their children study English online. Plus for adults learning English, it’s a more convenient and flexible option than attending physical classes.
So, if you’re thinking about starting to teach English online, now is the perfect time! With a little effort, you can easily find clients and start earning money from the comfort of your own home.
How do I start teaching English online?
To get started teaching English online, you should have the following items ready:
- A fast and dependable internet connection
- A backup power supply (a portable charger or an emergency power bank)
- At least two sets of earphones and a headset (just in case one breaks while you’re living with the students).
- A computer, laptop, or smartphone (Most laptops these days are great for English teaching because they have built-in cameras and microphones; Chromebooks are also good because they come with Google Hangouts installed by default.)
- A current webcam
- A relaxing spot to sit
- A nice table. If you don’t have a proper desk or table, you could get a cheap folding table and move it around your room depending on where you want to work.
- A peaceful environment. In general, people who teach English online work alone to avoid distractions and background noise.
- A stimulating environment. You are not required to work in a posh studio or an expensive office. A warm, inspiring, and welcoming environment would suffice.
- Patience and perseverance!
- A lesson plan book in which you can record your ideas
- Reference books (e.g., Collins English Dictionary, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)
All of these are available online at reasonable prices, so if you want to start teaching English online, you won’t have to spend a lot of money.
There are also many excellent books on the subject of online education.
Do I need to have any qualifications in order to start teaching English online?
No, not always.
However, if you want to start your own ESL tutoring business, having completed professional training courses in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) or teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) will make things much easier. And some schools and teaching platforms may require you to have a TEFL/TESOL certificate.
However, completing a basic TEFL/TESOL certificate is very budget friendly both money and time wise and will give you the foundation you need to start teaching English online.
Teaching English online also does not necessitate any formal qualifications, such as a degree, but having a relevant degree in a foreign language and/or linguistics can be extremely beneficial. If you have any additional qualifications that you have picked up in the course of your life, even if they have no relation to teaching they may be useful if you choose to go into that niche.
What niche should I choose when I start teaching English online?
There are a number of different niches you can choose when you start teaching English online:
- Young learners (ages 3-12)
- Teenagers (ages 13-18)
- Adults (19+)
- Business English
- Exam preparation (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge exams)
- English for Specific Purposes (e.g., medical English, legal English)
- One-to-one classes
- Group classes
The best niche for you will depend on your qualifications, experience, interests, and target market. For example, if you have a degree in business, you may want to focus on teaching business English to adults. Or, if you’re a certified TEFL teacher with experience working in a childcare centre, you may want to focus on that age group.
If you’re not sure which niche to choose, we recommend starting with the age group or type of class that you’re most comfortable teaching. You can always branch out into other niches later on.
Plus, there are all sorts of sub-niches within each of these categories (e.g., medical English, IELTS exam preparation, etc.), so there’s plenty of room for you to specialize and differentiate yourself from other teachers.
Something to consider is that many people think teaching beginners is the easiest when first starting, but it isn’t always. In our experience, teaching beginners can actually be quite challenging, as you have to be very clear and concise in your explanations and instructions
Many teachers find that teaching lower-level students is more rewarding, as you can see the progress they make much more quickly than with higher-level students. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what you’re most comfortable teaching.
If you’re still not sure about your niche, you can get a personalised niche report as part of Student Magnet which will assess your education, skills, experience, interests and personality traits and give you a report based on that analysis.
What type of classes should I offer when I start teaching English online?
The type of class you offer will depend on your niche. For example, if you’re teaching business English, you may want to offer classes on topics such as email etiquette, giving presentations, and teleconferencing. Or, if you’re teaching IELTS exam preparation, you may want to offer classes on essay writing, listening comprehension, and vocabulary.
The best way to figure out what type of classes to offer is to survey your target market and find out what their needs are. You can do this by conducting a survey or simply asking around (e.g., in online forums, Facebook groups, etc.).
