English as a foreign language

In these troubled times, why not try a new career teaching English online.

Changing to a career teaching English online

The biggest benefits of becoming an online English teacher are by far the flexibility and the downtime. Instead of splashing out on over-priced sandwiches that you wolf down on your brief breaks between classes, you can take 20 paces to your kitchen; relax into the motions of cooking, nourishing your brain with wholesome food, and enjoying it at your own pace. You save money, though more importantly: you save valuable time. 

Roses, laptop and watch on fabric for Teaching English online TEFLWith no commute and complete control over your own schedule, there is time to commit to your life beyond work. By becoming an online English teacher, you not only help others to grow through education, but you invest in yourself. Imagine what could you achieve if you had more time. 

Be invested

It goes without saying, that to teach online you will absolutely need to have, or have access to, a computer. However, this cannot be any old computer. Depending on the platform you use, be it a site for online tutors such as Preply, or Skype or Zoom classes for a private, independent school, you will need to be prepared for classes of all sizes. 

Try a new career teaching English online

Your computer must be equipped to handle large classes where multiple tabs and audio, or screen sharing, may be required. The slower your computer, the less likely you are to be successful as an online English teacher. It is your responsibility to invest in quality equipment and provide your students with a smooth, enjoyable experience.

This investment also applies to your Wi-Fi connection. It is up to you to choose optimal connection times and invest in a better connection if possible. 

Two options are possible in this case: either invest in a more expensive internet package or make sure you have a decent mobile data plan so that you can tether your computer to your mobile hotspot. Online English teachers are only as good as their ability to predict potential technological problems and be prepared for them. 

With that in mind, one more tip: Always have a spare pair of headphones on standby, just in case. Where technology fails, as an online English teacher, you should always be one step ahead.

Patience is key

Whilst you may expect that a person choosing to take online lessons would be internet-savvy, this isn’t always the case. People take online English lessons for numerous reasons, from busy schedules or distance to having lessons gifted by employers. 

As a result, your role will often demand equally in-depth knowledge of the platform that you are using to teach. Therefore, patience is vital as an online teacher. What is important to remember is that technical difficulties do not have to be an inherently negative experience. Take a deep breath and talk them through it. Your student will finish the lesson feeling supported but also impressed at their own ability to follow instructions correctly in English.

Despite our best efforts to manage them, we must also be aware that other difficulties may still arise for students. Patience is once again the appropriate response from an online English teacher. We can invest in our role and equip ourselves with reliable devices and a stable internet connection. Nonetheless, we cannot always guarantee, or expect, that this will be the same for our students. 

Moreover, learners who reside with their families may have a lot of noise interference to deal with. Online teachers must be committed to repeating themselves as many times as needed to ensure their students’ educations continue unaffected.

Try a new career teaching English online

Be prepared

Gone are the days of photocopies and CD players. Teaching English online demands a different approach to your preparation for your lessons. You will need to ensure you have access to online audio files as well as relevant worksheets for your classes. 

You should also always have a back-up plan on the off chance that your students find themselves unable to open those files. This should not be a new concept to seasoned teachers; lesson plans should always be flexible regardless of whether they are intended for teaching online or in a classroom. The only additional work for an online teacher is to make sure you have an effective system in place to send resources to students- be that email or sharing them directly on the platform during the lesson.

Teaching English online patience at the laptop

Furthermore, now that you find yourself without a classroom, as an online teacher, it is up to you to create an appropriate teaching space in your home. The wall directly behind you should, preferably, be blank and free of any distractions for students. It should also be an area where you will not be disturbed, or any external noise is at least minimal. As previously mentioned, this can be a common issue for students, but as their teacher, you must always endeavour to maintain a professional and disturbance-free teaching environment in your own home. 

There is no stopping you from wearing your favourite pair of slippers under the desk as you teach, so long as you present your students with the image of a focused learning environment from start to finish.

Try a new career teaching English online

Be organised

Online English teachers must not forget that teaching online means long periods of sitting down and staring at a screen. Perhaps you were able to teach 4 hours back to back in the last school you worked at. You may find that that approach to teaching is not necessarily transferable to online teaching. Organizing your schedule to allow adequate time for resting throughout the day is key to avoid eye and back strain.

Working from home as an online teacher is a balance. It is a space that you used to only associate with unwinding. By choosing to pursue a career as an online teacher, you must learn to separate your work and social life. The temptation to overwork will no doubt be strong, as there is no longer a definitive end to your workday. You go home when you log off. Ultimately, the responsibility for establishing a healthy work-life balance will rest on your own organization of your working hours.

The choice to pursue a career teaching English online is a bold one. You take on the responsibility of the role of educator as well as complete control of your own time. With less structure than a school, you must create an order for yourself. You log out of a lesson and jump straight back into finishing that novel you always wanted to write; you head out to your weekly salsa class after another day of interacting with and helping so many different people. Obtaining your TEFL certification is more than teaching English. With a click of a button, The TEFL Org gives you the opportunity to re-imagine your life without moving an inch.

Try a new career teaching English online