What are the upsides of teaching English online?
There are so many reasons why people are looking for at-home work in 2021. So, being able to work with your slippers on is one big advantage. Plus, there’s the flexibility involved – you can get to the point where you’re able to choose your hours and work anywhere in the world.
But the best thing about teaching online is that you get to be a teacher. You get to connect with people all over the world and help them make their lives better. Also, you spend a lot of time organising games – what’s not to love?
What are the downsides?
Well, there are some things that are not loved by English teachers working online.
Firstly, the financial side of teaching English online isn’t that straightforward. Even when you get a job with an online company, it can take a couple of months to start getting classes, and another couple to build up enough hours that it’s a full-time job. So if you’re thinking about doing this, factor in the time it will take you to get established as an online English teacher. This is especially true now - a lot of people are looking to become online English teachers so if you want to get a job, you'll need to make an outstanding application - see our tips below.
Secondly, this is an unregulated industry to a large extent, and there are a lot of people who are left feeling discouraged. Many employers discriminate by age, race, country of origin, gender… the list goes on. There’s also no safety net when it comes to your employment status, and there’s no pension for most online English teachers. There are calls for the unionisation of TEFL teachers for this very reason.
And then there are the day-to-day issues of online teaching. Students have problems with the technology. Parents have issues with the technology. You get the fatigue of saying ‘GREAT JOB!’ to your computer 100 times a day. The hours aren’t 9-5 - they’ll depend on where you are, and where your classes are. If you’re teaching kids, sometimes the parents will sit next to them and whisper the answer into their ears. If you’re teaching adults, sometimes there’s a kid whispering the answer into their parent’s ear. It's difficult to keep kids motivated, especially for long periods of time, but luckily we have some tips below to help you make enjoyable classes.
Should I work for a company or freelance?
There are obviously pluses and minuses for both. Unless you’re great at marketing yourself, I would probably go with a company to get started – at least until you can make some connections with other freelancers. Working for a company initially will give you time to improve your skills as a teacher and learn from others. You might want to work for two or three companies at once anyway, so you can get some experiences with different platforms and systems.
Eventually, you can go freelance and some teachers find their income increases from $16 an hour to $60. But that comes on the back of a lot of hard work behind the scenes - building a presence on social media and/or setting up and running a website.
How can I get hired as an online English teacher?
There’s a lot of competition out there for jobs teaching English online at the moment. Whether or not you’ll get a job – and the quality of the job – depends a lot on your qualifications and experience. Like I said, this is a vast and mainly unregulated industry, so people’s experiences vary wildly – I can only give you generalisations.