Teaching English Online: Convenient, Meaningful & a Great Way to Get Money

by Published

GoAbroad helps you learn how to teach ESL online 

With so much of us glued to our screens today, it’s probably no surprise that you can actually make money online too. And before you say that the only people who make the big bucks are mega marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba, think again. If you have a reliable internet connection, you can make some serious dough teaching English online.

In the last decade or so, the ESL teaching industry has been changing with technology like nobody’s business. You no longer have to travel across borders to teach foreign students. Better yet, you don’t even have to struggle to find a classroom or workspace to meet in person. Instead, you can teach ESL online from home! And you don’t even have to get out of your pjs! Strike that. On second thought, you should throw on something a bit more professional because you still want to look the part. After all, teaching English online is a paid job and it’s one you should take seriously.

smiling kid with book

You might not see your students’ faces, but they probably look like this

Wait — what? Teaching English online? 

Teaching English in person and teaching ESL online from home are super different. Forget using outdated textbooks and photocopying boring worksheets! Teaching English online kicks a$$ because you can access so many cool resources including Youtube videos, blogs, and online ESL language apps and games! However, you may hit a few snags regarding how to teach English online.

[Why You Should Start Your Teaching English Abroad Career Now]

First of all, when you teach a student in person, you can rely on verbal and nonverbal cues (like body language) that happen in real time to let you know if you’re on the right track. With online teaching, this is also doable but more challenging.

Another roadblock is tech issues. Here’s how to teach English online badly. Use a really bad connection so that in the middle of your lesson, your screen freezes and you sound as though you have a really bad stutter. Don’t get me started on bad audio. Teaching and learning English is primarily listening and speaking so if you and your student can’t hear each other well, it can quickly turn into a train wreck. You need to know your software inside out and to be able to do basic troubleshooting. Also, one skill you must have in any online environment is patience.

Another thing that makes teaching English online different is the fact that you and your students will most likely be operating in two different time zones. For example, if you live in the US, you may have to work late at night or really early in the morning to teach students in China. This is awesome if you’re a night owl or work shifts, but what if you have a fulltime day job? It goes without saying that you have to be able to manage your time and schedule very well to avoid missing classes and those essential zzzs!

How to teach English online and get MONEY 

1. Get TEFL Certified

First things first. If you haven’t already, you better get TEFL certified stat! Now, you may be thinking, I don’t need no qualifications to teach English because I help my baby sister with her English homework all the time! Wrong! Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a totally different ballgame, as different as baseball is from cricket! Remember this: teaching English to native speakers is not the same as teaching English to non-native speakers. If you want to learn how to teach English online and get money, a good TEFL course will give you a solid grounding in TEFL-specific teaching methodology and other essential skills.   

[5 steps to the perfect ESL teacher resume]

male teacher in classroom

Forget the classroom—you can the best online ESL jobs from behind your lil’ ol’ computer screen

Decide where you want to teach English online from.

Teaching English online from home is one option…

When most people think teach English online jobs, they automatically picture someone in their bedroom chatting away with a foreigner who’s more than a couple time zones away. This is certainly true in some ways. If you choose to teach ESL online from home, it definitely has its perks.

Reason numero uno: you never have to leave your comfy digs! That means no gridlock, no mascara-wand-in-eye mishaps, no hustle to get a cup of Joe at Starbucks, no soggy packed lunches, no long lines at your favorite food truck! Plus, you get to play with Sparky or Simba all day as he snuggles your feet under the table! You can also plan your teach English online jobs around your personal schedule (gym, me-time, picking up dry cleaning etc.) because you’re your own boss. Hell yeah!

… Or you can try teaching English online from WHEREVER!

Teach English online jobs mean that you aren’t limited to teaching from home! You heard me right. You can take that side gig/career with you, wherever you roam in the world! If the digital nomad lifestyle is a-calling you, consider searching out the best online ESL jobs to make top dollar while you traipse around the globe.

Because many teach English online jobs are freelance, you can clock in as many hours required, whenever you want! Unlike teaching opps abroad that come with contracts that mean you have to be rooted in a particular place for a particular time, teaching English online is perfect for nomads who are always on the move. The best online ESL jobs are super convenient and flexible, open 24/7, whatever timezone you’re in. 

Fulfill the additional requirements to teach English online

If you want to learn how to teach English online and get money quick, you have to invest in the right gear. That means you need a decent PC/Mac/laptop, a high-quality webcam and headset, a comfortable workspace (you’ll probably be sitting most of the time), and a super quiet room. Sorry but that means kicking Sparky and Simba out during classes. Fast internet speed is also a given. No dial-up please! Check that you have enough RAM to run certain software programs. Also, make sure you are based in an area that has a reliable electricity supply or at least a backup generator.

