How to Teach English Online – Ultimate Guide (2020)

Interested in teaching English online? Whether you have experience or not, we will show you how you can start teaching ESL online. The only qualification you need at this point, is the ability to speak English in a fluent manner.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my disclaimer.

Teaching online is nothing like teaching in a classroom. You know why?

  • Flexible schedule. Set your own hours.
  • You can work as little or as much as you want
  • You can have more time with your family
  • You can travel the world with your laptop
  • You are in charge

If you teach in a classroom, you will have much less room for flexibility and you may even receive less compensation. Even if you enjoy teaching in a brick and mortar school, it is nice to have a little extra side income teaching English online.

If you are interested in teaching online, here is how to start your teaching journey. I have prepared a checklist that will help you teach English. Print it out and use it step by step to help you start teaching.

How to Start Teaching English

Make Things Happen

Set a Date

Have you decided when you are going to start teaching English online? You know what they say, there’s no time like the present.

Take small, actionable steps each day to attain your goal. If you really don’t have time right now, mark it on the calendar for later. Remind yourself the reasons WHY you want to do this.

Do you want…

✔More time with your family and friends?
✔A new and exciting venture with extra income?
✔More time to travel and enjoy life?
✔Help others improve their communication skills?

Write down the reasons. It will help you stay motivated and on track with your goals.

Save Money


After deciding a date to get started you will want to move on to your budget. Do you have the equipment needed to get started? Make a list of what is required and your expected expenditure.

You may be asking at this point: how much will you need to invest to successfully begin my online teaching career? You don’t have to invest much. Make sure you have a working laptop, a stable internet connection, and a teaching certificate.

You will need to print and cut out props and reward systems to use. You will also need to invest in a headset if you haven’t one already. 

For years, I received my income directly from my bank account and it was a big mistake. I was losing money. If you are receiving money from a foreign company and exchange rates are an issue, I strongly recommend Transferwise.

Transferwise gives you the best mid-market rates and are transparent with their fees.

Sign up for Free and Receive your First Transfer free here.

Transferwise Signup

If your online teaching company does not accept the bank details from Transferwise, see our other options for receiving payments from online ESL companies here.

Here are the most important things you need:

Teaching Certificate

Get Your Teaching Certificate

I write an article about popular teaching certificates here. I discuss two options.

You can complete a short course within a weekend or you can complete a typically longer course.

If you just want to teach English online as a part-time career, the International Open Academy Certificate will cover your teaching needs. This will help you get a job with whatever online teaching company you choose.

I invested more by completing the TEFL Academy course, which is a much more in-depth course that is suitable if you want to teach in a school abroad.

Whichever teaching certificate you choose is entirely up to you, as both will potentially get you a teaching job online.

Next Step for Your Budget


Write a list of the things you need to add to your shopping cart. Here are some of the things that I consider as other teaching essentials. You can also use these props to teach English to kids. These are just some ideas that you might like to use or take inspiration from.

Overall, you don’t have to spend a huge amount to get started teaching English. You may find that you have a lot of items at home. You can also make a lot of the items or props on the props list.

If you sign up for an ESL company with TPR teaching, we will give you guidance and provide you with digital downloadable props that you can use to teach English online. It will make your teaching experience much easier. 

How to Write a CV

Resume Writing

Updating your resume is not a fun task. However, it is a must.

Hundreds of people apply to online teaching companies every day. You must take it seriously and write a presentable resume like you would for any other job.

Important Information to Include:

  • Your teaching certificate and educational background.
  • Show that you have an interest in learning
  • Include teaching experience or relevant work experience.
  • Write about times you worked with people in the past (volunteer experience, customer service etc.)

If you sign up for an online teaching company with TPR Teaching, we will provide detailed instruction to help you pass the interview.

Start Teaching Online

TPR Teaching’s mission is to help you start teaching English online.

It is now time to start your online teaching career. If you decide to teach English online with a company, I highly recommend checking out the careers we have listed on our website. You will find some of the highest paying ESL online jobs. Most online ESL company headquarters are in China.

Teaching English to young learners and kids from Asia can be a very rewarding experience and a great start to your online ESL career. 

There are several ways to teach English online. Let’s look at the following options and list the pros and cons for each:

  • Work for an online ESL company
  • Set your own freelance schedule hosted by a third party site
  • Find your own paying clients

Work for an ESL Company

Many online teachers start out by working at an online ESL company and spend many years working for them. 

Online ESL companies find students for you, plan your lessons and pay you on a weekly or monthly basis.

You can set your schedule as you please and some online ESL companies offer more flexibility than others.


  • Decent pay
  • Less work upfront
  • The online companies find you students and fill your schedule
  • You can enjoy the flexibility of working at home
  • You don’t have to plan lessons


  • Some companies have limited working hours available
  • Isn’t completely flexible- you may have to stick to a weekly or monthly schedule
  • No guarantee you will have a full schedule, so it’s best not to rely on just one company for your full-time income 

Freelance on Teaching Website

You can post your profile on a website like this one and advertise your own rates.

The freelancing website may take a cut of your earnings in return for you using their platform.

You are in more control of the rates you charge but you will most likely have to find your own lesson plans.


  • Higher earning potential than teaching English online with ESL companies
  • Complete control over your schedule
  • Working from home flexibility
  • You don’t have to find clients as they are already using these websites to learn English 


  • You may need to build up your profile credibility before charging higher rates
  • You may have to lesson plan 
  • You are depending on students to choose you as their teacher

Find your own Paying clients 

You could also set up your own website, brand yourself and reach out to clients on LinkedIn Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

By doing this you will receive requests from students interested in signing up to your teaching course or lessons.

You can determine a niche, or a group of people that you would be interested in teaching and develop lessons around this area. 


  • Highest earning potential 
  • Complete control over your schedule
  • No fee from third party website
  • You can charge higher rates as you brand yourself
  • Work from home flexibility


  • You have to find your own paying clients
  • You may have to market yourself on social media platforms


When you sign up to teach at any online teaching company through our website, we will provide further instructions and resume prep! As a reminder, if you haven’t already, sign up to an online teaching company and we will be in touch shortly. 

Check out our jobs list. Click apply when you see a job you like… We will help you with the rest!

Did your current job ever cause you to stop and think about things you’re missing out on? Teaching English online is not for everyone, but if you are a motivated individual, chances are you will succeed.

What are your reasons for wanting to teach English online? Comment below!

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I am an online English teacher from Ireland with a writing addiction. My talents include being more productive than 98% of Grammarly users and teaching online before it even became trendy. This blog aims to help educate you on the existing possibilities of becoming an online teacher.

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