Teach English Online - Everything You Need to Know

Want to teach English online? You’ve come to the right place!

The world of education has evolved significantly in recent years, with the rise of online teaching becoming a prominent trend. Online education has seen exponential growth, and English language teaching is at the forefront of this transformation.

Aspiring English teachers are increasingly looking to teach English online, making it a rewarding and flexible career choice. Whether you're an experienced educator or just starting your journey, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to embark on a successful career teaching English online.

Let's delve into the key aspects of being an ESL teacher and teaching English online.

ESL Meaning

If you're wondering, "What is ESL?" or "What is ESOL meaning?" – we’ve got answers for you!

ESL stands for "English as a Second Language," and it refers to the teaching of English to individuals who are not native English speakers, helping them improve their language skills.

ESOL stands for "English for Speakers of Other Languages" and is essentially the same thing as ESL.


To become an online English teacher, you may wonder about the prerequisites. Here are some essential considerations:


Many online teaching platforms require their instructors to hold a bachelor's degree in any field. This requirement is often in place to ensure a minimum level of educational attainment and may be related to visa regulations in some countries.

The reasons behind these requirements can vary. Some companies believe that having a degree demonstrates a certain level of commitment and discipline, and it can be beneficial for online educators. Additionally, in some countries, visa regulations may stipulate that foreign teachers must hold a degree to work legally.

However, it's worth mentioning that not all online teaching platforms have this requirement. Some companies prioritize other factors, such as teaching ability, language proficiency, and experience, over formal degrees. So, if you don't have a bachelor's degree, don't be discouraged; there are still opportunities available in the online teaching world.

Some companies we recommend that do not require a degree include:


While being a native English speaker can be an advantage, it's not always a strict requirement. Many online teaching platforms accept non-native English speakers who demonstrate proficiency in the language. Your ability to teach effectively and communicate clearly is often more important than your native status.

Companies that hire fluent, non-native English teachers include:

A male teacher teaches English online using math as the topic.

You don’t have to have a teaching certificate to teach English online. Photo by Vanessa Garcia.


Having a teaching certificate, such as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), can enhance your qualifications and job prospects.

Having a provincial or state teaching license, a Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA), or a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) also helps your chances.

However, the industry standard at the moment is a 120-hour TESOL or TEFL certificate.

(By the way, we offer a fully-online, 120-hour TESOL certificate that can be done at your own pace—no need to attend classes. Get it here for only $20.)

Some employers may require or prefer candidates with these certifications, but some companies do not.

Companies not requiring a teaching certificate include:


Teaching experience is a valuable asset, but it's not always mandatory. Some online teaching platforms welcome newcomers, especially if they possess the right qualifications and enthusiasm for teaching. Highlight any relevant experience you have when applying for online teaching positions.

ESL Teacher Salary

Now that you're aware of the requirements, let's talk about one of the most critical aspects: salary. The income of an ESL teacher can vary depending on several factors, including your qualifications, experience, and the platform you work for.

While salaries can differ significantly, online English teachers typically earn competitive wages. On average, you can expect to earn between $10 to $30 per hour. Highly experienced and qualified teachers may command even higher rates.

It's also important to note that if you teach on a teaching marketplace (like Preply, Outschool, or Allschool) you can set your own rate based on your expertise and the demand for your services.

Some platforms also offer bonuses and incentives based on performance.

Generally, the more of these boxes you tick off, the higher your salary will be:

  1. being a native English speaker,

  2. holding a bachelor’s degree,

  3. holding a teaching certificate,

  4. and having teaching experience.

Working Hours and Flexibility

Online English teaching offers flexibility in terms of working hours. You can choose to work part-time or full-time, and you have the freedom to set your schedule based on your availability and preferences. This flexibility is one of the key attractions of teaching English online.

One of the common questions we get from applications is “Do I have to commit to a minimum number of hours?” The answer is, for most companies, no!

Companies that do not require a minimum number of hourse from their teachers, include:

  1. Cambly

  2. Preply

  3. Twenix

Teaching English online is a very flexible work from home option. Photo by Antoni Shkraba.


Planning well-structured lessons is fundamental to successful online teaching. However, the best part about online English teaching is that the vast majority of comanies provide you with curriculum and lesson plans!

Of course, you’ll want to quickly familiarize yourself with what you are going to teach before class, but there’s no need to spend hours coming up with material.

However, if you decide to be an independent tutor, you may want to develop a syllabus or curriculum that aligns with your teaching style and students' goals and learning objectives.

Organize your lessons to include clear learning outcomes and engaging activities.

How old are the students?

As an online English teacher, you may encounter students of various age groups, ranging from young children to adults. Each age group has its unique learning needs and challenges. Understanding how to adapt your teaching approach to different age groups is essential for success.

Some companies that primariy have young students include:

  1. PalFish

  2. Cambly Kids

Companies that have adult students, include:

  1. Twenix

  2. Cambly

Preply has students of all ages on its platform.

What equipment do I need?


Online teaching relies on technology, so it's essential to have the necessary equipment. Ensure you have a stable internet connection, a computer or tablet with video and audio capabilities, and any specific software or tools required by your chosen teaching platform.


The best part about teaching English online is that most of the materials and resources are contained in the interactive elements of a company’s teaching platform.

That being said, if you are teaching children, there are a few basics you might want to have.

Where can I find online teaching jobs?

