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How to Teach English Online

20th April 23

Teaching English Online is becoming more and more popular, as people are realising it provides a lot of freedom and flexibility. This type of TEFL gives you the opportunity work either full-time or part-time, as you can select your availability and either give yourself full-time hours or select only certain hours, to fit teaching around your existing schedule. It also enables you to work from the comfort of your own home or earn good money while you travel the world, and you won’t be tied to a certain contract length or country so you can decide where you teach from and how long you teach English online for.

Does this sound like a good fit for you? Check out the key things you’ll need to do to be able to teach English online below, to get started:

Get a TEFL qualification

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right qualification to be able to teach English online. This means a TEFL qualification. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, so a TEFL course will provide you with all the training you need to teach English to non-native English speakers online.

You will need to make sure, however, that it’s from a reputable and accredited provider, as there are lots of TEFL courses out there, but not many are regulated and accredited. If you want your qualification to be accepted by online employers, you’ll need to make sure your qualification is. You can relax though, our TEFL Courses are fully regulated by Ofqual (associated with the UK Government), and recognised by employers across the world. So, your search is over! These courses will qualify you for online teaching jobs, and you won’t need a degree or any previous teaching experience to enrol. You just need high fluency in English and a reliable internet connection to access the course material.

Our Level 5 Advanced TEFL Diploma plus Online Teaching Practice is perfect for online roles. It covers all the essentials of TEFL, with the added bonus of some specialist training courses. These include:

  • Teaching One-to-One and Online
  • Teaching Business English
  • Teaching IELTS

Teaching Business English and Teaching IELTS will be especially useful for any adult students you might have, as work or study-related English is usually their motivation for wanting to learn. These are also lucrative areas of TEFL, so will mean that you can establish higher rates when you teach English online.

The Teaching One-to-One and Online training course will help for obvious reasons, but also because it takes you through how to lesson plan and fill out the time when you only have one student. Online classes are often one-to-one and planning enough activities and content to keep your student engaged and motivated for the entire lesson can be difficult, unless you know how!

The inclusion of an online teaching practice session will also help you to feel as prepared as possible for your first online class. It gives you the opportunity to put your newly developed skills to the test in a safe environment, with a highly experienced tutor.

How to teach English online

Make sure you have the right equipment

Before you start to teach English online, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment for your lessons. This includes:

  • A laptop/desktop: Some companies may let you teach via your smartphone, but if you want to appeal to the majority of employers, and make it easier for you to teach, we’d recommend investing in a laptop or desktop computer.
  • A webcam: Most laptops and PC have built-in webcams that you can use, just make sure the video quality is good enough and that your students to be able to see you properly. This is especially important if you intend to use props or flashcards in your lessons.
  • A reliable internet connection: You’ll need a minimum of 10mbps download speed and 2mbps upload speed, to ensure there aren’t any delays.
  • A headset with a microphone: You may already have built-in speakers and a microphone on your laptop or desktop computer, but for better quality sound it’s best to get an external headset.
  • Props: This is a key ingredient when you teach English online, as props help illustrate what you’re saying and keep learners engaged. For younger learners invest in flashcards, colourful posters, toys, star charts and other reward systems. For adults it’s best to prepare clear print outs or diagrams that relate to what you’re talking about and to invest in a whiteboard, so you can write out different key phrases or grammar points.
  • An appropriate backdrop: As you’ll be teaching from home or different locations abroad, you won’t be working in a professional setting. This means your background will be important and you’ll need to be able to transport it/change it if you can. A blank wall that you can stick items to is best.

Find out what students and type of TEFL you want to teach

You’ve got your qualification and you’re all set up, so it’s time to decide who you want to teach and what type of TEFL you’d like to focus on.

If you don’t have any preferences, that’s great! You’ll be less restricted and will have more online teaching roles to choose from.  

If you do want more focus, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to teach younger learners or adults?
  • Do I want to teach conversational English or a specialism (such as IELTS or Business English)?
  • Do I want to teach beginner-level, intermediate-level, or advanced-level students?
  • Do I want to teach one-to-one or group lessons?
  • What time zones am I willing to work with?

