Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work from the comfort of your own home?
Although more and more ESL teachers are becoming less reluctant to use technology in the classroom, going completely online is a big step, one that most have never even considered. Some can’t even imagine what it would be like to teach a class and not have your students sitting in front of you. Still, teaching English online is a very attractive possibility for many these days, and it's a choice that is gaining popularity fast among ESL teachers and students, mostly because of the advantages.
Teach English Online: HOWTO
While the pitfalls may seem numerous, if you’re able to handle the issues that may arise when you work from home, you’ll find that the benefits of teaching English online far outweigh the disadvantages.
Things to consider
Online school or on your own?
The very first decision you’ll have to make is whether you will work for an online school, tutoring service, or run your own website. If you want to teach at an online school, you’ll have to go through the application process just as you would for any other school. You'll most likely be required to have TEFL certification and experience. There are websites where all you have to do is sign up and create a profile to attract students, which is very easy to do, but you must realize that your profile may compete with hundreds of others. If you want to have more freedom and ultimately higher profits, then running your own website is clearly the best choice, but you must be prepared to work hard to promote your services and find students.
What are you prepared to offer?
Will you help students build vocabulary, answer grammar questions and clarify doubts, or merely offer students the chance to speak to a native English speaker? Whatever you choose to do, you must be absolutely clear on what it is you will offer, and provide some form of structure, like lessons plans or at the very least some guidelines in reference to what you will help your students accomplish. Although you may come across students who only want to talk (and have you just sit there and listen), this may not be what the majority wants. It is important that you offer what you know best. Are you great with idioms, slang, or specific vocabulary? It’s important to identify your niche.
What technologies will you use?
Online schools usually have their own online platform, usually in some form of chat room. But if you work on your own, you'll need to have an instant messaging service, like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, or Skype, but also Internet VoIP service for the calls you’ll need to make to practice listening and speaking. Don’t forget that there are video conferencing platforms that are very easy to use like MSN Messenger’s where all you need is a Web cam and a microphone to deliver lessons that are just as real as face-to-face classes. You may also choose to record podcasts or audio files in MP3 format. Explore the possibilities and make use of all of the technological resources available on the Internet.
How much will you charge and how will you receive payment?
Online schools usually transfer payments to your bank account, PayPal account, or use some sort of payment processor. Some may even send you a check. For those who run their own online business, PayPal offers some very useful services, but you may also choose to accept payments through other means like credit cards. As for rates, online English teachers charge anywhere between $15 and $50. Do a bit of research and find out what your competitors are charging. The lowest rates are usually for conversation, with no grammar teaching or lessons.
How will you promote your services?
If you decide to start your own online business teaching English, you won’t find any students unless you promote it. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do this online:
There has never been a better time to teach English online.
You can set up your own online business teaching English online with a minimum investment and watch it grow. Or work for an established online school. The choice is yours, but the important thing here is that teaching online is no longer the future. It is a reality.
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