Published 12th April 2019

online teaching

If you’re an English as a Foreign Language teacher, you’ve probably considered teaching online at some point in your career. Teaching in your pyjamas, at home on your couch, cuddling your puppy – what’s not to love? But there is actually more than one way you can teach English online. So what’s the best option? Let’s look at being an independent (freelance) online teacher versus working for an online company.

Independent (freelance) online teacher v working for an online company


In terms of payment, freelancers are able to charge whatever amount they want. Company employees charge the rate set by the company. They usually also have to pay a percentage commission. On the other hand, employees don’t need to deal with billing, invoicing or payment disputes, while freelancers do.


Employees don’t need to worry about finding students. Students can find them on a database or the school will assign them students. Freelancers are essentially business owners. They need to do their own marketing, advertising and networking to find students. This takes up time and takes away from paid teaching hours.


All this contributes to the stability of an EFL job. There are many factors which can influence the success of an online business. Employees don’t need to worry about anything business-related; they can just focus on teaching. The success of a freelancer depends largely on themselves. There is a lot more to do than teaching lessons and the workload for a freelancer can fluctuate dramatically.

Lesson materials

Employees are often given lesson materials and plans which they have to follow. This can be great as it means you don’t need to spend time planning your lessons. It is not so great, though, when you don’t like the materials or you have to do the same lesson five times a day. Freelancers can basically teach whatever they want, provided their students are happy. However, they are responsible for finding their own materials which can be time-consuming.

Difficult students

Even online you can have discipline problems with students. Freelancers can decide not to teach students they don’t get on with, but employees don’t have a choice who they teach. What’s more, schools may have policies and guidelines relating to discipline which teachers will have to follow, whereas freelancers are free to make their own rules.


Online schools should have policies regarding students who don’t turn up for lessons or who cancel at the last minute. Employees shouldn’t need to worry about this, as usually they will be compensated by their school. Freelancers, even though they can have their own rules and policies, can find it difficult to enforce any cancellation fees and so can miss out on pay if students skip a lesson.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

The field of ELT is constantly changing and teachers need to keep up to date with the latest teaching methods and techniques. Reputable online companies will provide some sort of training and support for their teachers. Freelancers will need to maintain their training themselves.

Online teaching is becoming more and more popular. There are many good reasons to become an online teacher, though it doesn’t suit everyone. Before you take the plunge, do your research and make sure you choose the right online teaching situation to suit you.