Teaching ESL Online; A quick guide to getting started

Welcome! I imagine you found this page because you are interested in teaching English or perhaps another language online. We have designed this quick guide to give you some easy tips for getting started.

There is no question that there is a high demand for teachers that are native English speakers from countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But wait! If you are a non-native English speaker, there are options for you too. Many schools see the value in non-native English speakers in the online ESL market.

Before you start looking, let's get ready.

  • Freshen up that résumé

    There are a vast sea of eager online ESL teachers. Make yourself stand apart with an updated resume to show off your skills!

  • Intro Video & Audio

    Many online schools are now asking for both a video introduction and an audio introduction. Get ahead of the game by creating this before you begin your job search.

  • Set up your classroom

    Any school you apply to will ask you to conduct a demo lesson. Set yourself up for success by creating your virtual classroom ahead of time. Set your intentions!

  • Find your schools

    There are so many schools to choose from. It is a good idea to narrow your search. Determine your ideal school and start finding schools that fit your needs.

The Basics

  • Have a PC or MAC with high speed and reliable internet connection, along with headset, webcam and mic. Some schools use a tablet and smartphone. See the equipment check list here.
  • A Bachelor’s degree is often required, but there are also some opportunities for college students and no degree
  • Can accept payment through Payoneer, bank wiring/transfer, or Paypal.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Any Previous classroom or online teaching experience.
  • Previous ESL experience.
  • Earned a teaching certificate or a university degree. TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification. Get a list of schools here.

The Cherry on top!

  • Able and willing to work odd hours or on the weekends. Of course, this depends on where you live and where your students are from. Students from China compose the majority of the student body and peak hours during 6pm-9pm Beijing time
  • Are clean cut and have a professional look, which applies to the first impress in a resume profile, intro video, interview, and beyond!
  • Bilingual in another popular language, such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean or Chinese

Top Questions

Can I teach online without a degree?

YES!  You may have limited options and will likely receive slightly lower pay.  You can check out a list of schools here.

There are also schools that will make some exceptions and hire you if:

  1. You are currently enrolled in a BA program.
  2. You have a 2-yr degree
  3. You have equivalent experience.

Does it matter what my degree is in ?

No. Most schools just want you to show that you have completed a 4yr(BA) degree in any field.  However, there are schools who may give preference to those with a degree centered around education, ESOL, TESOL, etc.

Is it possible to begin teaching ESL online without prior teaching experience

Yes, many online platforms do not require their teacher to have teaching experience, but we recommend you to get an English teaching certificate TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA to wide your job opportunities and boost your salary

Do any schools hire NNES(Non-Native English Speaskers)?

Yes! There are many. There are several schools hiring English teachers that do not require you to be a native English speaker, furthermore, there are schools that teach other languages. It is worthwhile to investigate the possibility of teaching your native language, or look for a school that is looking for bilingual teachers in your native language to teach English. Here is a listing of schools that hire NNES

What equipment do I need to get started?

You are teaching online, so having a decent PC or MAC is a must! You will also want to consider investing ahead of time in a good webcam and full headset.  Check out the list below:

Equipment Check List

  • A Computer – A computer purchased within the last 5 years should suffice, however, you will want to check the specs for each company.
  • Webcam – able to shoot HD video (1080 or 720HD)
  • Headset with built-in mic(recommended, you can use PC mic, but your might hear a lot of backgroud noise and echo)
  • Good Internet speed – Typically minimal 5 MB per sec uploading and downloading. You are excellent shape if you have over 20 MB per sec speed.
  • Good lighting.  If you are teaching odd hours, you want to ensure you have good lighting.  You students need to be able to see you clearly!