This will help you develop your student profile, and then you can look for online employers that cater to this demographic.

Teach English online

Create a TEFL CV

Most job applications will require a CV, and online TEFL Jobs are no different. Although some companies will now ask you to fill in their application forms, that require you to input CV information rather than sending a completed CV document, it’s still best to have one prepared as you will usually be asked for it at a later date, if you don’t have to provide it up front. It’s best to create a TEFL one from scratch, rather than using an existing one from a different field (e.g. Marketing), to make sure the information you’re putting in is relevant.

To be able to teach English online, even without prior teaching experience, you need to make sure you’re highlighting the following on your CV:

  • Teaching practice completed as part of your qualification – the online teaching practice session included on one of our courses would be perfect for this!
  • Communication skills – dealing with different stakeholders, people of different cultures or backgrounds to use, if you’ve worked with people that don’t speak English as a native language
  • Leadership skills – mention if you’ve managed anyone or if you’ve led any meetings or projects
  • Any technologies or programmes that you are proficient with – programmes like Zoom or Skype are key, as this shows you can deal with video and audio (and can probably problem-solve on the spot!)
  • Training – if you were responsible for providing any training to new or existing colleagues in a previous role.

Search for online roles

Online jobs boards, like LoveTEFL Jobs, are the best place to start looking for online teaching roles, as most online companies will advertise on these platforms. It’s also a good idea to Google ‘Best online TEFL employers’ or ‘Online TEFL platforms’, so you can find the names of some employers and do your research on them before you apply.

Once you know which ones you’d like to apply for, you can either go to their website directly, where all their vacancies should be listed, or apply through the online jobs boards with a CV and covering letter.

Become an online English Teacher

Give an amazing demo lesson

In addition to all the standard interview preparation you’ll be doing, you’ll almost definitely need to prepare a demo lesson to give as part of your interview.

Larger companies usually prepare their own curriculums and will give you their expectations for a demo lesson in advance. You can also usually search on YouTube for examples of demo lessons from that company, so you can see what they are looking for from their teachers. Make sure you don’t copy and paste from others though, they still want to see individuality.

Smaller companies will be a bit different and will often send you a lesson plan or ask you to create your own, instead of conducting a live demo lesson. Don’t worry if you’ve never created a lesson plan before, as our TEFL courses will train you in this. Just make sure you are tailoring the lesson plan to make it relevant to the average student of the company you’re interviewing with. For example, if their students are primarily adults, make sure the lesson plan is clear and precise and deals with relevant topics, like Business English vocabulary.  

Prepare your workspace

Once you’re employed, you’ll need to make sure you have a dedicated place to conduct your lessons. Make sure:

  • It’s quiet and uncluttered
  • You have good lighting
  • You have a wall behind you to put your background/white board on
  • You have everything you need at arm’s length – you don’t want to keep disappearing from the screen during your lesson to go and retrieve props or equipment
  • The internet connection is strong

Know your students

If you want to make sure that your students will keep signing up for classes and will provide you with good feedback, you need to make sure you’re tailoring their lessons to their needs. The only way to do that is to make sure you know everything about their motivations for learning, their current level of English, and their interests before you get started. Keeping lessons relevant and engaging is essential for ensuring your students are motivated and satisfied. For example, if your student is an adult and is looking to learn Business English to help them advance in their job, planning a whole lesson focused on learning the colours of the rainbow is going to be irrelevant and frustrating for them. You don’t want to waste their time or yours!

Rewarding and praising your students is also really important to help keep them motivated, and finding out how they like to receive praise is important. Some students will be embarrassed by verbal compliments, due to personal preferences or their cultural background, but might really appreciate positive written feedback. Know what your students like and cater to their preferences, to ensure that you continue to teach English online to lots of people, for many years to come!


Ready to get started with your online teaching journey? Take the first step by enrolling on a TEFL course today.

If you’d like to speak to someone before you get started, fill in our Register Your Interest form on our course webpage, and one of our friendly TEFL experts will be in touch soon.

Take a TEFL course to teach English online

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