How To Teach English Online | Requirements, Education & Advice

How do you teach English Online? Welcome to the Ultimate Guide

The ESL industry is rapidly changing from in class to online, providing some unique opportunities to work abroad anywhere and teach online. If you’ve been looking for a way to teach English online and actually get paid a good hourly rate, look no farther than this free guide on Ready? Let’s get started.

What do we mean by “teaching English Online.”

Teaching English online today is creative way to use technology to connect teacher and student in an online setting. It’s also a great way to supplement your income or go full time and live and work abroad on your terms. The way teaching online for various companies works is that you’re paid a base rate + bonus per class. Classes on most platforms are for 25 minutes with 5 minutes devoted to leaving feedback on the students performance.

See also:

Online Teaching Companies.

How Much Do Online Teachers Make?

This means that in one hour you’ll teach two 25 minute classes. How many classes can you teach? The limit is up to how many hours you open per week  as well as how many students book you. You’re not guaranteed hours, but demand is high so once you establish yourself on a platform get enough hours becomes a non-issue. You can teach as little as 5 hours a week or as much as 30. Most platforms work with connecting you with students in China, but there are also platforms that allow you to work with other nationalities.

You’re also able to set your own schedule week to week. Want to teach 30 hours one week, and take the next 10 days off to travel. With online teaching you can! Lastly, expect the availability hours to be 5 pm to 10 pm in China. So that means early morning if you live in America. Students will also typically be aged 5-12 years old.

What is the online classroom like?

For your 25 minute class you’re provided with a lesson in the form of a PowerPoint slide. You’re expected to review the slide before class, understand the target objectives of the lesson, vocabulary words as well as target sentence structures. You’re also expected to have props available. Be it stuff animals, a small white board, anything to help you teach. Lastly, you’ll be working with young learners so you’ll need to be fun, silly, high energy but also knowledgeable.

How do the students find you and book you?

On some platforms like VIPKID it works as a teacher marketplace where the parents book you. For these platforms it’s ideal to best optimize your profile so you can get high bookings. Read:

6 Tips For Your VIPKID self Introduction Video

While that material is aimed at VIPKID teachers, it can be applied to any similar platform where you’ll have to make a bio and introduction video.

The second way you get classes is that the company books you before hand. An example of this would be Magic Ears. With this company you start off with a few classes and as you gain experience and better ratings from parents Magic Ears will book more classes on your behalf.

How do you actually teach the students?

You simply log into your account when it is time to teach. Navigate over to your virtual classroom where your student and the associated power-point slide with the target vocabulary and sentence structures are waiting. Most platforms have a curriculum  and you’ll know before hand what level your student is at. For VIPKID for example they have level 1 to 6. 6 being fluent, 1 being for zero English ability.

You’ll have an opportunity to review the slides before class and you’ll be expected to know the lesson objectives inside and out. This is what makes platforms like this so great! No lesson planning. No homework, no following up. You just teach and go. You’ll be expected to be prepared for class obviously. You’ll also need props and a good environment to teach (more on this in a bit).

Educational Requirements:

If you choose to go the route of applying to any one of the numerous platforms to teach English here are the basic requirements most demand:

  • Be a native English speaker (United States, Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia)
  • Have a bachelors degree
  • Have relevant teaching experience
  • Good quality internet connection
  • Quite space to teach
  • Props, toys and  a reward system.

Native English Speaker

No surprise here. Non-native speakers want to learn with native speakers. Most teaching websites connect you with students in Asia. China currently being the biggest market and the country leading the way in the online teaching space. Some platforms also require specific accents as well. Case in point is VIPKID. You must be North American to even get an interview, then you must have a standard North American accent. No southern twang or odd accent allowed.

Bachelors Degree

Part of the recruitment process is to submit a copy of your degree and sometimes your transcript. A degree is still a basic requirement for all ESL teachers online or abroad. Your bachelors degree can be in any subject, but education is preferred. You’ll need a degree to get an interview.

Teaching Experience

Proper platforms that pay well demand experience from the teachers accepted to be independent contractors. This is not some Mcjob or some position that you don’t need to take it seriously. You’re teaching children and are expected to have relevant experience teaching children. A year of teaching experience in most cases is all you’ll need. Have you taught for year abroad doing ESL or have been a teacher of children in some other capacity? Great you meet the teaching experience requirement.

To be an online English teacher you should understand concepts like “teacher talk” and appropriate ways to use body language to help teach. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of teacher talk and you have no idea what the difference between the vowel sound for long A and short A is, you’re not quite ready to be an online English teacher.

But I see “no experience required!”

There are websites and platforms that will allow you to teach without a degree and without experience, but expect an hourly rate of $8-10 an hour on these platforms.

Technical Requirements For Online Teaching

A laptop or desktop computer

Some platforms you can teach using a tablet or even a phone but for serious online teachers you’re going to want a reliable, light weight, feature rich laptop to teach English online with. We suggest you look at laptops that have a screen size of between 13 inches to 15.6 inches. You’ll also want something that has a touch screen if possible.

For more, check out 13 Laptops for Online Teaching.

Quality Internet

You’ll need high speed internet to actually teach class. Some platforms will ask you to test your internet speed to make sure it is appropriate quality.

Quite space, nice background

You’ll be required to teach in a quite space. That means no noise! Loud people, family in the background, music, traffic outside and so forth is a no-no. Your background for your room should also be plain or conservative. No dirty laundry, no messy room, no movie posters and so forth. Use common sense of what would be appropriate if you were to teach an 8 year old in that room.

Props, toys and/or a reward system

Some platforms (not all) will require you to use props. What props you use are pretty much up to you, but you’re required to have something. I personally have a stuffed animal and a small whiteboard I use when teaching. You may also be required to use a reward system.

A reward system can be anything you give a child when they do something well. For example, giving a child a gold star for doing a good job is a reward. Children respond to rewards, so it’s critical you have some ideas.

For more, check out 10 MUST Have Props for Online Teachers

A Pair of Headphones

You’ll need a decent pair of headphones as an online English teacher. Don’t worry, you don’t need anything complicated or expensive. You’ll just need a headset that is not bulky, comfortable to wear and ideally has a microphone attached to it. While not essential, most teacher like headsets with microphones because it helps keep out noise from the environment

For more, check out the 6 best headsets for online class