Thanks to the rise of the internet, learning languages has never been easier. The internet is full of different language learning tools and applications, many of which are free of charge.
It’s not just learning languages that the internet has made easier though, it is teaching them as well. Online English teaching has given many teachers the opportunity to ditch the long commutes and the messy classrooms and teach their students from the comfort of their own home.
Teaching English online is still a relatively new concept though and many teachers may struggle or be unsure as to how to make the transition from one teaching environment to the other. Becoming an online teacher couldn’t be easier though, let’s take a look at what you need to do to get started.
Covid-19 Work From Home Update (April 2020 Update)
According to Forbes Magazine, unemployment rates are now at 4.4% but they also note that the “worst is yet to come”. As the Covid-19 global pandemic continues to spread, self-isolation, social-distancing and even full quarantine measures are becoming increasingly commonplace. The global coronavirus epidemic is changing the way that businesses operate. Working from home is becoming increasingly popular as an option. Given the current global Covid-19 epidemic, is it possible that working from home may soon become a necessity rather than being merely an option. Working from home may soon become mandatory for those that can stay employed during the Covid-19 global pandemic and the upcoming recession due to the current medical crisis. It’ll still be a challenge though, and not everyone is prepared to make the necessary adjustments. With the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, working from home should be considered a very real possibility.
Sneak a peek here: Coronavirus: 20 Work from Home Tips During the Quarantine
Sooner rather than later, it will become much more challenging to find work online, and becoming an online teacher is one of the easier methods for finding work immediately. Experience as a teacher online can also lead to other job and business opportunities online, including many other jobs for language service providers.
Choose your platform
If you are working independently then you will need to work out which platform is going to be the best one for you. While Skype may be the go-to platform for calling friends and family, you may find that the platform does not necessarily suit your professional needs and the way you like to teach. Whether it’s Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom or another type of video platform, each one has its pros and cons and depending on how you like to teach, and the number of students you intend to teach.
With the industry growing at a rapid rate, many schools are now beginning to create their own platforms for their lessons. If you are going to work for a language school, then you should make sure your computers and technology will support these classrooms.
What qualifications do I need?
Thankfully, making the switch from classroom teaching to online teaching is not too difficult. Moving to an online teaching position doesn’t require you to take any extra qualifications than normal teaching.
Of course, you should make sure that you have your TEFL qualification and have some classroom experience before beginning to teach online.
Like classroom teaching, the question about whether or not you need a degree is still very murky. Online language schools could be a little more lenient as there is no need to have a degree for visa requirements if you are planning on working remotely. That being said, in some countries, such as China, you may still be required to have a TEFL and a degree for legal reasons.
Of course, if you are going into business for yourself and are planning on working as a self-employed English teacher, then whether or not you have a degree won’t matter. That being said, teachers with a degree may find it easier to find clients and may also be able to charge a little more for their classes.
It is always advisable to be TEFL certified though and the TEFL qualification at Tefl.Org Ireland. It is one of the most recognized and well-respected around the world.
Create a resource library
If you’re an online teacher, especially a freelance one, then you are not going to have access to the wealth of materials that a typical language school can supply you with. This means that you’re going to have become very good at finding or creating your own materials.
While there are some excellent free lesson plans you can download, teaching online provides you with a lot more freedom and you can make the most of any resource you can find. These are four of the best resources:
- Youtube – Youtube is one of the best resources for teaching on the internet. The site provides a wealth of material that is useful for both young learners and adults.
- Kahoot/Quizlet – Kahoot and Quizlet have established themselves as staples of the modern-day classroom. Just because you are not in the classroom, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of them. Kahoot can still be excellent to play with students online, while screen sharing capabilities mean that sites like Quizlet can make for excellent team tasks.
- Ted Talks – Ted Talks can be an excellent resource in the online classroom. The site offers videos on a wide range of interesting topics and they can be used as a launchpad for discussions in your lessons. You can watch the videos in class or, depending on the length, send them to your students to watch before the start of the lesson.
- News websites- The news can be one of the best resources for teaching on the internet. Not only can you use it for discussing topics in class, but you can also pull out any relevant vocabulary and grammar and use it as part of your lesson.
Make your workspace online friendly
Chances are unless you are lucky enough to have a private office, you are probably going to be teaching online from a bedroom, living room, or a kitchen. If this is the case, then you want to make sure that everything in the background looks as professional as possible.
Make sure that there is no visible mess in the background and if you are teaching children, try and place some fun decorations on the wall behind you. Putting up a few flashcards or maybe even the alphabet can go a long way to improving your students’ experience.
Okay, so you’ve hung up your chalk and markers for the last time and you’re ready to take your English expertise online. The only problem is, you have no idea how to begin getting students.
There are a number of different ways you can build students. Firstly, there are several websites where you can be put directly in touch with students. This can be useful and will perhaps give you the most exposure, however, these websites are likely to take a cut of your hard-earned cash and this can be incredibly frustrating.
If you live abroad, then you may be able to pick up students the old fashioned way. Doing some guerrilla marketing in and around your city can be incredibly effective and using the network and connections you have in other cities is also very useful.
Of course, another excellent resource is social media. Finding social media groups for people looking for English lessons can be incredibly effective. It can also give you an idea of what kind of fees people are charging in different areas.
Set your rates and boundaries
When you are teaching online, it is important that you treat it as a business. As such, you need to make sure that you create clear rules and regulations with your students.
Another tactic that a lot of successful online teachers use is to offer free trial lessons and package deals. This can be a great way of enticing students into joining your classes and you can also offer special discounts for students who want to book lessons in bulk and for couples or group lessons.
Like in the classroom and private teaching, it is important as an online English teacher that you set clear boundaries and terms. Make sure you have a way to ensure that your students pay, or perhaps even get them to pay before the class. While this sounds cynical, it is much easier for students to not pay you when you are teaching them exclusively online.
Teaching online can be an incredibly rewarding venture. The possibilities for travel and the flexibility that it can bring are both very attractive features of the job. The start-up costs are also next to nothing and as long as you have a good internet connection and some quiet place, you can basically teach English from wherever you want in the world.