6 Options to Teach English Online as a South African

by: Emma Searight ESL Authority Emma Searight | Last Updated July 13, 2020

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Teaching english online from South Africa can be tricky, especially when certain companies prefer (and in some cases require) their teachers to be from countries like the US, Canada and the UK. This can be extremely frustrating, especially when you tick all the other teaching requirement boxes. 

To make it slightly easier, we have found six companies who hire teachers from South Africa. They’re a mixed bag in terms of types of platforms and scheduling, so hopefully there will be at least one that stands out as a good opportunity. 

Why is it harder for South Africans to find jobs?

It’s no secret that we still live in a world where discrimination based on nationality or race is prevalent. And while we have come a long way with it in the West, you can still find prejudice in foreign workplaces, especially in countries across Asia. 

This is especially evident in teaching English, where certain employers will only hire native English speakers who are from a select few countries and white. 

Teachers from South Africa are often the ones who miss out on opportunities in the ESL world due to this prejudice. Despite English being their native language, many popular companies won’t hire them. This is often because employers and parents prefer a neutral accent, like the North American or Canadian accent. 

So, for South Africans looking to teach English online, we’ve compiled a list of online teaching companies who are more inclusive. These companies hire English teachers based on their personality and skill set, rather than their nationality, race or accent. 

Online Teaching Options for South Africans

  • Cambly
  • Palfish
  • Hujiang
  • First Future
  • ITutor Group
  • IQBar

Cambly

These guys have been around for a long time, and are probably one of the most well-known names in the ESL world. Their platform works as a way to connect language learners with native speakers, with the focus being natural, informal conversation rather than formal classroom learning. 

What’s slightly different about teaching online with Cambly is that most of their students are from the Middle East and Europe, rather than solely the Chinese or Asian market. It’s a 24-hour platform, where students and tutors “log in and talk”, so you can be pretty flexible when you teach. It may not be the biggest payer – 17 cents USD per minute (approx $10.20 an hour) – but the flexibility and low entry requirements make it a good option. 

Basic requirements

  • Native English speaker
  • Meet the technical requirements required to use the Cambly platform

Where to apply: https://www.cambly.com/en/tutors?lang=en

Palfish

The Palfish platform is an interactive app where you teach classes on a mobile device, phone or tablet. Similar to Cambly, Palfish is predominantly conversation-based lessons, known as Free Talk. This involves students phoning teachers who are ‘online’ to help correct their grammar and pronunciation, rather than learning something class-based. 

It’s pretty simple to sign up to teach online with Palfish, you just need to download the app to your mobile device and then work through their application process. In terms of pay, you set your own rate. According to Palfish, their regular teachers earn approx $10 – $18 an hour, with some teachers charging more than $30 an hour. 

Basic requirements

  • Native English speaker
  • TEFL certification (or equivalent) 
  • Experience in English teaching
  • Fluent in English
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Creative and energetic
  • Passionate about teaching students English

Where to sign up: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/palfish-teacher-english-tutor/id1020664979

Hujiang

Hujiang offers two teaching programs – HiTalk and K-12 – both of which allow South Africans to teach online. They’re quite different platforms; HiTalk is an adult-only, audio-only platform, whereas K-12 is a platform for teaching children, and isn’t audio-only. Teaching requirements are the same for both platforms. 

Classes are all one to ones and are 25 minutes long. Teachers are put on flexi-schedules, with the opportunity to open slots 3 weeks in advance, but they must be able to commit to 10 hours per week. Pay for teaching online with Hujiang varies between the platforms; HiTalk pays approx $12 – $16 USD per hour, and K-12 pays between $16 – $20 USD an hour. 

Basic requirements

  • Native English speaker
  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • TEFL certification (or equivalent) or a teaching certificate from your home country
  • Some teaching experience – online or classroom based
  • Commitment to at least 10 hours a week

First Future

First Future connects teachers around the world with Chinese students. It’s unique in the way that it doesn’t conduct its own classes, instead it outsources English teachers to various schools, language academies and organisations throughout China. 

Teachers then deliver online learning to a specific school or organisation, which typically involves teaching a complimentary lesson that follows up on a session a student had with a Chinese instructor.

Unlike the other companies, teaching online with First Future means working on a fixed schedule rather than a flexi-schedule. This means guaranteed hours and a reliable minimum income, even if a slot isn’t booked or a student is a no-show. Pay varies depending on your position, with standard teachers earning between $17 – $23 USD per 45 minute class.

Basic requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • TEFL certification preferred 
  • At least one years teaching experience preferred 

Where to apply: http://firstfuturejobs.com/contact/index.html 

ITutor Group

This Chinese company (not to be confused with ITutor) connects online teachers to students in China. These guys pride themselves on their personalised learning experience, with sessions being more conversation-based, rather than lecture style learning. 

Their platform can be accessed 24/7 from any device, making them a good company if you live a bit further afield, or are on the move a lot. 

They hire both native and non-native teachers and require a minimum of 10 peak hours a week, which does include weekends. Pay includes a base rate and a performance bonus, which is based on student ratings. The base rate varies depending on your location, but it seems as though teachers based outside the US or the UK earn approx $8 – $11 USD an hour. 

Basic requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • TEFL certification (or equivalent)
  • At least one year teaching experience 
  • Computer literate
  • Great communication and presentation skills
  • Enthusiastic and professional

Where to apply: https://join.itutorgroup.com/

IQBar

Based in the UK, IQBar connects English speakers with Chinese students. They offer a variety of options for teachers from English and phonics, to exam prep and academic subject mentoring. Teachers can work all times of the day, although some times and months are quieter than others – their peak hours are from around 10 am to 3 pm (UK time). 

They offer the option to have a flexi-schedule or a contracted schedule, or you can do a mixture of both, which means you can really tailor the job around your lifestyle. IQBar pays between $12 and $15 USD for contracted hours, and $9 and $25 for flexi hours, depending on the session taught. 

Basic requirements

  • Fluent level of English with a clear accent
  • TEFL certification (or equivalent) – minimum 120 hours
  • One years teaching or relevant experience
  • Availability during their peak hours

Where to apply: https://iqbar.co.uk/f

Where to Start

If you’re South African (or a non-native speaker) then you’re likely fed up with a lack of options when it comes to teaching online.  If you haven’t yet applied to one of the above-mentioned companies then make sure to update your TEFL resume and start working your way down the list – good luck!

Emma Searight ESL Authority

Emma Searight

Emma is a writer for ESL Authority and a former teacher. She lives down by the sea in Cornwall, and enjoys surfing, cold water swimming, and going on adventures.

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