Want to get started teaching English? Where should you teach English? Do you have to teach abroad? How can you get started?
While these may seem like simple questions they can be difficult to answer.
For this post, I’m not going to focus on specific companies or academies but instead on ways to teach English. A lot of people teach English but many do it in vastly different ways for different reasons.
How can you get started teaching English?
My favorite method of teaching English is online for a variety of reasons. But that’s not the only game in town.
- The methods that I’ll be talking about are working for a school whether physical or online.
- Second I’ll be covering working on a third-party platform where there are many different teachers and students select who they like most.
- Lastly, I’ll be talking about doing your own thing and working independently where you call all the shots.
Now, these three methods have their pros and cons and unique selling points.
Working for a Physical or Online School
Now the first area on my list is choosing to work for a physical or online school. This is probably the easiest of the three since the school is responsible for much of what goes on. So if the school is reputable, then you should have nothing to worry about.
Let’s just clarify what I mean by a physical and online school. When working for a physical school I’m generally not talking about teaching in an elementary, high school or college.
What I’m talking about is working in a language academy or school that only teaches languages, usually English.
The only difference with the online version is that everything is done virtually including the teaching. So let’s talk about the pros and cons and then we’ll summarize.
Pros of Working for a Language School
So there are a lot of pros for working for a language school, either in person or online. The biggest advantages are:
- The school gets you all of your students.
- Does all of the marketing.
- Assumes all of the costs of running the business.
- You just show up to teach and then go on your merry way.
Since many of the more reputable schools have built up a good reputation over time they usually have a constant influx of students both new and continuing. They also get many leads through word of mouth so you don’t have to lay awake at night wondering if you will have any students to teach the next day. This one is huge.
Also, a physical school will have a place for you to teach, like a classroom if it is a brick and mortar school. It’s nice to go to a dedicated building and know that you will be teaching in your favorite classroom and that you can prep in the area for teachers, etc.
If you’re working for an online school it is a different situation but can be highly enjoyable as well. Since you’ll be usually teaching from your home when working for an online school you can be comfortable in your own surroundings.
It’s great to be able to wake up and walk across the hall into your office and just like that you are at work.
Cons of Working for a Physical or Online School
Some downsides to working for a school are that you have a certain set of policies to follow for your teaching. You usually can’t decide what you will teach or how you will teach it.
So if you don’t like the material or the style that it is supposed to be taught in there’s not a lot that you can do about it.
Another disadvantage is when you get stuck with unresponsive or bad management or teacher support teams. These people are supposed to help you and make your job easier but sometimes they can do the opposite.
One of the downsides for working online can be that it can be difficult to separate work from personal life since you work at home. It’s good to create barriers so that you can clearly define what is what.
Summary of Physical or Online Schools
I’ve worked for both physical and online schools over the years. While I enjoy the feeling of “going to work” each day that a physical school can offer I have to say that for me online schools are the winner here.
It is so easy to fit into your schedule and work teaching around your life instead of the other way around. If you start working for a good online school then it will be happy days!
Third Party Teaching Sites
Now let’s go deeper down the rabbit hole. We now come to third-party teaching sites. They are becoming more and more common because of their ease of use and the advantages for students.
So how does it work? Well, it’s really quite simple. The site acts as an intermediary between teachers and students.
Teachers create a profile on the site and set their own rates and then students browse the profiles and select the teacher that they want. The site then takes a percentage of the earnings for having brought the two together.
Sounds perfect right? Not so fast. Let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Pros of Teaching with Third-Party Sites
So let’s start with the good stuff. These sites are generally very easy to use and get set up on. After you’re approved by the site to teach, you can start crafting your profile and begin teaching when someone selects you.
I’ve used one of these sites (italki) as a student for Spanish and I must say that the entire process was very straight-forward and easy to understand. So it would stand to reason that it would be the same for a teacher.
