Teaching ESL online is a fantastic career choice, but not one that many people are aware of. There are so many reasons why you should consider teaching online. Whether this is part-time or as a complete change in career. Teaching online has literally changed my life and the opportunities it has enabled my family and me.
For me personally, teaching online has meant that I can work a few hours a day around my family. I am able to work from home and be present in my two young children’s lives. I don’t have to waste 2 hours a day on a long commute, which I used to. I no longer bring hours worth of work home with me to do once they are in bed after I have only seen them for an hour that day. Now, I work 3-4 hours each day and spend the rest of the day with them.
It has opened up so many opportunities for us to be able to spend quality time together and actually replaced my ‘traditional job’s’ income. We are now working on our plans for travelling full-time, starting later this year, which we would not have even considered if it wasn’t for the opportunity to teach online.
So, if you are thinking about working online or working from home, I highly recommend for you to check out this list below. Here I share with you 14 reasons why you should consider teaching online:
1) Work from Home
Being able to work from home is fantastic. You no longer have that mad rush on a morning of getting everybody out of the door on time, only to run back in 2 minutes later because you forgot your lunch.
Work is right there with you. Teaching online doesn’t require a lot of space. A small area within a room, which is quiet and has a clear wall behind you. You need space for a desk and chair if you choose to teach sitting (I personally prefer standing up as I am such a lively teacher).
You work as many hours as you choose each day and then have the rest of the time to choose what you want to do. Once you are finished, you don’t have to have that long rush home to see your family or get comfy on the sofa for that episode of Friends (yes, I know, we’re going back a bit here – but it’s a classic!)
Tying in with the above point, say goodbye to those long, dreaded commutes. No more rush hour traffic, no more negotiations for parking spaces and no more stress and traffic-associated anger (anyone else become insanely potty-mouthed when driving – ya huh that’d be moi!)
Your commute now consists of the following steps
1 – making a good old cup of tea, in a regular cup, not a flask in the hope it stays lukewarm before you arrive to work.
2 – walk 10-20steps within your home, depending upon where your teaching area is. Don’t bother with a jacket, it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like.
3 – turn on your computer or laptop, load the teaching materials and organise props
4 – drink your nice, hot cup of tea as you wait to begin your first class of the day!
I even extended that list for your benefit from just point two, as your commute now really is that brief. Welcome to the world of teaching from home, say goodbye to those daredevil rush hour drivers.
YES! No more meetings. You read that right, you no longer have to sit into those meetings that are scheduled for an hour of your day, but end up taking up a whole morning. By the time they’re finished, you’ve achieved nothing off your to-do list and now have to make up that time just to keep on target for the rest of the week.
I completely get it. I used to hate meetings. Just send me an email, so much quicker and I can still get on with my work. When I was teaching, we used to have to stay one evening every week and I hated the fact that I wasn’t getting any of my own planning and marking done. This meant even more work needed to be taken home with me that night and another night I didn’t get to see my kids.
Sometimes, with some ESL companies, they do arrange Zoom calls for teachers to hear directly from the companies CEO about ongoing changes or plans for the future. But, these calls are not compulsory and CEO’s are so busy, the calls are generally no longer than an hour. I appreciate being given flexibility in whether or not I attend these meetings.
4) Bringing Work Home
As you may have guessed or read in my other posts, previous to teaching ESL online, I was training to become a Primary school teacher. This involved such a huge workload to take home each evening. From researching activities, planning lessons, marking work, writing reports, sticking in work – and so the list goes on. To all those teachers out there who may be reading this post, I salute you. Your job is not the 9-3 so many people incorrectly think. You literally work 60+ hours a week, with a huge majority of that being your own time.
I am aware teaching is not the only career in which employees have to bring their work home with them. It completely shifts over that work-life balance when you have finished work, only to then bring it home with you.
Where is the balance? Where is the much needed you time or family time? When do you ever have time to just sit and relax?
I completely understand that people love their jobs and might be ok with bringing work home with them, they might even enjoy that. But for me, and for those of you who don’t enjoy working all hours, life is just too short am I right? It is too short to just work work work and do nothing else.
