Virtual Education: The Ultimate Guide To Becoming An ESL Online Teacher

Virtual Education: The Ultimate Guide To Becoming An ESL Online Teacher

It is said that education is a never-ending process and that it is not meant to be bound by any physical constraint whatsoever. In the past, you need to leave your house and be present in your classroom so you can have that student-teacher engagement. But those days are yesterday’s news because teaching methods are revolutionized these days in a manner where you can just learn or teach at home.

What you’ll learn here:

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has reported that for the last decade, there has been a steady increase of online schools particularly in K-12 programs. Furthermore, with the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for online teaching methods has also increased significantly.

Armed with this knowledge, you should consider being an online teacher if you have the willingness and the skills. There is a very high demand for ESL (English Second Language) teachers today and it should be something to look out for.

What is the importance of online teaching?

The following points are just no-brainers that can almost be figured out without saying. However, let me re-emphasize them to you anyway:

It offers unparalleled flexibility and convenience – Your students don’t need to travel to get to you, and you don’t get to travel to get to them, how cool is that? Another cool thing about it is that you can get to modify and customize your methods in unlimited ways.

It’s more cost-effective than traditional teaching – You, as well as your students, don’t need to pay for commuting fare, food, and other expenses. It can really cut down the spending habits for both the giving and receiving parties.

It is the future of education – Since many of our day-to-day dealings are now revolutionized by online technologies, the process of learning didn’t get exempted from it. Online learning is now one of the hottest trends and will most likely remain to be that way for the coming generations.

What are the qualifications for becoming an online ESL teacher?

A college degree – Although some companies allow someone to teach even without a college degree, not too many sites offer such a privilege. In order for you to be an online teacher, a 4-year education or greater than that is generally required.

A list of online companies that hire teachers without a college degree will be given a little later.

Good communication skills – Be it English or whatever, it is important that a teacher must be a good communicator. How else would you teach your students if you can’t get your point across? If you are already capable of speaking English fluently, then you can easily land a spot on this job. If you don’t have the skill yet, there will always be room and ample time for practice.

You must not be lower than 18 – Of course, who’s gonna take you seriously if you’re a 17-year old who babbles about handling a class? Even some youngsters in their early 20’s might find it hard to be believable in this aspect, so being in the legal age bracket is really important.

As for the age limit, there is no such thing in this profession.

“Even though people in their 60’s are mostly pushed into retirement in typical workplaces, the avenue of online teaching doesn’t really have that rule.”

Those are the easy qualifications, now for the harder ones. Online or not, a good teacher, must personify these traits:

Having a rock-solid confidence – If you teach, you will be shaping someone else’s mindset. Can you do that if you’re not confident enough with what is it that you do? You can’t. If you’re the shy type kind of educator, then you should consider finding a different job. Reluctant mentors are never fit to be mentors. If you want to be an effective teacher, build that confidence of yours, and solidify it to rock-solid hardness.

Being clothed with overflowing patience – Apart from having an impregnable fortress of confidence, you must have a never-ending stream of patience. All qualifications, all professional skills amount to nothing, if you don’t have patience in enriching the minds of those who want to learn from you. For the sake of your students, for the company you work for, and for yourself, invest in a best friend with the name “patience.”

Being a good listener – Although you will mostly do the talking, you need to allow your students to have some moments in which they can talk about themselves: what they do, and what are the stuff they’re interested in. This can help you build trust and confidence among each other. This can also make the kids think that your status is not that far from where they are and that they can attain your level someday.

What are the basic equipment needed for online teaching?

Saying that you should own a computer should go without saying already. In addition to a laptop or a desktop with standard specifications, you also need to invest in the following:

A learning-conducive area

Yes, it’s a virtual job. Your students wouldn’t be physically present with you where you’ll be working. But still, you need an area that can serve as your virtual classroom where you can work without distractions. It doesn’t need to be soundproof, just set it up in a manner where noise from the outside world can’t penetrate at high levels.

