How to Become an ESL Teacher and Teach English Online

Are you intrigued by the idea of teaching English online? You’ve come to the right place. First, it is crucial to learn how to become an ESL teacher and teach English online.

In this article, we will discuss and examine the field of ESL tutoring. We will also share insights on how to become an ESL teacher and the relevant skills required to succeed in this field. Our goal is to help English tutors to fulfill their lifelong dreams.

A growing body of evidence suggests that one in five people on the planet speak English. But there are other reasons many people want to learn English as a second language. Some of these reasons include:

  • English is the most used language on the internet
  • It is the language of international business
  • English is one of the official languages of the United Nations
  • Many research papers are written in English
  • English language increases your chances of getting a job
  • English is the language of study in many universities.

People who speak other languages apart from their mother tongue certainly have clear advantages over those who do not.

When it comes to learning a second language, English seems to be the language of choice for most people. The reason is pretty obvious–English is by far the most widely spoken language in the world.

Non-English speakers seeking admission in Universities or foreign schools where English is the language of instruction struggle to write essays like Statement of Purpose, and other college admissions essays. These students seek the help of ESL teachers to increase their chances of admission.

As more people learn the language, English teachers are now in high demand. The internet has become a popular platform for teaching and learning the English language.

Unfortunately, many English teachers do not know how to become an ESL English teacher or how to teach English online.

In a recent webinar, organizers asked the participants to explain how they feel about teaching English online.

Many of the participants mentioned the following emotions:

  • Impersonal
  • Overwhelming
  • Terrifying
  • Uncomfortable
  • Nervous
  • Weird

Teaching students to learn English as a second language can be challenging for those who have no experience in Online English lessons.

Benefits of Teaching ESL Online

Despite its challenges, teaching English as a second language online can be fun if you learn the basics. Some of the many benefits that come with teaching ESL online include:

  • Being your own boss—If you are one of those who loathe working for people, then teaching ESL online is a great way to become an independent worker. You will have time to negotiate your working conditions according to what you want.
  • It’s easy to get started—One of the significant benefits of teaching ESL online is that it does not require much to get started. Most employers want people who are native speakers or have some English language degree or certification.
  • It’s flexible—The flexibility which comes with teaching ESL online is one of the best reasons many English teachers love it. You will get an opportunity to select a time that fits your daily schedule.
  • Part-Time Income—Online ESL teaching can be done full-time or part-time. For people already working full-time, a part-time online ESL teaching job can be a great way to make extra income.
  • Remote work—Freedom to work from home or remotely is another benefit of teaching ESL online. All you need to teach ESL online are some tools to help you connect with your students anywhere in the world.
  • Increase your Network—Teaching ESL online is an excellent opportunity to expose yourself and your services to people around the world. Many people have gotten better positions and jobs from teaching English online as a second language.

Skills you need as an Online ESL Teacher

The skills to teaching students who want to learn English as a second language are very important if you want to succeed as an ESL teacher. The following are some of the skills every online ESL teacher should cultivate:

Communication Skills

The way you communicate when teaching online can make or break the lesson experience for the students. Effective communication must be engaging and lead to positive interactions.

Creative Skills

Teaching people who want to learn English as a second language can be challenging. The language barrier can be frustrating for many online English teachers and their students. You need to come up with strategies that will help your students understand the lessons.

Interpersonal Skills

Because teaching involves dealing with human beings, you must have interactive skills to help students learn the English language.


Unforeseen circumstances can affect the teaching of ESL online, which may disrupt your schedule. Your ability to remain flexible can help you deal with unanticipated situations.

Organizational Skills

As an online ESL teacher, you have a duty to organize your lesson materials and ensure you cover the syllabus.

How to Qualify as an Online ESL Teacher

Qualifying to be an online ESL teacher depends on what your employer wants. Generally, the following are some of the basic qualifications required by most online ESL teacher employers.

  • Past Teaching Experience—Those with previous online ESL teaching experience have a clear advantage over those with none. Employers are more likely to trust you if you can prove you have taught English online in the past.
  • English Language Certifications—There are some English language courses where you can earn a certificate on completion. Some popular English language certifications include the TEFL, TESOL, TESL, and CELTA.
  • Bachelor’s Degree—Many employers prefer to hire teachers with bachelor degrees from a higher institution. Although a bachelor’s degree in English is perfect, any degree will suffice.

Duties of Online ESL Teachers

When you are hired as an online ESL teacher, you must be ready to carry out some duties as part of your job.

The following are some of the duties of online ESL teachers.

