If you’ve got some experience teaching English, building a business specifically targeting the growing demand for ESL tutors may be perfect for you as there’s a steady increase of online ESL jobs.
In this article, I will show you what it’s like working as an ESL teacher, and how you can kickstart your career teaching English as a second language.
Who is an ESL teacher?
ESL stands for ‘English as a Second Language’. ESL teachers teach English to students who are not native speakers of the language.
As an ESL teacher, you could be teaching English to a variety of different people:
- You could be teaching children or adults
- People in the US, or you could be teaching people in other countries like China, Korea or the Philippines
- You could be teaching entire classes or small groups
10% of public school students in the United States speak English as a second language, so ESL teachers are in high demand. As well as school children, immigrants may take ESL lessons so they can converse in the English language and pass their citizenship test.
ESL lessons are taught in English and may also cover citizenship issues, such as politics, rights and responsibilities.
Can you teach ESL remotely?
In the past, if you wanted to be an ESL teacher, you would need to travel to a foreign country where you would work in a school or for a company that offered ESL services.
You would share a house or flat with other ESL teachers and would have to stay in the country for most of the year, typically only returning home in the summer holidays and for Christmas.
Now that technology has advanced, you can work as an ESL teacher from the comfort of your own home!
All you need is a computer, an internet connection and video chat software.
What qualifications do you need to be an ESL teacher?
First things first, you need to speak, read and write English fluently, either as a native speaker or as a second language.
A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to be an ESL teacher. The kind of degree doesn’t matter too much, but most ESL teachers have degrees in education or English. You generally do not have to have prior experience of teaching.
Some schools prefer you to have a Masters degree to work with them, but this is rare.
You must then carry out an ESL training program which will teach you how to teach English and give you the experience of working in a classroom. There are a variety of different course types available, with the main one being the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The course you take will depend on the school you work with.
As ESL lessons are taught in English, you do not need to know a foreign language to be an ESL teacher, but it can be helpful.
How much can I earn as an ESL teacher?
The skills of ESL teachers are in high demand. Depending on your qualifications and the country that you’re teaching to, you can earn between $2,500 and $5,000 a month!
What are the pros of working as an ESL teacher?
- Good pay: The money you can earn as an ESL teacher is very good. If you work full time, you can earn up to $2,000 a month, or up to $25 an hour. When you’re with a school for a while, it’s easy to get promoted and get a pay raise
- Remote working: You can work as an ESL teacher from the comfort of your own home, meaning that you can fit the work in around your commitments, and save money on commuting
- Don’t need prior experience as a teacher: You do not need to have worked as a teacher to be an ESL teacher. You’ll learn all you need to know when you undertake your ESL accreditation
- Short lessons and minimal prep: Lessons last between 25 minutes and an hour and prep work needed is minimal, especially if you’re teaching the same class to different students
- A friendly community: There are several social media groups for ESL teachers where you can get support and advice if you need it
- Good referral systems: Many ESL schools have sound referral systems in place, where you can earn additional money if you refer new teachers
What are the cons of working as an ESL teacher?
- Time difference: If you’re teaching ESL to people in another country, you’ll need to work around their time zones. This may mean staying up late or getting up early to deliver classes
- Qualifications: Not only do you need to be a fluent English speaker, but you also need a Bachelor’s degree and to take an ESL-supported qualification
- Patience: Working as an ESL teacher can be challenging so if you’re easily frustrated and quick to anger, it may not be the right career for you
- Reliability: If you work for an ESL school, You need to be available to take regular classes, so if you’re out of the house a lot, you may struggle. Twenty-four hours notice is usually required if you cancel a session; otherwise you may be penalized. You also need a reliable internet connection. Failing to deliver classes can result in your contract being terminated
How do I get an online ESL job?
Have you decided that an ESL job is perfect for you? That’s great!
There are two ways you can do this, either by applying to work with a school, or setting up your own ESL teaching business.
Applying to work with a school
The benefits of working with a school are that they will arrange training for you and once you let them know your availability, they will arrange classes for you as well.
The disadvantages are that you’re bound by their guidelines and syllabus, and they will take a proportion of your earnings.
Some of the ESL schools you could consider:
(We’re not affiliated with any of them, so please do your due diligence if you decide to work with any of them.)
- Teachaway – teach English to Chinese students up to the age of 12
- VIPKID – teach English to Chinese students up to the age of 15
- DaDa – teach English to Chinese students up to the age of 15
- QKids – teach English to Chinese students up to the age of 12
- iTutorGroup – teach English to Taiwanese children and adults
- Gogokid – teach English to Chinese students up to the age of 12
- English Hunt – teach English over the phone to adult students in Korea
Setting up your own ESL teaching business
Setting up your own ESL business gives you the ultimate flexibility.
You can work with who you want, work when you want, and most importantly, all the money you make is yours to keep!
You do have to know how to find and attract students to sign up to work with you.
There are several ways you can do this, from promoting your business for free on social media, or advertising online to specific audiences looking for an ESL teacher, and then sending them to a simple website with your offer.
This route isn’t the easiest, but very quickly the results will far outweigh going with a teaching institute and is definitely worth it!
If you’ve made it this far, and are interested in finding out how to start your own ESL teaching business, I’ve created a free video with some tips for you.
I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below.