There are many different jobs that a mom who works and homeschools can do. But I would like to share my experiences teaching English online and how it has helped me to take control of my time. And if you’re looking for a flexible WFH job that pays relatively well, then maybe teaching English online could be a job that suits you.
Teaching English online is a good job because there are 1.5 billion English learners worldwide! I know, right? But obviously this also means that there are a lot of companies out there and also many, many teachers.
But don’t let this discourage you because as with any good job, you need to put in the time and pay your dues if you want to be successful. In this post I want to share some of the tips and strategies I’ve used over the years.
Contents of the Post
What Are the Requirements for Teaching English Online
Requirements definitely vary from company to company. Some require a degree and an accredited teaching certificate, while others might be happy with proven experience. Obviously you also need a computer, a good internet connection and somewhere quiet to teach. If you’re going to teach children, then a good company will require a background check.
From my experience, getting an accredited TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is worth it because it will set you up to start teaching more confidently. And often they are able to offer work placement afterwards.
I did the University of Cambridge ESOL CELTA qualification, which I found was a very good grounding because I had never taught before. I did do it in person because I took the course in 2009, but now they do offer an online option. It’s quite pricey but worth it because it is recognized worldwide.
That being said, there are other TEFL courses that are also very good. Just make sure that it includes:
- at least 120 hours
- a practical part
- and recognized accreditation.
Be sure to do your research before because there are fraudsters out there! I suggest joining some Facebook groups so that you can get the lowdown on qualifications and good companies to work for.
Some schools or online platforms also require a Bachelor’s Degree in English. I have found that it’s helped me a lot to get jobs, but I have friends who have managed fine without. It might take a little bit longer to get going but I don’t think it’s impossible.
How Much Can I Earn Teaching English Online
The money you earn depends on your experience and on the company. And of course on the number of hours that you’re willing to work. The company I teach for pays about $ 20 per hour, and there are companies that do pay more. Unfortunately there are also companies that pay a lot less!
You might also work up to this hourly rate, as I had to do with my company. I had to offer free placement tests to potential students until I had reached a certain number of lessons taught. This is a good way to build up your student base, but you’ll need to reckon with working for free in the beginning, perhaps.
You could also start by offering your services on a platform like Fiverr. I did this for a number of years to also build up a student base. Even though the platform is great because it handles payments (which you don’t want to do on your own!), it does take a percentage of your income. And as there are a lot of people offering services on there, you’ll have to start with a low price until you have lots of reviews. Once you build up a good relationship with your students, you can migrate them to PayPal and Zoom and also charge more.
Working on a Teaching Platform
Before you accept a job on a teaching platform, make sure you’ve read all the Ts and Cs. Some companies require you to be available for lots of hours a week. Depending on your time and energy, I would go for no more than 15 to 20 hours of teaching per week. This is still a pretty heavy workload and can be draining.
You also need to find out if they provide materials or if you have to create lessons. If you’re new to teaching, then you might want to go for a programme that has everything there for you. I prefer to create my own lessons, as I find this gets the best results for my students. But I know how scary teaching can be at the beginning, so planned lessons are a great help.
You should also make sure that you are aware of how much admin you have to do. If the platform requires lesson plans and very detailed reports, then you need to factor that into how much you’re earning.
Most platforms use reviews as a way to ‘rate’ teachers. So in the beginning, it might take some time to get the ball rolling. In my case, I took about two years to fully move from my full-time job to teaching English online. I taught in the evenings and on weekends until I had built up my student base.
You could speed up this process if you have the time. Opening up your calendar as much as possible, is a great way for students to get to know you. This is really important for building a base of loyal students.
How to Be a Great Online English Teacher
I think being a good online teacher comes down to a few things that are not really directly related to the teaching of the English language. Obviously that’s a part of it, but your personality and how you build rapport are much more important in my opinion! Remember that you’re competing against people with doctorates from Oxford (yes, that’s the case in my company) but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have as many happy students as they do. Here are some things that have helped me to have over 3000 happy students in the last few years…
- Don’t stress too much about grammar. Maybe you aren’t but I was terrified about grammar in the beginning. I knew how to say things but not why. You’ll find ways to explain grammar points clearly with experience. I have actually found that students often just want to talk because they don’t have the opportunity in their home countries. They can do grammar on their own.
- Find out what your student’s goals and interests are and plan lessons accordingly. Students are much more likely to learn when they’re engaged and interested. And they appreciate a teacher who takes their needs into account.
- Let your student talk as much as possible and rather listen. You can give feedback at the end of the session, but rather don’t knock their confidence by constantly correcting them. You also might be tempted to fill in silences with chatter, but some students just need time to think. It’s their lesson after all!
- Be culturally sensitive and unbiased because you could meet people from all over the world. And this is the beauty of the job as well. I have met the most wonderful people from all corners of the globe.
- It’s best to avoid any controversial topics, unless your student brings them up. You could also maybe discuss them with students that you know well. You should also not be too forceful with any of your opinions. I know some highly qualified teachers who have lost students because they used sessions as an opportunity to rant. Not a good idea!
- Show a genuine interest and be empathetic. People in different parts of the world are going through some really tough situations and they might just need someone to talk to. That was definitely the case for me when COVID started, because I have many students from Italy.
- Be incredibly patient and encouraging because learning a new language is hard! And you really have to put yourself out there. I really admire anyone who is learning English because it’s a tough language to master, what with all the exceptions to the rule!
Let Me Know if You Have any Questions
This is in no way the most exhaustive post as the industry is growing and changing all the time. But these have been my experiences so far and I firmly believe that teaching English online is a great job for a working homeschool mom. If you have any questions, please reach out. I would love to give you any other information that you might need.