There are so many reasons to teach English online once you’ve gained your TEFL qualification from an accredited provider such as tefl.net or tefl.org. The comfort of working from your own home, no more long, crowded commutes, choosing hours that suit you, and not to forget there are less expenses to consider too. Grabbing a coffee on your way to work and nipping out for a quick bite to eat at lunch all adds up!
The online teaching industry is constantly growing too, so you’ll get to experience what it’s like to work in a fast-growing industry. To establish a steady income and excel as a teacher, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to ensure you succeed and make the most of your new venture!
First of all, we should mention online teaching companies because there are many well-established ones out there that are a great place to start. You’ll need to go through an application process and may have to conduct a demo lesson as part of your interviewing process. Once hired, you’ll be eased into the industry by having control over your availability. Lesson plans are often provided by online teaching companies too, saving you some (but not all) preparation time. Keep in mind too that different companies will have their own requirements, and may require you to have a degree or a passport from an English speaking country.
By getting started with an online teaching company, you can begin building a steady student base, gain crucial experience, and ultimately understand what works well. Once you’ve established yourself, you’re then in a better position to go freelance, if that’s what you’re aiming to do. But we’ll explain in more detail below, where you’ll find advice and tips to excel as a great online teacher.
Preparation is key
Those who are adequately prepared for lessons will be better teachers, as they’ll have a clear objective for the lesson and be able to make sure targets are met. Remember that you’ll be paid per lesson, so if you aren’t managing your time well, students can easily find another teacher.
If you’re well prepared, you’re more likely to maintain your student’s engagement and conduct a productive lesson. As mentioned, some online teaching companies will have lesson plans for you to stick to, but it’s always worth planning how you’ll lead your lessons and ensure that your students are taking in the information.
If you’re planning your own lessons, there are many great educational resources out there to help you, as well as those offered to you as a TEFL graduate.
It’s essential to be punctual
You can’t succeed if you’re not present. Online teaching companies will note if you’ve failed to attend or are late to any of your scheduled classes, and they’ll be inclined to take action. There can be penalties for late or missed classes right away – which will put you at a serious disadvantage for getting other lessons booked. Students are paying for a full lesson and anything less won’t be acceptable.
The cancellation policy for online teaching companies can be very strict – so make sure you’re fully aware of the terms. If you’re a freelance teacher, you’ll need to set your own terms about cancellations. In this case, you should give your students as much notice as possible.
Be helpful and have patience
Your students have chosen you as a teacher, it’s your responsibility to help and support them with their learning to the best of your ability. Have patience, language learning can be frustrating at times, but by offering constant encouragement, students should feel comfortable to make mistakes and move on from them.
Market yourself well
Freelance teachers, in particular, will need to put substantial effort into marketing themselves online – otherwise, how will people know about you? And with so many other online teachers available, why should students choose you? There are lots of things you can do and starting up a website is one of them. Having your own website will allow prospective students to read your CV and any relevant information about you. Creating a professional account on various social media platforms is also a good idea.
When deciding your own fees, they should be fair and reflect both your experience and expertise as a teacher. New freelancers shouldn’t be overly hasty in charging higher fees as you’ll need to establish yourself first. To build up a regular student base you could consider offering a discounted second lesson as an incentive to come back.
Choose an appropriate workspace
You should conduct your lessons from a quiet space so that your students can concentrate on their work and communicate with you without interruption. Your workspace should also be clean and tidy. Besides a busy background being a distraction, students may find that it reflects a lack of seriousness and pride in the job.
Needless to say, you’ll need a strong internet connection too. You don’t want to risk your students being unable to understand you over an unstable connection or cut off from the lesson all together.
How will I know if I’m succeeding?
Successful teachers will have high ratings on online teaching websites. They will be recommended to others and maintain a steady flow of students and a regular client base (although if you’re new, don’t be disheartened as you continue to work towards this). They should see their students progressing and be proud of their achievements.
Once you’re well established in the online teaching working environment and have a decent student base, you’re more likely to succeed as a freelance teacher. As a freelance teacher you can then be in control of your fees – and keep the full amount too. You can also be more selective about your scheduling. E.g. setting yourself certain working hours and days, and limiting the number of offered lessons per day. You can do this anyway, but when you’re established it becomes a lot more feasible.
The key to success is a large part to do with committing to being the best teacher you can be for your students. By supporting and encouraging them, correcting mistakes with patience, being reliable, and proactive – you’re already succeeding. If your students are doing well, so are you.