We explore some of the top tips and advice you’ll need to get started with online English teaching.
The field of teaching is a varied and often rewarding one. Helping learners discover their talents, develop their skills, and demonstrate their knowledge can be truly gratifying. One rapidly developing area of teaching is that of online English teaching. We explore how you can get into this discipline.
As well as exploring what’s required of you and whether you’re suited to the job, we look at some top tips for new online English teachers. We’ve also picked out some top courses for you and your students.
Why teach English online?
Before we get into the tips on how to teach English online, let’s first look at why you might want to do so. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the reasons why you should consider online English teaching:
Any form of teaching can be rewarding, and online English teaching is no exception. Helping learners to master a new language, reach their goals, and express themselves in new ways can be immensely satisfying.
You can make an impact
Over 1.5 billion people around the world speak English. By using your expertise in this language to teach others, you can help to introduce them to a global community that speaks the same language.
To share cultures
When you’re teaching online, you’ll often get to meet people from a variety of different countries. As such, you can learn about the different cultures and ways of life from different perspectives. Not only do you get a chance to learn, but you can also share your culture with your students.
It’s a booming industry
Pandemic aside, the global need for English as a second language (ESL) teachers has been growing. As more people want to learn English, there is a greater demand for those who can effectively teach the language. Of course, the events of COVID-19 have forced many learners and their teachers online.
What’s more, a report published by global research company Technavio shows that the global ESL market is expected to grow to $14.69 billion by 2024.
Am I suited to online English teaching?
If you’re considering getting into online teaching, you might be wondering whether you’ve got the skills and knowledge to do so. Below, we’ve picked out some of the skills you need to teach English online:
- Communication. As you might expect, communication skills are essential for this form of teaching. You’ll need to be able to effectively convey information and concepts in a way that is suitable for non-native speakers.
- Teaching. Again, you need to know how to teach your language to others. Whether through the right qualifications or through learning and experience, effective teaching skills are vital.
- Digital skills. The fact you’ll be teaching online means you’ll need to know your way around a computer. You’ll need the essential digital skills that allow you to connect with others online, often using a variety of different software.
- Planning and organisation. Like any teacher, you’ll need to organise your lessons and plan materials. Usually, you’ll need to tailor your planning to different ability levels and learners.
- Creativity. No two students are the same, which means you’ll often have to get creative to come up with ways to convey information. The online medium gives you the freedom to think outside the box and craft lessons that are engaging and effective.
- Language skills. As well as English language skills, you might find it’s useful to have an understanding of the native language of those you teach. For example, if you want to teach English online to Korean students, you might want to learn Korean.
What do online English teachers do?
It’s worth exploring some of the duties that come with teaching English online. Understanding what’s required from this type of work can help you determine whether it’s the right fit for you.
Below, we’ve picked out some of the tasks that an online teacher might perform in their day-to-day work:
- Teaching students. Although this is a given, of course, it’s worth noting that you might teach one-on-one or in small groups. Lessons can span anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or even beyond.
- Following a lesson plan. Some online English teaching jobs will provide you with a lesson plan, while others require you to write your own. You’ll teach your students anything from conversational English to specific grammar and vocabulary.
- Creating lesson plans. You might need to plan out your own lessons for your students, taking into account their needs. Check out our ExpertTrack from the British Council on how to plan and teach great English lessons to learn more.
- Liaising with students. You might need to talk with your students to book future lessons, discuss areas they want to improve in and plan for their qualifications.
Teaching online can be quite a varied experience, and you may find that different jobs have different requirements. To get started with transferring your teaching skills online, check out our course.
7 tips on how to get into teaching English online
If you’ve read this far, it’s likely that you want to learn how to teach English online. We’ve got some top tips to help you get prepared and start teaching successfully:
Understanding the role
The first thing you need to do is get a grasp of what’s required of you as a teacher. We’ve outlined some of the basics here, but you’ll want to start looking at some job adverts, reading more about the skills you’ll need, and even speaking with current teachers.
Online teaching isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer the face-to-face interaction that comes with a classroom setting. Others simply don’t enjoy the teaching experience. For both the sake of yourself and your potential students and employer, it’s vital that you have a full understanding of what you’re committing to.
Get the right training and qualifications
Before you get started with your career in online teaching, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary skills and qualifications. People often ask, ‘can I teach English online without a degree?’ It’s a valid question, and the answer is yes, you can. While some employers do require a degree, there are many that don’t require one.
However, certain degrees, as well as other qualifications, can certainly help. Perhaps the most common are TEFL certifications (Teach English as a Foreign Language) and CELTA qualifications (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).
However, there are plenty of other areas you might want to improve your skills in. We have a range of teaching English and TEFL courses that can help you build on your knowledge in specific areas related to teaching.
Setup your teaching environment
If you’re planning to teach online, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right requirements. Whether it’s from your home office or other remote location, you’ll want to have the following:
- A PC or laptop (or other devices) with a camera that’s capable of running a variety of software.
- A fast internet connection that allows you to video call without interruption.
- A webcam and headset. Your device might have a built-in webcam, but external ones can offer better quality. Similarly, a headset with a microphone will provide a better experience for you and your students.
- A comfortable place to sit. Depending on your workload, you might spend a fair amount of time sitting at your desk. Make sure you can maintain good posture and sit comfortably.
- A professional background. Take note of what your students will see when they’re watching your lessons. A plain background is fine, but be mindful of what appears if not.
- Notes and teaching materials. It’s a good idea to have enough space for your teaching notes and materials. These can help you as you progress through your lessons.
Know your worth
Online English teaching salaries tend to vary quite considerably. Factors such as the employer, type and number of students, and teaching expectations will determine the hourly rate available.
It’s worth doing some research on the types of salaries out there to get a gauge of what you can expect. According to data from TEFL.org, hourly rates generally tend to vary from around £7.50 to £15.00.
Find the right job
You’ll find that there are lots of English teaching jobs out there right now. As we’ve mentioned, they vary considerably in scope and requirements. Take some time to research the types of roles and think about your expectations.
Do you want to teach English online to students of a particular age, competency level, or from a particular country? Do you have the right qualifications to reach your goals? Will your employer support you with training, lesson planning, and development?
With answers to these questions in mind, you’ll be able to find the jobs that are best suited to you.
Plan your lessons
Regardless of whether your employer will provide you with lesson plans or not, you’ll need to start thinking about how your lessons are going to go. Whether you start by brushing up on your English grammar or focus more on how to teach specific topics, it always helps to be prepared.
If you do receive a lesson plan, consider running through each point as a practice before the real thing. It will help you identify potentially difficult topics or areas and give you a chance to prepare.
Understand your students’ needs
Again, the needs of your students will depend largely on their current age, level, and aims. For example, some students might be interested in learning about exploring English culture and having a conversation. Others might be studying towards a qualification and need IELTS preparation.
Once you’ve figured out your students’ needs (both collectively and individually), you can make better plans and provide more effective lessons.
Teaching English online can be an enjoyable and fulfilling job. Whether as a main career or as a side-project, you can help learners worldwide learn this valuable language. However, it’s not a project that you can take on lightly. You need to develop the right skills, understand the landscape, and prepare accordingly.
If you’re interested in getting into online English teaching, or teaching in general, you can check out our range of teaching courses. These can help you develop your skills across a wide range of competencies related to the profession.