Here’s What You Need To Teach English Online

Here’s What You Need To Teach English Online

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It’s no secret that teaching English online is a popular work from home job.  And I can see why !  The flexibility to work “whenever” and the appeal of being able to do it from home OR abroad are probably the biggest lures for this kind of remote work.

But I’m not talking about teaching English as a tutoring job.  Nope.  I’m talking about teaching the conversational-English-to-foreigners teaching job.

A lot of people overseas want to learn English as a second language, opening up a ton of job opportunities for you!

And the fact you are primarily teaching conversational English, you don’t need to brush up on your British literature of the typical High School English class kind of teaching.

A while ago I compared some of the best places to teach English as a second language, but a lot of people asked me this:

What do I need to teach English online ?

Glad you asked !

Here are the requirements to becoming an online “English-as-a-second-language” teacher:


Teach English online as a second language


Here’s What You Need To Teach English Online


You Need The Right Education

Usually a Bachelor’s degree and /or prior teaching experience is required as well as an English teaching certificate, but some places are OK with you only having experience leading children.

Here’s what I mean: Qkids expects you to have a Bachelor’s degree and an English teaching certificate is preferred (TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, ESL). Italki, on the other hand, lets you be a Community teacher, where you just need experience leading children (minister, coach…)

You can get your teaching certification here.


You Need To Be A Native English Speaker

You’ll be required to cover the basics: grammar, speaking, listening, reading, writing and sentence structure. Enough said.


You Need The Right Personality

Because most of the “teach English as a second language” companies have a student body comprised of children, you need to be able to relate well to little ones. You need to have patience, kindness, friendliness, and a fun attitude. And a little silliness doesn’t hurt, either.

If you are teaching English to adults, you still need to have all the personality traits that will make your students feel comfortable but maybe ease up on the silliness.


You Need The Right Environment

A classroom-like setting is fine, with a white board and a desk, but make sure to have a good background, good lighting, and – if teaching children – child-friendly colors and props. A lot of ESL teachers use puppets and letter blocks.


You Need To Have The Right Tools

Because you are working remotely, you need to be able to communicate with your students via Skype or FaceTime. As far as actually “logging on” and following your lesson plan, most of the ESL companies use their own platform but some are based on Power Point (VIPKID) .

Here are a few other tools you will need:

  • classroom props (puppets, letter blocks…)
  • a laptop or computer with a webcam (HD webcam preferred by most companies)
  • a headset with microphone (here’s an inexpensive headset, fine for beginners)

Teach English As A Second Language


You Need To Have The Right Technology

It goes without saying that your laptop or computer should have a current operating system. You also need these things:

  • stable internet connection (wired connection preferred for most ESL companies)
  • the ability to use different browsers (DaDaABCbc uses Google Chrome or their DaDaClass software)
  • internet upload speed should be at least 2mb/s and download speed should be at least 4mb/s. (DaDaAbc requires download speed of 10 mb/s, Magic Ears required both upload and download speeds to be at least 10mb/s).

You can visit to run a test.


You Need To Go Through An Interview Process

This can be a little bit grueling, but worth it in the long run. The typical process is as follows:

  • sign up for one of the ESL companies
  • enter your information and credentials
  • schedule an online interview
  • perform a demo lesson or test (be sure to display how well you communicate, explain, and elicit complete answers)
  • be evaluated on your TPR (defined below), speaking speed and length, attitude, as well as other traits determined by the company (hint: check out this resource from VIPKid)
  • probably have a background check done
  • receive an offer
  • sign the contract
  • get hired

What is TPR?  Total Physical Response; a method of teaching by using lots of body language to convey what you’re teaching.  The idea is to help a student learn faster by associating a physical activity or movement to the lesson.

Take a look at this explaination:


You Need To Have The Right Subject Matter

Don’t worry, a lot of the ESL companies will create the lesson plans for you. But if you are working for one of the companies that expect you to make your own lesson plans, like iTalki, a good place to find awesome plans and teaching material is Teachers Pay Teachers.


You Need To Have Flexibility In Your Schedule

Because the majority of ESL companies are teaching students in China, you should be able to work early morning hours or late evening hours. Basically, China time.

Additionally, you may be required to work a certain number of hours each week.  Magic Ears, for example, requires you to work at least 5 hours a week.  Don’t worry, this is still a flexible job !


You Need To Appeal To The Company, Potential Students, And Parents

This is a very important step to getting accepted by one of the online English teaching companies because it sets you apart from the rest. Remember: you are interacting with students, usually 1:1, so you have to really sell your skills.

Here’s an example:

Qkids wants you to create a 1-2 minute introductory video of yourself, briefly talking about where you live and what teaching experience you have. They also want you to tell, or read, a children’s story so they can see how you communicate with kids.

For every online teaching company, you need to create your teaching profile that appeals to students – and more importantly – their parents if teaching children. After all, parents are the ones who will ultimately be selecting the teacher for their child.


Are You Ready To Teach English As A Second Language?

As you can see, there are a lot of requirements when it comes to teaching English to foreigners.  Most of these requirements you probably already have, some you can get.  If you have the personality and ability to be an online English teacher, then go for it.  It is such a rewarding job !

Teach English Online



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