ESL, Teach English, teach english online, travel, Uncategorized, work from home

How I Started Teaching English Online With Zero Experience

alphabet class conceptual cube

With the out pour of inquiries I’ve received recently from readers interested in online English teaching, I thought it high time I gather the most frequently asked questions together in one convenient place.

Note: The information presented in this post comes solely from my own personal experience with my online English teaching journey. Without further ado:

Q: How can I find legitimate online schools to apply to?

A: It will take some digging, but the legitimate companies are out there and growing by the day as the demand for online English classes continues to soar. Facebook, of course, is a nifty tool. With some passionate searching you can find groups dedicated to online English teachers such as this one. It’s a wonderful spot to ask questions, find job posts and meet other online teachers.

I see job postings for online English teachers constantly on I personally have not applied for online teaching jobs through them, but might be worth a browse.

Here is a list of websites that post online English teaching jobs. They were provided to me from a fellow traveler who knew someone teaching English online. That’s how I first heard about it, and this is where my job hunt began. This is also how I found the company I currently work for:

Q: What kind of certification do I need?

A: It differs from company to company. Many require a bachelor’s degree, but I know a couple of people who applied for online teaching positions without a completed degree  and were hired.

I highly recommend completing a TEFL certification. If you are familiar with, they often feature online TEFL course deals. I’m not sure how Groupon works country to country, but I completed my ACCREDITAT online course in a couple of months for $39 from the Florida-US based website.

I had no prior teaching experience of any kind before I decided to embark on this ESL escapade. I am a native English speaker, which is definitely preferred. One company I worked for only hired native English speakers with North American (US & Canada) accents and wouldn’t consider anything other.

I have a journalism degree, some English tutoring experience in college and I have studied abroad. Traveling long term and securing a TEFL cert “just in case” was a no brainer.

Tip: Get the TEFL cert and revamp your resume. Have you done any tutoring or volunteer work teaching English in the past? Have you taken any college classes geared towards education? Have you studied or volunteered abroad before? Are you bilingual? Use these experiences, no matter how small, to your advantage.

Q: How do taxes work with online teaching?

A: Good question ya’ll, still trying to figure that one out myself. Most online companies hire by contract. With my personal experience, the companies I work for do not provide any tax forms; indeed, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to find out what they need and to make the appropriate arrangements.

Tip: When interviewing for online teaching jobs, ask the company about how they handle teacher taxes.

Q: Laptop or desktop?

A: Whatever tickles your fancy, sugar. Just make sure that internet connection is secure.

What is online teaching all about? Read Teaching English Online: The Pros and Cons

backpacking, expat, Southeast Asia, travel, Uncategorized

Teaching English Online: The Pros and Cons


“You get to work while you travel, meet other digital nomads and work comfortably from home when you don’t feel like going anywhere”

There’s a new way to make money while traveling (or from home) and it’s taking the world of learning English by storm: online English classes.

I first heard about teaching English online from a fellow traveler while backpacking through Cambodia in 2014. I was already making money as a freelance writer, but was curious about other means of income so I could continue to trek the big bad world and never ever EVER go back home.

There are loads of opportunities to work abroad, from volunteering to teaching at a school, manual labor and freelance work. Teaching English online was one avenue I had yet to encounter, and by golly did it strike my fancy. I completed my TEFL certification in a jiffy and dove into the online job hunt.

For the past six months I have been teaching for two online English programs and can say that it has been a rewarding and at times, a frustrating journey. Here are my pros and cons of teaching English online.

Pro: You can work from ANYWHERE

…..that has a stable internet connection. I have been working for two Asian based companies while living in Thailand and jet setting around Southeast Asia. I have worked from home, friends homes, internet cafes, hostels and co working spaces. You get to work while you travel, meet other digital nomads and work comfortably from home when you don’t feel like going anywhere.

Con: Tech issues

This is probably the biggest frustration of online teaching. Depending on your location, the company’s location, the student’s location, the internet speed and even the weather, you never know what tech problems can pop up. This can cause cancelled classes, which in turn means you don’t get paid.

Each company has their own set of policies when it comes to tech issues, I mean, it can’t be helped and s*** happens. But, it can still be mentally draining when you complete a heartfelt grammar sermon, then find out your students heard absolutely none of it…or you can’t hear them. Then, the student complaints ensue.

Pro: Make your own schedule

With the two companies I work for, the teachers get to make their own schedule each week by filling in their availability on a registration calendar. This is superb! I can choose when I want off and whether I want to teach eight classes one day or just two the next…or none if I so desire.

Con: TIME ZONES and unpredictable classes

You can find yourself working late at night or early in the morning depending on time zone differences and usually there are peak times of the day when you are more guaranteed to get classes filled. Also, students cancel or don’t show up. This happens from time to time and can affect the number of classes you get paid for (generally you are paid per class). That is why I recommend not relying solely on online teaching for income. Use it to supplement!

Pro: You get to interact with people from all over the world & exchange culture via the interwebs

This one is my favorite. Besides the moola part. Once again, depending on the company, you will be teaching a broad range of demographics. I lead English conversation with Vietnamese adults that, for the most part, have a basis of English knowledge. I talk with housewives, engineers, doctors and students. I hear about their lives, traditions, customs and perspectives on issues such as sexism, marriage/divorce, family, travel and school. As a westerner, the discussions can be passionate, eye-opening and emotional. Not only do you teach them, but they teach you.

Con: Timed Classes

This is just one of those unavoidable thangs. The classes I teach are both under an hour long, and it is imperative that teachers stick to the time limit. If you have back-to-back classes scheduled, timed classes can get stressful depending on a) the student’s level of English knowledge (you may have to work longer on a lesson with lower level students) b) sometimes students (adults in particular) can be quite the chatterbugs c) those lovely tech issues I mentioned earlier. You may find yourself having no breaks and rushing through lessons.

Pro: The Money is Real

You will find a plethora of online teaching companies spouting benefits that sound too good to be true. Well, be careful and research the company beforehand, because I have heard of some online teaching opportunities that aren’t legitimate. With that being said, there are the one’s that really, truly are legitimate. With online teaching you may not make as much as you would teaching at a physical school, and they are generally contract jobs, so don’t expect health benefits. But, if you are looking to continue your travels, make your own schedule and despise cubicles, then this is a wonderful way to supplement your income. Overall, I approve and recommend it.

Some more tidbits from my own personal experience:

  • There can be bonuses offered
  • I was hired with a TEFL certificate and zero teaching experience. You may or may not need one (once again, depends on the company)
  • I don’t make any lesson plans
  • They train you

Read about How I Started Teaching English Online With Zero Experience


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