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How To Teach English Online in 2024 (Become a Tutor!)

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  • Post last modified:March 1, 2024
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Hey there!

If you reading this blog, I’m guessing you’re interested in teaching English online, but feeling a bit overwhelmed with figuring out how to get started. I totally get it!

There’s so much information out there on qualifications, tech requirements, finding job opportunities, marketing yourself, and more. It can be information overload!

So I put this guide together to simplify the process for aspiring online English teachers like you.

I’ll walk you through everything you need to know, from getting TEFL certified all the way to teaching your very first online English lesson.

My goal is to answer all your questions so you feel 100% confident and prepared to start your online TEFL teaching journey!

So if you’re ready, let’s get into it…

Overview of Teaching English Online

Teaching English online mainly involves teaching English as a foreign language to non-native English speakers through video chat platforms.

Teaching Online

This allows students from all over the world to take affordable English classes in the comfort of their own home, on a schedule that works for them.

As an online English teacher, you would provide one-on-one or small group lessons to students via video chat.

Most lessons focus on conversational English, as well as reading, writing, listening, and grammar instruction.

Benefits of Teaching Online

Here are some of the biggest advantages of teaching English online:

  • Flexible schedule: You can set your own hours and teach at times that suit you. This is perfect if you want to teach while traveling or have an irregular schedule.
  • Location independent: Teach from anywhere in the world with a stable internet connection! Most teachers work from home.
  • Variety of students: Interact with students of all ages and backgrounds. No two classes will ever be the same!
  • Extra income: It’s an excellent way to earn money on the side, especially for travel. Some teachers even teach online full time.
  • Career development: Gain valuable teaching experience and try out your skills before potentially transitioning into in-classroom teaching.

Growing Demand for Online Teachers

The demand for online English teachers has skyrocketed in recent years.

As online education becomes more normalized across the world, so has the need for qualified virtual ESL instructors.

It’s predicted that the global E-learning market will be over $374 billion by 2026. So now is a great time to start teaching English online!

Requirements for Teaching Online

While requirements vary between companies, here are the basics you need to teach ESL online:

1. English Language Fluency

Nearly all online teaching platforms require native-level English skills. Specifically, you’ll need excellent abilities in:

  • Reading: Understand advanced texts with ease
  • Writing: Write clearly with excellent grammar
  • Speaking: Fluent verbal communication skills
  • Listening: Easily comprehend different English accents and speech patterns

Non-native English speakers can also teach online in some cases if they have very advanced fluency.

2. TEFL/TESOL Certification

A TEFL/TESOL certification is essential for most online teaching positions. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” while TESOL means “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”.

These certifications teach vital skills like:

  • Effective teaching methodologies for ESL students
  • Lesson planning tailored towards different levels
  • Classroom management techniques for online teaching
  • Grammar instruction, phonics, conversational English, and more!

The initial certificate can be earned in as little as 4 weeks through reputable TEFL/TESOL providers like the International TEFL Academy.

TEFL Training
  • Pro Tip: Enroll in a specialized Teaching English Online course after getting TEFL certified. This advanced training will give you a competitive edge!

3. Technology & Equipment

Teaching ESL online requires a specific hardware setup:

1. Computer & Webcam

    You’ll conduct video chat lessons, so a laptop or desktop computer with a high-quality webcam is essential.

    2. Headset & Microphone

    A headset with over-ear headphones and a microphone allows you and students to clearly hear each other without background noise interference.

    3. Reliable Internet Connection

    A consistently fast internet connection is vital for conducting online classes without disruptive lag or call drops.

    For software, most platforms provide their own video conferencing tools. However teachers may need to install apps like Zoom as well when working independently.

    Finding Online Teaching Opportunities

    You can teach English online through structured programs, open marketplaces, or as a private tutor:

    1. Structured Online ESL Platforms

    Platforms like VIPKid, EF Online, and Open English provide established curriculums for online teachers to deliver.

    Some benefits include:

    • Set lesson plans and materials provided
    • Fixed base pay rate
    • Class scheduling handled by company
    • Bonuses and incentives offered frequently

    The pay structure at most structured programs looks like:

    • Base Rate: $14 – $22 USD per hour
    • Incentives: $1 – $2 USD extra per class for attendance, student satisfaction, peak hours, etc.

    So at the high end, it’s possible to earn over $24/hour on these platforms!

    2. Open Marketplace Platforms

    Open marketplaces for teaching English online are platforms where teachers can offer their services directly to students, often setting their own rates and managing their own schedules.

    These platforms typically connect language learners with tutors from around the world. Some popular open marketplaces for teaching English online include:

    1. Cambly: Cambly allows tutors to connect with students for casual conversation practice. Tutors set their own availability and rates, making it a flexible option for both tutors and learners.
    2. Preply: Preply is a platform that connects tutors with students seeking personalized language lessons. Tutors set their own rates and can specialize in various aspects of language learning, such as grammar, pronunciation, or conversation practice.
    3. iTalki: iTalki provides a platform for both professional teachers and community tutors to offer language lessons to students. Tutors set their own rates and can choose to offer lessons in various formats, including one-on-one sessions or group classes.
    4. Verbling: Verbling offers a marketplace for language learners to connect with professional tutors for personalized lessons. Tutors set their own rates and can specialize in teaching English as a second language (ESL) to students of all levels.

