How to Become An English Teacher Abroad (Online)

How to Become An English Teacher Abroad (Online)
The Editorial Team May 27, 2020

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Teaching English overseas can be a rewarding experience, both personally and financially. However, not everyone has the means or desire to travel. Thanks to advances in technology, it’s now possible to teach English abroad without ever leaving home. Online English schools pair students in foreign countries with educators around the world who teach via video conferencing software.

The job is perfect for people who want to work from home and people who prefer a flexible or non-traditional work schedule. Prospective teachers in challenging job markets can improve their resume by gaining experience from teaching online and current teachers can earn extra money at the end of the school day. Those with teaching experience are highly sought after, so it’s only a matter of finding a school that suits your needs.

What is the Demand for Online English Teachers?

There’s currently a huge demand for online English teachers. It’s difficult to find exact numbers, as there isn’t a single governing body, but the experience of individual companies can give you an idea of how quickly the industry is growing.

VIPKid, founded in 2013, is one of the larger English language schools. From 2017 to 2019, its staff grew from 20,000 to 70,000 teachers. In the same time frame, an extra 400,000 students enrolled. FlexJobs, a job search website for telecommuting positions, has seen postings for remote jobs in education jump 37% from 2015 to 2018.

The growth is largely tied to the position of English as a global language. People from many countries use English to do business, even when neither person is a native speaker. Learning English is especially popular in Asia, where it’s seen as essential to studying overseas or doing business in foreign countries.

What Are the Requirements for Teaching English Online?

There are practical considerations for people who want to teach English to overseas students. As an online teacher, you need a good computer that can run the required software. Most schools have their own programs, while others use Skype or similar video conferencing software. Fast, reliable internet service is also essential.

As a teacher, you need to be able to interact with students. The ability to hear a student’s pronunciation is vital for language teachers. For this reason, excellent audio-visual equipment is imperative. This includes a web camera, microphone, and speaker or headphones.

Finally, you must meet the qualifications required by the school. Most look for native English speakers, with many specifying that teachers come from particular parts of the world. American and Canadian teachers are the most sought after. Teaching English abroad without a degree is possible; however, better paying jobs require an undergraduate degree. The degree doesn’t need to be in teaching, and any bachelor’s degree is accepted. Finally, consider gaining a certification in teaching English as a foreign language.

TEFL or TESOL Certification?

The wide range of possible certifications can be confusing to people who want to teach English abroad. These are the three main qualifications:

  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language. This usually refers to teaching non-native speakers who live in an English-speaking country.
  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This usually refers to teaching non-native speakers who live in a country where English isn’t the official language.
  • TESOL: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. This usually denotes courses that teach a mix of TESL and TEFL, although some countries, including Canada, use this acronym for courses that let people teach ESL in public schools.

It’s important to remember that there is no singular certification body, so the terms can be used interchangeably. Most schools look for TEFL or TESOL certification when hiring.

Internationally recognized TEFL or TESOL certification will require at least 100 hours of teaching and coursework. This equates to four weeks of full-time, intensive training, and anything less doesn’t meet international standards. The course should have highly qualified teachers, and the opportunity to practice teaching with real students. Finally, the course should be accredited by a recognized international body. Different countries have different accreditation bodies. ACCET certifies courses in the US.

How to Find the Best Online English Teaching Job

Thinking about what you want from an online teaching job can help you identify where to apply. Consider:

  • The hours you want to work
  • What age you want to work with
  • Length of classes
  • Pay rates

Evaluate the schools based on these criteria. Some schools require you to work a minimum number of hours each week or month and may only have teaching spots available very early in the morning or late at night, as students are in different time zones. Schools may work with specific age groups, whether that’s teens or elementary school age, or with a range of ages. There are also schools that work primarily with adults. Another difference between schools is whether you teach groups or individuals.

The pay rates tend to range between $12 and $24 an hour. People with teaching experience, TEFL certification, and undergraduate degrees may be offered higher rates. Your performance in the interview, student or parent reviews, and performance evaluations can also impact your wage.

A web search for “where to teach English online” brings up a large number of schools, and there are always more entering the market. When assessing where to apply, start by looking at a school’s website. A poorly created website, or one full of grammatical errors, are signs of a poor-quality school. Look for reviews from other teachers who recommend the site, paying attention to the working conditions and reliability. Read the fine print and look into the software used and any internal training. This should tell you whether or not it’s a reputable company.

Teaching English online to people living abroad can be a great way to earn extra money while studying or looking after young children. No matter what your motivations are, as an online English teacher you have the chance to learn about other cultures, teach people about your own, and have fun while helping students learn a skill that can take them around the world.

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