Learn About What it Takes to Teach English Online

Teaching English online has become an increasingly popular profession in the recent times. With the rise of online teaching and the demand for English learning across the globe, more opportunities exist for online tutors who want to teach English online.

Teaching English online means meeting English learners from all over the world with different levels of proficiency, different requirements and more to offer you in return in terms of cultural exchange. 

There is so much demand for online English tutors these days- there truly has never been a better time.

Are you wondering where to start? Don’t worry. We have got you covered. In this blog, we will discuss tips and strategies for teaching English online effectively.

Why Teach English online

Before we begin, why teach English online? Well, there are a lot of great reasons. 

The very first one-The demand is there.

Firstly, you need to understand that not everyone in English-speaking countries can speak English for several reasons. For example, 8.2% of American citizens don’t speak English well, and one in four people in Canada have a first language that isn’t English or French.

This means there is demand for English teaching even within English-speaking countries. And quite the opposite, English-speaking countries need English tutors, especially those who can teach it as a foreign language.

So, where are these opportunities? Typically, in schools, universities, and colleges. Private tuition for English learners is also a lucrative industry, even with English-speaking countries.

Besides high demand, here are some of the other valid and attractive reasons.

  • Teaching English online allows you to work from anywhere in the world as long you have a laptop., a Wi-Fi connection. 
  • Teaching English online comes with the flexibility and command of your schedule. It seamlessly integrates into your life as a new revenue stream.
  • Teaching English online doesn’t have the real pains of working in a classroom. No mounds of paperwork, unruly classes, the hassle of commuting, and more.

How to Get Started with Teaching English Online

Teaching English online and getting paid gets easy when you follow a systematic approach. Whether you choose to teach for an online tutoring company or run your own tutoring business, the principles of online teaching are the same.

Let’s jump right into the steps that could turn your new professional adventure into a well-constructed online teaching business.

Step 1- Select the right platform

The first step you need to adopt if you want to become an online English tutor is selecting the right platform to teach on. Yes, it is one of the important requirements for teaching English online.

There are several online language learning platforms, and each comes with its own set of features, so you can choose one that suits your tutoring style and needs and helps you meet your revenue needs. 

For example, some language learning platforms allow you to use a virtual whiteboard, record lessons, and share screens. 

One tip would be to try out a few platforms before choosing one platform to host your online classes. Another way to host your online classes is to build a language learning platform for your services and run your own tutoring business.

Step 2 – Get TEFL certified

Firstly, you need to be TEFL-certified to teach English online. An accredited TEFL certification will help you attain the essential skills and qualifications needed to teach English online for money worldwide.

So, what is a TEFL certificate?

A TEFL certification course can range anywhere from 4 weeks to 11 weeks. “It involves completing a course that is 120 hours long, which is internationally recognized and done by an accredited institution.

When taking a TEFL certification, you must make sure your certificate comes from a reputable source to secure the credibility of your online tutoring business.

To set yourself apart from other online English tutors, you can also combine your TEFL certification with a specialized certification in English tutoring.

For example, there are foundation courses like “Basics for Teaching English Online” and “Advanced Methods in Online Teaching,” which help you master methods of teaching English in a virtual classroom, lesson planning and other practical skills. 

Step 3: Establish a routine

When brainstorming about how to teach English online, you must establish a systematic routine in online teaching. 

When following a routine, students will know when to expect their lessons, and it brings in a sense of consistency. 

Create a routine within every lesson; you can incorporate a warm-up activity and then move on to the lesson content and finish the lesson with a wrap-up activity. If the class is long, you can add short breaks as well. Structuring your lessons will help learners know what to expect and keep them engaged throughout the class.

Step 3: Utilize technology to your advantage

When teaching English online, you have the advantage of access to digital tools to improve your lessons. Leverage technology to your advantage by adding videos, audio, recordings, and podcasts to your lessons. 

You can also use online quizzes, surveys, and interactive activities to assess your learner’s understanding and progress.

Step 4: Start promoting your services and sourcing students

If you decide to teach English online through private ESL tutoring, you will have to establish a student base to teach.

Here are some proactive ways to set yourself up for success:

  • Promote your online tutoring website and start by adding a welcome video so your prospects can get a sense of you as a teacher. 
  • Start offering free sessions for, say, the first 10 students to establish confidence in your teaching abilities and to generate positive reviews that you can use to promote your tutoring website
  • Gather all necessary equipment required. A laptop or a desktop computer with a good quality camera, high-speed Wi-Fi, a headset, and your online tutoring website to host your online classes.
  • Make sure you set competitive hourly rates for your lessons. You can start off with prices a little lower than the market rates and increase them once you establish yourself.

How do you get students for your English classes online?

Here are some of the effective ways to source students for your ESL business:

  • Through different language exchange groups on Facebook.
  • Market your English teaching services across different social channels.
  • Start posting on community boards.
  • Set aside a small budget to test-run ads on Google, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Rely on positive word of mouth and referrals.

How to teach English Online- Different types of teaching methods?

Just there are different types of in-person teaching; there are different types of online teaching jobs out there as well. You can work with students of different ages and abilities and come across students who are learning for specific purposes like business. 