    These open marketplaces provide opportunities for teachers to reach a global audience of language learners, set their own rates, and tailor their lessons to meet the needs of individual students.

    Most online teachers charge $15 to $40 per hour on these sites. But popular tutors can earn up to $100 per hour!

    Here are some pros and cons of these open marketplaces for teaching english.


    • Teachers set their lesson prices
    • More control over student acquisition
    • Direct communication with students
    • Lessons tailored to each learner’s exact needs


    • No provided curriculum – more prep needed
    • Income relies heavily on marketing abilities
    • Commission fees charged by platforms

    3. Private Online Tutoring

    As a private tutor, you have the freedom to find your own students independently, which can lead to some significant advantages.

    One major benefit is the high earning potential. Unlike on marketplace platforms where you may have to pay commissions, as a private tutor, you keep 100% of what you earn.

    Experienced tutors often charge $50 or more per hour, which can significantly boost your income.

    Another advantage is the flexibility that comes with running your own tutoring business. You have the power to fully customize your schedule and lessons to fit your preferences and the needs of your students. This flexibility allows you to balance your tutoring commitments with other aspects of your life.

    How To Find Students as a Private Tutor

    Finding students as a private tutor may require some hustling, but there are effective strategies you can employ.

    One approach is to create and market your individual teaching website, where you can showcase your expertise and services. Additionally, running ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help you reach a broader audience of potential students.

    You can start advertising with just $10 per day and that will start bringing in students for you.

    Posting on community boards and classifieds and participating in language exchanges are also excellent ways to connect with learners.

    Finally, positive word-of-mouth referrals can be a powerful tool for growing your client base as satisfied students recommend your services to others.

    By leveraging these methods, you can successfully find students and build a thriving private tutoring business.

    Getting Started with Online Teaching

    Once you’re fully prepared with certifications, equipment, and lesson plans – it’s time to become an online English teacher!

    Become an Online Teacher

    1. Schedule Your First Class

    When teaching through a platform, they’ll handle assigning your initial students.

    As a private tutor, line up your initial students by offering discounted trial lessons.

    Establish consistent availability on your calendar using a scheduling tool. Most lessons are 25 to 60 minutes long.

    2. Begin Teaching!

    During your first online class:

    • Break the ice – Greet your student warmly and ask probing questions to learn about them
    • Assess level – Get a feel for their existing English abilities
    • Elicit goals – Find out what skills they most want to improve
    • Make corrections – Address any grammar issues and recast statements using proper structure
    • Manage pace – Keep the lesson flowing naturally. Add games if energy is lagging!

    3. Provide Individualized Instruction

    One major advantage of 1-on-1 teaching is customizing to each learner’s unique needs and goals.

    So be sure to design activities and practice conversations around their specific abilities, interests, motivations and objectives.

    This personalized approach really accelerates student progress!

    4. Build Engagement Online

    It can be more challenging connecting through a screen. Amp up lesson interactivity using tactics like:

    • Visuals – Show photos, videos, flashcards
    • Gamification – Kahoot quizzes, Jeopardy, virtual scavenger hunts!
    • Role Playing – Pretend real-world scenarios
    • Drawing challenges – Describe images for them to sketch
    • Show & Tell – Have students display items on camera

    Creativity and variety keeps online learners actively immersed!

    The Future of Online English Teaching

    While there were some uncertainties in the past few years for specific companies and countries, the demand for online English teachers shows no signs of slowing down!

    1. Increasing Flexibility & Accessibility

    More students worldwide are embracing online education as it provides cheaper and more convenient access to native English speakers from their home.

    Platforms will continue enhancing their mobile functionality, extending flexibility for learners.

    As web-based technology improves, teaching quality will also keep getting better through lag reduction, increased video resolution, and shared digital whiteboarding.

    2. Blending with In-Classroom Teaching

    Rather than a replacement, online instruction is proving most effective when blended with some continued face-to-face classroom interactions.

    Research indicates a mixed model leads to optimum language acquisition, combines social learning with personalized progress.

    So while demand for online teachers grows, traditional classroom English teaching will still play an important role even as we become more digitally connected globally.

    3. Specializing for Career Growth

    For long term career success teaching English online, be sure to specialize and expand your skills.

    Some great options include:

    • Becoming qualified in academic English instruction
    • Getting certified to teach high stakes exams like the TOEFL or IELTS
    • Leveling up into advanced teacher training roles
    • Designing custom digital ESL curriculum
    • Producing niche educational content for online learners

    Continuing to sharpen your niche will help you stand out and command those higher hourly rates!

    So in summary, while launching as an online English teacher has some learning curves, it is an incredibly rewarding experience that provides great flexibility.

    I sincerely hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of the step-by-step process for getting started so you feel fully equipped to begin your online TEFL teaching adventure!

    I’m excited for you as you kickstart this new journey helping English learners around the globe. You’ve got this! 🙌

    Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments!

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