  • Preparing online lessons
  • Instruct students on the basics of writing, listening and reading the English language.
  • Assessing students’ performance
  • Updating employers on student’s progress

Tools you Need to Teach ESL Online

Online ESL teachers use many tools to help them teach their students effectively. Some of these tools include:

  • Laptop or desktop computer with a webcam
  • A secure and reliable internet connection
  • Headset
  • Microphone
  • Flashcards
  • A writing board
  • Markers
  • Paper cutouts
  • Good lightings
  • A quiet environment

Companies that Hire Online ESL Teachers

The number of companies that want to hire teachers who can teach ESL online has continued to grow. Some of the more popular ones are:

  • VIP kids
  • Dada
  • iTutorgroup
  • BlingABC
  • Gogokids
  • Kambly
  • Magicears
  • Sayabc

How to Apply for Online ESL Teaching Jobs

You can apply for an online ESL teaching position in a couple of ways.

  • Online Research—You have to start by finding out companies or people hiring online ESL teachers. You can do research online on search engines or social media platforms, like Facebook and YouTube. Many employers have social media accounts and regularly post vacancies when available.  
  • Direct Application—One way to apply for a job when you find a vacancy is by direct application through their website. When applying directly through a website, you must follow instructions and provide the required information.
  • Referrals—Applying for an online ESL teaching job can also be done through referrals. There are many benefits of applying through a referral. To begin with, employers are more likely to trust an ESL teacher referred by someone they know. Furthermore, the person referring you will help you through the application process and also serve as your mentor. Many employers will require you to upload your passport, resume, and other qualifying documents.
  • Apply to Multiple Employers—Applying to multiple employers at the same time will increase your chances of landing a job and also give you time to build up a full-time schedule.

Preparing for ESL Job Interviews

If you scale through the application stage, you will be invited to an interview. This is an opportunity for both the employer and applicant to interact.

The interview stages can take many forms. Some employers can ask you to make a short video of where you are reading a book or introducing yourself. Other employers will set up and conduct the interview live on their website or other video platforms.

Likely ESL Interview Questions

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to interviewing questions. You must therefore prepare for any question.

However, most employers just want to hear you speak the English language as they watch your facial expression and body movement. While some employers prefer energetic candidates, others look for enthusiastic tutors who can instill confidence in their students.

Candidates should also be ready to talk about their educational and professional qualifications or any previous experience teaching ESL online.

Some interview sessions may also require that you listen to a demo lesson and answer the follow-up questions.

How to Choose the Best ESL Online Teaching Job

Although there are many opportunities for teaching ESL online, you should settle for those that offer the best benefits. Some of the things to look out for when choosing an online ESL teaching job include:

Teaching support

Apart from your skills, another factor that will determine your success as an online ESL teacher is the level of support from your employers. You should, therefore, look for jobs that give you access to high-quality teaching resources and time for professional development.


There is no uniform pay in the online ESL teaching industry. The amount of pay you will receive depends on a lot of factors like your qualification, experience, bargaining power, and the hiring company.

Secondary positions

Online ESL teaching jobs can be a little unsteady. There are a lot of ESL hiring opportunities during the peak periods and very few in the off-season. The seasons differ from country to country. To avoid being redundant during the off-season, look for companies that offer secondary non-teaching positions like editing, curriculum development, and lesson development.

Opportunities for Online ESL Teachers

If you decide to pursue a career as an online ESL teacher, there are many opportunities open for you to explore.

Many organizations provide essential services to students who want to learn English as a second language. These organizations are always looking for the services of ESL teachers.

Below are some of the places where you can teach ESL online.

Independent Online Private Lessons

Most freelancers who want to run their own businesses settle for online ESL private lessons. Those who opt for online private lessons are responsible for advertising and selling themselves to prospective clients.

Some ways to jobs as an independent online ESL teacher include:

  • Building a website
  • Creating social media platforms
  • Paid to advertise
  • Social networking

Public schools

There has been a continuous rise in the number of people immigrating to countries where they need to learn a different language. In countries such as the US, where English is the primary medium of communication, there is an increase in the demand for ESL teachers. Many of these demands come from public schools looking for ESL online teachers for newly arrived non-English speakers. In some countries like the US, you must have certification issued by the Department of Education to teach ESL in a public school.

Private schools

Like public schools, there are a lot of opportunities for ESL teachers to teach in many private academies and language schools.

Online teaching platforms

Many online ESL teaching platforms make it easy for qualified English teachers to find clients. All you have to do is create an online profile and the platform will connect you with potential English learners.

The Final Words on How to Become an ESL Teacher and Teach English Online

If you have decided to build a career teaching English online as a second language, then you are not alone. Many people are jumping in to take advantage of the increasing demand for online ESL teachers.

Finding a job and succeeding as an online ESL teacher requires hard work and careful preparation.

A good place to start your journey as an online ESL teacher is to ensure you have the necessary qualifications and experience for the job. You stand a better chance of finding a perfect online ESL job if you have undergone ESL training or taught English as a second language.

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