Teaching English online has become increasingly popular over the past few years. It can be a great way to make a living, as well as gain valuable experience teaching and interacting with students from around the world.
You may have the question: is teaching English online all it’s made out to be? Would you prefer to teach English in a physical classroom?
I’ve taught English online for six years now, and the industry has changed significantly since I first started. Before taking the plunge into teaching online, there are some advantages and disadvantages that need to be weighed to determine if this is the right job for you. Here are some of the pros and cons of teaching English online.
Pros of Teaching English Online
Some benefits of teaching English online include being your own boss, supplementing your income, and learning new skills.
1. Be Your Own Boss
Being your own boss feels empowering and is one of the biggest benefits of teaching English online.
You can create your own schedule, choosing when and how often you teach. You can also pick which students you want to work with, allowing you to tailor each lesson to their specific needs better.
As you build on your teaching career, you may like to set up a business and employ other teachers and expand your network. You have much more freedom when you become your own boss!
2. Stay at home
You don’t have to leave your home in order to teach English online. This can be a great benefit for those with limited mobility, busy schedules, or family commitments.
If you decide to teach for an Asian company, you will most likely work mornings in the U.S. due to the time difference. You can spend the rest of the day with your family while making a little money along the way.
Of course, you are not strictly limited to one time zone as there are English language learners all over the world. Some online teaching jobs operate on a 24/7 basis.
3. Supplementary Income
If you find yourself short of cash each month, maybe you need to consider an extra job. However, this can take its toll on you physically and mentally.
Teaching English online is a great way to supplement your income without needing to take on additional hours at your regular job. You don’t need to worry about commuting or relocating since you can teach from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.
You may want to consider signing up for a teaching company online that has minimal or no required teaching hours each week. You can decide to work as much, or as little, as you want.
I’d suggest tutoring at Cambly, as they have no required hours, and they pay weekly; you don’t even need a teaching qualification, although it helps.
To get higher-paid teaching positions, be sure to get a TEFL course. See: Cheap and Accredited TEFL Courses.
4. Travel Abroad
There is great freedom to travel. If you decide to become an online teacher, you can travel to any country you like. The only requirement is to bring your laptop, webcam and look for a reliable internet connection.
Most digital nomads go to Thailand, Mexico, or Vietnam to meet like-minded people. You are sure to find many people working online in countries with a lower cost of living.
The online teaching industry is a global one, so you can easily find students all over the world. This means you can teach English from almost any location, increasing your freedom and potential for exploration.
5. Rewarding Experience
When you help students learn something new, it can be a very rewarding experience. You will notice their progress as they improve their English communication skills.
You can develop a close friendship or bond with your students, especially if you have one-on-one classes. Knowing that you are helping someone reach their goals in life is an amazing feeling.
When my students moved from Hong Kong to the UK, I helped them prepare for the new country and culture. I was honored to be part of such a life-changing event. I also helped students improve their interview skills, so they could move on to bigger and better things in their career.
6. Help Students Develop Their Skills
Tutoring supports students in a variety of ways. Not only do they learn something new in English, but you will notice their confidence and social skills improving. This is because they learn to express their ideas and opinions with clarity.
In addition, the newly focused attention and corrections from a fluent English speaker boosts the students’ performance, and they develop a positive attitude to learning in a fun online English-speaking environment.
7. Many Work Options are Available
When you become an online English teacher, you may find other ways online to make some money. This could be selling your lesson materials or starting a blog or YouTube channel so that you have other income streams. You will have time to do this because of your flexible schedule.
See: Ways to Make Money as an ESL Teacher
8. Save Fuel and Sleep in
Traveling to and from work can be expensive and stressful. With online teaching, you won’t need to worry about that, as all the work is done remotely. You will save a lot of money on fuel costs.
As long as you have a good internet connection, you can work from home and won’t need to travel to an office. This allows you to save time and sleep in, but I recommend waking up at least thirty minutes before your first class so that you can be alert and ready.
9. You Don’t need a Degree
The great thing about teaching English online is that you don’t need a college degree. All you need is fluency of the language and preferably some experience with teaching, which can be acquired through practice or taking courses.
Of course, having a TEFL certificate or other qualification will enable you to stand out in the eyes of potential employers.
There are options to teach online with companies like Palfish and Cambly if you do not have a degree. Keep your eyes peeled on sites such as Indeed for other positions.
You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies.
10. Learn New Skills
Online English teaching jobs help you develop new knowledge and skills. You need to think on your feet, work with different personalities and create interesting lessons that keep the students engaged. Your patience also improves as you learn how to teach difficult concepts in an easy way.
You become a better communicator and listener, and some teaching jobs provide you with helpful feedback that can be used to develop yourself as a teacher further. You can use this information to improve your teaching and stay up-to-date with the latest methods for teaching English online.
Cons of Teaching English Online
Some drawbacks of teaching English online include loneliness, fatigue, and technical difficulties.
Working from home can be lonely at times, even when you are teaching students daily.
When you are not surrounded by workmates and don’t meet up with them on lunch breaks, you might start to feel lonely.
