Published 21st March 2016

Teaching English online is becoming more and more popular, and that’s not surprising. On the surface, teaching English online has so many advantages and benefits that it seems silly that we’re not all doing it. But before you quit your teaching job, let’s look at a few of the pros and cons of teaching English online, so you can be sure of what you’re getting yourself into.

Your home environment

The greatest attraction about teaching English online is the thought of teaching English from home. No more early mornings, no more commuting, no more rush hour. Instead, you can organise your teaching schedule to suit your own needs and you can do it from the comfort of your couch.

However, in order to teach English online effectively, you need an appropriate environment. While your home may be able to offer this, you’ll be surprised how many distractions are around you at home which are not an issue in the classroom. Kids, your husband or wife, the doorbell, the phone, your neighbour’s crying baby – these all contribute to an environment which is far from ideal.

Your students pay good money to be able to have your undivided attention, which is sometimes not possible when you are at home. If you want to teach English online, make sure you have your own quiet space where you won’t be distracted.

Ambient distraction free environment for working hours

Your work schedule

Teaching English online does not necessarily mean that you can create a schedule to fit around your daily life. If you work for an online English company, they may well dictate to you when you have lessons. What’s more, you always need to consider the time zones of your students. A good lesson time for them may mean a late-night or early-morning class for you. There is also the chance that your students have their own jobs, which means they can only have lessons before or after work or on weekends.

If you want to be able to have control over your timetable, try teaching English online privately or find students who live in the same time zone. This will ensure that you have the power to organise your lessons to suit you and that these lessons won’t be at an awkward time.

Keep track of all lessons planned and other commitments you have.

Teaching tools

Teaching English online can be done quite easily with Skype and other communication websites – there are various ones designed specifically for teaching. Though it can take a bit of time to get used to teaching this way, with a bit of practice it will become second nature. Don’t let a fear of technology put you off a very good supplementary source of income.

The one thing you need to consider is your internet connection and your equipment. Make sure your equipment is good quality and in working condition and always check everything before your lessons.

All in all, teaching online is a great option for many TEFL teachers. If you consider these options and feel like it could work for you, then take a leap of faith and get involved.

Make sure you have all the equipment you will need

Finding students

Another issue you need to consider when you are teaching English online which is not a consideration when you are in a school, is how you are going to find your students. There are numerous online teaching companies which you can sign up with which will be able to provide you with students. While this will take the hard work out of finding students, it can mean that you are not able to be as picky with regards to when or how often you work. You may also feel obliged to accept any and all work that comes your way.

It is, of course, possible to find students yourself, either through social networks or freelance platforms. Though this will definitely mean you can control your teaching, it will involve some more time in building up your reputation and making a name for yourself.