Thanks to the internet and continually increasing internet speeds, more and more online platforms which match teachers with students have popped up causing the demand for online language learning and teaching to explode.
You can learn just about any language online, from Thai and Swahili to French and German, however English and English language teachers are by far one of the most in demand languages to learn and teach!
According to the British Council, there are currently over 1 billion people learning English worldwide. That number is expected to double and reach close to 2 billion by the year 2020.
That’s not only good news for people who want to learn a foreign language, it’s also great for English speakers who want to get paid to teach English online from home (which might be you if you’re reading this).
Hey all you expats and nomadic travellers, this is great news for you too.
10 Things to consider if you want to teach English online
If you have the skills, confidence and expertise to teach students English online, you’re off to a good start but there’s a lot more to consider. Here are just a few things you’ll need to figure out before jumping in with both feet to the world of online English teaching.
1-Are you a native English speaker?
There are many people who teach a language that is not their mother tongue. Just look at all the American teachers in US High Schools who teach foreign languages. Same is true in France where English is often taught by native French speakers.
Just remember, when given a choice, students often prefer to learn from native speakers so being a native speaker will give you a leg up over the competition- other online English teachers.
Some students take it a step further and prefer to learn British English over American English and vice versa.
2-Will you specialize and if so, in what?
People learn languages for a number of different reasons. Some study English for the fun of it, others for business. Still others do it because they like to travel.
Will you specialize or focus on any of these niche areas such as travel or business? Will you only teach conversational English? Will you teach grammar, advanced English, beginners English or will you just teach anyone anything they want?
3- Who will you teach?
Another thing to consider is who you will teach. Do you want to teach children or only adults? Some people go so far as to teach learners who speak a specific language.
For example, you could teach English online to Chinese children. An area which is actually growing very fast. If you do target a specific country, it helps to speak that language so you can explain concepts to them in their language.
4-What will you include in your curriculum
You need to put a structured curriculum together for your students to follow. Will you create pre-recorded content to supplement your teaching or will you provide handouts and homework? What about email support? Will you recommend books and other resources?
5-What platform will you use?
There are so many different platforms that you can use to reach your potential students. Which one will you use? Do you create your own website? Do you teach at one of the many English learning platforms? Do you do both?
6-Which video conferencing software will you use?
Most people who teach languages online use video conferencing software to interact and speak face to face with students. You’ll need to decide which ones you want to use. Skype, Google Hangouts or some other software?
7-Do you have the right technology?
Most people have access to computers and laptops with a microphone and webcam, so you probably already have what you need to start teaching online English but that’s not the only tech stuff you’ll need.
- If you plan on making videos for your students than you’ll need to get a video editing software and a camera with video capability.
- Will you get a headset with built in microphone or use the built in microphone on your laptop?
- Is your laptop powerful enough to handle video conferencing software without bugging out or crashing? If not, you’ll need to upgrade.
- Is your internet connection fast enough? Slow internet connections can cause video calls to freeze or disconnect unexpectedly.
8-How much will you charge?
You may or may not have a choice as to how much you charge your students. Some platforms offer teachers a flat fee. Other platforms allow teachers to set their own fee. If you decide to sell your English teaching services on your own website, you can charge anything you want as long as someone is willing to pay it.
9-Do you need teaching credentials to stand out- or should you get some?
Having a teaching degree will definitely make you stand out from the crowd but it isn’t necessary. If you do want to get some teaching credential, you don’t need to go back to school to get a 4 year degree.
Many successful online English teachers get TEFL certified. (TEFL is an acronym for teach English as a second language).
Getting TEFL certified is fairly easy and can be completed in as little as 140 hours and 150 USD. Online TEFL certification courses give you all the training you need to become a top TEFL teacher. The lessons are usually accessible from any device, 24/7 with videos, real-life classroom scenarios and interactive quizzes. i to i TOFL is one such school.
10- Where will you teach?
One of the great things about teaching students online via video is students get to interact with you- the teacher, fact to face, wherever you are so long as you have a laptop and an internet connection. The world can be your classroom or your bedroom at home can be the classroom.
Wherever you decide to conduct your lesson, make sure that it’s conducive for teaching via video.
- Make sure the room you are in (during your teaching session) is quiet. The last thing you want is for a screaming kid and yelping dogs to interrupt your class.
- You should also make sure the room you are in is somewhat tidy. There is something unsightly and distracting about talking to someone on video when you can see their underwear on their bed in the background.
Teaching English Online Is A Business
Just because you put up a virtual “open for business sign” doesn’t mean students will come knocking down your door.
As with any business, you’re going to have to market your services to prospective students. (How else will they find you)?
Unfortunately, the business side of things can be a big frustrations for English teachers who teach online because marketing your English teaching services can easily take up as much if not more of your time than the actual teaching- especially when you are first starting out.
Do your homework , check out the competition, network and be patient.