How to Teach English Online – The Definitive Guide

Teaching online English can be a lucrative job opportunity for people who want to work from home, control their schedule and meet different people around the world virtually. There are close to 1.7 billion people trying to learn English right now, making online English teachers a.k.a ESL teachers (English as a Second Language) the most sought after work from home job in 2020.

With very few requirements to qualify for this job, you could make $16-$25/hour and earn a full-time income while working from home with just a laptop.

This job is perfect for all those who want to work from anywhere or busy mums who want to make extra money in their spare time. Both native and non-native speakers can teach English online and become part of this rapidly-growing field.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching English online, here’s a Definitive Guide to help you out.

The topics covered in this guide are –



Most companies want you to have a computer (desktop/laptop), high-speed internet, webcam and a good quality noise-cancelling headphones. There are companies that may ask you to do a tech check on your computer to make sure you adhere to their speed requirements. (Some have a minimum internet speed requirement of 10 Mbps). If you are unsure of your internet speed, you can check it here.

Some companies require that you also have a wired internet connection in addition to the Wi-Fi to ensure uninterrupted online classes. You must be familiar with video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype. If the company does not use these platforms, then they would have their own online learning software that you’d have to install in your computer.


The first and foremost requirement to teach English online is that you should possess an Internationally accredited TEFL/TESOL certificate. It is recommended to have at least a 120-hour certification from a reputable school. These courses are available online and are self-study and self-paced.

Most ESL companies don’t insist on prior experience, so this job is perfect for entry level job seekers who are looking to gain experience and enhance their resume.


There are different types of ESL certifications you can get. Some commonly used certifications are –

  • TEFL– Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is the most common certification that people get to land an online English teaching job.

  • TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is offered as a Masters or Doctoral degree by institutes. You will learn advanced teaching techniques and are expensive when compared to TEFL.

  • CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) is an intensive course offered by Cambridge University.


One can teach English online in various ways. Three common ways are –

  • Work for an English Tutoring Company

If you are just starting out as an ESL teacher, then this popular choice is probably the best for you. The recruitment process is easy and you can land a job quickly. The company handles everything from assigning students, lesson plans, software set-up, payment etc.

  • Offer teaching service through an online tutoring marketplace

You could also post and promote your teaching services on any online English tutoring marketplace. The marketplace facilitates interaction between you and potential students. They also process the payment after the teaching session is over. With this option, you have the freedom to set your own rates and hours.

  • Become a Freelance Online English Tutor

If you have the entrepreneurial streak in you, then you could choose to work for yourself. You could set up your own website, create course materials and promote your business. While this requires more time and dedication, it also gives you a higher earning potential.


1. What does an ESL teacher’s schedule look like?

Having a flexible schedule is one of the biggest perks of this job. Most companies let you choose your own schedule every week, with the freedom to work as many or as few hours as you desire.

Most of the companies are based in China, Taiwan or elsewhere in Asia. So the hours you work will be based on their time zone. This means that if you are teaching from the US, it can be very early or late.

2. Are online English teaching jobs legitimate?

To protect yourself from falling prey to online scams, you can do the following –

Check the company’s website. If the website looks professional, has its contact information and social media handles in place, then these are signs that the business is legit. You could also try connecting with them through social media and see if you get proper responses for your query.

Search the internet for company reviews – Before applying, read reviews and employee feedback. This will give you an idea about the company’s relationship with its employees, pay rates, and the company culture.

If you are signing a contract, please read the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line. Look for fine print and make sure you understand the agreement.

3. How much can I earn from this job?

Payment depends on factors such as the company you are applying to and your experience. Most ESL companies pay between $14 to $40 USD per hour. A lot of companies offer incentives and bonuses for booking extra hours, or receiving consistently high rating from students. Also, you can get referral income if you refer another teacher to the company.

4. I am new to online teaching. Is training provided?

Yes, you will be provided training on using online tools/platform to teach students. There is usually a team that’s dedicated to help you improve your online teaching by providing feedback and support.

5. Should I prepare my own teaching materials?

If you are working for a tutoring company, then good news is that all the lesson prep is done for you. All you have to do is prepare well for the class and add your unique teaching style! You could consider using props for your classes – a whiteboard, some stuffed toys and flash cards are great for online teaching!

Check out the latest Education job leads at Remote Global and apply for ESL teaching jobs today.

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