Some of the links used below I may be affiliated with. This just means that if you apply through one of the companies I teach with, I may earn a referral bonus if you are hired and successfully start teaching with that company.
The companies I presently work alongside and would receive a bonus for are Whales English, SayABC and PalFish. If you wish to receive coaching during your application with these companies and use my referral codes, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org where I can provide you with 1-1 personal support.
So you want to work from home as an online ESL teacher but not sure where to start or if it’s even possible. You might have seen snippets of people teaching online, but don’t know how they do it, where to apply or even if it is a viable income source.
Well, you’ve come to the right place! I was just like you over a year ago. I had a huge desire to work from home and be present with my kids, choosing a career that enabled us to work remotely also. I had a background in teaching and knew that I loved working with young people and supporting them with their education. But was this even possible to teach online?
Through lots of research and stumbling across a couple of Google posts, I came across this whole world of possibilities. I have been able to create a career online and replace my full-time income as a Primary school teacher, working part-time hours each week from my own home.
Now, I want to share the knowledge I have gained and put all your questions in one place to help you start your career working from home as an online ESL teacher.
Job of an ESL teacher
Online ESL Jobs
Online ESL Teacher Requirements and Job Listings
If you have any questions that I haven’t covered in this post, please feel free to add it in the comments and I will be sure to respond and update this blog post.
Yep! I sure do and 1000s of others have been able to replace, if not increase their income teaching ESL online.
Personally, I make between $1000-2000 per month, with 10-22 teaching hours a week. I know of some individuals who earn a lot more than that, around $4000 a month. However, they are committed to working more full time and also focus on gaining referrals.
There are two key ways to earn money teaching ESL online:
- Teaching students
- Once signed up with a company, sharing your referral code with others and earning a referral bonus per teacher that is successfully hired and begins teaching with that company
My earnings above are just through teaching hours with students. Some companies do provide a very generous referral bonus to teachers and this is where some teachers can really increase their income passively.
For example, the company SayABC who I work alongside offers teachers $100 referral per successful applicant. Their referral bonus is only paid to teachers, once the new applicant has successfully completed their first lesson with the company.
The great aspect of this second type of income is that it can create a passive income. Just through sharing your referral bonus, teachers can start their application process with your company through your link. It is your choice whether or not you support each applicant during their application.
I personally support and coach each individual who uses my referral codes. Every company has a slightly different application process and might be looking for different skills. If I am going to be earning a bonus for referring a teacher, I feel the least I can do as a thank you is to support you during your application to help you feel more confident and know what to expect.
The amount online teachers make can vary depending on a number of factors:
- The company you are working for
- The hours you work e.g. peak hours or not
- Which market you are teaching e.g. kids or adults, Chinese or European
- Whether you teach just audio or with a video also
- What qualifications you hold
- What experiences you have relevant to teaching
Generally speaking, the highest paying market is in teaching Chinese young learners. The Chinese market is huge and parents place great importance on the education their children receive, with many wanting their children to learn English from a native speaker.
When looking at the Chinese markets, most companies pay from $14 up to $30/hour. These are companies who provide all lesson materials, most provide a platform to teach on or zoom and the students as well for you to teach. On top of this base pay, there are often opportunities to earn additional bonuses, which may be based upon attendance, feedback completed or a number of classes taught per month.
A number of companies are audio only and focus on supporting adults with their conversational English skills. These companies usually pay a bit lower, averaging around $10 per hour.
In short, yes you can! I have worked as an online ESL teacher for over 1 year now and have consistently earnt between $1000-2000 a month. This is with teaching between 10-22 hours per week, working mostly peak hours (BJT). Most online ESL teachers earn between $1000-2500 a month, with those working full-time hours earning above $3000/month (on average).
Check out this blog post: How to Earn $1000-2000 per month Teaching ESL Online
All online ESL teachers, whether they teach kids or adults, teach via video or audio, support individuals who are learning English as a second language. Teachers are there to help with the following areas:
- Mouth movements to make the correct sound
- conversational skills
When teaching adults via audio, you may be focused mostly on strengthening their conversational English skills and preparing them for a business or educational role within an English speaking country.
