The landscape of employment has been evolving in the last few years. To keep up with these changes, individuals have learnt to adapt to diverse work environments, with some embracing hybrid models and others advocating for full-time work-from-home arrangements. This shift has led many to establish boundaries, balancing personal and professional lives within their physical spaces and enjoying newfound flexibility.
The craze behind remote work: why?
One of the main reasons for pursuing a remote position is the opportunity to travel while earning. However, the concept of wanderlust, associated with a desire to explore the world, goes beyond escapism—it reflects the human need for new experiences and self-discovery. In the current era, people are prioritizing well-being, acting on their needs, and making transformative changes in various aspects of their lives. This introspection has given rise to unexpected talents, passions, and even a new breed of professionals—digital nomads—who finance global adventures through remote work, often enabled by digital nomad visas.
Others might choose to work remotely in an attempt at finding higher earnings, lighter workloads, or simply a change of scenery. Among the popular ways to break free from traditional employment, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) stands out, attracting individuals who desire both personal and professional improvement.
Teaching English online: the advantages
Teaching English online offers a myriad of advantages for new or seasoned educators seeking a fresh challenge:
- Make your skills work for you. Exploiting your unique talents and transferable skills, teachers can navigate the dynamic landscape of online TEFL successfully. With an innate ability to think on their feet, educators adapt to unpredictable classroom situations, creating effective and engaging lessons tailored to diverse learner needs.
- Don’t settle for ‘groundhog day’. TEFL can offer such a variety of experiences that your job will never feel repetitive. Recognizing the importance of personalized instruction, teachers nurture individual growth by addressing students’ unique traits and learning preferences.
- Feed your learning bug. Fueled by a perpetual ‘learning bug,’ teachers commit to continuous self-improvement, staying abreast of the latest educational methodologies and embracing technological advancements.
- Enjoy your freedom of choice. The flexibility of online teaching allows both educators and students to proceed at their own pace, with options for live or pre-recorded lessons, eliminating the need for a rigid schedule. Teachers have the opportunity to choose who and what to teach, including proficiency levels, age groups, and subject matter.
- Rethink your idea of work. Thanks to technology, remote teaching and learning are accessible to anyone with the right device and internet connection, transcending geographical barriers. Online learning, enriched by engaging applications, is cost-effective, making it a compelling choice for students compared to in-person courses.
Whether you choose to teach from a home office, embark on global adventures, or find a middle ground between travel and stability, the principles of online teaching remain consistent. If you are new to teaching English online or abroad, it is strongly recommended that you invest in a TEFL course. Not only will it increase your chances of getting hired, but it will also give you the tools necessary to start teaching with confidence.
How long does it take get a TEFL certificate? That depends on the type of course you choose. The intensive course is four weeks long, but there are other options – online and in-person – that are spread out over a couple of months.
Choosing the right course for you is very important for the success of the outcome, so take your time to search which option is best for you.
Online teaching setup
In the realm of online TEFL teaching, your technological setup serves as the backbone of your livelihood. Investing in basic, reliable equipment is paramount, with your pc/laptop being the cornerstone of your business. Ensure your software is equipped with the latest free updates, and utilize the built-in camera and mic for good-quality lesson delivery. You can always upgrade your tech at a later stage. Beyond hardware, a robust internet connection is indispensable; consider upgrading or changing providers if necessary, especially when teaching from home.
As well as your equipment, the environment from which you deliver your lessons can have a huge impact on your teaching. Whether in a permanent setting or while travelling, designate a specific, quiet, and well-lit area for your screen time. For those on the go, choosing accommodations wisely is crucial; hostels may be cost-effective but lack privacy – it’s worth spending a little more on Airbnb during teaching days. Elevate your online teaching space with background props tailored to your lesson type—be it language-related posters for a professional look or a phonemic chart for pronunciation classes, ensuring your setup reflects your niche and enhances the learning experience.
Get into online TEFL
Embarking on a career in online TEFL presents two distinct pathways, either as an independent freelancer or through collaboration with established online educational institutions.
Opting for solo entrepreneurship grants maximum independence but requires more than teaching proficiency—legal comprehension and marketing acumen are essential. Tasks such as setting up a website, selecting a teaching platform, and drafting contracts demand meticulous planning. Furthermore, the all-important (and time-consuming) social media presence becomes crucial for showcasing your teaching skills and attracting students.
On the other hand, partnering with well-established online schools offers a different route.
These institutions handle operational aspects like student acquisition, scheduling, and payment management, allowing teachers to focus solely on delivering lessons through the institution’s online platform. This collaboration provides flexibility in choosing working hours, locations, and monthly workloads, with the added advantage of receiving teaching assistance, access to instructional materials, and pre-designed lesson plans, enhancing overall instructional efficacy.
About teaching platforms
There is a wide range of platforms for those who aspire to teach English online, offering diverse opportunities tailored to varying preferences and goals, such as Lingoda, Cambly, Open English and iTalki, among many others.
These platforms connect teachers with students globally, allowing for personalized one-on-one or group lessons. Cambly, for example, offers conversational English lessons, fostering informal language practice, while iTalki serves as a marketplace connecting language learners with freelance teachers. Other platforms, like Preply and SkimaTalk, enable teachers to set their own rates and curriculum, catering to a broader international audience.
Additionally, many established language schools, such as EF Education First and Berlitz, have embraced the online teaching model, providing a reliable platform for educators. The key is to explore and choose a platform aligned with your teaching style, target audience, and desired level of flexibility.
One final thought
There’s no good or bad option here: the choice between solo entrepreneurship and collaboration with established platforms is entirely up to you. It depends on your aspirations, requirements, and levels of support needed. It’s worth keeping in mind that every platform has specific requirements, so you should always do your own research to find out which platform works best for you before committing.