Online Teaching – The Evolution of TEFL?

Travel The World Whilst Working as an Online English Teacher

Did you know that your Mother tongue could be the most valuable resource you have? It can even help you to travel the world…

Regular readers of The Broke Backpacker will know by now that getting your hands on a TEFL and working as an English Foreign Language teacher is a great way to travel the world whilst getting paid.

I previously worked my way around the world Teaching English in Colombia as well as Nepal. Other Broke Backpacker staff writers have done it in Spain, Japan and Thailand. Yep, teaching English is the bread and butter of working your way around the world.

But…

But, yeah. There are quite a few big buts and working overseas as an English teacher definitely has its’ limitations.

The main one is that eventually you just end up stuck in the same place. You get into the whole TEFL game to travel the world but the next thing you know, you’ve been in Chiang Mai or Siem Reap for 2 years straight now and the only “travelling” you did was going home to England to see your parents at Christmas.

Yep, before long you are not teaching to travel the world, you are just working in a different country. Whilst this can be fun for a while, it generally gets pretty boring eventually…

Furthermore, working as a TEFL teacher can be an extremely tough gig. The pay can be low, conditions can be hard and the novelty can very quickly wear of.

Also many schools are now looking for long term commitments and will lock you into 1 year contracts. What if you enter into a 1 year contract but then end up hating the job? Or worse, what if you end up hating the COUNTRY you are in? (and believe us, teaching English in China for example can be great, but it absolutely ISN’t for everybody).

Liz and her Doctors in China

What if there was a better way? What if there was a way to use your language and teaching skills to travel the world without all of the pitfalls of regular TEFL teaching?

Teach English Online

Well there is a way! And that way is Online English Tutoring.

Online English teaching is exactly how it sounds. You teach English over the internet either on a one on one basis or to a virtual classroom to any number of pupils. You can do this from anywhere in the world as long as you have a computer, a decent internet connection and a passion for teaching.

The main advantage for us travellers is that you get to work from absolutely anywhere in the world. This means that you can do that epic trip around South East Asia and keep on working as you go! One day you do your lesson from your hostel in Bangkok, the next lesson you do from a quiet cafe in Chiang Mai. It well and truly puts the “world” back into the concept of teaching your way across the world.

Of course there are other advantages of becoming an online English teacher too. The big one is that you largely get to set your own terms. You can teach as little or as often as you like. You can work one hour a day or you can work for 10 hours a day.

Working as an online English teacher isn’t only for travellers either. Because you can earn good money from home, the job has also found favour with stay-at-home Mom’s, and students who need to make a bit of money to put themselves through university.

Expectations From An Online English Teacher

Of course, you do need to be very mindful of a few things. To teach English online successfully, you need to be honest and upfront with yourself and you need to be disciplined and to be able to self-manage.

I will explain…

Remember that at the end of the internet connection are paying students who have put their faith in you. You therefore owe it to them to do a good job.

Firstly, this means that you need to be online and ready to teach at the appointed time. Therefore, you may wish to avoid staying in that party hostel in Laos. Yes it will be a lot of a fun for you but are you are you really going to be able to deliver an English lesson with a game of beer-pong going on behind you?

And speaking of beer-pong, if you overdid it on the booze the previous night, are you really in the right state of mind to be teaching about verbs? Yes, the internet connection will hide your red bleary eyes and the smell of hooch on your breath, but your students will still know that something isn’t quite right.

So you need to be organised, focused and as I said, disciplined in order to do the job.

teach english online

Potential English learners just waiting to be confused I mean, cough, taught by you…

How To Get Started

So how does one go about becoming an Online English teacher?

Well you can go it alone if you want. You can create yourself a website and try to find pupils yourself. That way you get to control absolutely everything and charge your own rates.  

However, this can be very challenging. Finding students is extremely tough. Even if you do find them, getting paid can sometimes prove difficult and you can end up writing off hours of work when a student goes quiet and doesn’t pay you. 

We therefore highly recommended going through an agency. They find the students for you and arrange payment so you get to concentrate on the teaching. There are quite a few different agencies out there at the moment and deciding which one to sign up with can be confusing. Some offer higher rates of pay than others, some offer better support than others whereas some, may pay a little less but can offer you plenty of consistent work.

The one we recommended is Magic Ears an innovative English learning platform for students ages 4 – 12. Magic Ears offers 1-on-4 classroom environments which utilise their cutting edge, interactive platform to create a fun learning environment.  

The rates are pay are really good ranging from $22 – $26 per hour. This amount goes a long way in many parts of the world so you would only need to work a few hours a day to keep yourself travelling. And of course because of their flexible working policy you can dictate your own hours and work as much as you want. They also have a highly supportive community so you can share ideas and experiences, and get advice from your peers.

In case you need some help and support to help refine your teaching skills, they will also soon be launching their Magic Ears University, a free resource helping teachers to get certified and trained.

For more information, and to apply, you can access the Magic Ears website right here.

The recruitment process is also pretty straight forward and fast. You start out by doing the application form, then there is a little bit of training and a trial class. If this goes well there are background checks and the usual formalities. It is therefore perfectly possible to get started as an online English teacher within just 7 days

Who Can Apply?

However, there is some bad news for Brits like me as well as our Auzzie and Kiwi readers…

Note that at the moment, Magic Ears are only hiring Native Speaking North American teachers (Citizens of the US and Canada or Yanks and Canooks).

This is because of the demands of the market who seem to want to learn to speak with an American accent. It’s nothing personal against us.

What you need

You really do not need much tp get started as an Online English teacher.

Laptop

First up, you will need a good, dependable laptop. Do not cheap out on this. Look at it as an investment in yourself and your future. If your laptop breaks down or cuts out, then you will lose work. Check out this post to find the best travel laptop.

I would also advise getting good insurance on it so that if it does break down, it gets fixed fast.

VPN

For security purposes, we always recommend a paid VPN subscription. You will be online using public Wi-Fi a lot so you need to ensure your connection is safe.

TEFL

We highly recommend taking the time to do the TEFL World 150+ course. Firstly, having this qualification will bolster your credentials and make it easier for you to either attract students, or get hired by an agency.

Furthermore though, it will teach you some invaluable skills about lesson planning and the basics of teaching. For both of my teaching jobs, the lessons I leanrd from my TEFL came in truly invaluable.

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