You need to find that balance that works for you. Everybody’s perfect balance might be slightly different. For me, it’s all about working smarter not harder. So, I want to be working as an online ESL teacher a certain number of hours a week, for a certain amount per hour. Then, when I am finished teaching, I don’t want to have to sit spending time planning and preparing lessons for the following week. This is great because the companies I work for have all the teaching materials prepared, have booked my schedule I have given and pay me the amount I am looking for.
5) Office Gossip
Have you become prey to the office gossip? I know I have, both on the gossip trail and being the one gossiped about.
In a working environment with others, ‘office gossip’ is bound to occur. People want excitement and they find that in sharing news, whether it is truthful or just rumoured. But it can become tedious being caught up in this, what will only turn into a negative spiral.
Though with online teaching, there can still be ‘office gossip’ within online forums or group chats via Facebook and Skype, it is a lot easier to just switch off those notifications or even leave the chat. Working from home as an online teacher, we can choose whether we want to be involved or not. This much easier than working somewhere face to face and trying to avoid ‘office gossip’. It isn’t always possible, you can’t just walk away from a work colleague as an example.
6) Choose Your Hours
Working as an online teacher, you really can choose what hours you want to work and how many per week. Each company is different in that some require set hours over a period of 6-12months and others enable you to alter your schedule weekly. Some companies only offer the standard peak teaching times during the week, which is 6-9pm Beijing Time, and others operate on a 24hour basis due to having students from all over the world.
By choosing different companies which can work alongside each other and fit into your schedule, you really can mix and match your own teaching hours to suit your schedule and income goals. For example, if you were to work with Whales English, they have peak hours available Monday-Friday from 6-10pm (BJT) with more hours available on weekends (Read this post for more information about Whales English). Cambly, on the other hand, is open 24/7 as they offer conversational English classes to adult students globally.
Through mixing the two companies, you could work the core peak hours with Whales 6-9pm every day and add a couple of hours with Cambly on top. Cambly’s average pay per hour is $10.40 and Whales English is from $18-30. So taking a middle amount from Whales (not including bonuses) as $24 plus Cambly’s $10.40, plus say you want Sunday’s off every week, each week you would earn $556.80 for 5 hours teaching/day (30hours a week)!
This is just one example of Whales English and Cambly. If you did the same, but with Xue Bang, who are open 9am-9pm all week and pay between $14-22 per hour (for this example let’s say you gain $18/hour), your weekly income would be $648 ($2592 per month!)
7) High Pay Per Hour
Many online ESL companies, particularly if you hold a degree, offer a high rate per hour for teaching ESL online. Most companies range from between $14-25 per hour, but some, such as Whales English and UUabc, even offer up to $30 per hour. This isn’t even considering the bonuses available to you as well on top of your hourly teaching wage.
Amazing Talker even lets you set your own rates per hour. The average teacher sets $27 per hour, but some teachers charge over $50 per hour (do note with Amazing Talker you do have to create and prepare your own teaching materials).
Don’t sell yourself short either, push for that higher rate a company offers. If you tick the boxes for the qualifications and equipment they request, there is just your demo standing between you and that higher hourly rate.
Check out these blog posts to support you with your demo lesson.
8) Passive Income
Knowledge of and ways to earn a passive income is on the rise. People are really interested in learning ways to work smarter, not harder and earning more without needing to put in additional hours.
So, how does Passive income tie in with online teaching I hear you ask?
Well, most online ESL companies offer a referral bonus for their teachers. This simply means that you earn a bonus for every teacher who has applied to your company via your referral link, is then hired and starts teaching with that same company.
This soon adds up. For example, SayABC offers teachers $100 referral bonus per successful teacher you have referred. If you referred 10 teachers in one month, that’s an extra $1000 just for sharing your referral code for people to use and apply through.
Personally, I don’t just give people my referral codes and leave it up to them to get hired. I offer my time to help support and coach individuals through their application process. I feel it is the least I can do with someone willing to use my referral code when applying. Not every teacher does this, so it is best to ask if they offer you support before using their code. Alternatively, you might not want any support, and that is fine also.
But from an income perspective, it is a great way to earn that bit extra a month not physically through teaching. Using SayABC as an example, their base pay is $15 /40-minute class. So, to earn the equivalent of $1000 referral bonus through teaching, you would have to have taught 67 40 minute classes!
As you are teaching online, you have complete flexibility in where you teach, whether this is from home or abroad. As long as you have a stable internet connection and a clear background behind you, using teaching online as a means to fund your travels is completely possible.
