The idea of traveling the globe is no longer idealistic and unattainable. The boom of the online teaching industry has created a whole new market for native English speakers and teachers to earn a decent living, work remotely, and be in charge of their own schedules for once.
From August 2021, the Chinese government has however implemented new laws that have drastically changed the online teaching landscape in a far-reaching way. But all is not lost! There are still multiple avenues to explore as an online teacher and traversing the globe as a nomadic teacher is still one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences you will have.
How to become an online teacher?
There are plenty of companies hiring online teachers across the globe. No two companies are the same and joining the right one for you will have a lasting impact on your career. The first step is to complete a TEFL certification. This is not simply a formality, but TEFL courses, such as the ones offered by TEFL Companies will lead you where you can enroll for TEFL courses, offering invaluable insight into pedagogical methods and techniques. You will also brush up on your English language theory and learn invaluable tools for lesson preparation and delivery.
Just like any other job, your application process will follow shortly. Some TEFL accreditors will be able to connect you with companies but you should be doing some of the legwork too. The demand for teachers is big, but the supply is often even bigger. So, apply to as many companies as you can to ensure you get at least a couple of interviews in the bag. Update your resume to be teaching specific and get busy working on an introductory video. Some companies will ask for a short video of yourself to hear you speak and get a better feeling for your personality. Put some effort into your video and introduce some props or a fun background to show you are not scared of going the extra mile.
Who to Teach for?
There are hundreds of online English companies and choosing the right ones for you is a matter of personal preference and experience. Companies like Cambly and Preply seek teachers who can work with older students and adults and they also offer classes in science, math, various languages, and test prep courses.
However, starting with younger students is often an easier way to learn the lay of the land and get some experience under your belt. Cambly also has a children’s section where kids can phone in and have informal English conversations with various teachers. For more of a formal setting, look at companies like Nil English or Engoo from Korea and Japan respectively. There are companies based all across Europe, Asia, and South America. Class sizes can vary anywhere from one-on-one to several students at a time and some offer pre-planned curriculums whereas others allow teachers to prepare classes as they see fit.
Where to Work From?
It is important to consider the time zone you will be working from. Consider locations where the teaching schedule will not conflict with your travels. If you teach for an Asian company, living in South East Asia is your best bet. You will have full days to enjoy your city and explore and only teach a few hours in the late afternoon when kids have returned home from school. You will work full days on weekends though, but you can expect to work in the daytime.
If you travel through South America while teaching in an Asian time zone, you will often have to work through the night or wake up from 2 am to teach Asian kids after school. Thus, teaching for a company like OpenEnglish who is based in South America would be a much better option. Companies that cater to adults are much more flexible though. LikeShuo offers classes 24hours a day to adults from China, and even though there are peak teaching times, you could get bookings any time of the day.
What to Expect
Teaching online can be a lucrative job, but in many cases, especially for beginner teachers, you will be making enough to just live comfortably. Most online teachers opt to travel through countries with low costs of living like Vietnam, Georgia, and Mexico. This way, you can work as much or as little as you want and leave enough time and money to explore or move to new destinations. Teachers make between $10 and $30 an hour on average, depending on your platform and level of experience. Payment offers also differ depending on your nationality with Americans and British citizens often getting paid more than South Africans or non-native speakers. When you’re traveling abroad, finding the most comfortable accommodation will make your life easier.
- Put in extra effort when making an introduction video. Companies receive thousands of applications and this is the first way you can make yourself stand out.
- Take time to understand your tax laws back home and of your destination country. Some countries require you to pay tax even if your income is foreign and in other cases, you can work tax-free.
- Read some articles about Top Travel Tips for you to be prepared.
- Invest in a portable backdrop or green screen. If you will be moving around between locations, you will need something versatile and portable.
- Thoroughly research the internet before traveling to a destination. Online teaching requires fast and reliable internet and interruptions or slow connections could get you penalized on your platform.
- Don’t be scared to work for more than one company. Once you are comfortable teaching online, you can sign up for multiple companies if your schedule allows it, to optimize your time and income.
- Have fun! Being able to teach online is a privilege and there are few jobs out there where the rewards and benefits are as plentiful as with online teaching.