Teaching English online – what is it?
In short, teaching English online is teaching English as a foreign language to a non-native English speaker over the Internet through the use of a computer and a webcam, or a smartphone. Students can learn one-on-one or in a small group and the cost is usually cheaper compared to an in-person, face-to-face class. Both students and teachers are usually able to set their own times and schedules and the teacher can teach from whatever location is convenient to them as long as there is an internet connection.
You can earn money by teaching English online with a TEFL certification.
Is there a demand for teaching English online?
Online learning is a huge business and is here to stay – from world class universities to Fortune 500 companies, computer, mobile, and Internet-based training has become an integral part of nearly all fields of education, including language instruction, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Combining the fact that there are more than 1 billion people learning English worldwide with massive increased access to the Internet, online English instruction is one of the fastest growing sectors of international education. In recent years, opportunities for teaching English online to speakers of other languages from across the globe have grown exponentially and show no signs of slowing down – it is definitely a booming industry!
What is needed to teach English online?
If you are TEFL certified and a fluent English speaker then you can teach English online! Most companies will also require that you have a Bachelor’s degree, although this fluctuates from company to company. Other traits that are often sought after include being a native English speaker, personable, and having great presentation skills.
If you don’t have an accredited TEFL certification, then this is your first step. International TEFL Academy Nicaragua offers a 4-week onsite 190 hour TEFL Certification Course, which will prepare you for teaching English online!
Teaching English Online in Nicaragua
It is extremely common for someone already teaching English abroad at a language school in Nicaragua to teach English online to boost their income and save money. Many of our graduates also teach online to fund their frequent travel expenses. It is truly the best way to make money and work remotely after receiving your TEFL Certification.
Some advantages and benefits of teaching English online in Nicaragua include:
- Save money! Our TEFL graduates still living in Nicaragua are saving on average $1000 USD teaching English online for approximately 25 hours per week.
- Work as few or as many hours as you please – you set your own schedule!
- Having the ability to still hike volcanoes, learn to surf, take yoga classes, and explore all the other wonderful things Nicaragua has to offer.
- Allows you to travel
- Use your TEFL certification to make a positive impact on people’s lives and to make some money at the same time.
How do I teach English to non-native speakers if I don’t speak another language?
Language classes are typically taught entirely in English, just like when you teach a class in person. For example, imagine you’re teaching a group of students from South Korea online. Even if you were completely fluent in Korean, you would still be teaching the class 100% in English. The students will have some level of English language proficiency. The class is run by a fluent English speaker 100% in English the entire time, so that’s why you are in such high demand teaching students from all over the world. The online students want to learn from a real native English-speaker and be able to mimic your accent and dialect and pick up on exactly how you speak.
Countries with a high demand for online English teachers:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
- Czech Republic
Why do these students want online English lessons instead of in-person classes at a language school?
There are several reasons students are turning to online English classes over a traditional classroom approach.
- Efficiency: Neither the teacher nor the student needs to commute to the classroom therefore saving time and money.
- Less distraction: When teaching one-on-one or in a small group, there are fewer students and overall less distractions that detract from the lesson.
- Back-tracking: Some online English teaching platforms have capabilities to record the class and use it for reference at a later date. This way the student always has something to look back on. In-person classes do not offer this.
- Cheaper: An online English class is often cheaper than an in-person class at a language school
- Flexibility: In-person classes at a language school often require you to be in attendance on a set day and time. If you can’t make that time slot, then you miss the class. If you’re a student, online English classes allow you to pick the time you would like your lesson, and if you’re a teacher, you get to set your own hours. This is especially beneficial for adult students that are already working part or full-time jobs.
Students, online class sizes and session types:
There are typically two different session-types when teaching English online:
- One-on-one or Private Sessions: These will involve just you (the teacher) and only one student.
- Small Groups: Anywhere from 2-6 students at a single time.
The most common form of teaching English online is one-on-one classes
Just like traditional classroom teachings, students can range from young children right through to adults. Most online English teaching companies will specify whether their clients are students, adults, or business professionals (and may even cater to all three), and then you will find that some companies are specific to just a single demographic.
Online English classes can also take different forms. Some include:
- General or conversational English: help students with their fluency, introduce new words and terms, and correct basic errors.
- Business English: focus on topics pertaining to email writing, presentations and proposals, and you can even cater to a particular niche or industry.
- Examination preparation: tuition for students preparing for their IELTS, TOEFL, or Cambridge proficiency exams.
- Job interview coaching: sessions focus on common job interview discussions and topics like strengths and weaknesses, talking about themselves, and why they deserve the job.
- Trial English lessons: this will allow you to get to know your students a little before committing to any future classes. Often provided free of charge or at a discounted rate.
*Teaching English online to business professionals is very common
How many hours do I have to spend teaching English online?
The beauty of teaching English online is that the hours you work and the schedule you set is completely up to you. While some online teaching companies may require you to teach a specific number of work hours, you can usually choose from teaching a few hours per week to 20 hours, or even turn this into a full-time career with 40+ hours, and the more hours you teach online in Nicaragua the more money you will have to spend on travel, tours, nicer housing, etc.
How much money can I make teaching English online?