An example of an ideal home-based classroom

Depending on the company that hires you, they may require you to set up a certain background like a white cloth, a large painting depicting nature, or some kid-friendly caricatures on your desk. Whatever they may require, you have to come up with a setting that channels positive thoughts about learning.

Camera and headphones

In addition to your computer and internet connection which are by default, an online worker’s primary weapons, you need a device that can capture your face and a device that can transmit your voice so it can be heard by the learners. Thus, you need a camera and a headphone.

Although high-definition cameras and cinematic headphones can give you more satisfaction, they are not really a requirement. Some online teachers prefer to use headphones with microphones that feature noise-cancellation. But then, if your room is already shielded from outside noise, then a typical headphone should be good enough.

A stable internet connection

One of the very important factors that can either make or break your hopes of becoming an online teacher is the speed of your internet connection. You might have superb computer equipment, but with poor web connectivity, you might as well kiss your dream goodbye.

In order to teach in a truly seamless manner, you have to procure a wired internet connection. WiFi connectivity may have a strong appeal on other online jobs, but with online teaching, it’s really an indicator that you’re not equipped enough. A speed of 3 Mbps download speed is commonly enough.

A reliable backup power system

Some might view this as optional, but since power outage problems could occur unpredictably, it would be good for your equipment to be plugged into an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS).

This is to make sure that you can still continue with your class even if the power runs out, and that you can still have the time to notify your students that your class needs to be halted due to some power interruptions. Most online teaching companies are very strict with this policy. Many of them are even known to fire employees just for occasional power outages. Apparently, they view such a scenario as just a cheap excuse.

If you hope to have a profitable online teaching career, invest in a reliable UPS or an array of powerbank chargers.

What are the most creative online teaching strategies?

To solidify your teaching craft even more, you have to make sure that you involve the following in your online classes:

Conducting physical activities

Who says you can’t get physical in an online class? Is there ever a rule that prohibits a virtual teacher to urge their students to engage in bodily activities?

To make your internet session more engaging and more interactive, learn a few dance moves and mimic some action songs from famous kiddie TV shows. Integrate them into your teaching strategies and you will surely be a memorable character for your students even when they become full-grown adults!

Invoking intellectual challenges

Here’s an interesting quote about education:

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

– Socrates

I’m sure you wouldn’t dare question the wisdom of Socrates, one of the big 3 along with Plato and Aristotle in the realm of Philosophy. If we are to take those words of his with great seriousness, then we have to consider the technique of giving mental challenges to your students online.

At every beginning or end of a class, cite a riddle or any thought-provoking question to your students. It will surely be an element of the best online sessions ever.

Providing related trivia

In online teaching, the mindsets and cultural upbringing of your students could come in great varieties. Such a reality could establish gaps and barriers that could become big problems eventually.

As a remedy, you have to provide some trivia or tiny bits of information that they could relate to, in accordance with their culture and way of life. No matter how far away you get from talking about other things, you can always find ways to reconnect them to your main topic.

If your student is a resident of a certain country, you need to do some additional research about what the kids of that country are into at present.

This is an additional burden on your part. But since it is your aim to be great at this job prospect, then condition your mind into doing it too.

Next is the most important question.

How much can you possibly earn as an online teacher?

Your possible earnings really just depend on how many classes you can conduct each day. So far, the lowest known rate is $10 per hour. The highest rates are known to be around $40. With online teaching, you can pick your schedule and the number of hours that you want to render, so you can just calculate your possible earnings based on your own projections.

What are the usual steps that an online teacher applicant must undergo?

Now, let’s talk about the application process. It still contains the typical drill which always goes like this: resume submission > initial interview > final interview.

Interviews could be done first by phone, then later via a video call, or it could just be both video calls. Whatever the methods that are to be used, you need to be ready for either.

During the interview process, you don’t need to worry about a lot of stuff. You don’t even need to do a lot of research. All you need to be ready for is yourself, and that mixture of communication skills and confidence that we talked about earlier.

