How to teach English online in 6 simple steps (plus salary)

Updated 21 July 2022

If you're passionate about education and have an enthusiasm for the English language, you might consider a career teaching English online. Online English teaching services are one of the fastest-growing sectors of online education, so the demand for competent and professional teachers is also on the rise. This flexible position allows you to use your coaching skills and knowledge of the English language to guide students remotely, which can suit your personal circumstances. In this article, we explain how to teach English online, how much you could earn and the benefits of this rewarding position.

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What does it mean to teach English online?

If you enjoy teaching, you may want to teach English online. Teaching English online is an alternative method of teaching than that of traditional schools. It allows you to hold virtual classes remotely and teach students from across the globe. This method of teaching can be both flexible and more accessible for teachers and students alike. You might choose to work for an online English tutoring company or start your own freelance English tutoring business. With the rise in demand for online teaching and education services over the last few years, the demand for enthusiastic English teachers grows too.

Related: Teaching skills: definition and examples

How to teach English online

There is no set path to begin your career in teaching English as a second language and many tutors come from a variety of backgrounds and stages in life. Many teachers who work remotely are graduate students trying to build experience, stay at home parents looking for a flexible schedule or retired teachers who still have a passion to teach. If online English teaching sounds like a career you want to pursue, you can follow these steps to get started:

1. Speak English fluently

Many companies are looking for native English speakers to join their online tutoring companies, so if English is your first language you already have an advantage. If English isn't your native language, there's still a wide selection of companies that may accept you as a teacher if you can speak English proficiently. Ensure that you're competent in both written and verbal English and can speak fluently enough to confidently pass this knowledge on to your students.

2. Obtain a bachelor's degree

It's common for online teaching companies to hire English tutors who have previously studied at university and earned a bachelor's degree. You're not required to have a degree in English or education. A qualification in any field demonstrates to employers that you have a firm grasp of English grammar and syntax. If you want to stand out, a bachelor's degree in the English language is advantageous and could help you when competing amongst other online freelancers.

Related: What is a bachelor's degree?

3. Gain teaching experience

Most online teaching companies are searching for individuals who have previous experience in a teaching role. You don't need teaching experience in a formal setting, but it shows that you're confident in leading a group of students and can competently guide them through their studies. You might choose to tutor local students, assist with summer schools or attend study camps to gain relevant experience that you can add to your CV.

4. Get your certification

To understand the specific methods used to teach English as a second language, you can study for a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). This can boost your confidence and teaching proficiency whilst also demonstrating to online teaching companies that you're an expert in your field. If you don't hold a bachelor's degree, then gaining certification can put you in good stead to apply for online teaching roles.

5. Ensure you have the necessary equipment

Before you begin your online teaching career, ensure you have the necessary equipment to teach remotely. As you're going to be teaching online, it's important that you have a reliable computer operating on a high-speed Internet connection. To hold virtual classes a high-quality webcam and headset with a built-in microphone are also a necessity. If they ask you to use specific software to host your classes, ensure that your computer meets the minimum requirements to run it and update it when necessary.

6. Find a platform that meets your needs

When teaching online, there are a variety of platforms you might choose to offer your services through. Whether it be working with one of the many online schools, freelancing or advertising your skills through an online marketplace, there's something to suit your lifestyle. Each platform offers different earning potentials, may serve various countries globally and require different hours of work. Ensure you research all of your options to ensure that your platform for teaching fits your schedule, lifestyle and provides you with the earnings you desire.

What is the salary for an English as a second language teacher?

The national average salary for an English as a second language teacher is £27,588 per year. Earnings can vary depending on what company you work for, your level of education or where you, or your employer, are situated. You may also have the ability to earn more as a freelancer running your own remote business, as you have the freedom to set your own fees for your services. Ensure you conduct thorough research to ensure that your rates are both realistic and competitive.

Related: Work from home jobs that pay well

What are the benefits of teaching English online?

There are several benefits to teaching English as a second language online. If you're considering a career in this industry, here are some perks that you might find appealing:

Flexible working

Online teaching jobs are typically very flexible when it comes to setting your work schedule. You can pick how many hours you want to work in a week and commit to hours that fit your other commitments. You can often take time off when you want to and ultimately create a career that is best suited to your lifestyle.

Competitive pay

As the demand for online education services grows, so does the need for competent and qualified teachers. Companies are also competing to hire knowledgeable teachers by offering better rates of pay and a host of other benefits to entice you to work for them. With options to also teach freelance, you can set your own rates for tutoring, while also taking complete control of how many students you teach, giving you the freedom to boost your own earning potential.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

Freedom of location

One of the biggest benefits of teaching English online is that you can do it from a variety of locations. As long as you have the necessary equipment and a stable Internet connection, you can work from wherever best suits you. If you love to travel, are moving house or just dislike the idea of commuting to work, then the freedom that comes with online teaching may be one of its biggest perks.

Related: 17 jobs that involve travel

Minimal teaching prep

Unlike teaching in person or in a facility, online teaching requires very minimal prep work. As you host lessons virtually, you don't print materials or arrange your classroom before each lesson. Another benefit of joining an English as a second language teaching company is that they've often already designed the curriculum for you, meaning you can spend less time lesson planning and more time teaching.

Connect with people all over the world

If you have a passion for learning and teaching, then perhaps one of the biggest benefits of all is the interesting students you can connect with from all over the world. Teaching English online allows you to learn first-hand about different cultures and gain an understanding of how people live in their countries. You might find that the knowledge you gain from your students is as rewarding as the job of teaching them.

Skills needed to teach English as a foreign language

If this profession sounds like something you want to pursue, here are skills that might be beneficial for you to develop:

  • flexibility in your approach to work and your teaching methods

  • clear written and verbal communication skills

  • excellent active listening skills

  • confidence presenting lessons to multiple students

  • a friendly and personable manner

  • cultural sensitivity and open-mindedness

  • the ability to work under pressure and within time restraints

  • patience and understanding of different students' abilities

  • creativity and the ability to plan interesting and engaging lesson plans

The exact skills you require can vary depending on if you choose to be a freelancer, what market you work with and what level of English you're teaching.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌ Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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