As the pandemic has dramatically changed the employment scene, an increasing number of people are seeking opportunities to start afresh and leave their old routine behind. Teaching English as a foreign language online offers what most traditional work settings cannot allow: flexibility. With this come a number of advantages:
teach from the comfort of your home or while traveling the world
find the schedule that best suits your needs, depending on your students’ location
follow the career path that best meets your personality, as an independent freelancer or with the support of an established online school.
The above are very important points to consider, but deciding whether to pursue freelance teaching or not is a choice that requires thorough research of pros and cons, as it will shape your career path.
With freelancing, being a great teacher is not enough, and neither is spending time to create engaging and effective lessons. If you decide to go solo, there are a range of practical aspects you need to work on – from cancellation policy to recruiting students.
As a freelancer, you need to put your name out there: a user-friendly website that is easy on the eye is a must. That’s where you introduce yourself and explain what your teaching niche is. From conversation classes to writing skills development, having a transparent approach to who you are and what you do helps you build a relationship of trust with your potential students. As in any business, attracting new students/clients is just as vital as retaining existing ones – there are plenty of marketing ideas that can help you do just that.
However, this teaching option is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Online teaching platforms
If you are an enthusiastic teacher who doesn’t want to worry about the ‘business side’ of things, there are many online companies that have developed a plan that allows teachers some flexibility, while providing them with plenty of support.
Here are six companies that help teachers thrive on online teaching.
Lingoda is one of the fastest growing edu-tech startups in Europe. Their vision is to ‘actively shape the future of language learning’, offering English, French, German, and Spanish language courses.
small classes with motivated adult learners
a flexible 24/7 schedule
ready made lesson materials
support for teachers
To teach English (or any of the other languages available) with Lingoda, you’ll need:
a CEFR C2 (near-native) level
three years’ teaching experience (online or in-person)
a TEFL certificate (but a bachelor’s degree is not necessary)
a minimum of 5 hours teaching time per week
Open English is the most popular choice for the Latin American market; therefore, preference is given to teachers who can speak Spanish and/or Portuguese.
group and one-to-one classes for adults and juniors (8-14)
a flexible schedule
ready made lesson materials
teacher professional development opportunities
To teach with Open English, you’ll need:
to be a North American English native speaker
one year’s teaching experience
TEFL/TESOL education or training
a minimum of 10 hours teaching time per week
S-Lessons is the ideal platform if you want to teach Japanese children. The advantage of this company is that you can set your own rate per lesson, as the platform keeps 30% of your fee as their commission.
short lessons (25 mins)
two types of courses: ‘Regular’ with teaching materials provided, and ‘Leave it to the teacher’, where the teacher is required to create lessons and provide materials
To teach with S-Lessons you don’t need a bachelor’s degree or a TEFL certificate, but it would be an advantage. In addition, you are not required to have a set minimum number of weekly teaching hours.
Italki offers many different language courses, as well as English. With Italki, there are two teaching opportunities. In both cases, you can set your own rate, but a professional teacher is likely to earn more than a community tutor.
As a community tutor, you can teach English informally, without a degree or a TEFL certificate.
As a professional teacher, you need a TEFL certificate or a degree in a related subject.
Cambly lessons focus on developing fluency through informal conversations and natural language rather than formal teaching.
the freedom to log in at a minute’s notice. There is no set schedule.
To teach with Cambly, you’ll need:
to be a native English speaker
Holding a university degree and/or a TEFL qualification are not necessary, but it would be an advantage. Similarly, having teaching experience is not required.
English Hunt focuses on the adult Korean market. Although you can’t set your own rates, English Hunt is one of the highest-paying platforms out there. The downside is that their most popular teaching hours are in the afternoon, Korean time (1 am and 3 am EST).
video or phone class options
a competitive hourly rate
ready-made teaching materials
To teach with English Hunt, you’ll need:
a desktop/laptop running Windows Operating System and an ethernet internet connection with upload speeds faster than 3.0 Mbps. Please note that Apple/Mac/Tablets/Chromebooks will not work with their classroom software
to be a US citizen (but you can live abroad)
to have a US bank account
a bachelor’s degree or 4 years of teaching experience
A TEFL qualification is preferred, but not necessary.
There are many online opportunities for teaching English online, with or without the support of a platform. It is apparent, however, that although prior teaching experience and a university degree aren’t always necessary, a TEFL certificate is often required. Discover more about all things tefl certification online and how such qualifications can open doors to new opportunities.
Please note that this article does not include companies that provide private English lessons to Chinese students. In summer 2021, the Chinese government issued new regulations regarding the private education sector, which have disrupted the field of foreign language teaching.
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