[What to look for in ESL teaching jobs]

Another thing: like all other ESL jobs, teach English online jobs still ask for the right qualifications and experience. For many hiring companies, it’s essential for an online English teacher to be a native English speaker and to have a bachelor’s degree (in any subject) and some kind of formal or informal teaching experience (mentoring, working at summer camps etc.). Others will ask whether you have any teaching or TEFL certifications. 

computer with glasses on it

Hello, step into my office. Teaching English online never looked so good!

Start your job hunt (psst, scroll down for a head start!)

Now that you’re bent on online English teaching, where do you look for a job? First off, there are several organizations who’ve jumped on the teaching English online bandwagon. Your job is to separate the good from the bad. Start by reading reviews on the provider’s website and other external sites. Talk to people who’ve actually worked with the companies.

Depending on where you decide to work and what type of arrangement you are looking for, it's important that you "shop around" for teaching English online jobs before you find the right one for you. Be sure to look at the fine print, communicate expectations clearly, and talk with other ESL teachers to ensure the org is legit and that money WILL end up in your bank account.

Is the business reputable and accredited by an external body? Scan its website. Grammatical errors and bad writing style should be a dead giveaway that these people should not be in the business of teaching English—online or otherwise! Once you’ve settled on a company, get the WiFi password and start teaching.

Finding jobs for teaching English online is no easy task, but when you find the one, you'll know it. Now brush up on your verb structure and what "gerund" means—you're the teacher now and these kids are counting on you!

7 teach English online jobs with good salaries

We know you’re in it not only for the professional experience, but to also make some cash-money, right?! That Eurotrip isn’t going to pay for itself. That’s why we put together this handpicked list of jobs for teaching English online that pay pretty well. Enjoy!

1. English First (EF)

EF is looking for passionate teachers who want to learn how to teach English online and bring it to life in cyberspace. This program provider has designed a unique platform that allows teachers to connect with students across the globe, from home or from their online teaching centers in Bali, Santiago, Shanghai, and Johannesburg. Bonus: you can earn a valid TEFL certificate on the job!

2. VIPKID

Beijing-based VIPKID schools you on how to teach English online and get money in that PayPal account ASAP. Teach English one on one with Chinese kids from the comfort of your own home. Disclaimer: only folks eligible to work in the US and Canada can apply. Also, wannabe online English teachers must have some kind of teaching/mentoring experience and a bachelor’s degree in any field.

  • Related:

3. Lingoda

This European-based provider helps students and teachers interact in a virtual classroom. They are looking for freelancers who are qualified teachers, tech-savvy, reliable, and native English speakers (or native speakers of other languages you want to teach). Lingoda also offers 25% off any language course they offer.

  • Related:
woman using smart phone

Connect with your students digitally while teaching English online


4. MPC Connect UK

With MPC Connect UK, you can teach conversational English online for a minimum of five hours a week, including at least 1 hour on Sunday. The majority of students are young, between 5 and 18. It’s open to applicants based in Asia, UK, US, and Canada.

  • Related:

5. Topic-Time

This provider is looking for Skype English tutors who want to teach students from Japan for at least 10 hours a week. Fast typing skills is a must because the school uses the Scarlett Method, where teachers type exactly what their students say on a conversation topic and then correct any errors and build on the students’ knowledge.

  • Related:

6. twosigmas

Twosigmas offer private online tuition to young learners in China. This online school provides teachers with the curriculum and other resources like Open whiteboard, an online teaching platform they developed. You can work a minimum of 7.5 hours or 15 classes a week.

  • Related:

7. DadaABC

This Chinese online English education company looks pretty legit, partnering with the American TESOL Institute, Pearson, Highlights, and National Geographic Learning. Teachers teach children between 4 and 16 years old.

  • Related:

Additional resources for online ESL teachers 

Ready to plug into the Matrix? Here are some more resources to help you decide if teaching English online is for you!

Whether you’re teaching ESL online or in-person, many games and activities can translate easily. Just get a little more creative and feel comfortable operating in the one-on-one space versus the world of large learning groups.

hip woman using iPad

Once you figure out how to teach English online and get money, you won’t turn back

We get it—you’re already signing up for teaching English online!

The greatest thing teach English online jobs is that you can do them anywhere, anytime. Because of the internet, the world’s become such a tiny place that you’re likely to have students from countries you’ve never even visited. Remember though that teaching English online is so much more than teaching iffy grammar rules. Use this opportunity to reach across the digital divide, share your culture, learn different cultures, and really connect with your students. It’ll be the best thing you ever did.   

Find teaching jobs online or in-person now