The Truth About Teaching English Online
Earn 2000 euro a month teaching English online!
Work from the comfort of your own home!
Finance your travels one English lesson at a time!
Too good to be true?
The market is way past saturated. If you search for anything remotely related to a TEFL career; teach English abroad, language exchange, English tutor; you will get a plague of predictive advertising. The same goes for anything related to remote work.
With so much overkill, it is easy to assume that it is all bull. But it isn’t. There are some great online teaching opportunities–career opportunities. However, to successfully launch a career teaching English online, you have to be methodical, almost entrepreneurial in your approach.
Work from the Comfort of Your Own Home!
You’ve got your perfect day all mapped out; a light breakfast, teach English online for a few hours, take the afternoon to do whatever, then teach one more lesson to round out the day. You giddily research the best online English teaching programs only to discover that nearly everything is based out of China, and they need teachers to be available from 6 pm – 9 pm, Beijing time. That is 2 am – 5 am your time. Dream. Needle. Pop.
There are online English teaching jobs available in multiple time zones, but the low-hanging, high-paying fruit is in China. Before you start idealising your schedule, do the timezone math. Europe and Australia match up pretty well. North America, not so much. You don’t have to leave the house. You can wear a nice shirt and underpants if you want. But, teaching English online isn’t a job that you can do inspiration strikes anytime. As always, you have to work around your student’s schedules.
This is sort of right. You can work anywhere if you plan. What you can’t do is hop on a bus and teach English wherever you wake up. Chances are if you are pursuing the digital nomad life you are trying to live cheaply. The cheap live places pretty much all have terrible internet. And, if you take that bus outside of the big city, forget about it. Also, have you ever tried to find a quiet space in a hostel?
A former student of ours teaches exclusively online. She breaks her work/travel year into two-month segments. Last year she spent the entire year in South America. She lived in Medellin for two months, Lima for two months, Santiago, Buenos Aires and then back to Medellin because she missed the people and the place. For each stint she rented a room in advance, making sure to double and triple check the wifi service. She set up a comfortable, professional work environment, and when she wasn’t teaching, she took that bus to far off places. If you want to “work anywhere” follow her lead.
Find a Job Under All the Hyperbole.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Do they require an hourly commitment, i.e., 15 hours a week? AND, do they guarantee to fill those hours?
- How much of your hourly wage is based on student response? Some programs place a hefty percentage on “Teacher Ratings.” That is fine if you are teaching little kids who always give you 10/10 because you’re the teacher and they love you! On the other hand, if you are teaching analytical adults who have good days and bad days…
- What materials if any do they provide? You will hear online English teachers say, “I don’t even lesson plan!” Umm, if you don’t lesson plan, you suck at your job. You owe it to your students to be prepared. But, if you aren’t given any resources, the prep work is going to take a lot of the shine off that hourly wage.
Ignore the hyperbole. Demand real hours, fair compensation, and pedagogical structure. Here are some of the best online teaching companies.