Moving from the Classroom to Teaching Online

by Sep 17, 2019

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Do you want more freedom? Tired of that commute to the classroom? That was me a few years ago when I was an ESL teacher in Dublin. I have since made the move to becoming an online teacher and it has been one of the best decisions I have made.

A little about me:

  • I have been teaching English for around 10 years in Spain, Brazil, and Ireland.
  • I started teaching English as a way to live in other countries.
  • I have always been interested in learning languages and I speak French, Spanish and Portuguese.

So… 

A few years ago, I was working in Dublin as an English teacher and I was really enjoying it. I loved meeting the students and having the banter with them (I loved teaching A1 level).

But…

The price of rent has been going up significantly over the past few years and my wages weren’t! I felt I was giving all my money to my landlord. I looked into teaching English online and I started having one student a week on Italki.

conor-one-minute-english laptop

Start in your free time before you move full-time online

I advise you to also start teaching online while you have your other job because you need time to get started and to get a few reviews on your page. I have always found that teaching English is not a stable job and online can be the same thing, especially in the beginning.

After some time you can build up some regular students and people will refer you to their friends so you will get more students that way too. Post on your personal Facebook that you are giving English classes online and let everyone know that this is what you are doing now. 

What kind of students do you want?

The first thing you need to think of is the type of student you want. There is a huge demand for native English teachers to teach Chinese children. The pay is much better(normally around 18-30$ per hour) so if you don’t mind teaching children then go for this option.

I prefer to teach adults and that is the reason I work on Italki. Most of my students are from Brazil and Spain because I speak their language but it is not necessary to speak a foreign language. The pay is less on Italki(10-20$ per hour) or you can also work on Cambly(7-10$ per hour). You have more flexibility with Cambly.

How much money do you need to earn?

This is a very important question to ask yourself. You can open your schedule for as many hours you need. I probably don’t earn enough to live in an English speaking country and you will find many online teachers living abroad. (I am currently living in Bulgaria). I don’t think you could possibly live in Dublin or London unless you teach for one of the Chinese companies. That is up to you, I enjoy the freedom to live where I like and live a good life as the cost of living is much cheaper abroad.    

Learn how to make an introduction video

Most companies will need you to make an introduction video when you get started. This is a chance for you to show off your teaching skills. It is very important to appear confident in the video. Take your time and do this part right. The students will be judging you and you need to make a good impression. You can make a video with Wondershare Filmora (50 dollars per year) on Windows or Imovie maker on Mac. For most of the Chinese companies you need to teach a Demo class and they will be looking for experience with TPR( watch some videos on Youtube if you don’t know about this)

Advantages of online teaching

  • I can travel and work.
  • I teach far less than I used to. 
  • I have more freedom to choose when I work and the students that I have.

Disadvantages

  • Low salary
  • Unstable work
  • Long periods in front of the screen

Some teachers will miss physically being in the classroom and I can understand that. Online classes can be fun too and it will feel normal in no time. If freedom is important to you then online teaching could be for you. It can also be good if you plan on changing careers. You can study when you need to and then set your teaching hours when you don’t have classes.

One of the best things about teaching English for me is discovering new cultures and meeting new people. I am going to visit Vietnam in November and I can continue to teach online and if I want to look for a job while I’m there then that will help me while I am getting started.

If you plan on traveling, it is always a good idea to check if the internet is good where you are going. It might surprise you that the internet is very good in Romania and Bulgaria! The worst place so far has been Greece.  

When you teach a lot of online classes you end up spending a lot of time in front of the screen. You need to take breaks and don’t do 6 hours in a row like I used to. It is also important to start exercising more because you are not moving around as much as when you teach in a classroom. You need to be more disciplined in not checking Facebook or these things that distract you as you can end up wasting a lot of time. Get out and go for a walk!

I hope that I gave you enough information to help you make your decision whether or not to become an online teacher. It is not for everyone but if freedom is important to you it can be a good option and a great way to become your own boss and travel or live on that Carribean island you have always dreamed of! Just check if they have good internet first! 

Conor is the founder of One Minute English, a blog that helps people to English.

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