Another thing that is great about these kinds of sites is that you can set up package offers of your classes so that students get a discount if they book multiple classes with you. This is a great incentive for students to sign up with you longer.
Another advantage of these sites is that they are wildly popular and benefit from some big-time investing dollars. This makes them fairly secure and continuously poised for growth.
Cons of Working for Third-Party Sites
Well, my friend, it’s not all roses and sunshine. One major downside of these types of sites is the sheer volume of teachers, especially for popular languages like English, French, and Spanish.
What does this mean for you? It could mean that you may not get the asking price that you want for your classes because other teachers are willing to offer lower prices because they could be from countries where the cost of living is lower.
That being said, due to the volume of teachers, it is more of a challenge to stand out as the awesome English teacher that we know you are.
What we have seen is that a small number of teachers tend to have a disproportionate amount of students or classes compared to the number of teachers available. Once you break through this barrier though you shouldn’t have any problems.
Summary of Third-Party Sites
So while these third-party sites have their place in the ever-changing English teaching ecosystem they may not prove to be your final destination unless you have the tenacity and perseverance to make it work for you.
These sites could be a good option to get some online teaching experience and then maybe move onto working for a company. Or who knows maybe you might fall head over heels for the platform that you choose and never leave. All the same, give it a try.
Working as an Independent Teacher
What do I mean when I say that you would be working as an independent teacher? Hopefully, this doesn’t conjure up in your mind a rebellious teacher with wild hair and tattoos.
Instead, being independent would mean that you would be responsible for your class material, students, rates and basically everything else that has to do with your teaching business.
This could offer you the freedom that you want when it comes to setting your schedule and determining how much money you will make. Let’s get into the pros and cons.
Pros of Working Independently
So obviously the biggest advantage is that you are the one to call the shots down to the smallest detail. You can choose the platform that you want to use. You can teach in-person, using Skype or in whatever other way you can imagine.
You can also choose the material that you teach.
Do you want to only teach business English? No problem.
How about conversational English? Even better.
You are the boss so you choose.
Then when it comes to rates you also decide. You’ll no longer have to share your earnings with a website or a school since you will be doing all the work. I’m sure that you can clearly see that the possibilities are endless.
Cons of Working Independently
With great freedom comes great responsibility. Or something like that.
Since you are responsible for the success or failure of your business this could be more than your ready for. If no students are banging down your door for lessons then there’s no one to blame but yourself.
On the other hand, if your teaching business is a raving success you can take credit and be happy with your accomplishments.
Let’s focus on getting students for just a moment. In the previous paragraphs, we’ve seen that there’s a lot of competition for students out there. Websites, physical schools and academies all vying for those precious students.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance though. Many students are looking for individuals who stand out and have something original to offer. That means that if you present yourself well your students will want to learn from you and only you.
Summary of Working Independently
So as you can see there are many routes that you can go down if you are an independent teacher. While there will be challenges the rewards could far outweigh any temporary struggles. This could be an interesting route for anyone who has some experience and wants to gain more independence than a traditional school can offer.
So in this article, I’ve discussed three different routes that you can take as a new or experienced English teacher.
- Teaching in a school
- Working on a third-party platform
- Striking out on your own.
Each of these methods has its pros and cons. While some may be great for some others are not for everyone. I truly hope that this post has been helpful to you and that you will continue your journey of being an English teacher at home or abroad.
I really hope you got value out of this blog post as you continue your journey towards teaching English online! If you want to keep learning why not subscribe to this blog by clicking here.
You can also check out and subscribe to my daily podcast called You Can Teach English Online by clicking here, available on iTunes, Spotify and more.
Also, be sure to get your FREE Report Top Online English Teaching Companies where I share the secret top companies that nobody is talking about but that will pay you the most money to teach English online right now!
If you’re currently teaching English Online or want to get started let me know below in the comments. I’d really appreciate hearing what you have to say! That’s all for now. Until next time.
To Your Teaching Success