Becoming a freelance online English teacher is the aim for many educators, especially as we currently are in the middle of a pandemic. It has highlighted the importance of becoming more independent, building up a client base and supporting students who wish to continue their English studies. In fact, last week, I reviewed a book which had been sent to me: “Become an Online English Teacher” and also included a review on YouTube. I was asked a question on YouTube by one fellow Subscriber about the best online English teaching companies to consider working for and this got me thinking whether there was a ‘good company’ to work for, especially as most online English companies are based in South East Asia and I decided to make a video talking about this.

In the video, I started thinking about two ways to deliver online English education: the first was with an online English education company (usually based in South East Asia) and the other was to establish yourself as an online English teacher. However, what are the benefits for working for a online English company?

When you first work for an online English teaching company, you will have the benefit with access to online students. These students have already paid the online English provider money so that they can learn English remotely. Furthermore, you will normally be paid a basic rate for each class you provide for the company. Another benefit for working for an online English company is that you usually do not have to prepare the material for the class: the lesson is already available and all you have to do is deliver it to the student or students. Nevertheless, what are the drawbacks for teaching English for an online organisation?

When you decide to work for an online English educator based in South East Asia or abroad, you will likely be employed on a freelance or self-employed contract as a consultant. The disadvantage to this is that you can be let go at any time without warning. I have worked for a variety of online organisations based abroad and I have heard of some teachers being dropped as they become too expensive for the company. If you are a professional that has invested in your own professional develop and hold a post-graduate qualification, completed numerous certificates or spent time developing yourself as a practitioner, then the likelihood is that you expect to be paid a commensurate rate for this. Unfortunately, for some online English companies abroad, they do not necessarily place value on your professional qualifications and experience. They wish to keep their outgoings down as a low as possible, while at the same time charging the client as much as possible. The model for these organisations is get clients to sign up for promises to achieve natural English fluency within a short period of time. Another disadvantage of teaching online for an organisation abroad is that the material that you are delivering is written by other less experienced teachers who have no knowledge of how to write lessons and the organisation is forcing through questionable lessons. As a professional, you will have to work with what you are given and have no question of improving the material or changing it. So what can you do?

Well, my advice is to continue working for an online organisation, developing your experience, learn those skills on how best to deal with online issues as they arise. These soft skills will help in the long run and you will learn how best not to prepare lessons. While you are developing experience of teaching online to students, set up a website yourself aimed for language learning and English education. Decide on a weekly blog post on common errors with English, natural collocations or how best to pass an examination. If you create content, then you will naturally get language learners engaging with this. Share your writing online to other English learning websites, Facebook Groups or on Instagram. There are so many students that want to learn English and will react positively to the content that you produce and it will help them click on your site. Set up a mailing list for readers to click on and then email out posts each week to those that sign up and then they will likely share to other learners. And you should do this while teaching online for that English teaching organisation. Once you have gained enough interest and students are responding to your content well, you can then start to promote your services as an English educator. There will be some students who will respond to this and register their interest for English lessons.

If you are able to promote yourself, rely on your own students and create lessons that students actually wish, then you will have the best of both worlds. You will not have to be in a position where an organisation places their online teachers in a ‘master’ and ‘slave’ scenario. This would be my recommendation for anyone who wishes to go it alone and to get students learning English with you.

Specialise your lessons for exam preparation courses and you will be different to all the other companies out there that just offer general English lessons. If you can offer IELTS preparation courses, or wish to focus on specialist English (medical or law), then you are different. Students will pay more for your services and this will also benefit you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and I look forward to sharing a future blog post. Take care and stay safe.