For young learners, you are helping them increase their English speaking, reading, and understanding. Students can start to learn English with an online ESL teacher from the age of 3, though most won’t start until around 4-5 years old. Lessons include video as well as audio, for students to see you, which will help with their concentration. As they are younger learners, lessons involve a lot of visual aids to maintain students attention, engagement and it also supports with their understanding.
Many teachers of young learners, also incorporate lots of movements, songs, and educational games to help break up lessons into shorter bite-sized chunks and to help lessons become a fun and positive learning environment for students.
This does depend on whether the teacher teaches via audio/video or adults/kids. Most teachers teach children to speak English via video and audio, as this is the biggest and best-paying market. So I will walk you through my average teaching day with Whales English as I teach mostly with this company:
1.The night before, download my lesson materials for the following day’s classes. 5 minutes
2. 930am – make a drink and turn on my laptop. Set up my equipment and check everything is working e.g. headset, webcam and connect my ethernet cable to stabilize my internet connection. 10 minutes
3. Log into my teaching platform, quickly familiarise myself with which students I am teaching today and where we are at within the curriculum. 2 minutes
4. Open documents required for each lesson and additional supporting materials such as Youtube videos, pictures, songs, and virtual reward systems. 2 minutes
5. Prepare any physical props I might use alongside my lesson e.g. food, animals, stationary. 2 minutes (I have these within a unit, categorized so it is quick for me to ‘grab’ the materials I need each day).
6. Begin teaching at 10 am (GMT)
7. My lessons involve a warm up for 5 minutes: a brief introduction of ‘hello (student name)’, ‘how are you?’ If more advanced, will ask questions such as ‘what did you do today?’ ‘What’s the weather like?’ If they are a new student, I take time to get to know them for 5 minutes such as ‘what colour/animal/food do you like?’ Or play a short drawing game of ‘What’s this?’ For younger students, I am consistent and play a 2 minute hello video and song, which gets us up, active and moving. It also helps to practise basic conversational English of ‘hello, how are you?’ and answers such as ‘I’m good, I’m great’.
8. Then we focus on the lesson content and in between, when students have demonstrated positive behaviour, great listening, speaking or reading skills, or have shown hard work trying in an area they find difficult, I pause the lesson for a reward.
9. The lesson lasts for 50 minutes, so we go through the content, including sharing any relevant songs, videos, pictures or props, for approximately 40/45 minutes.
10. At the end of the lesson, I provide a final reward and praise each student individually telling them their strengths and what they worked hard on. I highlight any areas to practise at home and improve for next week. For younger students, I then play a goodbye video and song, to help bring the lesson to a close. Older students, I inform them of their homework and we discuss next lesson briefly and how they can prepare for this. 5 minutes
11. After each lesson, I complete any feedback that is required, which usually takes me 3-4 minutes per student.
12. Once I have finished all of my lessons, I will either log off for the day or download the content of the next lessons so that I am ahead and not having to do this last minute. Finish my teaching day by 1 pm (GMT).
There are a few elements I believe you should consider when wanting to teach online which will help you decide what kind of teacher you want to be, who you want to teach and therefore, which companies to apply for:
- Think about who and how you want to teach i.e. whether you want to teach adults or kids and if you mind being on video or just want to teach through audio.
- What qualifications do you hold? Do you have a BA degree or TEFL?
- If you are looking to teach Chinese students, do you hold a TEFL, which is now a requirement by the Chinese government.
- What hours can you commit to? Can you teach Peak hours during the week (usually 6-9pm Beijing Time) as these are the main hours available for bookings?
Once you have decided on the above factors, you can then either use Google, or I personally prefer Facebook groups, to look for companies that are presently hiring teachers. Most Facebook groups have numerous teachers sharing their referral codes for the company they work for. I highly recommend finding a company that matches your requirements above, then applying through a teacher’s referral link.
Ensure to message the teacher to say you are interested in using their referral link and would like coaching and support during your application process. Not all teachers will take the time to support you. So, especially if it is your first ESL application, find a teacher who will support and coach you BEFORE using a referral code.