My family and I will be travelling full-time by the end of this year and will be relying primarily on my online teaching income. With sensible budgeting, country choice and no extravagant activities each day, it really is feasible to support a whole family whilst travelling. This is even more so when you only have yourself to pay for.
Just to be aware, however, some companies such as ItutorGroup pay depending upon location. Hence, if you are located in Thailand, as an example, instead of the US, you may find your pay per hour offer lower than you expected.
It is also important to be prepared for blackouts or internet challenges on the road. So ensure you have a backup battery for your laptop and know how to tether your 4G connection from your mobile, ensuring your mobile has enough data to be able to do this.
10) Family Time
The big crucial point for me personally and the whole reason I looked into ways to work from home and online in the first place, my family.
I was missing so much time with my children when I wasn’t an online teacher. My children are very young and I was missing all those important moments with them and having to place them in childcare all day 5 days a week.
Your children grow up so fast, you blink and suddenly they’re a year older. A friend once told me ‘You only get 18 summers with your children’. This has stayed with me ever since and has made me want to soak up every moment with them. I want to be there for when they laugh, when they cry, to watch them play with each other, help them with their education, read stories with them and play games together. I want them to grow up with the best memories of having their Mum and Dad at home with them.
I know this isn’t for everyone, and my children do still attend a forest school two mornings a week to ensure they have the opportunity to socialise with their peers and time apart from each other. But, to be able to choose whether or not they go to nursery. To be able to keep them at home if they are not feeling well rather than sending them anyway because I had an important deadline at work. Having a choice is what is important to me.
My children have thrived having both their parents around. We are able to go on family days out during the week when it is quieter and cheaper than on weekends. We can do things off the cusp rather than always having to plan ahead. My children have me home so that I am here every morning when they wake and I am able to read stories and put them to bed every night.
These are things that I am truly grateful for and have worked hard to achieve. This is not how everyone envisions work and wanting to be at home with their children all the time. But this is just personally what I have dreamed of and have achieved. I know of many mums who have been in the same boat as me and wanted a way out, hence why I have shared this point here.
11) Make Friends
Even though you are working online and teaching your lessons solo, there are opportunities to meet new people and make friends. The company you work with also has lots of other teachers working for them.
Usually, online ESL companies have Facebook groups or Skype chat groups just for their teachers to use. These groups are similar to a workplace staff room, whereby people share their experiences, how their day is going, share teaching materials, offer advice and somewhere safe you can ask questions relating to your company.
I have made a few friends online via these groups, where we have supported each other offering our advice and then friendship has developed from there.
Many companies also host ‘meetups’ where they invite teachers to attend in person and usually host these in different locations. Some companies even offer bursaries to help with teacher’s travel costs.
12) Help Others Learn
Teaching ESL online not only enables you to work online and earn an income, but it is also an incredibly rewarding career.
As an online teacher, you are helping others learn English, from kids as young as 4 to adult learners. It is so rewarding when a student has been working so hard and finally pronounces a word correctly or understands when to use her or she.
You build an amazing relationship with your students that you see each week. You take a genuine interest in their progress and feel extremely proud of them when they move forward with their English skills.
13) Learn about Another Culture
Something I personally love about teaching children from China is that I get to find out and learn so much about their culture. You find out about their traditions, pick up some of their language and hear all about where they live and their country. I am fascinated every time one of my students shares something about their life in China.
Even if you don’t teach Chinese students, you will still be teaching students from a different country and culture from your own. It is an incredible opportunity to virtually explore the world learning all about local cuisine, traditions and even going into Geography, History and sometimes Politics with a more advanced student.
14) Share Your Own Culture
Teaching others from around the world is a great opportunity to share and educate individuals about where you are from. There are still a lot of incorrect cultural assumptions or lack of awareness of difference in religion, race and traditions.
I love to take any opportunity with my students to help share about where I live, my own culture and traditions. It is also a great teaching point with more capable students, to look at comparisons between their culture and yours.
Here you have it, my 14 reasons why you should consider teaching online. From earning an income online, saving money and time from your work commute to making new friends and sharing your knowledge.
If you are looking to work online and are considering becoming an online teacher, read through these posts to help give you a head start: