6 Ways to Make Money as an ESL Teacher

This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclaimer.

Did you know you can earn income by just speaking the English language? Today 2 billion people across the globe are speaking, or learning to speak, English.

As English remains the lingua franca between nations, the number of those speaking the language are only set to rise. The multi-billion-dollar ESL industry is booming as people are looking to learn English.

There are a number of ways to generate money as an English Language Teacher. We will highlight 6 of the main ways below.

1. In the Physical Classroom

The most popular outlet to earn money as an English language teacher is to teach English abroad.

Teach in Class

Teaching English in a classroom is a very fulfilling way to spend your time in another country. You get to travel while learning about another country’s customs, traditions, and values.

There are many countries where teachers can go to teach English. If you have a TEFL certificate and you are a native (or fluent) speaker, chances are you will be in high demand.

Still need an ESL Certificate? Find the right teaching certificate for you by reading this post: TEFL vs TESOL… What’s the Difference?

If you are a non-native speaker, you can still find locations to teach too. In many countries, they provide you with a generous wage, while covering some (or all) of your travel or visa expenses. Some may even provide accommodation for you.

You don’t even have to stay long term. You can choose to teach English at a summer school for a few months or you could stay there for the academic year.

Some of the most popular destinations to teach English abroad include China, Japan, and Thailand. ESL Teachers usually enjoy a great standard of living in the country they are teaching.

The TEFL Academy provides accredited courses and a lot of job opportunities after you get certified.

2. Teach with an Online Company

Did you know that many English language learners are moving online? Teaching English with an online company is a sure-fire way to earn money fast.

Teach English Online

When you teach English online, you follow a lesson plan specifically tailored to the individual’s level. The company usually provides all the lesson material. This requires almost zero lesson planning for the teacher except for some feedback for the student after the class.

The company provides all the tools and training needed for an enjoyable lesson which cuts the teachers workload in half.

This is a great opportunity for stay-at-home parents, teachers, or travelers. You can work as much or as little as you want while enjoying a flexible schedule. You are also location-independent, meaning that you can go anywhere!

You can usually apply to many online teaching companies and spread your hours across the day.

I recommend several online teaching companies in the Jobs section of this site. It shows you step-by-step how to apply to the companies and start your online ESL teaching career.

Online teaching companies pay approximately $20 per hour to teach adults and children. You may later receive other roles in the company such as teacher interviewer trainer or content creator.

3. Free Talk Session

Video Chat on Palfish and Cambly

Earn money just for chatting? Yes, please! This is a great way to build up your confidence without even teaching English. A free talk session is a viable option for those who don’t want to lesson plan or have a nitty-gritty schedule.

Maybe you want to freely open some hours to chat with others who are learning English. If you want to free talk, some options to consider are Palfish or Cambly.

Palfish is a company that allows you to charge your own talk time rates. I’ve seen anything up to 5 RMB per minute for talk time, which equates to $0.71 per minute or $42.60 per hour. According to Palfish, the average teacher earns $10-$17 per hour through the free talk session.

You are free to open your hours at any time and adults and kids can call you. There are multiple ways to make money on Palfish, as you can also teach their official courseware or go live.

Cambly is another company that allows you to connect to adults through freetalk sessions. They pay $10-$12 dollars per hour and you can talk to as many people as you like!

Simply log in and you will get an influx of people from around the world! You are guaranteed to have the most interesting conversations and it’s such an easy way to make money!

4. Create Your Own Materials

You can create material such as lesson plans and courses for teachers or students.

Create Lessons, Audio and Video

Create Courses for Teachers

If you have enough of teaching lessons, consider constructing lesson plans for students. Lesson plans are bought and sold by teachers on websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers.

Some online teaching companies pay you to be a content creator and create lesson plans for them. You could also consider creating your own course to teach clients on sites like Teachable, Udemy, and Skillshare.

Creating lesson materials will help you stand out with your own unique approach to language learning.

Create Courses for Students

If your creativity permits it, you can also create audio and video content for students. You can create videos on YouTube, on a blog, or showcase your work on Instagram and Facebook.

You can even advertise yourself to business professionals on Linkedin. Students may like to buy your courses, which will provide you with passive income streams.

5. Teacher Referrals

Online teaching companies will pay you to help other teachers sign up and become a teacher on their platform.

Word-of-Mouth Referral

Have an eye for marketing? When you sign up to teach with an online teaching company, you can earn money by showing others how to teach too!

You can earn a ‘Teacher Referral Bonus’ for every teacher who signs up for the company. You could earn anything from $20 to $200 per referral!

How do you find other teachers? Maybe you know a friend, colleague, or someone who needs a side-hustle or a job. Talk to like-minded people who are interested in teaching.

You could also post on forums or Facebook group chats. You could even post to YouTube or start a blog as I did! This is a really nice bonus to see in your paycheque.

6. Build Your Own Brand

In time, you may like to find your own students to teach. Building a website adds credibility and you can send students to your offer.

Promote Yourself as a Teacher

You can use web tools such as Google slides, Zoom, and Trello to plan and teach lessons. You could also arrange to teach your own private lessons.

When you teach your own lessons, you are in complete control of your schedule. You can organize a group or individual lessons and decide who you are going to teach.

It’s a good time to start niching down by teaching specific groups of people. When you niche down, you can charge much higher rates! People will pay for the dream you sell them, so it is important to build your own brand.


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Here are the top ways to earn money teaching English as an ESL teacher. My final piece of advice is to invest in your teaching skills first and the money will follow!

Interested in teaching English online or abroad? Be sure to take our #1 Recommended TEFL Certificate and follow the other useful links below.

Make Money as an ESL Teacher

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I am a 24-year old online ESL teacher from rural Ireland. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK and Europe. This blog aims to help educate you on the existing possibilities of becoming an online teacher. Please show some love and support by sharing this article with others. Thank you!

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