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Teaching English online has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It enables people to work from home or travel the world. Some people work as full-time online English teachers, while others do this job as a side gig. Teaching English online can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not all fun and games. In this article, we will present you with 10 things you should know before you start.

You can work from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas. A lot of companies also allow you to set your own schedule. Flexibility is just one of the perks that come with the job of an online English teacher. If you are a beginner who wants to make money by teaching online, check out this blog too.

What makes a good online English teacher?

Online English teaching is a competitive market. To stand out from the other teachers and have students book your classes consistently, you need to have certain skills and abilities. The next tips will make you a good online English teacher.

  • Use TPR – The term TPR stands for a total physical response. This practice will help you bring your lessons to life. Your body, your facial expressions, and your hand gesture can help your students learn.
  • Engage your students – Try to connect with your students on a personal level. Ask them relevant questions and let them speak about what interests them. Be creative and include games to break the monotony.
  • Use props and visuals effectively – Stuffed animals, toys and props will help engage your younger students, and using them in your lessons can be a lot of fun.
  • Be warm and friendly – online English teaching, just like any other job can sometimes be repetitive and exhausting. Despite this, always greet your students with a smile and a positive attitude.

10 Things you should know before you start teaching

We’ll give you valuable pieces of advice on teaching English online in the next couple of paragraphs. We hope they will help you better prepare for the job. There are many unexpected situations that can arise in a virtual classroom. You should also be aware of potential challenges that you might face.

#1 Prepare for lower booking at first

When you start teaching English on an online platform, it usually takes time to get a stable booking. You will often be assigned trial classes that are frequently no-shows. You should prepare yourself for a lower income in the beginning. Luckily, we’ve also prepared this article on how you can boost your income online.


In the beginning, a lot of classes are last-minute or pop-up. This usually means you have to be ready to enter the classroom at short notice. It also means you have to wait around for lessons. The good news is that you can earn extra while waiting for students to book your lessons.

Paid surveys take just a couple of minutes of your time. You can take part in them without any prior experience. Simply register and wait to receive survey links in your inbox. When you reach the payment threshold, withdraw your money to your PayPal account.

#2 Prepare for the classes

Very often online teaching companies lure teachers with the promise of no lesson planning or preparation. The reality is quite different, as the lessons companies provide tend to be repetitive. They often consist of a text that students read many times. The follow-up questions after the text are also pretty much the same. This means that you will need to do some prep work to ensure your students have quality lessons.

Remember that the goal of the lesson is to keep your students engaged. Try to ask your own questions and get students to talk. With intermediate students, use hypothetical scenarios. Ask them what they would do in certain situations and why.

#3 Take a rest

Depending on where your students are, you may have to adapt to working in a different time zone. This often means waking up at ungodly hours. You also need to remain enthusiastic for hours, which takes a lot of energy. That is why it is important to take a day off once a week.


A day off means you shouldn’t work, but recharge your batteries. Don’t do part-time instead of resting. Take a vacation every now and then and don’t teach during that time. Otherwise, you will experience burnout and exhaustion. If you do want to make money while on vacation, check out this blog.

#4 Get your TESOL/TEFL certificate

It’s no secret that companies prefer teachers who are native English speakers and who hold a Bachelor’s degree. However, another important thing that you need to have is a TESOL or TEFL certificate. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TESOL is an acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other languages. There is little to no difference between these two certificates.

There are certain standards that professional TEFL courses must meet:

  • A 120-hour TEFL course, which usually takes 10 to 12 weeks
  • Live practice teaching
  • An accredited curriculum
  • A qualified instructor

#5 Use the right technology

The good news is that there are a lot of reliable online platforms that you can use to communicate with your students. If your lessons are focused on conversation, Google Hangouts is free and web-based. You just need to have a Gmail address and you don’t even need to download the application to use it.

Most companies will require you to use a laptop or a desktop computer for delivering lessons. Your computer doesn’t have to be the latest model, but it should be able to handle the demands of video streaming. You should also invest in a pair of headsets with a microphone. The quality of your audio is vitally important in online English teaching.

A kid learning English online.

#6 Find a quiet workspace

Online English teaching companies often advertise how you can work from anywhere in the world. This is usually true, as long as you have a reliable internet connection and a quiet workspace. Learn how to set up a home office to increase your productivity. You need to set up a quiet classroom free from distractions. This rules out coffee shops or teaching by the pool while on vacation.

Speaking of vacation, if you decide to have lessons while on vacation, make sure that your hotel has a reliable and fast internet connection. You should be able to have video calls without disconnecting. Also, keep in mind that some companies let you teach from anywhere in the world. Others require you to be in the USA or the UK.

#7 Find the right company

There are many online ESL companies on the market. Finding the trustworthy one can feel like a daunting task. You should look for ESL companies that have been around for a while. We’ll present you with our top three choices.

  1. VIPKID – It is an established and reputable ESL company. Their hiring process is intense. The company provides you with timely payments and an advanced teaching platform. VIPKID hires teachers only from the USA and Canada that have a Bachelor’s Degree. The hourly rate is $22 per hour and you can teach from anywhere in the world.
  2. Palfish – It focuses on the Chinese market. You can choose whether you want to teach adults or kids. It doesn’t require you to have a Bachelor’s degree.
  3. Cambly – This company hires native English speakers and pays by the minute. Its main focus is conversation practice. The company hires teachers without BA degrees.

#8 Consider freelance teaching

If you would like to have more independence in choosing where and when you want to teach, you should definitely consider freelance teaching. That way you get to be your own boss and choose your own students. This, however, is a lot of work, especially if you have no teaching background.

You need to demonstrate that you have the right skills for the job and attract students through unique branding. Building a personal website can help achieve this. You may also be interested to read about ways how you can monetize your website and boost your income.

#9 Invest in a comfortable chair

It might seem obvious, but if you want to teach for hours, a comfortable chair is a must. Otherwise, your back will start to hurt and your legs will go numb around class number three. A comfortable chair will help you be more productive and you won’t notice the passing of time.

#10 Build a sense of community

Online teachers oftentimes feel a bit isolated. To avoid this, try to join online teaching communities or attend local meetups. Make sure you also build a sense of community among your students. Building rapport with students in an online English class can be challenging, but it’s vital for your success as an online English teacher.

Final words

There are many perks that come with teaching English online. Still, you should manage your expectations and be aware of certain things before you start. We hope that our blog has given you a better insight into what to expect from this rewarding career. Don’t forget to enjoy teaching and have fun!