How to teach TEFL online

One area within the English teaching (ESL) market that has increased dramatically over recent years is that of teaching English online. Although many of the ideas used in traditional classroom teaching are transferable to online teaching, there are some specifics you should be aware of before embarking on this method of teaching.

What does teaching English online mean?

Usually the teaching of English (ESL) takes place in a school or language center. Students attend the location and have regular lessons from their teachers. However, there has always been a need, in very remote locations for example, for teaching to be done in one area and delivered to another. The advent of the world-wide-web and connectivity through phones, computers and the like has greatly expanded the possibility of this mode of teaching. Many English Language teaching companies have been created over the last 20 years offering the opportunity for employment to language teachers who can work from home, rather than travel to work. This is now possible across the globe.

What do you need to teach English online?

There are two main components to this: equipment and qualifications. In order to gain employment you will require a minimum level of equipment, which will include a computer or laptop device, with a good stable internet connection and a Zoom or Skype type account. Other requirements will usually include a headset with microphone or equivalent and a reliable quiet space from which you can work.

In terms of qualifications, individual companies have their own requirements. In general the minimum acceptable qualification for online tutors is a 120-hour TEFL course. No degree or previous experience is required by many employers.

How do you get a job?

All major companies have their own website, where employment opportunities are posted. There are also many commercial job posting companies that you will find by doing a simple Google search using search terms such as: online English teaching jobs worldwide.

As the companies are online, they mostly carry out their recruitment process online. This often will include you demonstrating how you would teach a given concept to a pretend student group.

How do you get paid?

This process varies from company to company, but generally you are paid into a bank account directly by the company. It is important, depending upon where you will be based, that you understand your country's tax liability laws. Companies will generally expect you to deal with your own taxation and eligibility to work yourself. This is particularly relevant to those considering becoming 'digital nomads'.


All the previous information will vary from employer to employer and it is important that you check all the requirements carefully before starting work. You should have a contract to protect yourself and do your own research on teaching forums to find out some information about the companies you apply to.

Lists of online English teaching companies can easily be obtained from a web search. As these companies come into and go out of existence on a fairly regular basis, make sure the information you source is up to date.