Thinking of Teaching English Online? What You Should Know


The field of teaching English as a foreign language is always evolving, and that evolution is evident in the recent, explosive demand for online English teachers. Teaching English online has grown exponentially in recent years to meet the needs of students worldwide who cannot access in-person classes. What that means for TEFL certified teachers is plenty of opportunities to teach from the comfort of home– or from the comfort of anywhere in the world with an Internet connection!

Sounds good, doesn’t it? So is online English teaching for you? Here’s the scoop on this growing specialty field and some tips from a teacher who did it.

Requirements to teach online are usually more flexible than traditional teaching jobs. 

Many online teaching jobs will accept online TEFL certification (with or without teaching practicum), and often you only need a minimum of 120 hours of certification to qualify for jobs. Meet this requirement with the BridgeTEFL Certificate: Teaching English Online. Start with the 60-hour Foundation course, or earn the full 120-hour Advanced Certification to stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs.

Also, do lack teaching experience?  This is not a problem for most online teaching jobs,  giving you the perfect opportunity to gain experience and therefore enhance your resume for future jobs in locations worldwide. Furthermore, a university degree will be required by some, but by no means all, online teaching companies.

Online English teaching jobs are not hard to find.

The easiest way to find online teaching jobs the same way you find in-person teaching jobs: using the popular TEFL job boards such as the BridgeTEFL Job Board or ESL Cafe. When you search these sites, be sure to filter by “online” or type “online” as your search filter and you’ll pull up plenty of positions.

Caitlin Peterson (2nd from left, above), is a graduate of the Bridge’s IDELT certification course in Chile. She taught English online at a company called Englishtown (part of the English First family of language schools) to supplement her income while she was also teaching in-person classes in Costa Rica.

“I found my online teaching job through a Google search, but I worked with Bridge to find the best one for me. A lot of schools online don’t respond to your requests, making them less reliable, so I wanted to make sure the one I chose was a good fit. The Bridge lifetime job assistance has really paid off!”

You don’t need a lot of special equipment to teach English online. 

There are many ways to teach English online. Most online teaching or tutoring companies will have their own software platform that facilitates the lessons for you, making it as easy as logging in.

Whether you work for a company or decide to offer your tutoring services as an independent contractor, you will need a webcam, mic, and speakers (a headset is best) so that you can talk with your students face-to-face. To ensure a good technical quality, you’ll also need a high-speed Internet connection and plenty of bandwidth, so you may want to upgrade your existing service. Some online teaching jobs will even require that you have a wired Internet connection rather than wireless, as it is more reliable.

Pay for teaching English online can be a good supplement to other income at home or abroad!

Online teaching jobs can range quite a bit when it comes to pay. Some pay on the lower end (around $10-15 USD per hour) while others might pay upwards of $20 USD per hour, depending on your qualifications. Keep in mind, too, that if you teach online in a country with a low cost of living, even an entry-level salary can go pretty far!

For example, Caitlin tells us, “I was teaching English for a school in Costa Rica when I started teaching online. I wanted a little extra income since teaching in Latin America doesn’t pay much. [Teaching online] actually became a full-time job for me for the last 3 months, since the school I was teaching at didn’t have enough classes for me at the time.”

Don’t be intimidated by teaching English online –it’s easier than you think.

Teachers who teach in traditional classrooms spend a lot of time lesson planning, but most online tutoring companies provide the plans for you. You will also typically use their software, which is structured to be user-friendly for both teachers and students.

Teachers who work independent of a company may do a bit more planning to organize their online lessons, but this can be a good fit for more experienced English teachers who may have plenty of material to adapt to the online classroom.

That said, there will always be glitches when you are working in a virtual classroom, and Caitlin describes the hardest thing about teaching online as, “technical problems, whether it’s a language barrier and you don’t speak Russian but have to explain to a student where to get help with their audio settings or microphone, or it’s your own and your students can’t hear you.” However, what she liked best about it is something we can all relate to: “the flexibility in schedules and teaching from home!”

Would you like to teach English online? Get qualified by enrolling in our newest course, Advanced Methods in Teaching English Online. No experience necessary!