Table of Contents
- Advantages of Teaching English Online
- What You Require to Teach English Online
- Taking Classes Independently
- Identifying Your Niche
- Selling Courses
- Materials and Resources
- Some Tools That You Require to Teach Online
Teaching English online is essentially teaching English as a foreign language via the internet using a computer and a webcam. Students can take classes on a one-on-one basis or as a small group and the cost of these classes are much cheaper compared to face-to-face, in-person classes. And the best part is that to become an online English teacher, you don’t need much in terms of qualifications. If you are TEFL-certified and you can speak English fluently, then you can teach English online. Other than that, you must be friendly, pleasant and have good communication and presentation skills.
In recent years, teaching English online has experienced a huge growth in terms of the demand and is also offering great potential in terms of long-term employment, whether as a full-time or a part-time option. Today, thanks to the internet, there are over 1 billion people across the world who are learning English online and online English teaching has become one of the most rapidly burgeoning sectors in international education.
There are several reasons why teaching English online is quite appealing:
- You have the flexibility of teaching English online from anywhere around the world, whether you’re at home or from anywhere else.
- You can set up your own work schedule and work as many hours as you want.
- It allows you to gain experience in online teaching, which is among the fastest growing fields today.
- You can hone your teaching skills and gain experience in teaching.
- You can supplement your income by teaching English online full time or part time.
- You can use your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification to positively impact people’s lives and also earn money.
There are 3 ways by which you can get a job to teach English Online:
- You can find a job with an online site such as VIPKID, etc.
- You can find jobs via freelancing job websites by posting your profile.
- You can find your own students.
To teach English online, you will need the following for your initial setup:
- Video calling facility (such as Skype)
- Payment medium (such as Paypal)
- Terms and conditions, including a cancellation policy
First, you need a computer and an internet connection that is fast enough. You also need software to connect with your students located anywhere in the world. You can use platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype to connect with your students online. All the platforms are free and allow you to connect to people anywhere across the world. Google Hangouts is a great platform and offers various features you can use to teach online including using a whiteboard while on call, which it offers through a third-party app.
PayPal has been around for a very long time and is the popular method to receive payments. Using PayPal is extremely simple. Once you sign up, you can place the payment button on your website. You can send your invoices to the students directly via email. The students will get a link where they can put in the payment details when you send them the invoices. The money that is transferred to your PayPal account can be withdrawn into your bank account.
Usually, for every transaction, PayPal charges 2.9% + $0.30; however, the process of withdrawing the money to your bank account can be done free of cost. The only limitation of PayPal is that it is not available in all countries.
A very important aspect of taking online English classes is having a strong cancellation policy in place. The cancellation policy should be very simple and easy to understand and enforce and most importantly, you should stick to it. A cancellation policy will help if your students do not turn up for the online session or cancel out. And, just having a cancellation policy is not sufficient, you must explain the terms of the policy to your students clearly and ensure that they understand the consequence of a no-show or cancellation of classes.
While for online classes, a headset is not really a necessity; however, having one can help. You can use earphones too. Having a headset, earphones or an external microphone helps to increase the effectiveness of your communication.
If you plan to teach English online on an independent basis, you need to get your own students. There are several things you need to consider including what are the type of lessons you will be taking and who you plan to teach.
Identifying the niche that you will be teaching is the most important aspect that will help to bring in new students. Just saying that you’re teaching English online is not sufficient. You must be clear about the following:
- Who you will be teaching.
- How you will be teaching.
- What type of English will you be teaching.
For example, if you plan to focus on conversational English, then how will you be teaching these lessons? What teaching materials will you be using? And, what kind of students do you want to teach? Being clear on these points can help you offer your lessons the best and also ensure that you attract the right kind of students. However, don’t stress about this too much, over time, your niche will develop in the long run.
Also, it is not possible to really know what kind of a teacher you will be without having any teaching experience. There are many advantages of working towards being specialized in a specific niche; however, the main reason is that you can ensure that you target students who can pay you what you’re looking for for your lessons.