Related Post: Tips for Mums to Become Online Teachers
Most companies require you to teach from a laptop or desktop. I highly recommend not using a laptop lower than an i5 with at least 4GB RAM. Teaching online often requires the use of a video and interactive course materials so your computer needs to be fast enough so there is no time lag or delay shown.
Some companies are quite flexible, such as PalFish, where you are able to teach from your mobile or tablet. With teaching online, a top priority is to make sure you have a strong and stable internet connection. Your whole online teaching career depends on this, so don’t scrimp out on purchasing a cheaper internet package.
Companies also like you to not use Wireless and although not everyone will, some companies do check on this. If so, grab yourself a cheap ethernet cable which will ensure your connection is more stable and less likely to disconnect.
Now that we have the two top essential items of equipment, here is a quick list of other items necessary to teach online:
- Headset – companies like you to wear a headset as it looks professional. Headsets also make it easier for you to hear your students and for them to hear you clearly. Purchasing a noise reduction headset also helps eliminate any background noise you may have.
- Webcam – though your computer most probably comes with a webcam, the picture quality probably isn’t that good. With a blurry picture, it is hard for your students to see your mouth movements and will also lead to a lack of concentration in class. Purchase a HD webcam for best results, which will give you a clear picture.
Yes, you sure can. As long as you have a stable internet connection you can teach online. Some companies such as Itutorgroup, base your pay on location rather than if you are a native speaker and so might offer you a lower rate. This is something to consider when looking at different companies to apply to.
Also, if you live in an area that experiences blackouts or other challenges, it might be worth purchasing a battery pack and a small light with a USB in order to continue teaching and minimise any fines for missed classes/last minute cancellations.
A great place to find online ESL jobs is completing a search on Google. However, sometimes this can be overwhelming to a new individual interested in starting a career or secondary income teaching online.
Personally, I recommend using Facebook groups to find online ESL jobs. Here are a few Facebook groups to get you started:
Check out this blog post for 10 Facebook Groups to Help You Find Your First Online Teaching Job
This is a very subjective question to answer as everyone will have their own preference depending upon what they are looking for in an online ESL teaching job. I have worked with 4 companies to date and have passed interviews and demos for multiple other companies as well.
Personally, when I look for an online ESL job, I am considering:
- What hours are available to teach
- A higher rate of pay, at least $22 per hour
- Opportunity to earn bonuses each month
- Gaining full bookings promptly
- A responsive and supportive team to help with IT issues or student challenges
- Opportunity to grow with the company and take on secondary additional roles
The company that has been able to tick all of my requirements, is Whales English, formerly Sprout. They provide a high base rate of pay, up to $30 per hour plus additional bonuses based on peak weekend hours and a second monthly bonus on the total number of classes taught per week.
Their support in place is fantastic for teachers, from IT support through to having your own coordinator who looks after your schedule for you, communicates with parents on your behalf and helps with any student challenges.
There are also multiple opportunities to grow with the company, taking on secondary roles such as brand ambassador, training, teacher quality department, and course design.
Read more about How to Become an Online ESL teacher with Whales English.
No, definitely not. About half of the people I have spoken with who teach ESL online, do not come from a classroom teaching background.
This career is open to everyone who is willing to learn a new skill, is passionate about teaching others and confident in speaking clearly to another individual.
There are so many experiences you will have, which you can use as part of your application which relates to teaching. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Time management – working towards deadlines relates to completing feedback within a given timeframe.
Reliable – turning up to work on time and consistently is exactly the same as showing up for your students on time.
Professional – ensuring you dress in a professional manner and speak appropriately to the level of student you are teaching.
Prepared – having props prepared relevant to the lesson you are teaching, particularly important for young students
Organised – can organise and manage your own workload, again the same as the above skill of preparing relevant props and using the correct lesson materials for the right student.
Creative – if you are a parent, you have experience in playing games, being lively, encouraging positive behaviour and responses, managing behaviour and perhaps thinking of fun ways to learn something new
Yes, you can. Online ESL companies which require a degree aren’t looking for a teaching degree but only require a BA degree. Some companies are even flexible in that if you are still studying for your BA degree, will still consider your application.
Here are some of my favourite companies which hire you if you have a BA degree:
They pay between $18-30/hr with additional bonuses on top. Students are aged between 5-16years and you teach up to two students at a time.
