How to Teach English Online
If you’re like me, and you get TEFL certified but can't teach in person at this point in your life, you might have looked into online teaching. Being someone who has gone through the whole process of online teaching (from interviews to scheduling, to teaching), I often will get questions. So, I’ve decided to answer the most commonly asked ones.
- What is the process like for getting a job?
I’ve got one word: applications. What you put on your application is extremely important. A lot of companies will ask the same questions: education, experience, specialty (conversational skills, grammar, etc.). They’ll also ask why you want to teach online. If your answer is “I want to travel, and this is a way that I can both travel and make money,” then you might want to think a little harder. A great way to answer this question is to think about why you want to teach EFL in general. It’s a way for you to both answer their question and to keep yourself away from any awkward conversations (like only doing it to make money while you travel).
The other big thing is the online interviews. Because you’re teaching online, you’ve got to be able to communicate online. Most companies will also want you to teach a demo class (and don’t worry, your student is probably going to be the person interviewing you). It’s a good idea to have some props already made so that you can use them during the trial class.
Some companies will require several online interviews, and others just want one. If you’re offered a job, you’ll get an email and have to sign some contracts and such. For the most part, I found the whole process fairly painless!
- What is your schedule like? And do you get to pick it?
This is an extremely common question. The answer, unfortunately, is that it honestly depends on the company. Most of them will want you to work a certain number of hours a week, at certain times of the day. For DaDaABC, they allow their teachers to create their own schedules. You have to work one weekend day, and on the days you work, it has to be at least two hours at a specific time of day. I got to pick my schedule, which was really nice!
- What are your students like?
The big thing with online teaching is that a majority of companies have students between the ages of 6-12 years old. This can be great for those of you who really like working with children! My students ranged from 4-15 years old, and each class was a very unique experience. On some days, the students might be extremely polite and very engaged in the lesson. Then there are days when the students would have a really hard time paying attention. For the most part, my students were really wonderful, and it was always so much fun teaching them!
- What does a day for you look like?
The best way to answer this question is to write out a schedule. Let’s say it’s Tuesday. Here’s my day:
3:30-4am – Wake up
4-6:10 am – Teach online
6:10-8am – Write student reports, assign homework, do some of my own homework
8-9:30am – Go to an exercise class
9:30am-3pm – Work on more of my own homework (Cause that’s a thing when you’re in grad school), clean, do laundry, shower and get ready for the day, meet with professors, Maybe a quick nap is there’s time, etc.
3-9pm – Classes
That’s just a typical Tuesday! The schedule is no joke, and you really have to have the initiative to do it.
- What do I need to be an online EFL teacher?
The main thing is a TEFL or TESOL certificate. Some companies don’t require them, and I would recommend steering clear of those for the simple fact that it means that there will probably be a ton of teacher training you’ll have to go through (which would be unnecessary if you’re already certified). The other thing is a Bachelor’s degree. Now, some companies will require it to be in education or something similar, and some just want you to have a degree in something. I have a BA in international studies (which is not anywhere close to a degree in education). Another thing is props. It sounds really basic, but when you’re teaching several classes a day, and you’ve got to figure out how to fit it all into your suitcase, it’s a bit of a challenge. The two main props that I found the most useful were a mini whiteboard with markers, and a portable classroom background!
So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, the main thing is to be prepared. Prepare for the schedule, prepare to have good and bad students, prepare for interviews, just prepare! For those of you planning to teach online, CIEE also has some amazing resources (like the TEFL certification programs, which you get a job assistance package at the end) that are a huge help! Good luck, and enjoy the adventures of EFL teaching online!