Some online English teaching companies provide a flat-rate of payment per hour, while other platforms allow you to set your own hourly rate. Generally speaking, online English teachers typically make anywhere between $10 – $40 USD per hour depending on their level of qualifications and instruction provided in the lesson.
If you are a first-time English teacher, you will likely be making $10-$20 to start (if you are a fluent English speaker with a TEFL certification). If you choose to work for an agency that finds/recruits and schedules work for you, then that agency may take a cut of your hourly wage as a finder’s fee for their role in getting you the job. *Please research all agencies diligently and steer clear of any companies asking for upfront payments of any sort.
If you choose to stay in Nicaragua and/or travel the world and support yourself via teaching English online, you can make a very comfortable living for yourself by earning U.S. dollars in countries that have a cheaper cost of living. To help break this down, the average monthly salary (in US Dollars, $USD) for a 40-hour work week in Nicaragua is about $400-$600 USD compared to a 40-hour work week teaching English online where the salary is $800-$2,000 depending on the Online Teaching platform. When your average cost of living is $400-$600 USD per month, teaching English online allows you to save money rather than just breaking even.
Do I need to pay taxes on the money I make from teaching English online?
Many online English teaching jobs categorize you as either an independent contractor or self-employed. This means it’s your responsibility to report your earnings as a self-employed income. This process will differ based on your country of citizenship or the country you are teaching English online from.
For U.S. citizens teaching English online from within the USA but for a non-U.S. based company (e.g. The company you teach English online for is based in China), taxation papers are often not provided, however, you are still expected to report any self-employed income earned. If your income is paid through PayPal and you have:
- Earned $20,000 USD in gross payment volume for sales of goods or service in a single year;
- 200 payments for goods or services in the same year
PayPal will send Form 1099-K to you and the IRS for that year for taxation filing purposes.
One benefit of online teaching (if you pay your taxes) is that that U.S. and Canada will allow you to write off a portion of your home or apartment as a home office. You can also write off expenses like your computer/laptop, Internet, webcam, microphone, headset, teaching supplies, etc.
For U.S. citizens living abroad and teaching English online from anywhere other than the USA (i.e. You are a U.S. citizen living in Japan and teaching English online from Japan), you are not expected to pay U.S. taxes on the first $80,000 that you earn each year. For more, read Will I have to Pay Taxes While Teaching English Abroad?
What equipment do I need to teach English online?
Another advantage of teaching English online is the fact that getting started is relatively easy and start-up costs are generally low (given you already have access to all the required equipment necessary). The main essentials you will need to teach English online include:
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Reliable, high-speed Internet connection
- Microphone and a headset (headset not obligatory but definitely helps)
- Skype (sometimes required if a company does not have their own video platform)
- A PayPal account (the most common form of online payment among online English teaching companies)
- A quiet, well-lit home office or work space
- A webcam and headset is needed to teach English online
What are the best video platforms for teaching English online?
For smaller, lesser-known companies, it’s common that you will be using Skype to teach your English sessions. Alternative voice/video platforms include Zoom and Google Hangouts. Although not as popular, Zoom receives praise from online English teachers for having excellent sound and HD video quality, as well as a more reliable connection when compared to Skype. If you’re teaching English online with the company ‘Turks Learn English,’ you’ll quickly become familiar with Zoom as this is the platform they use for their group lessons.
For larger, well-established companies, it’s typical for them to have developed their own educational platforms to facilitate online classes – VIPKid is one of these
What supplemental teaching tools would benefit me when teaching English online?
Some companies will provide you with lesson plans and curriculum to follow, whereas other companies will expect you to supply your own. For example, VIPKid provides you with a full curriculum, you just log in before each class to look over the lesson plan set for that session – very little prep work is required. Some items that compliment lesson plans and help aid in successfully conveying a message or a new teaching to a student via webcam include:
- Whiteboard + markers
- Flashcards with letters + letter combos to use for spelling
- Picture flashcards with colors and shapes
- Hand puppets (favorable among younger students)
- Magnetic letters + magnet board
ITA Alumni Perspectives on Teaching English Online in Nicaragua:
“My main English teaching job is online for Saudi Arabian businessmen. I teach 5 times a week in the middle of the night. Sometimes I will also sign onto morning contracts. I have all of my curriculum provided, with listening, reading, writing, and speaking activities included. I have anywhere from 1-6 students and teach them for a month before switching to new ones. I love this job because I get flexibility with the content in the classes, adding my own material or just using theirs. I also get to choose which hours and contracts I teach. Online teaching is a great way to earn and save money because I can travel back and forth between countries with freedom while still being able to teach and make money.”
“During a typical day, I’m online for 5 hours (max. 2 consecutively) and may chat with 10-30 people depending on the amount of time they have to use – 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes. Unless a student has reserved time with me I have no idea who I’ll see on screen when I accept a chat request. It’s a purely speculative adventure that daily reveals wickedly smart and interesting people who are driven to become fluent in English. My job is easy! All I have to do is encourage students to speak as much as possible and help them succeed by correcting their grammar and pronunciation as frequently as they’d like. My students are full of gratitude for my input and I, in turn, am gratified by helping and learning from them.”
Want to Learn More about Teaching English Online?
If you are excited about teaching English from either the comfort of your own home or anywhere in the world, contact us about TEFL certification options and get ready for a great adventure!