Common questions include: “Tell me about yourself” and “Of all the online teaching companies that you’ve heard of, why did you choose (name of the company)?” With a little exception to the second question, you don’t really need to do much research, do you?

In addition to interviews, there will be an equipment test in which some technical staff will unleash a kind of software within your computer so that its specifications and capabilities can be checked. Such a check will create a report about your computer’s RAM size, CPU speed, and internet speed. Once the system requirements are met, you will have a higher chance of getting hired, although your communication skills and attitude are really what they’re after.

Where can you apply?

By being an ESL online teacher, you will most likely teach English to Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea. Here are some of the most popular sites that regularly hire online teachers:

ESL companies for Chinese students:

VIPKID – This company claims to have to take pride in finding educators who are knowledgeable, passionate, and ready to make an impact. They also emphasize an innovative online platform that enables an unprecedented exchange of knowledge. 

Gogo Kid – Their aim is to empower students by strategically facilitating the online learning experience through rigorous analysis of their skills and learning patterns. They claim to be good at integrating technology and education to revolutionize language learning.

Magic Ears – Based on reviews, this company has very thorough details in expectations and explanation of the salary breakdown and interview process. Their ways of explaining their methods to their clients and employees are among the most detailed and comprehensive you can see on the web.

Qkids Teacher –  Using a narrative game-based learning platform, this web-teaching platform connects North American English teachers with over 800,000 Chinese students from ages within the 4 to 12 years old age bracket. It has become a global leader in cross-cultural online learning as it established its reputation online.

SayABC – This one offers fully immersive one-to-many English language instruction by employing highly qualified online teachers. The curriculum they offer is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards which uses a flipped-classroom approach to usher in creativity and critical thinking skills.

ESL companies for Korean students:

Pagoda – By specializing in expertise developed over years of experience in the field of foreign language education, This online academy provides comprehensive, systematic, and methodologically proven foreign language education programs. They have a virtual classroom option to continue their education with their teacher online. 

GMNY – This company’s goal is to further develop English communication skills for online students so they can easily express their thoughts and comprehend both native English and second language English speakers. Their training affiliates do not charge any fees for training, tech support, teaching materials, or equipment.

Eine Teacher – Eine offers a flexible teaching schedule to meet the availability of both teachers and students. The company believes that teachers strive to be a great help to students’ English journey so the teaching strategy depends on the teachers’ preference.

ESL companies for Japanese students:

English Hunt –  They have partners and clients that range from large government entities to those that just look for live classroom instructions. They focus on the creation of English education content. Their business operations fall into two key areas: its product or content creation and distance education services. 

Cafe Talk – Here, all lessons are carried out with an interface that makes their management and delivery super easy. The teacher can have the total freedom to create his or her own lessons and set a personalized price setting.

Eigox – The lessons they provide are 25 minutes in length, and the teacher can schedule his own lessons very flexibly. As a tutor, you can provide lessons according to students’ choices. During application, you will be prompted to send a video message within 3 business days. If your video looks good and meets their criteria, you will be invited to an online interview

Topic Time – Closely associated with Eigox, this is one of the most established ESL companies that cater to Japanese students who wish to become truly effective in their English-learning endeavors. They have been around since 2008, which makes them one of the most reliable online schools in existence.

Please bear in mind that some of the above-mentioned companies only hire native English speakers from certain countries. There are also sites that mostly hire teachers only from a particular country.

ESL companies that hire Filipino teachers:

ABC 360 – One of this company’s goals is to make good teachers into excellent ones. To achieve this, their training department diligently provides training to encourage our new and old teachers’ professional growth and development.

Lingual Box – This one has the goal of making online tutoring very affordable to almost anyone. One of their key differences is that they offer classes 24/7. Teachers can conduct classes anytime, anywhere with their laptops or phones.

CCClass – They are known as China’s largest e-learning platform. They have over 150 million registered users. Every day, their highly online teachers make learning English more accessible for young learners, teens, college students, and working professionals.

