The changes to the employment scene in recent years have seen many people adapt to different work environments. While some have embraced a hybrid pattern, split between working at the office and remotely, others have become strong supporters of working from home (WFH) full time.
This new arrangement has forced many to set boundaries and to find balance between personal and professional life within the same physical space. Those who have successfully managed to achieve these, are the very people who can now enjoy more flexibility and freedom all around.
If you are among those who want to join the WFH army and are looking for a way to break free from your current employment situation, teaching English online could be a suitable option.
Why teaching English online
Business, science, and technology are only some of the fields in which English is adopted as the common language worldwide. As a result, mastering English language skills can provide work opportunities to those who live in non-English-speaking countries but want to be able to communicate globally.
This means that offering your services as a teacher of English as a foreign language (TEFL) can become a reliable source of income, as well as giving you a range of benefits. You can teach from wherever you are in the world, either while you travel or from the comfort of your own home, and you can be more flexible about your work schedule and amount of workload. If you are interested in finding out more about teaching English online or abroad, take a look at this handy guide, where you can find detailed information about the requirements needed to get you started in the TEFL world.
Another important advantage to teaching English online is that you are in control of your career. You can choose who to teach – nationalities, age groups, proficiency levels – and what to teach – general or business English, exam or conversation classes etc.
Approaches to teaching English online
There are two ways of starting up as an online English teacher: as an independent freelancer or with the support of an established online school.
If you choose to set up your freelance online teaching business as an independent freelancer, you need to assess your business skills. This is because you will need to work behind the scenes to develop your business considering aspects like marketing, legal agreements, and student recruitment. On top of this, of course, you will have to plan and deliver your lessons. All this requires plenty of time and effort, as well as tons of enthusiasm and determination.
If you feel that this can get a bit too much for you at the moment, there’s an alternative. There are many different online schools that do the background work – finding students, arranging schedules and payments, and looking after the business side of things – while their teachers focus on planning lessons and teaching.
In this instance, you would be a freelance teacher who offers their services to the online school through their portal. You will still have the freedom to choose when, where, and how many hours you want to work each month and, in some cases, to set your own hourly pay and the online company will take a percentage of your earnings. Alternatively, the school pays you a set hourly rate.
Another advantage of working with well-established online teaching organizations is that they often offer teaching support and/or lesson materials and ready-made lesson plans for you to use. Here are a couple of examples of online schools you could be working for:
Topica Native focuses mainly on students from South Asia divided into small classes with up to 6 adults. They offer a flexible schedule, free training for inexperienced teachers, support via a community of teachers, and ready-made lessons.
They welcome native and non-native teachers, as long as they have a university degree, with a clear and neutral accent. Having previous teaching experience is not necessary, although preferred, but you must be willing to commit to 5 teaching hours per week.
Open English focuses mainly on students from Latin America and they offer either one-to-one or group lessons. You can choose whether to teach adults or juniors between 8 and 14 years old. They offer a flexible timetable but they require you to work at least 10 hours a week. The hourly pay varies depending on the time of the lessons.
Their teachers need to have a North American accent, hold a TEFL qualification, and have at least one year’s teaching experience. In return, they offer professional development and ready-made lessons to save you prepping time.
Equipment to start teaching online
As you might have guessed, teaching online requires a few pieces of equipment. However, they don’t need to be expensive and you can keep it all pretty basic – chances are you already have most of it anyway! There are advantages to upgrading your tech, but you can always do that further down the line, if you decide to make a career out of teaching English online.
You will need a pc/laptop. It’s not important if it’s not top of the range, but it needs a fair amount of memory storage.
You will need a camera and a mic. Those built-in in your laptop are just fine, as long as they are in good working conditions.
If you are teaching while travelling, consider investing in a good quality headset to reduce background noise.
As well as the equipment, the setting from which you deliver your lessons plays a key role in your success as a freelance teacher. If possible, dedicate an area of your home/room to teaching. Choose a quiet and well-lit spot – better if it’s natural light or where you can place a bright lamp so that your face can be seen clearly on camera. A plain background is ideal, where you can hang or stick some language-related posters, depending on your students’ age. These are important details to consider that will give your lessons a more professional feel.
Ready for the first step?
Changing careers is a massive step in anyone’s life, even more so if it involves transforming the work pattern completely. Feeling nervous to start a new professional path is understandable, but rest assured that teaching English online is a great adventure and it can be very fulfilling and enjoyable.