There are two factors that really influences your pricing. This really depends on the situation, your expectations and your earning target. How much you can charge your students for teaching a specific niche. This will help you determine the niche that meets your income needs.
Usually, most of the established online classes charge around $20 – $50 per hour. The fees that you charge your students will essentially help you determine the type of students you must target, where you can find these students and convert these potential students into the ones paying for the course.
Apart from having a regular base rate for your online course, to attract more students, you can offer incentives and discounted packages. And, getting students to sign up for more than one class can help to increase the retention rate of the students. It is also a good idea to give trial classes which can help to bring in more students. Once you have more experience and the demand for your online English lessons increase, you can introduce paid trial classes.
There are many different ways by which you can earn an income when teaching English classes online.
A teaching website is a “must have” and a very important tool in the long run. Your website is usually the key to all your marketing efforts for your course. There are several ways in which you can design and set up your teaching website.
- Get a website developer to build and set up your website.
- Use a template-based website builder such as Weebly and create your own website or you can create your own website by making use of a platform like WordPress.
If you want to keep your start up costs low, then using Weebly or WordPress is the best option to set up your teaching site. Using these platforms will cost around $3 – $10 per month. However, you will require to purchase a domain name for your site, which you can do via sites such as GoDaddy, Whois.com, etc.
Having a website for your online teaching course is a great thing. However, without conversion of visitors to the site into paying students, the website is quite pointless. You must create a system, which will help to convert the potential students who visit your site into customers. You can do this by:
- Offering a trial online session.
- Allowing the students to download something for free (such as an e-book, useful content, etc.). This will also help you develop your email list.
Set up a call-to-action on your website’s homepage, blog posts, about page, etc. and once the system is set up, you are all set to attract students to your site.
The main dilemma of online teachers is how to find students. The most important thing that you need to know is your market and where you can find them. And, the first step in the process is to define your target audience. You can effectively bring students to your website if you know about them and once you do, you can figure out how to convince about taking English lessons with you.
Marketing strategies for your online classes can be both short term, as well as, long term. In the short term, strategies such as advertising deliver immediate results and this is ideal when you’re just starting out and you need to fill your class schedule quickly. While some of the marketing strategies may cost you money, you can use other methods like posting on sites such as Craigslist, etc., which you can do for free.
On the other hand, long-term marketing strategies do not have an immediate effect; however, once these are in place, these strategies will bring in students for a long time. Some of the long-term marketing strategies are creating your website content, uploading videos, improving your website’s rankings, using social media, etc. Another great way to get new students is by referrals and this is the most efficient way by which you can fill your class schedule.
Networking is a great way and connecting with other EFL teachers can open up several opportunities. Creating a community can help in interactions, sharing ideas, asking advice, etc. You can create a forum on your website, where online teachers can connect and share ideas. You can also use networking platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. that will help you connect with other teachers.
The kind of materials that you use for teaching English online depends really on your teaching style and your niche. There are several online courses, which require you to pay an initial fee to access them; however, there are many free resources available online too. There are many resources you can use such as ESL Hip-Hop, Film English, Breaking News English, etc. Another great way to find resources is via networking sites such as Twitter, etc. and connecting with other online English teachers.
There are several tools that you can use that can help to make your life easier and can also make your online teaching experience a lot of fun. Some of the tools you can use are:
- Google Calendar: This can help to organize your lessons.
- Spreadsheets: You can use spreadsheets to record what you have covered with your students and for your various admin jobs.
- Evernote: You can use this to save your lesson plans.
- WaveApps: This app can help you deal with all the financial aspects of your teaching.
- Active Campaign: This is useful for your email lists.
Often, the most difficult part of teaching English online is getting started. The best way is to just begin and as you start teaching, you will gain experience. Create your lesson plans, videos, start marketing your lessons and you will be ready to start off and once you get started, there’s nothing really to stop you.