If you’re looking for online teaching jobs you’ve come to the right place! But first, let’s look at the different types of jobs:

  • Online Teaching Platforms: Numerous reputable platforms, such as Twenix and PalFish, connect teachers with students from around the world. Online teaching platforms like these book classes on behalf of their teachers. There’s no need to market yourself. Generally, you follow a specific curriculum and teaching style when working on an online teaching platform that is set out by the company.

  • ESL Teaching Marketplaces: Another avenue to explore is ESL teaching marketplaces like Cambly, Preply, and Outschool. On these platforms, teachers create their profiles, market themselves, and set their own rates. This provides you with the flexibility to define your teaching style and pricing. These companies do not assign classes to their teachers. It is up to the teacher to create an alluring profile that will attract students or parents to book classes.

  • Language Schools: Some brick-and-mortar language schools have expanded their operations to include online teaching. Check with local language schools to see if they offer online opportunities. These jobs tend to be very similar to teaching on online teaching platforms.

  • General Freelancing Websites: Websites like Upwork and Freelancer occasionally list online teaching opportunities. Be sure to create a compelling profile that showcases your skills and experience.

  • Social Media and Networking: Join online communities and forums related to teaching English. These platforms often have job boards and networking opportunities that can lead to teaching gigs. If you’re interested in using social media (or other alternative ways) to become an online English teacher.

Now that you know what kinds of jobs are out there, why not see who’s currently hiring? Use our free, online Job Search Tool to match yourself with companies that are currently hiring teachers with your qualifications:

Teaching Methods and Strategies

Effective teaching methods and strategies are essential for engaging and motivating students in the online English learning environment. The approach you choose should be tailored to the age group you're teaching, whether it's children or adults.


Teaching English to children online requires a creative and interactive approach. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Use Visual Aids: Incorporate colorful visuals, flashcards, and pictures to make lessons visually appealing and help young learners understand new vocabulary.

  2. Interactive Games: Utilize online games and activities that are both educational and fun. Games like word searches, matching games, and interactive quizzes can keep children engaged.

  3. Storytelling: Children love stories. Use storytelling to introduce new concepts and vocabulary. Encourage them to create their stories or drawings related to the lesson.

  4. Songs and Rhymes: Incorporate songs and rhymes into your lessons. They help with pronunciation and make learning enjoyable. Sing-along activities can be a hit with kids.

  5. Shorter Lessons: Children have shorter attention spans, so keep lessons concise and engaging. Divide the content into smaller, manageable segments to maintain their focus.


Teaching English to adults online involves a more structured and goal-oriented approach. Here are some strategies for teaching adult learners:

  1. Real-Life Context: Adults often appreciate learning English that is applicable to their daily lives. Use real-life scenarios, such as workplace conversations or travel situations, to make the lessons relevant.

  2. Role-Playing: Encourage adults to engage in role-playing exercises. This allows them to practice conversational skills and gain confidence in using English in various situations.

  3. Discussion and Debate: Foster critical thinking and communication skills by organizing discussions and debates on relevant topics. This encourages adults to express their opinions and improve their fluency.

  4. Goal Setting: Work with adult learners to set clear language-learning goals. Whether it's passing an English proficiency exam, advancing in their careers, or traveling, tailoring lessons to their objectives enhances motivation.

  5. Correction and Feedback: Adults appreciate constructive feedback. Encourage them to speak and write freely, and provide feedback on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation to help them improve.

  6. Cultural Awareness: Acknowledge cultural differences and promote cultural sensitivity. Discussing cultural topics and customs can be an engaging way to learn while fostering respect for diversity.

Remember that flexibility is key when teaching both children and adults online. Adapt your teaching methods based on the unique needs and preferences of your students. By catering to their age group and individual goals, you can create a positive and effective learning experience for all.

Feedback and Evaluation

Providing regular feedback to your students is essential for their progress.

One great thing about teaching English online is that many companies have a built-in feedback form that can be quickly filled out after classes.

If you’re planning to teach on a teaching marketplace, or go totally independent, establish a system for assessments and evaluations. Don’t forget to communicate your expectations clearly. Constructive feedback helps students identify areas for improvement and stay motivated.

Cultural Sensitivity

Online English teachers often work with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Cultural sensitivity and awareness are essential to creating a respectful and inclusive learning environment. Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and open communication.

Legal and Tax Considerations

Online English teachers should be aware of legal and tax considerations in their respective countries. Depending on your location and the platform you work with, you may have tax responsibilities and regulations to follow. Consult with a tax professional or legal expert to ensure compliance.

Professional Development

Continuous learning and professional development are essential for online English teachers. Stay updated on the latest teaching methods, technology trends, and educational resources. Consider attending webinars, workshops, and conferences relevant to online education to enhance your skills and stay competitive in the field.

A student looks on as her teacher praises her efforts during an online class.

Connect with students from all over the world while teaching English online. Photo by Katerina Holmes.

Embrace the Opportunities of Online English Teaching

Teaching English online offers a world of opportunities for educators. With the right qualifications, a passion for teaching, and a commitment to your students' success, you can embark on a fulfilling and flexible career. From understanding the requirements and technology, to creating engaging lessons and exploring different teaching platforms, this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to kickstart your online teaching journey.

As you navigate this dynamic field, remember that every online teaching experience is a chance for growth and impact. Whether you choose to work with traditional platforms or explore ESL teaching marketplaces, your dedication to teaching English online can make a significant difference in the lives of your students worldwide.

So, are you ready to take the leap into the world of online English teaching? With the right qualifications, a passion for teaching, and a commitment to your students' success, you can make a profound impact while enjoying the benefits of a flexible and rewarding career.


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