Published 3rd June 2020
If you Google teaching English online reviews you are going to get pages and pages of results. You might read them and think that teaching English online sounds like a dream. The problem is, a lot of these reviews are written by the teaching platforms themselves or online teachers with an ulterior motive.
Have you noticed how many reviews have a sign-up link included? That’s because many online teaching companies offer rewards to their teachers if they can recruit other teachers. So if you read Lindsay’s glowing review of XYZ, decide you want to teach through them and click on the link to apply, Lindsay gets a nice little financial gift in her bank account. So it’s not surprising that they’ll only tell you the good things about teaching online.
We think you should know the whole story. We really do think teaching English online is a great opportunity but we also acknowledge that it’s not all well-behaved children and gold stars. No jobs are perfect and it’s only fair you know about the good, the bad and the ugly before jumping into the online teaching world.
With all the uncertainty in the world at the moment, the one thing we know we can trust is the brutal honesty of Reddit. In the interest of transparency, we thought we’d collate some real reviews of teaching English online from Redditors who have done it themselves. This way you can be sure that teaching English online is really for you.
Students don’t always turn up
I only had 5 classes this morning and three were student no shows. And my last student’s parent had the courtesy to tell VIPKID ahead of time so I get to eat breakfast and enjoy my coffee earlier than usual :).
Not all students are angels
One six-year-old L1 [Lesson 1] who was advanced enough to complain that I didn’t have the right colour of butterflies for her reward but would barely repeat anything. One of my worst-behaved regulars in L2 [Lesson 2] decided today he would just dance around the room, in and out of view of the camera, swinging a broomstick around like a sword. I think I got him to repeat two vocab words. I’m too tired to deal with all that.
Students are human too
Four classes here. Three regulars and one new girl who had her first VIPKid class. They were all wonderful. One of the regulars was unusually grumpy today and kept saying “I know, I know” when I tried to explain things and correct her grammar. She is normally very smiley and agreeable. I asked her about it and she had a ton of homework, so I think she was anxious about finishing it. Another regular was teaching me about Chinese history.
Teachers don’t always feel like teaching
I had a class at 3 am and then an hour break and 2 more classes. I was so close to cancelling the first class yesterday… Anyways, they were all great students and it ended up being a good morning where I had a nice leisurely hour to scroll through Reddit and pretend to stretch.
You might not like all your students
Taught a student that I found kind of annoying and I did not get along with that well, at least in my mind. But…….he ended the class stating that he is going to follow me and wants to have class every day or at least once a week. I mean the guaranteed pay would be nice, but I also don’t like him. Is it worth it?
It helps if you know about marketing
The pay is really good, especially for what you’re doing. Once I started getting fully booked I began to average between [$] 2700-3200 a month. This really can vary greatly because it depends on how much you get booked and how much you want to work. This took a while and some work to get to this point. My first month I made about $90 despite being very aggressive and opening as much of my schedule as I could. I have read many in the Facebook groups lament about going months without getting hardly any classes. This job is about marketing yourself as much as it is teaching to be successful. If you can’t appeal to the parents as well as please the students you are not going to do well. The key is to attract regular students who book you weekly and recommend you to other parents.
There can be downsides to no-shows
I’ve been working for the same company for just about 3 years now. The salary is decent (I’ve worked my way up to 14 euros/hour) and I’m teaching business English to professionals in France. The flexibility is great – I make my own schedule and they ask for 15 hours of availability minimum per week. The only downside is cancellations (at this company, students can cancel up to one hour before the lesson start time and the teachers are not compensated).
You need to know your worth
I’ve been involved in the online ESL industry since 2018. Firstly, it is possible to make it full time if you are maxing out the hours. However, some companies do this differently. For example, if you are new to a company, they may prioritize you for hours and then you may get fewer hours. Or, as a newbie, you may have very few hours and after some weeks get more and more.
One more thing is to know your worth. Don’t get stuck working for a company that pays pennies. It’s not worth it. They will overwork you for so little.
Each lesson is different
You have kids who draw pictures of you surrounded by hearts, and kids who would rather play with their toy dinosaurs. Kids who are so excited to show you their stuffed animal collections, and five-year-olds who spend the entire lesson crying at the stranger on the screen trying to talk to them in a foreign language. You have older students who want to engage in great discussions with you about their friends, about life in China, about life in America, and then you get to experience flying through the air as a small child throwing a tantrum hurls their iPad. But above all, as with any teacher, you’re making a difference in these kids’ lives. It’s honestly the best job in the world.
So there you have it, teaching English online reviews, straight from these Redditors’ mouths. Teaching online English might not be for everyone, but it could be for you!
An update on the situation in China
Before we go, you should be aware of what is happening in the online market.
A large market for teaching English online is with Chinese learners. There are hundreds of companies that hire teachers from all over the world to teach English online to both children and adults in China. However, recent regulations which have been passed in China are going to change all this.
The Ministry of Education in China now stipulates that online lessons cannot be longer than 30 minutes and the possible hours of teaching have been reduced i.e. no online lessons can take place after 9 pm Beijing time, or on weekends, and during holidays.
But the biggest change for most of us is that Chinese companies are no longer allowed to hire foreign teachers from outside China. What this means in practice is that students will be able to complete their lessons that have already been booked and paid for, even if these are long-term arrangements, such as parents paying for lessons for months in advance. But from August 2021 no student will be allowed to book lessons with a foreign teacher if they live outside China.
As a consequence of these regulations, some companies will be forced to close. However, many of them are changing their focus and becoming more international. As such, teachers will still be able to teach learners through these platforms, as long as the learners are not in China.