Once you know what type of classes your students want, you can start creating your lesson plans. There are plenty of resources available online to help you with this, including here on justesljobs.com.
In many niches you don’t even have to create your own lesson plans as you can buy pre-made ones (e.g., for IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge exams). However, we recommend creating your own lesson plans at least for your first few classes, as this will help you get a feel for the material and how to teach it effectively.
You can also buy textbooks, but remember if you are offering the same lessons as every other teacher in your niche, you will have nothing to set you apart, or keep your students coming back. With original and unique lesson plans , you can make sure your students have a positive and memorable experience, which they are likely to tell their friends about, helping you attract even more students! Plus, it makes it harder for them to just move on to another teacher who works from the same textbook as you do.
When you’re first starting out, it’s also a good idea to offer a free trial class to potential students. This will help you get some teaching experience under your belt and give you an opportunity to assess the student’s level and needs. It also helps build trust and rapport with the student, which is important for long-term success. Some students may not come back but if you’ve done a good job, many will sign up for regular classes.
What are some of the challenges I may face when teaching English online?
As with any job there are a few challenges you may face when teaching English online, these can be easy to overcome so shouldn’t hold you back from getting started or enjoying your job.
Some of the challenges you may face include:
- Technical problems (e.g., poor internet connection, audio issues)
- Time zone differences
- Different learning styles
- Cultural differences
- Knowing what to teach
- Being nervous when you first get started
- Finding students
Technical problems are usually the easiest to solve. For example, if you’re having audio issues, you can try using a different headset or microphone. If you’re having internet connection issues, you can try moving to a different location or using a different internet service provider.
Time zone differences can be a bit more challenging to overcome but there are a few things you can do to make it easier. For example, you can be flexible with your schedule and offer classes at different times of the day or night to accommodate your students’ schedules. You can also use a time zone converter to help you figure out what time it is in your student’s location.
Different learning styles can also be a challenge but there are many resources available to help you cater to different types of learners. For example, if you have a visual learner in your class, you can use pictures, diagrams, and info graphics to help them understand the material. If you have an auditory learner in your class, you can use verbal repetition and audio recordings to help them learn. And if you have a kinesthetic learner in your class, you can use hands-on activities and simulations to help them understand the concepts.
Cultural differences can also be a challenge but they can also be a learning opportunity for both you and your students. It’s important to be respectful of your students’ cultures and to be aware of any cultural differences that may impact the way they learn. For example, some cultures place a high value on respect for elders, so you may need to adjust your teaching style accordingly.
Knowing what to teach is something that scares many teachers who don’t have the curriculum supplied to them. The great news is, there are many resources available to help you figure out what to teach. For example, you can use textbooks, online courses, and articles to help you plan your lessons. You can also attend workshops and conferences to learn from more experienced teachers.
Being nervous when you first get started is perfectly normal! Many new teachers feel nervous when they first start teaching but it’s important to remember that your students are probably just as nervous (if not more) than you are. The best way to overcome your nerves is to prepare for your classes and have a few backup plans in case things don’t go as planned.
Finding students can be a challenge, especially if you’re just starting out. There are a few things you can do to find students, such as advertising your services online or in local English-language newspapers or magazines. You can also ask your friends, family, and colleagues if they know anyone who might be interested in taking English classes. Plus JustESLTutors.com has a range of courses that can help you overcome that issue, such as Student Magnet which takes you through everything you need to know to get high paying students who keep coming back.
These are just some of the challenges you may face when teaching English online. With a little preparation and a positive attitude, you can overcome anything.
What are some tips to start teaching English online?
Here are a few tips to help you get started with teaching English online:
Find a good teaching platform
The first step is to find a good online teaching platform that suits your needs. There are a number of different platforms out there, so take some time to research your options and choose the one that’s right for you.
Create a professional profile
Once you’ve chosen a platform, create a professional profile and make sure to include a photo of yourself. In your profile, be sure to list your qualifications, experience, and areas of expertise.