A BA degree is preferred, but they will consider applicants without a degree who have teaching experience.
Native speakers from the US, UK and Canada are given priority. Other Native English speakers are considered.
TEFL/TESOL qualification required.
Must be able to provide a minimum of 8 hours/week.
Hours available are 6-10pm Monday – Friday and 9am-10pm on Weekends (BJT).
Pay up to $21/hr ($15 base rate and $6 bonus per lesson).
No minimum hours required.
Teaching hours available are 6-910pm Monday – Saturday, 950am-1120am on weekends and 6-820pm on Sundays. (BJT)
Must be a Native English Speaker.
Prefer applicants to have a BA degree or above, however, applicants with teaching experience but no degree are considered.
TEFL/TESOL is required.
Earn between $18-30/hr.
Teach 4-16year olds in groups of 4.
BA degree or above required.
Must hold a TEFL/TESOL qualification.
Must be a Native English Speaker.
Commit to 4 hours minimum per week.
Hours available are 550-915pm Monday – Friday, and 10am-915pm on weekends (BJT).
Find more online ESL companies here which accept applications who have a BA degree or higher.
In short, no you don’t need a degree to teach online. Many online ESL companies hire teachers who do not have a degree but may have relevant experience and skills which can be transferred in their teaching role.
Here are a couple of companies that hire teachers without a degree:
Earn up to $22 per hour plus additional bonuses.
Teach 3-12year old students or adults (lower pay rate).
Work a minimum of 3.5 peak hours per week – Monday – Sunday 6-9pm and Weekends 9am-10pm (BJT).
Able to teach on a tablet or phone.
Must be a Native English speaker.
Hold a TEFL/TESOL certificate.
HiTalk by Hujiang
Teaching adults via audio only.
Earn between $12-16 per hour.
Hours available are 9am-1030pm every day (BJT).
Must be able to work a minimum of 10 hours per week.
Must be a Native English speaker.
Required to have a TEFL/TESOL qualification.
Students are aged between 5-15years.
Pay is up to $22 per hour plus bonuses.
Hours available are 6-9pm Monday – Friday and 10am-12pm/2pm-4pm on weekends (BJT).
Must be able to work a minimum of 8 hours per week.
Able to teach from your phone or tablet.
Must be a Native English speaker.
Required to hold a TEFL/TESOL certificate.
Here is a list of more online ESL companies who accept applications without a degree.
If you are applying to teach students based in China or applying to a Chinese company, then yes, you will need a TEFL/TESOL qualification. The Chinese government has increased the requirements of online teachers and so online ESL companies based within China require proof of this qualification.
For other companies, you do not necessarily require a TEFL qualification but may need to demonstrate your relevant teaching experiences.
If you hold a TEFL or TESOL qualification, you will be at a huge advantage in comparison to other applicants. Online ESL companies like applications to have one of these qualifications, as it demonstrates you have some understanding and knowledge of teaching ESL.
You can pay for a TEFL course relatively cheaply on Groupon and they do not take very long to complete. Having a TEFL qualification will open up more opportunities and companies you can apply for than not having one.
Yes, definitely. There are many online ESL companies which hire applicants who are non-native English speakers. Here is a couple to get you started:
Must be fluent in English.
Prefer applicants to have an English associated Degree.
Able to choose your own hours per week.
Can set your own rates, average rates are $27 per hour.
Must create your own lesson materials and content.
Fluent English speaker with a neutral accent.
Degree/TEFL/TESOL qualification preferred.
Students are of all ages.
Earn up to $15 per hour.
Students are of all ages.
Available teaching times are 6-11pm Monday to Friday and all day on weekends (BJT).
Must be able to teach a minimum of 10 hours per week.
Earn between $16-20 per hour.
BA degree or TEFL is preferred but not essential if you have experience.
Check out this blog post for more companies which hire non-native English speakers.
There you have it, your Teaching ESL online FAQ and answers. No question is a daft question. If there is something you want to ask that I haven’t covered within this blog post, write it down in the comments below. I can 100% guarantee if there is a question you want to ask about teaching ESL online, there will be someone else who wants to know the answer also.