Have you ever thought about teaching ESL online? If you have, here is some key information that I’d love to share with you if you ever decide to start your journey as an online english teacher!
From the salary of an online teacher to the hours they work and a lot more information that you may need before starting your journey in the online world. I hope it can be beneficial for anyone wanting to go live abroad as a digital nomad. Or for someone who’s looking for a change in career or just a summer job.
Teaching english online to Chinese students has allowed me to travel around Europe and The United States knowing I can still make a consistent salary wherever I go. I will do my best to review VIP KID and Palfish to help you choose what online company you want to work for.
There are so many awesome perks from working online and my favourite has to be deciding your own hours and how often you want to work. Do you feel like working 4 hours a day and making 80-90$ daily and then doing whatever you want in your free time? Then keep reading and see if teaching online is for you! 🙂
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links which means that if you decide to use them we get a small commission at no cost for you. Thank you <3
I will highlight all the requirements, tricks, perks, and even the downsides about teaching english online to hopefully make the decision of getting started easier for you.
Teach ESL Online
Lets talk about teaching ESL online and what exactly an online ESL teacher does. To start, an online teacher is someone who enjoys working from home, teaching kids, and working random hours. It’s a wonderful job if you fit under those three categories.
The greatest part of becoming an online ESL teacher is that, for the most part, you only need a TEFL or CELTA certificate to get started teaching. Which that you can do online or in the Czech Republic like I did.
Some companies like VIPKID require a higher education along with a TEFL certificate but others like PalFish only require you to have the TEFL certificate. One thing to look out for though is, if you’re not a native English speaker, that not all companies will accept people with English as a second language. It has nothing to do with your ability to speak English, just Chinese laws are very strict and unfortunately makes it harder for some people to become esl teachers for specific companies.
I will also share information on the best online teaching job that needs a higher education and a TEFL. Along with the best online teaching job where only a TEFL certificate to teach. That way there is something for everyone. Since we should all be able to teach english online at some level.
ESL teacher job description
I think every teacher will have a slightly different answer to this but essentially it’s to help a student ENJOY the process of learning English. Many of the kids probably feel forced by their parents to learn English, especially after a long draining day at school!
So for us English teachers to have an impact and make the kids want to learn I believe the class has to be fun and engaging and. The kids have to look forward to wanting to come see there online English teacher and not just something that they have to do.
Most online companies you can work for will have lesson plans and courses already prepared for you. This means you can spend less time worrying about planning the lesson and more time focusing on making the lesson enjoyable for the students. If a student enjoys themselves they will learn unconsciously!
But to completely simplify it I would say an ESL teachers job description is basically to educate, guide, connect, and make the kids genuinely enjoy learning English. I find I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. I simply just make sure they have a fun time learning and the kids end up loving the lessons.
Here, I’ve laid out 11 ways to be a successful online English teacher:
- Be friendly and smile. Students love it and imitate your behavior!
- Show lots of energy! Kids will eat it up and give it right back to you!
- Total Physical Response (TPR) Helps students learn. Is essentially the communication of language through movement. Kids love moving around and playing!
- Use props! It helps in making kids more comfortable learning english as a second language for the first time. I use my reindeer RAIN and the kids love him.
- Have some sort of reward program. Kids love being rewarded for their hard work.
- Do on-the-spot correction. This helps the kids a lot. Also, the parents can see and hear it and it shows you’re really trying to help their kids learn properly.
- Slow your pace of speaking and have clarity in your voice. This is very important for the learning experience.
- Work in a quiet and child-friendly environment. Add some stickers or maybe a map. I have a blue background with some cartoons.
- Treat the kids like you would any other human. They’re just learning a new language (there’s no need to talk like a robot at them).
- Open up lots of slots, the more slots you open up, the better the chance of students coming back. When you’ve just taught a class to someone and they love it, having open slots is great for them and for you. This way they see you are available for longer periods during the day and you get paid more.
- Enjoy it and the kids will enjoy the class too.
It might seem like a no brainer but lots of teachers who are starting out tend to forget some of these major points and end up not getting returning students. Teaching English online can be a blast, but it starts with you, the teacher has to make that happen.
How much does an online teacher make
The income of an online teacher is pretty much straight across wherever you decide to work. Most companies will start around 8$ for every 25-minute lesson but that can quickly jump to 10-11$ for every half hour with all the incentives.
Your wage is usually based on these three categories:
- Slots rate: Roughly 8$ per 25-minute slot. (USD)
- Finished classes: 1$ for every class you complete.
- Participation Incentives: 1$ per class, for teaching over 45 classes a month.
- Extra: Student sign ups, referrals, monthly bonuses, and challenges.
So you could say the base is roughly 18$ an hour and the roof would be somewhere like 22-24$. Again, this is depending on the company you work for. VIPKID gives you 5$ for every student that joins the program after trials.
Every company is different but these numbers reflect the average of how much teachers are earning online! So I can’t say there is just one best company to work for as many of them are quite different on how they structure the pay. You just have to try them out and see which one works best for you.
The downside of being an online ESL teacher
I think it’s like every job. There are days you just can’t find the motivation to work. There are days where you just don’t want to sit in front of the computer screen for (x) amount of hours.
Some days you’ll have kids that just can’t focus for the life of them and it feels like you’re wasting all your energy. In the end, though it’s absolutely worth it. It allows you to work from home and makes you location independent. You have to have some bad days to know what the good ones feel like.
There are two real downsides though that could affect your desire or accessibility to teaching.
#1 is that you do need to be in a quiet room or place. The students would not be able to focus with too much noise and distractions with background noise, etc.
#2 is that most companies are based out of China. The peak hours are roughly 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm BJT time. BJT is 8 hours ahead of UTC time. So, if you’re working in America, depending on where you live, you could be working in the middle of the night. Then again you don’t have to leave your house. Honestly, it might not be that bad if you don’t mind working odd hours.
How do you become an online teacher
To become an online teacher isn’t a very long process. Degree or no degree here are two different routes you can take to becoming an online teacher:
- Go on Groupon or anywhere on the internet and get a recognized TEFL OR CELTA certificate
- Buy a few props for your room and turn it into your own working space! This is where you’ll spend all your time working, so make it nice and cozy. And for the love of your back, get a comfy chair!
- Download the app PalFish through your mobile or tablet and start the application process. Then you’ll be teaching in no time!
- Again, you will need a TEFL or CELTA even though you have a Bachelor’s degree. The only difference is that you will be able to apply to work for more companies. Also, requirements from the Chinese government are always changing. So, it’s definitely a pro if you have a BA and certificate long term.
- Props are essential. Most companies will either make you redo the interview or may not even give you a second chance if your room isn’t decorated and you don’t have any props. So, spend an afternoon and get your classroom KID FRIENDLY! It’ll be fun 🙂
- Head on over to VIPKID make an account and get teaching!
- If you have more questions on how to become an online teacher then feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page or leave a reply on the blog!
- Also, if you have any questions before or after the interview process feel free to ask away! We’re here to help you along your teaching journey and on your journey to becoming a digital nomad!
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!