In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, one trend that has stood out prominently is the surge in online learning. Particularly, the realm of language learning has witnessed a dramatic shift, with English sitting firmly at the helm. Today, teaching English online has not only become popular but also highly sought after by educators around the globe.
The digital revolution has broken down geographical barriers, enabling enthusiastic English teachers to reach learners from virtually every corner of the world. From busy professionals desiring to polish their English skills for better career prospects, to young students wanting to gain an early grasp of the language, the diversity and breadth of learners are truly astounding.
But the perks of teaching English online extend far beyond this vast outreach. It offers educators unprecedented flexibility in their schedules, liberating them from the constraints of traditional classroom hours.
Teaching English online also allows for a personalized approach to teaching, which is often lauded as one of the most effective pedagogical strategies. It empowers teachers with creative freedom to mold their curriculum and teaching methods, tailored to the unique needs and progress of each learner.
In the following sections, we’ll cover the nuances of this promising career path, exploring the necessary qualifications, choice of platforms, and invaluable tips for effective online teaching.
Whether you’re an experienced educator or just starting your journey in the teaching world, the insights offered in this post will help you make informed decisions regarding teaching English online.
Requirements for Teaching English Online
As I stated earlier, teaching English online is an incredibly rewarding job, but it does come with its own set of prerequisites that aspiring online teachers must fulfill. For starters, most online English teaching platforms require a bachelor’s degree in any field.
Although it might not always be directly related to language teaching, this degree demonstrates a basic level of knowledge and competence that provides a strong foundation for teaching.
Additionally, a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification is usually mandated. This certification provides you with the specific methodologies and strategies necessary for teaching English to non-native speakers. Some reputable platforms even offer their own TEFL courses to ensure their teachers are adequately prepared.
However, qualifications are only part of the equation. Successful online English teachers often possess other qualities that significantly enhance their effectiveness in this role. Patience, for instance, is paramount.
Remember, you’re teaching individuals who are grappling with a language completely foreign to them. Therefore, the ability to remain patient and encouraging, even when progress seems slow, is crucial.
Creativity is another key teacher quality. Teaching English online isn’t merely about following a curriculum. It’s about creating engaging and interactive lessons that can keep students interested and motivated. This might mean inventing fun games, using colorful visual aids, or incorporating popular culture references that resonate with your students and enhance their cultural literacy.
Lastly, an understanding of different cultures can greatly benefit online English teachers. Your students will come from diverse cultural backgrounds, and their approach to learning might be influenced by their culture. Having an awareness and respect for these cultural nuances can help create a more inclusive and effective learning environment. Indeed, cultural literacy is now essential skill in several online tutoring jobs for teachers.
So, while the technical requirements are indeed important, don’t underestimate the power of these personal attributes in shaping a successful online English teaching career.
Best websites for Teaching English Online
After we talked about the requirements for teaching English online and discussed the required attributes let me share with you some of the best platforms where you can begin your journey teaching English online, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. I have already covered some of these platforms in my list of the best lucrative side jobs for teachers.
VIPKid is one of the most well-known platforms for teaching English online. It primarily serves students in China aged 4-12.
Pros: The pay is competitive, and the platform provides you with all the teaching materials you need, which significantly reduces prep time.
Cons: The work hours can be odd due to the time difference with China, and there is not much flexibility in scheduling as classes are typically booked for you based on parents’ preferences.
iTalki allows you to teach not only English but also any other language you’re fluent in. It caters to a diverse demographic of students from all over the world.
Pros: iTalki offers a great deal of flexibility as you can set your own rates and schedule. You also have the freedom to customize your teaching materials.
Cons: The competition is stiff on iTalki due to its vast number of teachers. Additionally, as teachers create their own curriculum, the preparation time can be significant.
Preply is another global platform that pairs tutors with students looking to learn English, among other subjects.
Pros: Like iTalki, Preply offers flexibility in rates, schedule, and teaching materials. You also have the chance to build long-term relationships with your students as they often book multiple lessons in advance.
Cons: Preply takes a commission from your earnings, which decreases as you spend more hours tutoring on the platform. Initial visibility can be a challenge due to the large number of tutors on the platform.
Cambly is a platform that connects English learners with native English speakers for conversation practice.
Pros: Cambly offers utmost flexibility as you can log in and start tutoring whenever you’re available. No specific qualifications are required, making it an excellent platform for beginners.
Cons: The pay is lower compared to other platforms. Also, since it’s primarily focused on conversation practice, it may not be the best option for teachers looking to provide comprehensive language instruction.
Skooli is a platform dedicated to various subjects, including English. It connects certified teachers, retired teachers, professional tutors, and PhD students with learners seeking help.
Pros: The pay on Skooli is quite competitive. Also, Skooli has a functional and user-friendly virtual classroom with useful features such as an interactive whiteboard.
Cons: To be a tutor on Skooli, you need to have a bachelor’s degree or a teaching certification, which might exclude potential tutors who are well-versed in English but don’t have the required qualifications. Furthermore, getting students can be a bit slow at the start.
6. Chegg Tutors
Chegg is known for its wide range of services in the education sector, including online tutoring. You can teach English, among many other subjects, on this platform.
Pros: Chegg offers flexible hours – you can tutor at any time of the day, as it caters to students around the globe. The platform also provides a steady stream of students, which can mean a more stable income.
Cons: Chegg takes a substantial percentage of your earnings as a commission. Furthermore, while it does provide some tutoring resources, it doesn’t offer a fully developed curriculum or lesson plans, which means you may have to invest more time in lesson preparation.
Tips for Effective Online English Teaching
As a seasoned online English teacher, I’ve learned a lot through both triumphs and trials. Here are some crucial tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
Engaging the Students
Maintaining engagement in a virtual environment can be challenging. To keep students interested, I found it beneficial to use multimedia materials like videos, songs, and interactive games. Also, remember that engagement is a two-way street – encourage students to interact with you and their peers through discussions, role-plays, and group activities.
Online classes can easily run off schedule if you don’t manage the time effectively. I’ve found it helpful to structure my lessons with a clear timeline in mind and to keep an eye on the clock to ensure all planned activities are covered.
Creating Lesson Plans
The key to successful online teaching lies in designing effective lesson plans. These plans should be concise, flexible, and tailored to the students’ learning needs and styles. Incorporating interactive elements, like quizzes and flashcards, can help to break up the lesson and reinforce learning.
Teaching online comes with its own set of challenges, such as technical issues, maintaining discipline, and managing different time zones. I’ve found that patience and preparation go a long way. Always have a backup plan in case of technical glitches, establish clear rules for online behavior from the get-go, and use scheduling tools to manage lessons across different time zones.
Overall, effective online teaching requires a balance of technical proficiency, pedagogical skills, and adaptability. With time and experience, you’ll discover what works best for you and your students.
In this digitally focused world, teaching English online, as I come to see it, is more than just a job or a side hustle – it’s an opportunity to impact lives and bridge cultural divides. While the road to becoming a successful online English teacher may seem complex at first, it’s the passion for teaching and the joy of witnessing your students grow and flourish that truly matter.
Yes, there will be challenges and learning curves along the way, but every step you take will make you a better educator. Whether you’re just starting or have already embarked on your online teaching journey, always strive for progress, not perfection.