Your 5-Step Roadmap to Earning as an Online English Teacher
I’ve been offering one-on-one English lessons online for about three years from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This job allows me to work from home with nothing more than a headset, a stable internet connection, and a laptop with a webcam. Surprisingly, I’ve had only a handful of students that actually live in Mexico. Most are from other countries around the world including Japan, South Korea, China, France, Poland, Brazil, the U.S., and Canada.
Getting started as an online English teacher can be intimidating, especially if you have no prior teaching experience. However, the process is not as difficult as you might think. Below is a five-step roadmap on how to start building your skills so you can work independently online from anywhere in the world.
1. Research English Tutoring Companies
With a quick Google search, you should be able to find five to 10 companies that are looking for English teachers to work online, especially if you are a native speaker.
Each company will have different requirements, but the most common are that you have a certification to teach English and a university degree in any field. Not all companies require that you hold a degree, but probably at least half do.
2. Get a Teaching Certification
Two common types of certification are: TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
These certificates can easily be obtained through enrolling in an online program or attending a course in person. I took a 240-hour online TEFL certification that is internationally recognized and accepted by most online platforms that are hiring English teachers. My course was relatively inexpensive (around $250) and it included training for business English, young learners, English exam preparation, and general teaching guidelines.
3. Decide What Type of English You Want to Teach
Each English platform will have a specific type of client and learning style. Some focus on teaching kids based in China like VIPKid, with structured lessons for instructors to follow. Other platforms expect teachers to provide and create their own lessons according to the needs and interests of their students.
You do not need to know a foreign language or every detail about English grammar to become a teacher. At an intermediate level and above, your students can communicate 100% in English. My classes are mostly focused on conversational English skills. I talk with students about different topics, provide moderate corrections, and help them improve their pronunciation. Regarding grammar, I pick it up on an as-needed basis.
4. Get Some Experience
Even with your TEFL certification, you may feel a lack of confidence or underqualified because you don’t know what to expect. Interaction with real people will help you find creative teaching ideas, be observant, and notice common issues learners face when trying to communicate.
Post an ad on a free classifieds website offering low-cost lessons or free sessions to gain experience. Another idea is to create a profile on a language-exchange website, where you will likely get hundreds of messages from eager students looking for free practice partners. If you are learning a foreign language, this is a great way to find someone who can help you learn at the same time.
5. Create a Stellar Profile
Before applying, decide carefully which online companies have the client type, class times, payments schedule, and teaching style that will best suit your life.
Most websites will ask you to apply by filling out a teacher profile and submitting a presentation video that shows your personality and explains your teaching style. Think of the information you are submitting as a resume.
Be sure to put in the necessary effort to create a stellar profile description and a well-done video to help you stand out from the crowd. Not only will this help you attract more students, but you will also get accepted on more platforms. If you are selected as a candidate, you may also have to complete an interview.
To conclude, becoming an online English teacher is something that is attainable to most native speakers who love to talk and build connections with people. With a simple certification and a bit of research and practice, you will have everything you need to build a new portable income that allows you to work from anywhere.
Written by Amy Whitney