Be sure to join extracurricular activities and social groups for some social interaction. There is plenty of digital nomad and online teaching groups on Facebook where you can share ideas.
2. Expect to Work Hard at the Beginning
Depending on how much money you are looking to make each month, expect to work hard for what you earn. You will have to put lots of energy into these 30-minute classes, and you may have to work lower-paid jobs first to gain experience.
There will be a bit of a learning curve if you have never taught before. Make sure you choose a highly accredited course, such as The TEFL Academy, to put you on the right track.
You can also take an additional specialist course to prepare you for teaching niches of students, such as young learners or business professionals. Read the review: The TEFL Academy.
3. Non-Native English Speakers Have Fewer Choices Available
Unfortunately, if you are a non-native English speaker, you may be paid less than a native-English speaker.
Many companies prefer native English speakers, but there are other options available, such as Cambly (for South Africans), Palfish and XP Live (for Filipinos).
If you are a non-native English speaker but have a passport from an English-speaking country, such as the UK or US, you will likely be accepted for the native-English speaking roles provided that you are fluent.
You may also want to consider finding your own students, which you can find by posting ads, joining freelance teaching platforms, or Facebook groups for English learners. See: 4 Excellent Online Teaching Business Options.
4. Technical Difficulties
If you have a slow internet connection or laptop, I recommend fixing these issues before you start teaching English online. View other technical requirements for online teaching.
Students will be dissatisfied if they can’t see you or hear you properly. Therefore, make sure to find a quiet space in your home with adequate lighting. Wear a headset with a microphone to improve sound quality and ensure a smoother lesson.
You must remain professional, and should technical difficulties occur, reach out to IT support in the company. They are sure to be on call in most online ESL companies and will help you and your student get back into the classroom.
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If you have many students in the class, expect issues such as noise or echoes. Deal with the issues promptly and try to move on with the lesson. Complaints can be tricky, so make sure you respect the student’s opinion but stand your ground if they are making too many demands.
Make sure the students are respectful of others and that they are in a quiet room. You may have to politely advise them to find a quiet room or mute their microphone if there is noise in the background. Other students might complain about the class if these issues aren’t properly addressed.
6. Lack of a Routine
You may find it hard to set goals as a newly self-employed individual. You will have to learn a lot about yourself and how you can stay motivated, even when you don’t feel like working.
Make sure that you pay attention to your mental and physical health, as teaching online can be quite demanding. Take breaks when you need them, get enough sleep, and make time to do the things that bring you joy. Overall, it is important to take care of yourself and not bite off more than you can chew.
You will need to separate your leisure from your work affairs, and this can be difficult when your home is also your office. The best way to keep a routine is to journal and set goals to accomplish every day of the week.
Review each week and see if you achieved your goals and what you could do to improve. This will help you establish a routine and use your work time wisely.
See our daily and weekly planners to help keep you motivated and working towards your goals, and avoid teacher burnout.
7. Wifi-Connection Problems when Travelling
You always want to be sure you have a stable wifi-connection and other backup options. You could use your phone as a hotspot or use an ethernet cable to make sure your internet is secure.
If you decide to go to a new place, always ask about their wifi, and make sure it is high-speed. You can ask them to do an internet speed test here. Also, be sure to check in with the online teaching company when you travel, as they will perform additional tests.
8. NO EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
If you are self-employed, you will not receive the same benefits as a regular employee. This includes health insurance and other perks of a normal job.
You should also remember that your income is subject to taxes – keep track of all your expenses and pay what you owe on time. Make sure to set aside a percentage of your income to save for taxes and other bills.
It is also important to budget for vacations and days off so that you can relax and get away from work for a little while.
Is online teaching worth it?
I think online teaching is worth it because it has granted me so much freedom to travel and decide my schedule. I have lived in Portugal and Spain teaching online, and I have also taught English in the U.K.
I prefer online teaching as I have more control over my work, and I get time to focus on my blog. There is a lot of earning potential when you gain more experience and decide your own rates, and I’ve made up to $50 per hour teaching online, which isn’t usually possible in a school.
Many teachers wonder if teaching English online is worth it, and the truth is, whether or not you think it is, it is here to stay in the long run. Many have to adjust to new forms of teaching as a result of the pandemic.
Some teachers will enjoy it, whereas others may find the adjustment difficult. It’s up to every individual to decide whether they prefer teaching online or in person.
As schools are learning more about how to implement and navigate online learning, we expect to see online learning incorporated more in the future, along with the use of mixed reality (AR, VR, ER), various assessment tools, and the Metaverse.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the pros and cons of teaching English online. Teaching English online is a great avenue to explore, and I believe it is a great side income or full-time income.
If you want to teach English and travel, it is possible, and there are many travelers out there doing the same. It’s also a part-time job for parents who want to stay home with their kids.
Do you think teaching English online is worth it? Let us know in the comments section below.
- What jobs can I get teaching English online?
- Where can I go to teach English?
- How can I teach English online?
- Where can I get an accredited TEFL certificate?
- How to be a Good English Teacher
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!