11 ways to be a successful online English teacher

Have you ever thought about teaching online? If you have, here is some key information that I could share with you if you ever decide to teach online! I hope it can be beneficial for anyone wanting to go live abroad and scared they won’t find work. Or for someone who’s looking for a change in career or just a summer job.

Teaching online has allowed me to travel around Europe knowing I will still be making a fairly consistent income wherever I go. Without having to work 9-5 and take a few weeks of here and there. 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 online teaching is for you! 🙂

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I will highlight all the requirements, tricks, and downsides about teaching online to hopefully make the decision of getting started easier for you.

What is an online teacher

An online teacher is someone who enjoys working from home, teaching kids, and working random hours. It’s the absolute dream if you fit under those three categories. The greatest part of becoming an online teacher is that, for the most part, you only need a TEFL or CELTA certificate 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 native English speaking, that not all companies will accept people with English as a second language.

What is the role of an online English teacher

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. The kids have to look forward to wanting to come see there online English teacher and not just something that they have to do.

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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!

Here, I’ve laid out 11 ways to be a successful online English teacher:

  • Be friendly and smile. Students love it and will copy 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 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.
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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.
  • 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.
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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. Where PalFish offers 30$ per student. You may sign up 5 students a month on PalFish and that’s an extra 150$ in your pocket along with 5 regular students.

Every company is different but these numbers reflect the average of how much teachers are earning online!

The downside of being an online 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.

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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:

No Degree:

  1. Go on Groupon or anywhere on the internet and get a recognized TEFL OR CELTA certificate
  2. 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!
  3. Download the app PalFish through your mobile or tablet and start the application process. Then you’ll be teaching in no time!

Degree:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 🙂
  3. Head on over to VIPKID make an account and get teaching!
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More question

  • 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!

Have fun!

Dom 😀

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36 thoughts on “11 ways to be a successful online English teacher

    1. Hey Nicola! You definitely can! As long as you enjoy it of course 🙂 Have you thought about teaching online?

  1. It is pretty neat you can make a profession out of this! The thought never crossed my mind but I am sure that having a face to face would be better than hearing an autotape.

    1. Yes, it gives the kids a way better learning experience that’s for sure!
      Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help you out 🙂
      – Dom

    1. Yes, it’s super cool! And it’s fun once you get some regular students to see how they improve over time! 🙂
      – Dom

    1. Yes, definitely! If she has / gets a TEFL certificate this is such a fun way to make some money. Both as a career and as a side gig 🙂
      – Dom

    1. Thank you! It’s definitely recommended to have a background teaching young ones! Anything that makes the room look friendly and appealing is a big bonus! 🙂

    1. Definitely do. I will be sharing a post about the perfect summer job for teachers. I think it’s something she may really be interested in! Perfect for teachers who want to make a bit of extra cash over the summer!
      – Dom

  2. Such great advice! I ‘ve always thought about teaching online as a part-time job. These are great points to consider if I embark on that journey!

    1. Hey Jessie,

      If you do then feel free to message me with any questions you have or if I can help guide you in any way!
      -Dom

    1. Hey Ashli,

      If you asked me a few years ago if I’d imagine myself teaching I probably would have said no. I’m so glad I found this opportunity though. Especially with the fact I don’t have to be location dependent and allows me to travel!

      If you ever want to start teaching. Feel free to message me!
      -Dom

    1. Thank you! If you’re ever interested in teaching feel free to email me and I can help you in any way!
      -Dom

    1. Hey Akriti,
      The world is truly going digital and we have to take advantage of the opportunities that come with this world.
      -Dom

    1. Hey Vaishali,

      That’s awesome! The beauty of online teaching it can be done by whoever,wherever! 🙂
      -Dom

    1. Hey Tracy, yes it’s hard if you have another job full time but it would be a great summer job. If you check in on Monday that’s actually what our next blog post is about! The perfect summer job for teachers 🙂
      – Dom

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