Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the employment scene. While employers have creatively offered different solutions – from remote to hybrid work – a growing number of employees are keen to leave their stable jobs behind and start afresh.
Education is one of the industries that has been mostly affected by this transformation. Both
educators and students have found themselves taken away from the familiarity of the classroom environment and suddenly thrown into the world of online learning. Despite some teething problems, it became soon apparent that this teaching/learning option came with several advantages, such as flexibility and accessibility.
Within the education industry, there is a sector that didn’t miss the opportunity to develop further into online learning: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
Traditionally, TEFL teachers are known for travelling the world to teach English abroad. Specially when you go on a trip. Think about free weekends to visit the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or exciting shopping trips in a spectacular Chinese metropolis, or strolling along the Champs Elysees in Paris. Tempted? Learn more about how to teach English in Paris like a pro. However, the trend has been changing.
Many existing English teachers and newly qualified ones have chosen to embrace online teaching and the advantages that it brings:
- teaching either from home or while travelling
- fitting your lessons around your personal commitments
- following the most suitable career path for each individual, either working as an independent teacher or teaming up with an established online school.
If you are thinking about pursuing online teaching as a full-time career, it is important to decide whether you fly solo or not. To do so, there are several aspects to consider. Let’s have a look at the differences between the two career options.
Table of Contents
Independent Online Teaching
You are a great teacher. You know this because your lessons are effective and engaging and your students are always happy to attend your classes. However, there is much more to becoming an independent online teacher than being a great teacher: there’s the behind-the-scenes of freelancing like in every business. As a freelancer and entrepreneur, you need to work on every aspect of your business, from marketing to admin.
As a freelancer, you know that you need to find your own students, but it’s easy to forget what this might involve. You will need time and energy to increase your social media presence and to develop a user-friendly website and to keep it up to date. A website nowadays represents a modern version of a business card and a business culture.
It’s where you tell the world who you are and what you do. It’s important to be transparent about what you do and what you don’t do.
This is key to attract new students and retain existing ones. Be upfront with the fees too: there’s no need to negotiate when you offer a great service. However, be prepared to reward your most loyal clients or bring new ones in with some sort of special promotion.
Let’s not forget the legal and financial aspects of the business: drawing up contracts, accepting payments, dealing with cancellations, to name but a few. All this is very time-consuming and it requires a lot of effort, especially if you aren’t an expert in the field.
For all the reasons mentioned above, starting your freelance online teaching business from scratch is not for everyone.
Online Teaching Platforms
If you don’t feel that the business aspect of your online teaching venture is for you, there is another way. Many established schools have set up online platforms for remote teaching and learning. This option offers the best of both worlds: flexibility without the burden. All you need to do is focus on your teaching – they’ll do the rest.
Let’s have a look at some of these companies:
As one of the fastest growing edu-tech startups in Europe, they have set themselves the goal to ‘actively shape the future of language learning’, providing English, French, German, and Spanish language courses.
Their adult learners (mostly European) are organised in small classes depending on their proficiency level. They offer great teacher support and quality ready made lesson materials.
They are happy to hire proficient near-native language speakers with at least three years of teaching experience, either online or in-person, or a combination of both. If you apply to work at Lingoda, you must hold a TEFL certificate, but a university degree is not required. Be prepared to commit to teaching at least 5 hours a week.
2. Open English
They pride themselves with a state-of-the-art teaching platform and are one of the most popular choices for the Latin American market.
They offer one-to-one or group classes for adults and juniors between the ages of 8 and 14. They offer ready made lesson materials and opportunities for professional development.
They request North American teachers with a TEFL certificate or training – speakers of Spanish and/or Portuguese preferred. Be prepared to commit to teaching at least 10 hours per week.
Teach Japanese children and set your own fee, but the online school keeps 30% of what you make.
The lessons at S-Lessons are just 25-minute long and you can choose between the ‘regular’ course – where teaching materials are provided to you, or the ‘leave it to the teacher’ course – you’ll be responsible for selecting the materials and the language points for each lesson.
They’re very flexible in the sense that you don’t need to commit to a minimum number of teaching hours. In terms of qualifications, university degrees and TEFL certificates aren’t required, but they are preferred.
4. English Hunt
Focusing on the Korean market, you can set your own rates. English Hunt is one of the highest payers out there, although the most popular teaching hours are in the afternoon, Korean time – 1 am and 3 am EST.
They offer ready made teaching materials and an option of two types of classes: video lessons or over the phone.
On the downside, they’re very particular about the technical equipment their teachers should be able to use. Your desktop or laptop should run a Windows Operating System and have an ethernet internet connection with upload speeds faster than 3.0 Mbps. Unfortunately, Apple/Mac/Tablets/Chromebooks will not work with their classroom software.
Their teachers must be US citizens, although they can live abroad, but they must have a US bank account. A TEFL certificate is preferred but not necessary, while either a bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 4 years teaching experience is a must.
Join the Online TEFL Gang
Online learning is now a worldwide phenomenon that has taken the education industry by storm. The online TEFL sector is booming with teaching opportunities for every taste and lifestyle. Retrain in TEFL to start a flexible and exciting career meeting people from all over the world and helping them develop their English language skills.