Prepare your lesson plans
Before each class, take some time to prepare your lesson plans. This will help you stay organized and ensure that each class is effective and enjoyable for both you and your students.
Be prepared to be flexible in your teaching. Online classes can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be able to adjust on the fly.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Teaching English online can be a rewarding experience, so enjoy it and make the most of it.
How much money can I expect to make when I start teaching English online?
The amount you will earn is determined by several factors, including:
- How many hours per week you work
- The monthly number of lesson hours sold
- Whether it is an online school or not (many schools pay less than individuals)
- Your hourly rate for each lesson
- The number of students enrolled
- The number of students who continue their studies because they are determined to complete them
- What niche you choose to teach in
- The number of years of experience you have
- Whether you are a native speaker or not (unfortunately but not always the case)
- Whether there is scarcity for the hours you have lessons open in the time zones you are targeting
For example, a new teacher with no experience teaching English online can expect to earn around $15-20 per hour. An experienced teacher with several years of experience can expect to earn around $20-30 per hour. A teacher with a niche specialty (such as business English or IELTS preparation) can expect to earn around $30 – $60 per hour.
Keep in mind that these are just estimates and your actual earnings may be higher or lower than these amounts. It is also important to remember that many online English teaching platforms take a percentage of your earnings as well. Which is one of the benefits of going out on your own.
As you can see, there are many factors that will influence your earnings.
If you are working for a school or other online platform be sure you are aware of how they calculate your pay and make sure you are being paid fairly. Also make sure you know upfront of any fees or deductions that will be taken out of your earnings or bookings.
If you are just starting out, you may want to consider working for a lower rate to build up your experience and attract students. Once you have a few happy students under your belt, you can then start charging more.
Whatever you do, make sure you are being paid what you deserve. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Do your research, know your worth, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
If you are just starting out, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t earning as much as you would like. Just keep teaching and honing your skills and you will eventually start to earn more money.
Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. If you love teaching, the money will eventually follow.
Is there any special software or hardware required to start teaching English online?
No, not at all. Depending on the school or platform you tutor for, you may be required to use their software, but for the majority of online English tutors, Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom are used. You should need a headset, a decent laptop or smartphone and somewhere quiet you can hold your lessons.
What kinds of jobs are there?
When you start teaching English online you can teach:
- Instructing a class of students
- One-on-one instruction
- Taking phone lessons
- Conference instruction
- Mentoring or training of other teachers (this is good for people who like to plan and present lessons)
- Managing other teachers (as if you were your own boss!)
- Putting new courses through their paces before they’re made available to the general public.
- Anything else that comes to mind! When it comes to finding ESL work, you can be inventive.
Is it difficult to find work when you first start teaching English online?
As world events and governments change, so do things in the online English teaching industry. However, if you put together a strong application package, you should have no trouble landing an online tutoring position.
There are many online platforms and websites that list online teaching jobs. Once you have found a few jobs that interest you, simply apply by following the instructions on the website. One of the most important things is to actually follow the instructions, we have heard so many stories of people applying for jobs, not following the instructions and then wondering why they don’t hear anything back!
When you’re job-hunting, be active and stay positive. The right job will come along eventually.
But keep in mind that you can also go out on your own and find your own students, charging even more. Don’t be afraid! It’s not as difficult as you think, particularly with the Student Magnet.
How should I prepare before starting my own business?
Aside from the items listed in the preceding section, ensure that you have the following items on hand when starting your own business:
- An eye-catching banner or logo
- An eye-catching Facebook page where you can post updates on your students’ progress.
- Photographs of yourself taken by a professional
- A pricing list and course curriculum so that people know how much they will pay and what they will pay for.
- A proper class schedule
- A bio and video introduction
So there you have it! These are just a few things to keep in mind when starting out as an online English teacher. It’s not as difficult as you may think, and the rewards can be great. Just remember to do your research, know your worth, and stay positive. With a little effort, you’ll be well on your way to success. With a little effort, you can be well on your way to a successful and rewarding career teaching English online.