Acadsoc – A competitive package is offered to qualified applicants depending on their overall teaching ability, lesson performance, and educational background. It will also be provided to the right candidate depending on overall qualification and fluency in English.

51 Talk – This is undoubtedly, the most popular ESL company among Filipinos. May licensed teachers within the Philippines were known to quit their day jobs in favor of working for this company.

Sankei English – This one has the tagline “The only ISO Certified Online English Company in Japan. Their programs include educating Filipinos who are interested to learn a new language or those who are planning to work in Japan. It is also their mission to deliver high-level education on Nihongo and Japanese culture.

FunnyEdu – They are known to only hire Filipino female ESL teachers. Applicants should be at least 20 years of age and a college degree holder who has taught at least 1 year and has a neutral accent.

What if you have no college degree? Can you be an online teacher? Yes! You may apply to the following sites.

ESL companies that hire teachers with no college degree:

Altoral – As a teacher for his company, you don’t have to worry about, scheduling, student management, and payment because Altoral will handle all these things for you. Classes will be conducted through WeChat and teaching materials to be used will be provided by the company.

Bizmates –  They claim their aggressive efforts in looking for energetic and goal-driven professionals of all nationalities who can help the company achieve its vision of bringing the Asian business community together.

DC English – Although this company should be listed above along with the Korean Students category, it is placed here because it accepts applicants even without a college degree. If you have experience working as a call center agent, you could highly qualify for DC English.

Engliphone – They have earned a good reputation among students in Korea and it is what keeps the company in business for many years. They provide online ESL lessons to business professionals and adults. Lessons can be conducted over the phone as long as it is connected to the internet.

English-Mania – Many students from various countries are already learning English through this portal. Skype is the software used by their teachers. With their methods, learning becomes more effective, fun, and interesting from anywhere in the world!

Engoo – They require no bachelor’s degree, though it is a bonus if you also have a certification such as a TEFL, TOEIC, or CELTA. Their age requirement is pretty flexible among nearly everyone because they hire teachers as young as 18 years old. The students you may deal with are mainly from Japan.

Learntalk – They are comprised of people that are very transparent. They claim to be unlike most online English training websites that have unrealistic claims about what you will really earn as a teacher. They seem to always make sure that their teachers are paid significantly more than almost any other online English training website.

Native Camp – The lessons they offer are provided via a unique language platform developed exclusively by the company. They claim to be rare as an online school as they help students to improve their English communication skills needed for academic, professional, and social use through fun.

On Cub –  They cater to different age groups such as elementary students, college students, adults, and even old people. Regardless of the age category, their goal is the same. They aim to make a Korean learner talk to a foreigner in English efficiently.

Panda ABC – As an online learning service provider, their primary goal is to inspire Chinese children to speak English through peer learning. They consider applicants with degrees in other fields that are really about teaching.

Rarejob – Their company website claims that for almost a decade, they have provided millions of teaching sessions that helped more than 10,000 Filipino tutors. With the largest number of students, RareJob is the top online English school in Japan.

Topica Native – During its early stages, the Topica initiative was personally launched by then-Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.  As it starts to grow, as an institute with an accelerator program whose grads have raised nearly 15 million US dollars in 3 years. Such a fact makes them a truly reliable company.

Unhoop – They require that you have finished at least two years in college and have excellent written and oral English skills. You will be tasked to undergo a 10-day intensive ESL training course. They also have other jobs to offer at their physical locations on their careers page.

Weblio –  In less than a year, it has managed to broaden its operations from hiring home-based tutors to offering office-based tutorial opportunities to job seekers. Back in 2005, they were established in Japan as an “IT vocabulary binary dictionary.”

Click on any of the links and check them out one by one, if you really have the guts and the interest to be an online teacher. Or you can just use a search engine to have a wider range of choices.

Go ahead, teach! Be what the young and the young at heart need in this digital generation. Be heroic be becoming an online ESL teacher!

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