Are you looking for a flexible online job that allows you to travel the world? Or are you just happy to make some money with a side hustle?
Teaching English has provided countless opportunities to live and work abroad for many years, but up until this very moment, the thought of teaching English online may have never crossed your mind – and why would it? It’s a new profession. The demand for online education has taken the field by storm and erupted in popularity in recent years across the globe. A flexible lifestyle and the ability to be your own boss while teaching English and traveling the world – what’s not to love?
Teaching English online is an industry experiencing rapid growth in demand, and it has the potential to long-term employment stability, whether it be a part-time or full-time basis. You get to meet and interact with people from all around the world, and you have the opportunity to build relationships with your students and teach them the skill of English to set them up for a successful future. You have the chance to teach both children and adults from countries you may never visit, but who knows, maybe with your newfound lifestyle, you can add it to the top of your bucket list!
There are many reasons why teaching online can be the ideal job for you, whether it is because you want to make some extra money or you are looking for a way to finance your international lifestyle. Teaching online is the perfect job for a travelers lifestyle, so I wanted to write a post that would tell you a little bit more about this unique opportunity.
What is teaching English online and is there a market for it?
In short, teaching English online is teaching English as a foreign language to a non-native English speaker over the Internet through the use of a computer and a webcam. Students can learn one-on-one or in a small group and the cost is usually cheaper compared to an in-person, face-to-face class. Both students and teachers are able to set their own times and schedules and the teacher can teach from whatever location is convenient to them.
Online learning is a huge business and here to stay – from world-class universities to Fortune 500 companies, computer, mobile, and Internet-based training has become an integral part of nearly all fields of education, including language instruction, and Teaching English As A Foreign Language (TEFL) Combining the fact that there are more than 1 billion people learning English worldwide with massive increased access to the Internet, online English instruction is one of the fastest growing sectors of international education. In recent years, opportunities for teaching English online to speakers of other languages from across the globe have grown exponentially and show no signs of slowing down – it is definitely a booming industry!
What qualifications are needed to teach English online?
If you are TEFL certified and a fluent English speaker then you can teach English online! Some companies will also require that you have a Bachelor’s degree, although this fluctuates from company to company. Other traits that are often sought after include being personable and having great presentation skills.
If you don’t have an accredited TEFL certification, then this is your first step. TEFL UK offer a number of online courses. They are fully accredited, a member of the UK Register of Learning Providers and their courses allow you to teach anywhere in the world.
You don’t want to study for a TEFL certification, you just want to work. That’s fine as some companies will employ you as long as you are a native English speaker.
It is extremely common for someone already teaching English abroad at a language school to teach English online to boost their income. Many teachers also take advantage of teaching English online after returning home from being abroad. Finally, there are those who make teaching English online their full-time job no matter where in the world they are. This flexibility provides a fantastic way to support yourself while traveling the world and living abroad.
Can you work anywhere?
One big pro – if not the biggest – is that you can teach at home – or anywhere in the world, really. That’s right you can teach from that paradise beach hut on the other side of the world. And getting started is easy – you just need the essentials, like a working computer/laptop, webcam, a solid internet connection, mic and headset.
Just make sure you have a decent webcam, good lighting, good audio quality and a good wifi connection, and the world is your oyster.
Oh, this also means there is absolutely no commute time. You work the hours you work, and the rest you can spend doing whatever you feel like doing.
Are you able to set your own schedule?
We’ve all got busy lives and it can be hard juggling personal and work commitments. Online teaching makes all of that so much easier. So you prefer to have Mondays off? Sure, why not? Or you’re not much of a morning person? That’s fine sleep in and start working in the afternoon. You decide what teaching hours work best for you.
One of the main advantages of teaching online is the ability to set your own schedule. This means balancing online English teaching alongside your regular, full-time teaching job is surprisingly straightforward. You can choose to start small, teaching anywhere from a few hours and build your way up to 20 hours a week.
Most websites work with a schedule where you can simply fill in your available hours, and students can book with you within those possibilities. This means you can adjust your working schedule to your own preferred hours. If you want to take a day off to go exploring, that’s fine just close your schedule for the day.
There’s no grading or lesson planning required, just your time spent physically teaching lessons. So long as you’ve got some free time in the early mornings or evenings, it should be relatively easy to teach online for a few hours during the working week, as well as on the weekends, if you’re so inclined.
If you do choose to teach online on a full-time basis, you’ll get to tailor your online teaching hours to different peak times – mornings, evenings and weekends – depending on your personal preferences. For example, if you’re more of a night owl, you might prefer to teach into the small hours of the morning and sleep later than a standard teaching job will permit.
By making online teaching your primary source of income, it also means you’ll have the freedom to take holiday when it suits you – and beat those pesky peak prices during school breaks.
How much can you earn?
The pay can be quite lucrative, especially if you possess a teaching license. Qualified teachers command the highest hourly rate and are in huge demand at English tutoring companies.
