13 Ways to be a Better Online ESL Teacher


These simple things will lead to your success and how to be a better online ESL teacher. Find out why some teachers are being fired!

The internet has opened up a new world for learners in all corners of the globe to connect with teachers of their chosen subject. The ESL industry has embraced internet learning, and teaching ESL online is a booming business.

Many teachers would love to travel abroad and teach English in exotic countries but for various reasons are unable to travel, teaching online means they can teach, and students benefit from their skills and experience.

Teaching online in a virtual classroom is very different to teaching in a classroom in person, and some teachers find it challenging and give up before they can find success.

We have come up with 13 ways to be a better online ESL teacher so you can feel confident in your skills, enjoy working from home and become a better online ESL teacher.

50+ Budget-Friendly Background and Prop Ideas for Online Teaching

1. Ensure your equipment is ready to go at the beginning of the class. Your student isn’t paying for you to fiddle around with your webcam or test your microphone.

2. Be dressed appropriately. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be professional.

3. Check your background. It should be clean and uncluttered. If possible have the same background for each lesson so students aren’t distracted by the new background.

4. Don’t eat, drink or chew gum while teaching. A glass or bottle of water may be appropriate at times but shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

5. Be present during the lesson. Don’t answer emails, the phone, the door or other messages.

Common sense is not all that common!

6. Depending on the platform you are using, you may need to share materials with your students. Using a document sharing service is easier to manage than constant emailing back and forth.

7. Engage with your students. Don’t talk to long without getting feedback from your students. Ask questions regularly!

13 Ways to be a Better Online ESL Teacher

8. Be friendly with your students but don’t engage to deeply in personal conversation, and don’t share personal information or ask for it in return.

9. Set specific times that students can expect responses from you on messenger services or via email. You want to be available to them but you also need to have personal time.

10. Provide homework for your students. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but just something to keep them engaged until their next lesson. Make sure you speak to them about it in the next lesson.

11. If you are following your own lesson plan make sure you are prepared and have kept proper notes as to previous lessons with your student and what level they are learning.

12. Ask your students how they feel they are going and if they need anything to be reviewed. Sometimes it can be hard for students to ask you to go back to something or to acknowledge they may be struggling with a particular concept. If you ask them they will be more likely to respond truthfully.

13. Strive for continuous improvement. Read hints and tips like this blog and complete any other training or certifications offered to you.

There is that old adage “common sense  is not all that common” and these 13 ways to be a better online ESL teacher may seem like common sense to most of us. However we have been made aware that some companies are having to let go dozens of teachers due to unprofessional behaviour such as eating and laying in bed while delivering lessons.

Can you believe it?

Further Reading:

Teach English Online: The Easy Guide to Getting Started

Start Your Own Online ESL Tutoring Business: Insider Knowledge

Teaching English Online: Don’t Let Not Having a Degree Stop You

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13 Ways to be a Better Online ESL Teacher