The teaching English online industry is growing fast and could revolutionise the way we learn and teach English. There are obvious benefits: flexibility, being your own boss, cross-cultural communication.
However, starting off to teach English online can be quite daunting. You might feel a bit lost to begin with and even if you are set up and ready to teach you might find yourself sitting in front of the screen wondering where your students are going to come from! Here are our top tips on how to advertise as an online teacher and kick off your TEFL career.
Step one: Work for an online company
Why not consider working for an established company, especially if your teaching experience is limited and you are not a computer whizz. As you start to gain more experience and feel more confident using technology to teach, you can move away from contracting and start to set up your own business teaching English online. By starting off working for an online company you will gain valuable skills through on-the-job training, and the confidence to move on and go at it alone.
While there are plenty of small and medium size recruiters, big names to look out for in the online English teaching industry are Tutor ABC, Global English, Telelanguage and italki.
Top tip: TEFL Org UK graduates can find jobs teaching online through our TEFL Jobs Centre.
Step two: Networking
The importance of personal networks cannot be stressed enough when it comes to advertising as an online TEFL teacher. Creating a network with other TEFL teachers will prove invaluable as you get access to a vast quantity of excellent materials, resources and advice. Your personal network will also be a huge motivational factor. Collaborating with other teachers gives you a sense of support and commitment to achieving your goals when you see others achieving theirs!
To find other teachers, use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn. You will also need to be pro-active and put yourself out there. Make sure you are visible by commenting on posts, asking questions and sharing your own content. This will be the best way to start creating relationships.
Step three: Create a website
Having a well maintained website will be essential if you want to be a successful online TEFL teacher. Updating your website with blogs, pictures and videos will be important for your long term success as an online TEFL teacher and will be where all your marketing efforts will be centred. Maintaining an email list is also important for independent online teachers; sending out free content and engaging with subscribers will help you build up trust and is the best way to promote your services.
Top tip: You can use WordPress for simple website creation.
Step four: Create a brand and promote you.
You are not alone if the idea of putting yourself out there fills you with nerves. However, overcoming this fear is important. For students looking for an online teacher they will want to be able to connect with you before they sign up for lessons, so you need to put yourself out there.
Top tip: Consider specialising
Think about choosing a specialist area of teaching to give yourself a niche. Consider what your strengths are; think of your previous teaching experience and whether you have had the chance to develop your own teaching style; as well as the type of students you want to teach (which will also influence how much you can earn). For example, you might want to teach adult learners business English, if so we recommend taking our teaching business English course.
Step five: Move out of your comfort zone!
If you want to set yourself up teaching English online be prepared to venture out of your comfort zone. It is likely you will be faced with all sorts of new challenges such as learning how to use video editing software, creating and managing a website, delivering webinars to people across multiple time zones, and managing a complex calendar while keeping connected to other teachers.
Once you have started, you will see your business start to snowball. As you begin to establish an online reputation, student referrals will make your numbers grow.
Don’t forget to get qualified
Most TEFL jobs require at least 120 hours of TEFL training. If you are thinking about teaching online we also recommend taking our advanced TEFL course: teaching English online. This course is designed to teach you everything you need to know to get you started in teaching English online. It includes information on online tools and how to utilise them, teaching effectively online, online learning environments, activities for working online and how to adapt materials to use them while teaching online. It gives you an in-depth understanding of how to transfer the TEFL skills you already have to communicate and teach effectively online.
Teaching English online is a great opportunity for qualified ESL teachers to break down geographical restrictions and benefits teachers and students alike by being a flexible and cost efficient way to teach English as a foreign language.