What is Online English Teaching?
Teaching English online is a great way to make money from home AND make a difference to the lives of kids and adult learners.
You will use your computer, tablet or phone to teach children and adults all over the world.
The most popular platforms involve you teaching English to children in China who are 4-16 years in age. You will use a video platform that has a pre-prepared lesson plan on the screen. But there also other platforms where you can teach other languages and all kinds of subjects to adults as well as kids.
Do I need to be a US or Canadian citizen to teach online?
The short answer is: no.
The slightly longer answer is: not really.
Many online teaching companies do express a preference for North American teachers in particular, and a lot of the financial rigmarole is set up with North Americans in mind.
But this is not a hard and fast rule for all companies.
To find out who is hiring and what company you can apply for automatically, feel free to use the DigiNo JobMatch tool.
Do I need to be a native English speaker?
There are many companies which will ask you to demonstrate that you are a native English speaker.
For instance, the following companies will not consider your application unless you are a native English speaker:
However, simply being fluent in English will be enough to meet the requirements of other companies. If you’re interested in PalFish or Cambly then being a non-native speaker doesn’t need to be a deterrent.
Here is a full list of Online English Teaching Companies.
What sort of experience will I need?
Not every company will require you to have had previous experience teaching. But companies that pay higher hourly rates such as Whales English will require experience.
However, some companies will be happy to hire an applicant with no previous experience, and some will simply ask for relevant experience.
If you have ever spent time tutoring, counselling, caretaking or babysitting then some of the more accessible companies will be happy to consider your application.
How do I make an online teaching demo video?
The demo video is basically a trailer for yourself as a teacher. You will simply record yourself giving a self introduction such as name and teaching experience. You will then demo your teaching abilities by doing a short teaching exercise using a prop to explain a simple word such as ‘Apple'
Here is a full article with more detail on creating an Online Teaching demo video.
Do I need to have evidence of higher education?
Most companies looking for online teachers will ask for teachers who have Bachelor's degrees. This needn't be a complete barrier for entry, though.
Some companies don't demand a minimum level of qualification, so lacking a higher education doesn't have to be the end of your ambitions. You can discover which companies will hire with or without higher education, use DigiNo JobMatch.
Will I need TESOL/TEFL/TESL/CELTA certification?
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of companies for teaching online do require some form of TESOL/TEFL/TESL/CELTA certification.
This means it can be quite difficult for someone to throw themselves into the profession on a whim, but it does ensure at least a minimum level of quality among potential teachers.
Certification is not difficult to obtain, and the prices vary with some being at a low of $19. You can check out a range of TESOL/TEFL certificates here.
The Chinese Ministry of Education have long been toying with the idea of making it mandatory for online teachers to possess relevant certification, and by the time you read this they may well have done so.
Will I be expected to commit to a minimum number of hours?
Many companies do expect a minimum number of hours spent teaching each week – but it’s worth keeping in mind that not all do…
If you don’t like the idea of being held to a cast-iron minimum number of hours, then consider the following companies which fall under the category of ‘Online Platform Teaching'. This is where you create a profile and set your teaching times:
What are the minimum technical requirements?
The basic technical requirements are precisely what you might expect.
An external webcam will definitely be more suitable – even a cheap USB one from the internet will likely serve you better than your built-in webcam.
You will also need a headset with built in microphone.
A reliable internet connection is a must, for obvious reasons. Many companies ask for a guarantee of at least 2mbps upload and 10mbps download. Here are two places to test this:
Should I have props or other materials for this sort of work?
Other than the requirements outlined above, you don’t need a great deal to begin your teaching journey.
Most companies recommend props and music, often puppets are a real boom to applications – a white board will get you noticed, too.
Anything which you think will make you stand out in the sea of faces will be to your benefit. You may be required to have a colorful background with some companies also.
But from a technical perspective, the requirements are reasonably low.
Can I teach online and travel?
There are only two essential ingredients to teaching online: a stable internet connection and a peaceful teaching environment.
As long as you meet both of these requirements then it doesn’t matter where you are.
It’s not uncommon for online teachers to travel the world while they teach, using online teaching to subsidise their travel. AirBnB is a popular choice for a teaching environment on the road.
Do I need to create my own curriculum?
You will not generally be expected to create your own curriculum from scratch, but this depends on the company.
More often than not, each company will provide you with access to the curriculum – you just have to learn it before you can teach it. When teaching younger students, you will have pre-prepared and planned lesson plan on the screen to guide you along the class.
Make sure you’re familiar with the course content of the curriculum, otherwise you’re going to lead your students astray.
Do I need to set and mark homework?
The overwhelming majority of online teaching companies do not expect you to spend time marking homework. Some companies will require you to fill out end of class reports to monitor student progression, as well as set fun little exercises for home. But you won't be marking any essays.
This isn’t to say you’re not allowed to set homework yourself if you want to – various companies provide you with the capacity to set work.
Do I need to interact with parents?
You won’t be expected to speak to children’s parents directly.
Most companies require you to leave ‘student feedback’ which the parents will read; and they subsequently leave ‘teacher feedback’ about you, and your performance.
But you will not be expected to sit and have face to face meetings with each child’s parents, as a rule. As always, it’s worth checking out the guidelines for individual companies.
How much money can I expect to earn?
The average company will look to pay you between $18 and $26 USD for each hour worked. However, this changes constantly and new bonus incentives and base policies do continue to be introduced.
If you're lucky you could even be getting up to $50,000 each year, but this is really dependent on company, your willingness to work, as well as demand during peak seasons. Many choose to have online ESL teaching as an additional part-time income, rather than live on it completely.
It's worth keeping in mind that many companies will offer you financial incentives for working extra hours or taking on added responsibilities – you can stand to make a lot more than the base pay if you're dedicated.
How do I get paid?
Most companies offer three options:
US citizens will have a US-based bank account, which will make it much easier for them to get paid, however more and more companies are using Payoneer to pay teachers due to it's cheaper conversion rates and fees. This means you receive more of your money, and it is looking increasingly more likely that Payoneer will be the norm for the online teaching future.
You can sign up to your account and take advantage of a $35 bonus from this link here.
Teachers from other countries will have distinctly different systems in place for exchange rates, which will affect how much money they make each time they’re paid.
It’s important you keep up to date with the exchange rates and the conversion rates between your country of origin and the currency you’re earning your wage in.
Companies currently paying through Payoneer include:
What does this mean for taxes?
Unfortunately you will be expected to figure out your own taxes.
Individual online teaching companies will hire you as an independent contractor, meaning you are subject to income tax.
It’s important to keep this in mind before blowing all of your pay in the first month…
Here are a couple of guides on paying tax as an online teacher:
You should consult a professional regarding your tax in your location to make sure you are getting everything correct. These articles are not intended to be financial advice and are not a substitute for actual professional advice.
Should I expect a background check?
Many online teaching companies will require background checks prior to a contract signing, so keep this in mind during your application.