How to Start Your Online English Teaching Business and Make Money

start your online English teaching business

In recent years, stemming from a series of global events, an increasing number of people have embarked on a journey of self-reflection, seeking to assess their personal and professional lives. The desire for greater meaning, higher earnings, a better work-life balance, or simply a more exciting lifestyle has led many individuals to make significant changes. 

One field that has gained attention in this context is teaching, with a particular focus on teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). This industry presents a range of professional opportunities, both in online and international settings, while taking into consideration the emotional intelligence of each party involved – i.e. teachers and students – in achieving success in their own individual goals.

Getting into TEFL: Embracing New Horizons

As individuals seek to improve their personal and professional lives, they often encounter the question of how to find more fulfilling opportunities. Invariably, their search leads them to the TEFL industry, which offers a range of options to suit different preferences and lifestyles. While the ever-popular option of teaching English abroad is always available, one avenue that has gained popularity is online teaching. 

Simply put, with the right equipment and a reliable internet connection, aspiring online teachers can embark on a career that allows for flexibility, personal growth, and the opportunity to connect with students from around the world.

From Mainstream Education to TEFL: Recognizing Transferable Skills

More often than not, teachers become as such to follow their vocation. Occasionally, however, many educators feel the need for a new challenge or a change of scenery. Without a doubt, their unique talents and transferable skills are invaluable tools to make their newly-found TEFL career a success. 

Teachers’ innate ability to think on their feet and adapt to unpredictable classroom situations, allows them to face most challenges in any teaching setting. Teachers also possess the expertise to design effective and engaging lessons that cater to diverse learner needs. Understanding the importance of personalized instruction, teachers can nurture individual growth by acknowledging and addressing the unique personality traits and learning preferences of their students. 

Last but not least, most teachers are bitten by the ‘learning bug’, continuously seeking self-improvement, keeping up with the latest educational methodologies and embracing technological advancements to enhance their teaching practices.

The Advantages of Online TEFL Teaching: Embracing Technology and Flexibility

In the world of online teaching, there’s more about ESL teacher than meets the eye. It involves handling the behind-the-scenes of freelancing and entrepreneurship, such as marketing and administrative tasks. As a freelancer, you need to find your own students, which requires investing time and energy in building a strong online presence through social media and maintaining an updated website. 

Your website serves as a modern business card, where you showcase your skills, communicate your teaching approach, and provide transparent information about your services and fees. Offering a great service allows you to set upfront fees without the need for negotiations, although it’s also important to consider rewarding loyal clients and attracting new ones with special promotions.

It’s crucial to address the legal and financial aspects of your business, including drawing up contracts, managing payments, and handling cancellations. These tasks can be time-consuming and challenging, especially if you lack expertise in these areas. Consequently, starting a freelance online teaching business from scratch may not be suitable for everyone.

Alternatively, online teaching platforms provided by established schools offer an appealing option. These platforms provide the best of both worlds, offering flexibility without the burden of managing the business side. By joining such platforms, you can focus solely on teaching while the platform takes care of administrative tasks and support.

Teaching via online platforms

Here are some of the online school that can support you in your online TEFL journey:

Italki provides various language courses, including English, and offers two teaching opportunities. Teachers can set their own rates, with professional teachers generally earning more than community tutors. Community tutors can teach English informally without a degree or TEFL certificate, while professional teachers require a TEFL certificate or a degree in a related subject.

Cambly focuses on developing fluency through informal conversations and natural language, rather than formal teaching. The platform offers the flexibility to log in at any time without a set schedule. To teach with Cambly, being a native English speaker is a requirement, while holding a university degree and/or a TEFL qualification is advantageous but not mandatory. Teaching experience is also not required.

Lingoda, a rapidly growing edu-tech startup in Europe, aims to actively shape the future of language learning. They offer a range of language courses, including English, French, German, and Spanish. Their classes are designed for small groups of motivated adult learners, and they provide a flexible 24/7 schedule. Lingoda also offers ready-made lesson materials and provides support for teachers.

To teach with Lingoda, applicants are required to have a CEFR C2 (near-native) level in the respective language, at least three years of teaching experience (online or in-person), and a TEFL certificate (although a bachelor’s degree is not necessary). A minimum commitment of 5 hours of teaching per week is also required. Preference is given to teachers who can speak Spanish and/or Portuguese, as Open English, the most popular choice for the Latin American market, is part of Lingoda.

Open English offers group and one-to-one classes for adults and juniors (8-14), a flexible schedule, ready-made lesson materials, and professional development opportunities for teachers. To teach with Open English, applicants should be native English speakers from North America, have at least one year of teaching experience, possess TEFL/TESOL education or training, and commit to a minimum of 10 teaching hours per week.

S-Lessons is an ideal platform for teaching Japanese children, allowing teachers to set their own rate per lesson while the platform keeps 30% as commission. Lessons on S-Lessons are shorter (25 minutes) and offer two course options: ‘Regular,’ where teaching materials are provided, and ‘Leave it to the teacher,’ where the teacher is responsible for creating lessons and providing materials.

While a bachelor’s degree or TEFL certificate is not mandatory, possessing these qualifications would be an advantage. Additionally, there is no minimum requirement for weekly teaching hours.

English Hunt targets the adult Korean market and offers video or phone classes. Although teachers cannot set their own rates, English Hunt is known for being one of the highest-paying platforms. However, their most popular teaching hours are in the afternoon, Korean time (1 am and 3 am EST).

English Hunt provides ready-made teaching materials. Applicants must have a desktop or laptop running the Windows Operating System with an Ethernet internet connection that has upload speeds faster than 3.0 Mbps. It is necessary to be a US citizen, although living abroad is allowed. A US bank account, a bachelor’s degree, or four years of teaching experience are required. While a TEFL qualification is preferred, it is not necessary.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in TEFL: Building Positive Connections

While technical skills are crucial, emotional intelligence (EI) has emerged as an essential attribute in the modern workplace. This principle applies equally to the field of TEFL, where teachers with high EI can create supportive and inclusive learning environments.

Emotional intelligence enables teachers to navigate social interactions effectively, communicate clearly, and resolve conflicts amicably. By fostering positive relationships with students and colleagues, teachers can establish an atmosphere of collaboration and respect, enhancing the teaching and learning experience for all involved. 

In short, why TEFL?

In conclusion, TEFL instruction, both online and in international settings, offers individuals the opportunity to embark on a new career path that aligns with their personal and professional goals. The flexibility and technological advancements of online teaching provide teachers with the freedom to work from anywhere and connect with students from diverse backgrounds. 

Transitioning from mainstream education to TEFL allows teachers to leverage their inherent talents, transferable skills, and emotional intelligence to create a fulfilling and impactful teaching experience for themselves and learning environment for their students. 

Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.