I Earn Up to $3,000 a Month Teaching English Online
After the company he had been working for as an electrical engineer made him redundant, Lea Hook went on his first Asian vacation. “I met up with some people who had been teaching English as a foreign language and I was totally envious of their lifestyle. I thought, ‘This is where I want to be and what I want to be doing,'” he says.
When he got back home, he signed up for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course. “I got my head down and studied continuously day and night. I found the start of the course very difficult because when I was at school, I wasn’t taught English grammar,” says Lea. But he persevered and in 2014 he earned his teaching certificate.
Lea’s first TEFL job was at a high school in northern Thailand. He loved the job, but after a year in the classroom, he was ready for a change.
“Classroom teaching is unique; it was probably the best experience I have ever had in my life. I loved every minute of it. However, would I do it again? Maybe not,” he says. “I had 20 different classes per week, 55 students to a class, so around 1,100 students. I was doing 20 hours teaching and up to 10 hours preparing. It was hard, and by the end of the semester I was tired.”
Now, Lea still teaches English as a second language, except that he does it online…half the year from a tropical Thai island, and half the year from back home in the U.K. Not only does this give him the freedom to enjoy the best of both worlds, but he can earn more, too.
From January through June, Lea lives on Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand, where the cost of living is minimal. For about 24 hours a week, he teaches English on four online platforms to students around the world. He spends his abundant free time at the beach or riding his motorcycle along the coast.
From July through December, he teaches English online from back home in the U.K. “I love the summer in England; there are 18 hours of daylight, and the weather is usually pleasant,” he says. “I also get the chance to go on a few trips to Europe, volunteering in English-language immersion courses, which are always great fun. And of course, I get to see my wonderful family.”
How much he earns depends on how much he wants to work. According to Lea, native speakers can earn about $9 to $10 for a 25-minute lesson. A 45-minute adult class pays $18 to $20. “I can make up to $2,000 to $3,000 a month, but if I want to enjoy life a little more, I make $1,000 to $1,500, which can go a very long way in Asia.”
Lea has found teaching English online a more appealing alternative to teaching in the classroom. “You can choose the schedule that suits you best. You can roll out of bed, have a shower, fall into the computer chair, and start teaching. You log in and sign into the class. The material is already provided. You just teach the lesson, write a short progress report, and then you start your next lesson,” he says.
It can also be just as personally rewarding as teaching in the classroom because he has regular students and can build one-on-one relationships with them. Ultimately, what Lea finds most pleasing about teaching online is the freedom it offers.
“Teaching English is so different than my previous career as an electrical engineer. That job was a tedious nine-to-five job where nothing different happened,” he says. “I was just looking forward to Friday as soon as Monday began. My TEFL certificate is my passport to travel the world. It really is one of the most rewarding jobs out there.”
Written by Marsha Scarbrough