By teaching as little as three hours a day, you could earn as much as $2,000 USD extra a month. Part-time online teaching is a win-win situation – you get to keep your regular job and benefits and earn some extra income in the process.
By teaching full-time, well the sky is the limit you can earn as much or as little as you want. The average wage for a full-time teacher is anything between $3000-$6000 per month. The reason i am using dollars is because you will be paid in USD but i will get to that part later.
Bonus for full-time online English teachers: You’ll also save on transportation costs, time spent getting to and from work, buying lunch and other work-related expenses.
How do you get paid?
Getting paid is a subject of great anxiety at the beginning of your online teaching journey. Is it even possible to get paid all the way from China from people i have never met in person? The answer is yes it is.
You can be paid by the following methods listed below:
Payooner – Payooner is a USA based company, similar to paypal but the fee’s are a lot lower. The RMB that you will be paid is automatically converted into USD. However, you can convert it into whichever currency you like and transfer it straight to your bank account for a 2% fee (could be different for other currencies i work with GBP). You can also order a payooner mastercard and start spending your money right away. You can find out how it works here
TransferWise – Transferwise is a borderless account which means you get instant international bank details to receive money from over 30 countries around the world, with zero fees. Just set up a USD account online and the money you are paid goes straight into your TransferWise account. No-one pays any fees, you can order a free MasterCard and start spending the money straight away. The money can even be transferred to your personal bank account at the current exchange rate. You can find out how it works here
Bank Account – Some companies will make transfers using WorldPay. However, there is a small $7 fee for this service. This will be deducted from your monthly pay. It really is not noticeable at all. However, you will be liable for any fees charged by your own bank. This can vary from each bank for me its something around £10. It would be best to contact your bank and ask them about their international transfer fees, as well as the exchange rate they will be utilising.
Do you need to pay tax?
Most online English teaching jobs categorize you as either and independent contractor or self-employed. This means it’s your responsibility to report your earnings as a self-employed income. This process will differ based on your country of citizenship or the country you are teaching English online from. For UK citizens teaching English online from within the UK but for a non-UK based company (e.g the company you teach English online for is based in China) taxation papers are often not provided, however you are still expected to report any self-employed income earned. But it’s down to you if you want to declare your earnings or not.
Do i need to create my own lessons?
The companies will usually provide you with lesson plans and curriculum to follow. The two companies i work for provide you with a full curriculum, you just log in before each class to look over the lesson plans set for that session – very little prep work is required. Some items that compliment lesson plans and help aid in successfully conveying a message or a new teaching to a student via webcam include:
- Whiteboard and markers
- Flashcards with letters and combos to use for spelling
- Picture flashcards with colours and shapes
- Hand puppets
- Magnetic letters
You should also decorate your teaching background with posters and other fun things. It just makes the atmosphere a lot more enjoyable
What equipment do you need?
Another advantage of teaching English online is the fact that getting started is relatively easy and start up costs are generally low (given you already have access to all the required equipment necessary). The main essentials are as follows:
- Laptop or desktop computer (depending on the company)
- Android phone (depending on the company)
- Reliable, high speed internet connection
- Microphone and a headset (headset not obligatory but definitely helps)
- Skype (sometimes required if a company does not have their own video platform)
Why do these students want lessons online?
Why don’t these students want lessons in-person or in a language school?
There are several reasons students are turning to turning to online English classes over a traditional classroom approach.
- Native speakers: Most people learning English want to learn with a native speaker and learning online guarantees that.
- Efficiency: Neither the teacher nor the student needs to commute to the classroom therefore saving time and money
- Less distraction: When teaching one-on-one or in a small group, there are fewer students and overall less distractions that detract from the lesson.
- Back-tracking: Some online English teaching platforms have capabilities to record the class and use it for reference at a later date. This way the student always has something to look back on. In-person classes do not offer this.
- Cost effective: An online English class is often cheaper than an in-person class at a language school
- Choices: Students or parents often have the choice to pick which teacher they would like to study with
- Flexibility: In-person classes at a language school often require you to be in attendance on a set day and time. If you can’t make that time slot, then you miss the class, If you’re a student, online English classes allow you to pick the time you would like your lesson, and if you’re a teacher you get to set your own hours. This is especially beneficial for adult students that are already working part or full time jobs.
How do you teach English to non-native speakers if I don’t speak another language?
Language classes are typically taught entirely in English. For example, imagine you’re teaching a group of students from China. Even if you were completely fluent in Chinese, you would still need to be teaching the class 100% in English. The students will have some level of English language proficiency. The class is run by a fluent English speaker 100% in English the entire time, so that’s why you are in such high an demand and teaching students from all over the world. The online students want to learn from a real native English speaker and be able to mimic your accent and dialect and pick up on exactly how you speak.
Countries with a high demand for English teachers: