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How To Teach English Online And Get Money

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 17 minute read

The Internet has made it possible for more people than ever to work from home or launch a side business. If you already have a full or even part-time job, finding the time to take on a second gig can be challenging. You need a high-paying side hustle if you want to dramatically increase your income to pay down debt or launch an investment portfolio.

You can start a flexible and rewarding second career teaching English online without leaving your house. Demand for instruction from native English speakers is extremely high.

The online language education market in China is expected to grow to $77.39 billion by 2022, according to a 2018 analysis by iResearch. The potential for online English education to be lucrative is enormous around the world.

Here is all the information you need to get started making money as a natural English speaker by tutoring students from across the world who are trying to learn your language.

Online English Teaching Requirements

Dozens of businesses today seek out native English speakers to provide online English lessons to students who are willing to pay a fee. Hourly rates, bonus structures, expectations, and onboarding procedures vary from one firm to the next. But there are a few standards that must be met by everyone in the business.

The Degree vs. No Degree

There are online tutoring organizations that pay well, but only if their instructors have a bachelor’s degree or above. It makes no difference what field you major in. While a degree is typically required to teach English online, there are several exceptions to this norm. With a degree, though, your employment options will be more diverse.

Mandatory Certifications

The Chinese market is saturated with online English-learning businesses. The Chinese government’s education ministry has established regulations for virtual classrooms.

Online education in China may become more difficult to teach in the future due to plans by the Ministry of Education to enhance restrictions and maybe limit the number of time students spend learning online.

Previously, Chinese internet teachers could just be native speakers and not worry about getting a license. Teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) or English as a foreign language (TEFL) are now required to be certified to instruct students online.

There is, however, a bright side. Obtaining certification opens doors to better-paying jobs and a wider variety of potential employers. Online TESOL and TEFL courses can be found on cheap websites like Groupon. These classes often cost less than $100.

VIPKid, like some other tutoring services, hires instructors who are not TESOL certified but provide them with the necessary training as part of the hiring process. There’s always the option of finding pupils outside of China to instruct, though.

Technical Requirements & Skills

There is no certainty that being a native English speaker would help you find work teaching English online. Flexible and potentially lucrative, online coaching requires a certain level of technical knowledge and proficiency.

This is essential technology:

  • Stable connection to the web. If you have a reliable Internet connection, you can teach from anywhere in the globe.
    One or more Computers. The vast majority of ESL academies mandate that their tutors have access to a laptop or desktop computer in order to participate in online classes. Except for app-based enterprises like PalFish, using a smartphone at work is a rarity.
  • An in-ear microphone headset. Using a device with a microphone built into it while in the classroom is frowned upon by most schools. The good news is that there are a number of low-priced headset microphones that are suitable for online coachings, such as the Cyber Acoustics USB headset or the Plantronics foldable headset.

It also helps to have certain qualities if you want to get hired by an online ESL company:

  • This is a really light room. It makes no difference whether you are a teacher who travels from place to place or one who stays there. It is critical to have a well-lit space to teach from.
  • Aids to Instruction. Many businesses do not insist on the use of props. However, using educational props like gold stars to virtually signal the right answers to reward kids is a great way to improve the quality of your teaching and keep young pupils interested.
  • Tools for making videos. Possessing the resources to produce interesting and instructive videos is a huge boon for ESL businesses.
  • Positive demeanor. Since the vast majority of students are younger, it’s especially important to strike a kind and approachable tone. It is a plus if you have previous experience dealing with children. In addition, several tutoring services use a simulation interview to gauge candidates’ potential as educators as part of the selection process.

Salary Levels

Due to the prerequisites and enrollment process, online English teaching is a more time-consuming option than other sorts of part-time work. An additional life-altering choice is taking on an ESL tutoring position. There are a lot of schools that demand their teachers commit to a set schedule or work a certain amount of hours per week with their students.

Full-time online ESL teachers can expect to make around $36,800 annually, as reported by Glassdoor. The hourly rates charged by well-known tutoring services are also listed on Glassdoor. Popular organizations like VIPKid pay between $17 and $21 per hour, depending on experience and bonuses, while SayABC pays between $16 and $22 per hour.

According to Magic Ears, their tutors can make up to $26 per hour. Work hours are determined by each individual company. VIPKid, for one, suggests that tutors be accessible for at least 7.5 hours each week. That might add an additional $510 to $630 to your monthly income, depending on your hourly wage.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online English Teaching

While having the chance to teach English online is incredibly exciting, it also involves a big time commitment. Think carefully about the industry’s pros and cons before investing heavily.

Advantages

Teaching English as a second language online is a highly sought-after profession and for good reason. It is hard to find a side gig that allows as much flexibility and pays as ESL coaching.

A few of the main advantages of this sector are:

  1. Acceptable for a Second Job. The vast majority of online English language learners originate in China. North American educators schedule early morning lessons to avoid Beijing’s busiest periods. This timetable is tough, yet it doesn’t conflict with the typical workweek or weekend activities. Teachers can earn money while on a summer holiday by instructing English students online.
  2. Excellent Compensation. Online ESL instruction averages $18 per hour, which is higher than the minimum wage in every U.S. state.
  3. Absolute Autonomy. Provided you have the necessary equipment, you can do your job from just about any place so long as it’s comfortable and well-lit.
  4. Possibility of Working Full-Time Hours. Working full-time becomes more feasible as you develop your teaching skills and establish connections with parents and pupils. As a beginner, you probably won’t be able to clock 40 hours of work. However, most organizations do not cap the number of courses you can be responsible for instructing, allowing for professional development.

Disadvantages

You need more than just fluency in the language to succeed as an online English as a Second Language instructor. Numerous qualifications are needed, and the entry threshold is quite high, because of the nature and scope of the responsibilities inherent in this position.

Among the most significant problems with this sector are:

  1. Random Timing. If you’re looking for a second career or are a morning person, the unusual hours could work to your advantage. In North America, peak teaching hours are between 3 and 6 a.m., so you’ll need to be able to adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.
  2. Protracted Period of Getting Acquainted With the Company. Barriers to admission include the need for specific education and experience, such as a bachelor’s degree or a TEFL certificate. In addition, it can take more than a month to complete the onboarding process, which includes at least one interview, at the best education firms. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is not a good option if you’re searching for quick cash.
  3. Legally Binding Commitments. Some businesses, including VIPKid and Magic Ears, have a 6-month contract stipulation for new recruits. Teachers are also expected to give advance notification of any vacation plans they may have during the course of their employment.
  4. Work with Children Requires a Relaxed Demeanor. Individuals with a positive attitude and lots of energy who are good with kids are in high demand by online ESL businesses. You need to be willing to offer your whole concentration to sessions at 4 in the morning if you want to find steady work as an online English instructor.

Top Companies to Work For in Online English Teaching

It is better financially and professionally to work for a well-known ESL instruction company rather than a local one. Companies vary in their requirements for teachers, but the better ones provide more hours per week, pay more per hour, and have a more efficient system for instructing pupils.

VIPKid

  • The minimum educational qualification for a teaching position is a bachelor’s degree. As part of the hiring process, VIPKid offers TESOL certification to prospective employees.
  • The duration of VIPKid lessons is 30 minutes. The majority of that time (25 minutes) is spent actually instructing students, while the remaining five minutes are used to access the classroom management system and provide feedback.
  • Teacher salaries, as reported on Glassdoor, range from $17 to $22 per hour. The starting wage rate is between $7 and $9 for each lesson, with a potential hourly rate of $18 before bonuses.
  • You might make anywhere from $15.60 to $24.40 an hour, depending on the number of classes you teach and the size of your bonus ($0.80 to $3.20 an hour). The more VIPKid classes you teach each month and over time, the more money you make.
  • Your per-class reward is most likely to fall between $1.20 and $1.80 if you teach between 21 and 90 lessons every month. If you teach less than 20 hours per month, you will only be paid $0.80 per class.
  • In order to make ends meet, VIPKid recommends taking reservations for at least 7.5 hours each week. With VIPKid, instructors are not penalized if they have a reduced schedule. It takes time to build a constant flow of students, and off-peak bookings can hurt your occupancy rate.
  • Six-month term of the employment agreement.
  • Difference #1 VIPKid is China’s largest online education provider, meaning it serves the country’s largest student population and offers the most available jobs.

VIPKid, founded in 2014, is China’s leading provider of online language instruction. They’ve grown to employ over 70,000 educators at this point. The company pairs native English speakers from North America with Chinese kids in grades k-9.

For their educators, VIPKid develops individualized lesson plans. Lessons are presented in an eye-catching slideshow style common to many online learning platforms. Teachers are relied upon to organize their own time and make the most of the provided resources in the classroom.

The company provides competitive pay and benefits to its educators.

First Education Fund

  • TEFL certification and a bachelor’s degree are prerequisites for teachers.
  • Chinese ESL students in EF Education First lessons get 25-minute sessions.
  • Averaging $17.50 per hour, EF Education First teachers are paid, according to more than 100,000 Indeed compensation ratings. The hourly base wage is $13.20.
  • If you give 60 or more lessons in a month, you’ll be eligible for a $2.30 per-lesson bonus. If you don’t cancel any classes within 24 hours for that month, you can earn an extra $3 for each session. Finally, get paid $1.50 for each lesson you teach at peak times. Weekday surge times are from 6 to 8:30 am EDT, and weekend surge times are from 9 to 10:30 pm EDT.
  • No predetermined quantity of labor is expected of you.
  • Six-month agreement period.
  • One of the top online ESL teaching opportunities for the U.K. is offered by EF. residents.

With over 32,000 staff and educators in over 140 countries, EF Education First truly is a global enterprise. The organization’s stores can be found in more than 54 countries.

Educators can still find many online resources available from EF Education First. Anybody who can speak and write in English fluently, whether they were born in the United States or the United Kingdom, is welcome to apply. Since the vast majority of students are from China, it is crucial to account for their time zone.

The duration of each private lesson is 25 minutes. For their educators, EF Education First also offers a curriculum.

In comparison to other choices, this is among the top choices for someone living in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, EF Education First is still a good investment for Americans trying to make the most of their workweek. There are several reasons to select EF other than time zone differences.

Qkids

  • Instructors are expected to have a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certification.
  • A typical Qkid lesson lasts for half an hour. All classroom technology must be checked by teachers three minutes before the start of class.
  • The starting rate for full classes is $8. But bonuses significantly supplement hourly earnings. On average, teachers earn $17 per hour, according to salary information posted on Glassdoor.
  • Teachers have the chance to earn a monetary incentive of up to $1 per lesson, determined by the ratings given to them by their student’s families. Once they’ve taught 15 classes in a week, they’re also eligible for a $1 attendance incentive for every lesson. Teachers can also earn $100 by referring a colleague to Qkids.
  • Qkids require at least six hours of work every week (12 classes).
  • Six-month agreement period.
  • Differentiating factors include a one-of-a-kind curriculum and a rewarding word-of-mouth scheme.

Qkids, which launched in 2015, has rapidly become China’s most popular digital learning environment for kids. Chinese pupils ages 4 to 12 are taught by American and Canadian educators. The Qkids lessons, however, are what set this service apart.

In order to teach children, Qkids makes use of story-driven video games. Qkids provides a more interactive learning environment than static online learning platforms while negating the need for lesson planning on the part of educators.

Teachers who are used to working with individual students will need to adjust to working with bigger groups of students since Qkids enables up to four students per class.

Comparable to organizations like VIPKid in terms of requirements and salary (after bonuses). But many online English tutors say Qkids stands out because of one crucial difference.

Cambly

  • In terms of educational background, neither a degree nor TEFL certification is necessary.
  • Talk times in class are flexible and based on the requirements and schedules of the individual students.
  • Adult classes on Cambly pay $0.17 per minute (or $10.20 per hour), while child courses price $0.20 per minute (or $12 per hour).
  • Bonuses are not available at Cambly, according to the review of compensation policies.
  • No minimum hours of work are required.
  • Zero-month contracts are available.
  • Unlike traditional ESL teaching positions, teaching on Cambly is not tied down by a contract, giving you more freedom in your schedule.

When compared to other online education organizations, Cambly’s low entry barrier makes it a more casual teaching platform. Students of English from all around the world can use Cambly to have talks with native English speakers and boost their elementary language abilities. 

Each minute of student-to-student chatting on Cambly costs money. Cambly is not limited to just educators in North America and Chinese students, unlike many other platforms. The positions are open to all native English speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. 

Likewise, Cambly is available to anyone, wherever in the world who wants to better their command of the English language. Cambly is unlike other online learning management systems in a number of respects due to its more casual tone.

SayABC

  • A bachelor’s degree and TEFL certification are preferred but not essential.
  • Lessons in SayABC last for a total of 40 minutes.
  • A 40-minute class is paid at a rate of $13 per hour. Glassdoor estimates that SayABC instructors make between $16 and $18 per hour.
  • There is a potential $4 attendance award for teachers when they have taught nine consecutive classes with no absentees. A $7 bonus is given for emergency courses.
  • There is also an $8 bonus for each student who signs up for extra lessons after taking a trial class.
  • Tasks Teachers of free demo classes have the flexibility to schedule lessons at their convenience with only a day’s notice. For the most part, teachers of large classes commit to five-week schedules so that they can keep working with the same pupils.
  • A three-month agreement has been reached.
  • SayABC stands out from other ESL instruction providers since its contracts are shorter. The flexibility of timetables is yet another advantage of trial instruction.

SayABC may be owned by VIPKid, but it provides a fantastic opportunity for educators seeking part-time or flexible work. Classes at SayABC are limited to no more than four students and employ lesson modules with a National Geographic focus. 

However, the most noticeable distinction is the established social order. SayABC’s primary course selections are major, trial, and emergency. 

Only committed, long-term students should attempt major coursework. Potential SayABC students can attend a free trial class to see if they like the format. In the event of a last-minute class cancellation, teachers have the option of teaching emergency classes.

Teachers in major classes typically see their students twice weekly, giving them more opportunities to get to know each student and fostering a sense of trust. VIPKid is SayABC’s parent firm, and the two share certain similarities as well as some distinctions.

GoGoKid

  • Teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification.
    One-on-one sessions go for 25 minutes in length.
  • Teachers make an average of $23.44 an hour, as reported by Indeed. According to GoGoKid, teachers are paid anywhere from $14 to $25 per hour, though the exact scale is unclear. Pay ranges from $7 to $10 for each lesson, with the lower end reflecting less experience and the higher end reflecting more education and experience. If a teacher earns enough credits, they can receive a salary that is 125% of their starting salary.
  • Only through accruing credits may your hourly wage be increased, up to a maximum of $25. There is a 100-credit base salary for teachers, and they can increase their salary by teaching more lessons or getting more 5-star parent reviews. When teachers are late, cancel lessons, or don’t show up for lessons altogether, they receive fewer points. 
  • To receive the maximum 125% increase in base salary, teachers need to earn 100 credits.
  • Teachers are responsible for determining their own work schedules.
  • Six-month duration of the contract.
  • The main difference is that GoGoKid is a relatively new player in the market, and some Reddit users have complained about a high rate of class cancellations and technical difficulties with the platform.

GoGoKid is yet another online learning platform headquartered in China to recruit speakers of English from the Americas. Participants in GoGoKid range in age from kindergarten to sixth grade. Similar to VIPKid, the curriculum is managed by the corporation, and all teachers have to do is help their kids learn.

GoGoKid is comparable to VIPKid in a number of respects. Teachers are paid around the same amount for their one-on-one lessons. To fill their calendars, several educators work for both organizations. GoGoKid, however, has less openness and more potential dangers at the moment.

