Published 12th May 2020
Teaching English online is all the buzz right now. Some of us are looking for new jobs, some of us have more time on our hands, and some of us are realizing the benefits of working in the digital space. Whatever the reason, there’s a big push towards teaching English online. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? As with every job, teaching English online comes with its fair share of pros and cons, so let’s look at those a bit closer so you can decide if it’s an avenue you really want to go down. After all, there’s no point investing your time, money and energy in something if it’s not actually what you want. Here’s teaching English online – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Teaching English online: The good
Let’s start with the good things.
If you’re worried about money, don’t be. Teaching English online will most certainly earn you money. If you decide to tackle it wholeheartedly and teach full-time and put in the hours you can totally earn a full salary good enough to live off.
The convenience is real. Working from home means you won’t have to worry about commuting or traffic, petrol or public transport. You can work back-to-back lessons because you don’t need to walk between classrooms or attend staff meetings. Plus, you can easily do admin, make a nice lunch or even go for a walk between classes if you plan it that way.
There quite possibly is no other job that gives you so much freedom. You decide when you want to work, how often you want to work and where you want to work. You can choose to work until your head explodes, or take a week off.
Teaching English online: The bad
Unfortunately, it’s not all roses and butterflies, as with most things in life.
We’re not saying it’s not fun, but we can’t deny that teaching online is very different to teaching face-to-face. It can be harder to build rapport with your students and, if you are teaching a class, for the students to form relationships with each other. It can be done, but it will take more effort and thought.
Miscommunication is surprisingly easy with technology. Being an online teacher means you need to make sure you are very clear at all times – not only with your accent and your voice volume, but also with instructions and explanations. Instruction-checking and concept-checking questions are vital.
It can be lonely. Working from home means you can go for days or even weeks without seeing a person in the flesh, if that’s what you prefer. Many of us are quite happy to live a solitary life and see our friends and family when we feel like socializing, but working alone is quite different. You won’t have colleagues you can chat to about your students or exchange ideas or lesson plans with. When you are teaching online, you need to make the effort to find like-minded individuals online you can keep in touch with or online clubs or groups you can join to maintain your continuous professional development.
Teaching English online: The ugly
Then there’s the downright ugly, which it would be wrong of us not to talk about.
Your internet connection is a non-negotiable. If your connection is slow or unstable, then online teaching is not for you. Students are not going to come back to you for lessons if your lessons disconnect regularly or they cannot hear you clearly. It’s understandable – you can’t expect to make a career teaching first-time students all the time.
You can make or break your reputation. Competition is fierce at the moment, so you need to stand out as an online teacher. Being reliable is the least you can do, which means turning up for scheduled lessons, being punctual and dressing neatly (even if it’s only from the waist up!).
There’s no such thing as sick days. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Unfortunately it’s as simple as that.
Look, every job has its good and its bad. What you need to do is consider all the different aspects of the job and decide if the pros outweigh the cons and, ultimately, if the job is meant for you.