Either way, there are two types of teaching English online. You can choose any one of these methods or do both of them at the same time, as many online tutors do.

Working for an online tutoring platform

Most freelance English tutors start by teaching with an online teaching platform. These platforms connect English tutors with learners, which makes finding clients easier and more straightforward for you when starting out.

You must apply and appear for an interview when teaching English online by working for an online tutoring company. You will have to undergo an interview with a couple of interviewers, attach copies of your relevant qualifications, and record an intro or demo lesson for online tutoring.

What are the benefits of working on an online teaching platform:

  • The platform sources students for you. You might have to market yourself against other tutors on the same platform.
  • You will have a curriculum already in place, which is great for new tutors easing themselves into teaching.

No, here are the downsides:

  • Online ESL platforms will take a commission, which can vary depending on the service. This usually comes around 10% to 15%, or you will get an hourly rate with the platform commission deducted beforehand. 
  • Pre-prepared lessons can be a downside for some teachers. 
  • You won’t get the chance to interact with your clients outside the class or communicate with them.

Starting your own English teaching business

Another alternative is to work as independent teachers- yes, establishing your own business and functioning on your own terms. Many English teachers choose this path even when starting out if they are particular about their working hours, teaching style, revenue generated and overall system.

Here are the pros of working independently:

  • Building your own English teaching business comes with more freedom, and you get to decide everything about establishing a successful business.
  • With more work comes more money. Working on your own terms means you get to keep 100% of the money your students pay you.
  • You can decide how much to charge for each lesson, meaning that you can earn more.

Now, here are the disadvantages or challenges:

  • You will have to build your client base from scratch. While teachers who use online tutoring platforms can quite quickly find themselves with a full schedule, it isn’t easy for you if you work independently. 
  • You will need a platform to host your classes, which means you need to build your own online tutoring platform. But don’t worry; in the next section, we will elaborate on what to do about this.

Build your own English tutoring platform

If you want to teach English online by teaching independently, you need to build your online tutoring website to host your English lessons. 

Having your own language learning platform can simplify scheduling online classes, hosting online courses, accepting payments, and running your English teaching business smoothly. 

With a language learning platform to host your services, you can grow beyond the limits set by English teaching companies. 

What is the best way to build a language learning platform choose an online tutoring software like Pinlearn to build your language learning website with the customizations you need.

Pinlearn comes equipped with all the features required to deliver a seamless learning experience for your students.

What do you get with Pinlearn?

  • White-label solution with access to source code

Pinlearn allows you to own the open and unencrypted source code for complete platform ownership. 

  • Self-hosting

With Pinlearn, you can choose your web hosting partner and take full control of your website.

  • Readymade yet customizable

Pinlearn is a readymade script that is customizable to fit your unique requirements.

  • One-time purchase

You just have to pay at once to grab all these features and functionalities. Yes, there are no recurring fees or hidden charges.

FAQ- Teaching English Online?

We are answering some of the common concerns most people have when planning to teach English online.

I don’t have a degree

While many English teaching platforms need English tutors to hold a degree. But the degree can be for any discipline; it need not be in English.

However, not all companies require a degree. There are English tutoring platforms out there that put more weight on your fluency in English and TEFL certification.

I don’t have any tutoring experience

As with most jobs, English tutoring companies will look for tutors with relevant experience. But you can always start as a fresher, provided that you have valid TEFL certification and skills.

Alternatively, you can also build an online tutoring business and start teaching on your own terms.

I’m not a native English speaker

Most English teaching companies look for native English speakers, but there are companies that won’t care about your citizenship as long as you can meet other requirements.

BONUS TIP: You can sell your non-native English tutor status as an advantage. But how? You are experiencing and have overcome the challenges of English language learning to become fluent. Yes, that’s a success story.

Can I earn a full-time wage teaching English online?

If you are brainstorming about how to teach English online but have always wondered if you can actually earn a full-time wage doing it, the answer is- Yes, you absolutely can! 

But it is important to keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to do this immediately, especially if you don’t have valid teaching experience.

Focus on building your online reputation and getting good reviews, and you will start to fill up your schedule and make a stable income. But this doesn’t happen overnight. Keep your calm.

Do I need to be a U.S. or Canadian citizen?

No, not required. While some language learning companies like VIPKid and Gogokid prefer English teachers from North America, platforms like Cambly hire fluent English speakers from all over the world.

You can view a comparison chart here.

What props do you need to get started?

Besides the basic tech requirements like a laptop, an external HD cam, and a headset, there isn’t much you need to get started teaching English online. After that, it’s up to you to decide how minimal or elaborate your setup needs to be. 


The field of teaching English online is huge and fast-growing, offering many opportunities to all levels of English tutors. You don’t have to be a native speaker or have prior teaching experience, but having all these is definitely advantageous.

Teaching online provides convenience and flexibility as you can do it from the comfort of your home as long as you have a laptop and a strong internet connection.

As you settle into your new role and start to learn the basics of teaching English online versus classroom learning, I hope these tips will be helpful. If you want to become a superstar English tutor, then make sure you take these on board.

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