Published 25th August 2021

online learning

The rise and rise of teaching English as a Foreign Language is no secret anymore. More and more people are realising that they can travel the world the way they want to while supporting themselves. 

The traditional TEFL route is to find a job as an EFL teacher in a foreign country, working for a year or two and then moving on to the next destination of your choice. But another TEFL option that is currently exploding is that of teaching English online.

How can I teach English online?

There are a few different ways you can teach English online. Firstly, you can work for a company. You sign up with one of the hundreds of different online teaching companies and, if you are accepted as a teacher, you simply wait for students to book lessons with you. 

To be employed as a teacher for these companies, you will need to make sure you satisfy their entry requirements and you will likely need to do a demo lesson. Once accepted into the company, students can book lessons with you. The company will keep track of your schedule and pay you at the end of every second week or the end of every month. 

Your students will provide feedback after your lessons and this is what will help you retain students, get new students, as well as earn rewards or bonuses. If you do your research and find that the hourly teaching rate is lower than you expected, don’t forget that there are many different, very easy, ways to get bonuses – like being punctual, providing feedback and being reliable.

Read more: 7 Companies to Teach English Online to Adults

Another option is to be an independent online teacher. To do this you don’t sign up with a company but you market yourself. You can create a website advertising your services or use websites like LinkedIn and Gumtree. You will need to put energy into marketing yourself so that potential students can find you online and reach out to you for lessons.

Several teaching sites allow you to upload a demo video to advertise yourself to students. These are often known as marketplace sites and they are essentially a platform. Students contact you through the website and the site keeps track of your schedule and your lessons. They earn their money by taking a commission from your earnings but it’s usually not much. 

The benefits of being an independent online teacher are that you can set your rates of pay and you are totally in control of your schedule. On the flip side, you are responsible for invoicing, chasing payments and all the other admin that comes with being a freelancer. Many companies also provide a curriculum and lesson plans, which you will have to do yourself if you are independent. 

Read more: 7 Steps to Being a Successful Independent Online English Teacher

Why should I teach English online now?

In 2021, the online English-language learning market looks set to be worth around €8.4 billion! Just this year, the market has seen a month-on-month growth of almost 15%. So while we have long known that there is a market for TEFL teachers abroad, the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in online learning in general, and online English language learning in particular. 

What’s more, teaching English online is the ultimate in flexible living. As an online English teacher, you can choose where you want to live. While you might have a schedule set for you by your company if that’s the route you choose, there are no restrictions on where you can live. If you want to work from home, close to friends and family, you can do that. If you want to bounce around and travel to a different county every month you can do that, too. 

Of course, there are a few considerations you need to be aware of, but besides these, the world really is your oyster. Here is what you need to keep in mind when moving around as a digital nomad online English teacher:

  • Time zones. Keep in mind the different time zones between where you are and your students. It’s not the ideal situation to be teaching at 3 am!
  • Visas. Make sure you are allowed to work where you want to go. While visa laws are quite relaxed when it comes to working online, you will still need some sort of visa to be in a country for an extended amount of time. Look into the digital nomad visa to see if it can help you out.

Read more: The Digital Nomad Visa: A ticket to Your Best Life

  • Cost of living. Travelling the world is great and all but some countries are a lot more expensive to live in than others. If you are earning US dollars, living in the UK or the EU can still be quite pricey, so make sure you have are earning enough to justify living there. A better option is to live somewhere the cost of living is low, and take holidays in the more expensive destinations.
  • Luggage. Moving around while teaching means you need to become a packing expert. You need to be able to pack your entire classroom into a suitcase to make your life as easy as possible. So be smart when choosing what items you need to pack.

Read more: What Tools Do I Need to Teach English Online?

  • Connectivity. The most important consideration when teaching English online while travelling is your connectivity. If you are staying on someone’s couch or in a hostel or an Airbnb, you need to make sure you have a reliable and fast internet connection wherever you are. Plus you need to have adequate power for your classroom set up for the duration of the lessons.
  • A quiet space. Teaching English online from home means you can make sure that you are in a quiet environment for your lessons. If you are travelling, this can be more challenging. The easiest solution is to book private rooms wherever you go, but you also need to make sure there is no noise from traffic or construction anywhere near you. And invest in a good set of noise-cancelling headphones!

There is no doubt about it, teaching English online is booming right now. It provides you with a way of earning money and travelling the world on your own schedule. Few jobs offer the freedom that teaching English online does. Whether you do it for one year or ten, it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss!

  1. Hi,

    I have just moved to Belgium and am very interested in exploring the possibility of teaching English online. I qualified as a TEFL teacher at Piccadilly House, London in the 1990s and consolidated it with teaching in Luxembourg in 1994.

    Please can you let me know if TEFL offers any revision courses for people like me who may want to refresh their qualification? (I have a PGCE and have since worked as a Primary School teacher in British International Schools abroad).

    Thank you for your help and I look forward to hearing from you.


    Nicki Hancock

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