The option to teach English online from home is drawing lots of aspiring teachers to TEFL. The flexibility not only benefits teachers but students too, who can source the specific educational support they need at a time that suits them.
The market for learning English online is pretty new, and it’s accelerating at a considerable pace, with its ease and flexibility being some of the factors driving it forward. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, more job opportunities are arising.
Why TEFL from home?
With so much flexibility, including choosing your own hours and working wherever is convenient, teaching English online is a job that can fit in with the other priorities in your life. As long as you complete the minimum hours set by your employer, the rest of your time is yours to decide how you’ll spend it.
EFL teachers who work online from the comfort of their own homes can make the most of the day. The very fact that there’s no commute is an appealing factor for many. For most people, actually getting to work requires a considerable amount of time each day. Plus, it’s necessary extra time and effort that’s typically not reflected in your wage.
Without a commute, you’ll find yourself in a better position to achieve that work/life balance. Saving money is an undeniable benefit too. It’s a lot less tempting to spend money on coffee and lunches when you could be making it yourself at a fraction of the cost, not to mention the money you could save on fuel, and transport in general.
Online, certified EFL teachers have two main options: either work for an online teaching company, or work for yourself, independently as a freelancer. However, succeeding as a freelancer depends on your prior level of experience and qualifications as an EFL teacher.
The most common TEFL qualifications are:
- Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)
- Certificate in Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL Certification)
- Level 5 TEFL Diploma
We’re going to discuss why teaching English with an online teaching company before going freelance is a wise choice. It’s your best bet for establishing yourself and gaining that essential experience required to run a successful independent business from home, further down the line.
Why should I work for an online teaching company first?
As we’ve mentioned, anyone hoping to succeed in their own business venture will need a substantial amount of experience first. Your fees should reflect your teaching experience and qualifications. Prospective students should be able to find this information out about you, either via your website or professional social media profiles. A TEFL qualification from an accredited TEFL provider whether you study TEFL in Canada or the US will set you up for success, however when starting your own business, experience is essential to this.
When looking for work with an online teaching company, it’s recommended that you apply to a few different ones to give you the best chances of being hired. The recruitment process for many online teaching companies involves you conducting a demo lesson – so be prepared for this side of the interview. With a little research, you’ll find many tips online to help you.
Various online teaching companies have different requirements that are dependent on factors including: whether you have a degree, are a native-English speaker, or have any previous teaching experience. It might be the case that some of these are requirements, or none at all – so researching this first before you start applying will save you a lot of time in the long run.
When will I be ready to go freelance?
Freelance work is something you should work towards, rather than dive right into – it’s pretty difficult to succeed if you don’t have any prior teaching experience. As you build up your experience, you could then consider splitting your time between an online teaching company and your independent work. This way you can gradually ease yourself into running your own business without fully committing until you’re ready to take the full leap.
Becoming a freelance EFL teacher has its benefits. From setting your own fees and keeping the entire amount to even more flexibility in your hours. It does, however, require a lot of responsibility – you’ll be accountable to the standards you’ve set for yourself as well as the standards expected from students.
You’re in the best situation to go freelance one you’re confident that you have enough students to sustain a stable income, as well as confident in your ability to continue recruiting students. As discussed this will take some time and there shouldn’t be any rush.
Tips for setting your home business up for success
The thought of being entirely responsible for your own business can be overwhelming. The more you know about how to make a success of things, the more at ease you’ll feel when you start setting up. Below we discuss a few of the (many) things you can do to help make sure that your business has every chance of succeeding. It takes a lot of preparation to establish yourself as an independent teacher, but if you dedicate yourself to taking the recommended steps, it’ll all be worth it.
Create your own website
Students need to be able to find out more about your skills and experience as a teacher before they consider contacting you. A quality website for a freelancer should have a homepage detailing what you do and how you conduct your lessons. Your CV should be easily accessible on the website too. You should also include an ‘About me’ page so that students can find out a little more information about you and your background in teaching.
Advertise on teaching platforms
Websites including Verbling, italki, and Preply, are commonly used by independent EFL teachers to advertise their lessons. Platforms like these will typically take a commission and have specific requirements for you to use their space. It’s something to consider if you’re looking to build a steady client base.
Bear in mind that you’ll have competitors, so how you promote yourself and how you set your prices too will be influential factors for students.
Pay for ads
Facebook and Google ads could be well worth your investment. They’re both effective methods of advertising to English language learners. However, we recommend that you do thorough research into how best to do this as it’s easy to spend money without fully understanding how the ads will work and consequently waste money.
You’ll have to consider the content of the ad itself too. If people are going to click on your ad, it needs to be eye-catching and cover the necessary information. You should keep your target market in mind when designing as well as include the essentials – who you are, qualifications, experience and contact details.
Consider where your ads lead users to. Setting up a landing page on your website is a good idea.
Be punctual and prepared at all times
There’s work available for online English teachers but that doesn’t mean there isn’t competition! You need to hold yourself accountable to a high standard at all times, especially as your chances of success are in your own hands and no one else’s.
No student is the same and understanding how you can adapt your teaching style to meet the specific learning needs of your students will help your students’ progress.
And, of course – be on time, at all times! Students’ time is as important as yours and if you don’t show up there are plenty of other, better organized, teachers out there for students to redirect their business to.
Becoming a freelancer undoubtedly requires more effort than working for an online teaching company, but if you prioritise your time and give it your best effort, you can grow a successful independent business. Experience is invaluable and we can’t stress enough how necessary it is to your success as a freelancer. Take your time and ease yourself into building your independent business from home – there’s a lot of opportunity waiting!
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out this definitive guide with everything you need to know about online teaching.