Teaching English online is a great way to earn extra money – we’ll tell you all you need to know to start teaching and earning money today! Whether you are a first time teacher or have years of classroom experience there are options out there to maximize your free time into extra earnings.
Is teaching English online for me?
Ok, lets start with the important thing, money vs time and effort. You’re probably in the situation where you have some spare time but want to know if its worth the effort to teach English online to students. For me personally, and many other online teachers, I would say yes.
For basic conversation classes for a new online teacher you are probably looking at around $8- $10 an hour. This involves just being there on time, having a conversation with the student and maybe answering a few questions. It may not sound like a lot of money but if you don’t have any plans it may seem a better idea than just watching TV. Experienced online teachers with a history of good student feedback will likely earn in the range of $12-$15 per hour for a conversation class which I feel is reasonable.
Qualified teachers ( TEFL , CELTA , licensed etc ) can teach specialist classes on top of conversation sessions. For specialist classes such as exam preparation, business English or grammar classes you can start earning higher amounts. Again for new teachers you can expect around $12-$15 an hour and after good feedback many charge $20+ per hour.
As you can see it wont make you rich but as a part time job it certainly can provide welcome extra earnings. This is especially true if you
What do I need to do first?
Firstly you need a few things before you start teaching English online. Without the below you will struggle to get students, and more importantly struggle to keep them.
You may need to buy some equipment to help you communicate with your students. Although laptops and tablets have built-in microphones and speakers it is much better to get a head set. This will not only provide better sound quality for you and the student but will also help you look more professional. In fact many students themselves use headsets and may expect their teacher to use similar equipment. There is nothing worse than not being able to hear a student or be heard by them due to poor quality equipment you are using.
A quiet private place is very important, you need somewhere that provides a professional backdrop to deliver your lessons. This means if working from home you need to have somewhere clean and quiet, ideally an office or desk space. If you are working from an internet cafe or room with many people there will be lots of background noise which makes communication difficult and also distracts from the session. Also people walking around in the background will similarly cause distractions and look very unprofessional.
You then need to download software to help you connect to a student. The easiest way to do this is via Skype. Skype is accessible and used in the majority of online lessons as people are familiar with it and of course it is free to use. There are other VOIP services you can use however I recommend starting with Skype.
An optional extra is considering purchasing teaching and student manuals. If you are new to teaching and want background reading these will be of great use. Many students just want conversation classes but if you have a student asking about grammar or tenses you need to be able to answer them. If you are unable to answer your students questions then it is unlikely they will want to book future sessions with you. On the other hand if you give the wrong answer then you are failing to live up to your duty as a teacher.
What comes next?
So you have all the equipment and you are ready so we need to find some students. At this point you need to decide if you want to work privately or for a company. There and benefits and drawbacks to each which we will examine below.
Work for a company:
The major benefit of this option is that you will not have to search for students. You will either have students assigned to you or leave your profile on the website for students to chose you. There are many options out there but the site I recommend is Italki. This site allows you to chose your teaching times, prices and lesson styles. Also people without teaching qualifications can use this site to offer conversation classes.
A benefit of working for a company is that there are often set regulations regarding student cancellations. Normally students have 24 hours to cancel or re-arrange their session with you. If they cancel less than 24 hours before you will have the option to charge the student for the class or to re-arrange for another date.
The main drawback with this option is how will you find students? Of course you can go on Craigslist or local web boards to promote yourself but the take up is likely to be very low. One option you could follow is to create an online presence for yourself, a website, YouTube channel or Facebook page. By providing English content and helping people this can lead to requests for private lessons, or even group lessons. However, this option can take a very long time and requires a lot of effort.
Also you will have to set regulations for no shows and cancelled lessons which can be an issue. You will also have to control your own schedule and manage your timetable to make sure you are at a lesson on time.
How do I get paid?
Payments is usually made by Paypal or bank transfer. Remember though that you may be charged a fee to receive money through these methods. Payments from online companies are usually made monthly, or in some cases twice a month. I recommend charging private students prior to your lessons as there is the chance they might not pay afterwards and you don’t have much come-back. I normally sell lessons in blocks of 10 for private students to make it easier for me and them to manage.
Is teaching English online full time possible?
This is a questions many people ask and overall I would say that it is not possible to earn enough income for this to be a full time job. Even earning at the higher levels of pay you would need to work many hours 5 or 6 days a week. This means having enough students everyday without cancellations. If you lived in a country with low living costs then maybe you can earn enough to get by but when compared to full time jobs with confirmed hours and pay it will likely not be a better deal. Currently I teach online around 15 hours a week and make around $700 a month. I could get more classes but I value my free time so restrict to 2 or 3 hours a day.