How to be an Online English Teacher

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Teaching English online has become a go-to career for many people, digital nomads and worldly travelers included. Some have even made it their full-time job while hopping from country to country. 

Even those who prefer to stay at home and spend time with their family instead of going into a corporate office or classroom everyday find it appealing and many make the switch to teaching online. 

Whether escaping the mundane corporate grind or living a digital nomad lifestyle, teaching online has become one of the most widely available, flexible, and financially stable remote opportunities for English speakers. 

For one, the demand for English speaking skills is increasing exponentially as technology advances and we become a more globalized economy. New companies are creating online teaching jobs and skilled English teachers are their most important asset. 

This article discusses how English speakers can teach online, the lifestyle, how much they can make, and some tools and tips they should consider before diving head first.

What is Online English Teaching?

Teaching English online is essentially what it sounds like–administering classes remotely for various age groups and levels covering grammar, comprehension, and practical tools for English conversation online. 

Usually classes are administered through a platform built by the company, and follow a specific curriculum. The platforms usually have built-in lesson plans and tools, such as rewards systems, games, story-lines, and activities which make it easy to digest for teachers and students. 

Honestly, these platforms make a teacher’s life much easier. For one, they don’t have the responsibility of coming up with lesson plans, which can be a time-consuming and arduous task. Instead, they can simply follow the structure and process set up for them.

In addition, some companies do not require a specific degree or certification, and many even provide their own training. As most of the students are beginner English speakers, there are many companies that don’t require high-level expertise or degrees. 

The income of an online English teacher varies. Depending on the company, they may offer certain fixed rates per lesson depending on the qualifications of the teacher. 

Across the board, teachers who have a high proficiency level of English, have teaching experience, and/or a teaching certification receive higher pay.

Day in the Life of an Online English Teacher

An online English teacher sets their own schedule. In most cases, the teacher creates their availability and then from there are open for booking private classes. They may choose to work Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm (a regular work week) if they are teaching online full-time. 

For many who teach as supplemental income, they might choose to work just a few days a week, evenings, or on weekends only. They may not have a full schedule right away, as it takes some time to become regarded as a reputable teacher. 

They can teach children, adult classes, group classes, or a mix of all of them.

A teacher will typically know their weekly schedule and log on 30 minutes or so before the class onto the company platform to go over the upcoming lesson and plan accordingly.

Making sure all the tools are ready, such a functioning microphone and headset, and the internet connection is working properly is a main priority. From there, the teacher might get out some props to help them with interactive learning for their lesson. Some companies require other stipulations such as proper lighting and an “educational” backdrop to mimic a classroom setting.

Most classes are 30 minutes long, and many like stacking up classes. Taking time off is simple, and it is common to block off days or even weeks for time off or travel. 

Compared to other conventional ways of teaching, such as working at a school, teaching online requires less time, commitment, and experience. That’s what makes teaching English online so appealing to many digital nomads who are travelling and don’t have many options for work. 

Online English Teaching Jobs

There is no shortage of jobs in this field. Tons of companies are popping up out of thin air looking for English teachers, many of which are from Asian countries.

Many want to know how to land those online teaching jobs without a degree. Most do not require a specific degree, but having a certification such as TEFL or teaching experience is either recommended or necessary. 

Fortunately, doing the certification is simple and affordable, and can be accomplished in a matter of a few weeks. It may cost a few hundred dollars, but many people can find offers or group-ons and end up doing the course for $100 or less. 

One of the most widely-known companies that has boomed in the past couple years is VIPKid. They offer a competitive salary, starting at $14 an hour all the way up to $25; they require a bachelor’s degree in anything however do not require a teaching certificate such as TEFL or TESOL, although some teaching experience is recommended. 

Other companies which serve mostly kids between ages 4-12 are GogoKids, SayABC, and many more. Opportunities to teach all ages including adults as well as group lessons can be found with companies like Cambly and Palfish. OpenEnglish is specifically for spanish speakers learning English. 

Becoming an Online English Teacher in 2020

To become an online English teacher, one should consider which age group, and choose a reputable company to begin the application process. This can take up to a couple weeks, and can include filling out a form on the company website about a demo lesson, a language proficiency test, an interview, and training session.

Typically, after a set of demo lessons and simple verification tests, the teacher will be offered their salary or compensation and be paid per lesson. 

If the applicant is certain they want to delve into teaching English, they should consider taking an online TESOL or TEFL course. This will allow them to get paid more and have more confidence in the field.

Some equipment and high speed internet is crucial. This includes a laptop and a headset with a working microphone. This allows the teacher to be heard clearly and with the mobility to move around as needed. 

High-speed internet and a stable connection must be installed for a teacher to succeed. Most companies have a minimum speed requirement which is articulated on the website. To ensure this, a traveler may consider investing in an international hot spot router. 

Teachers who work for companies like VIPKid can end up making around $4-5k per month! That is a pretty impressive salary, but does require working a full-time schedule. 

Overall, people tend to enjoy teaching English online because they have more freedom, and the ability to work as much or as little as they want. It’s possible to teach while traveling, so long as all digital nomads have the equipment and high speed stable internet.

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