Magic Ears

  • Teachers need to have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification at the very least.
  • Magic Ears lessons go for a total of 25 minutes.
  • Glassdoor reports that the average hourly wage for a Magic Ears instructor is between $18 and $25. According to Magic Ears, hourly starting wages might be as high as $26.
  • For further information on possible bonuses, Magic Ears suggests that educators get in touch with the company. Referring now educators might earn you up to $95.
  • Teachers have flexibility in their work hours. To enhance your chances of getting booked, Magic Ears suggests working during peak periods and reserving at least 10 sessions per week.
  • Six-month agreement period.
  • The main distinction is that teachers who have both a lot of experience teaching ESL and a degree in education might earn a higher starting salary. 
  • Earnings of up to $26 per hour are feasible, thanks to opportunities for raises in both base salary and bonus potential. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is not the norm for Magic Ears instructors.

Teachers from the United States and Canada are hired by Magic Ears to work with children aged 4 to 12. As far as I’m aware, Magic Ears is one of the highest-paying companies in the sector, with teachers earning up to $26 per hour.

Lessons on Magic Ears last for 25 minutes, and users are only expected to put forth a little amount of effort. There is no contractual commitment to teaching a specific number of hours per week at Magic Ears, and teachers are not penalized monetarily if they provide more than 24 hour’s notice for a cancellation.

That’s why Magic Ears is a great tool for adaptable educators like myself. Magic Ears has a more intricate compensation structure than other tutoring services. The number of online ESL lessons a teacher has taught for Chinese students is a determinant in their starting salary, as is the teacher’s tenure with any given online ESL tutoring organization.

The rating also takes into account whether or not a teacher has a graduate degree in education or a second language. There isn’t a lot of clarity in Magic Ears regarding what is needed to get the best possible base rate. 

Before, the greatest starting salary required either over a thousand hours of online ESL instruction with a Chinese firm or a degree in language or education. It’s easy to compare Magic Ears to other online ESL teaching platforms like VIPKid or GoGoGuru. 

To take advantage of the compensation scale, however, prospective educators should have either extensive experience teaching English to speakers of other languages online or a degree in linguistics and pedagogy.

Italki

  • Professional educators are expected to have degrees and can attest to their knowledge of the subject matter or their fluency in the target language. Tutors in the community can simply be fluent speakers of the language they teach.
  • Lessons might be 30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes long, depending on the instructor and the schedules of the students.
  • Teachers on Italki are paid to range from $12 to $19 per hour, according to evaluations on the salary site Glassdoor. Due to market competition, not all Italki teachers will be successful. All payments made through Italki are subject to a 15% service fee.
  • Italki does not offer any sort of bonus program at this time.
  • Teachers have flexibility in their work hours.
  • The length of the contract is indefinite because there is none.
  • The main distinction is that successful educators can draw large numbers of students and secure consistent employment, whereas those just entering the field must set steep rates in order to compete.

Italki is an online platform for studying languages, including English, in dozens of other tongues as well. Currently, it has over 10,000 instructors and caters to students aged 18 and up for private lessons.

Teachers on Italki are responsible for creating their own lesson plans and determining their own fees, which sets them apart from other online education platforms. However, a fifteen percent service fee is deducted from each transaction by Italki.

There are two distinct kinds of educators. Expert educators are responsible for instructing students and have completed extensive training and preparation in their field.

Community-based educators primarily focus on fostering students’ spoken communication skills. Fees for private and volunteer educators are priced differently. Italki’s market is also a tumultuous site.  There are English teachers all around the world, and their hourly rates vary from $8 to $36. 

However, salaries might range from $20 to $50 per hour. Teachers on Italki may see their students’ star ratings and the number of lessons they’ve taught on their profiles, so maintaining a good rapport with their students is essential if they want to increase their hourly pay.

If the flexibility in class duration and rate-setting that Italki offers interests you, and if setting your own prices is important to you, then you should consider teaching on their platform.

Bottom Line

Online English teaching is a highly lucrative option for anyone seeking to work independently. The advantages of working as an online ESL instructor include a high starting salary, bonus opportunities, and the freedom to work early in the morning before going to the office or on your own time.

However, in order to be effective, this supplementary activity demands time and effort. The extensive interview procedure and the need for a degree or certification are major roadblocks. It’s not a skill you can pick up overnight to start making money as an online English instructor.

However, if you are prepared to put in the time and effort to develop your teaching abilities and practice for the interview, teaching English online can be a lucrative career choice. In addition, working with young learners of English around the world is gratifying.

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