What You Need to Start Teaching English Online

Becoming a digital nomad/remote worker is gaining more popularity by the day. And I can see why. Young people seem to want to get out and explore the world and some feel like the traditional 9-5 office job that they’ve been trained to want, may not be for them. And that’s ok! (And if you do like the stability of a 9-5 and just want extra income, still keep reading!) For those seeking to transition into a remote lifestyle or for whatever reason need a side hustle/income, you may have come across teaching English online.

Some may not know, but one job I have is teaching English online to students whose ages can range from five years old to sixteen years old, all at varying levels. My native English speakers out there who have searched for remote jobs have probably come across teaching English online. But what is it? What qualifications do you need to start? Do I need to have a spare bedroom to use as a classroom? For the answers to popular questions, keep reading.

Do I need an English (or related) degree? What about a TEFL (or related) certification?

No! That’s why teaching English is so popular with remote workers. There are likely some companies out there that do require you to have some sort of English/teaching degree or teaching certification. But the majority that I’ve come across do not. You will likely need a bachelor’s degree though. But it can be in anything. I studied journalism, sociology and Spanish and got a teaching job online. Of course, having a degree or certification that directly relates to English and/or teaching will give you an advantage and allow you to stand out amongst other candidates. But don’t think that it’s a requirement! Here are three of the more popular companies you can check out and their basic requirements:

  • VIP Kids: Must have a Bachelor’s degree, 6 month minimum contract
  • QKids: Bachelor’s degree, must live in the U.S. or Canada, prior teaching experience (including online)
  • DaDa: They don’t have a formal requirements page. I’ve seen online that people have been hired with an Associates degree. It can probably be assumed that you should have a degree of some kind.

Interview Time: What Do I Need?

If you landed an interview with one of the above mentioned companies (or one of the countless others) then congratulations! But you may now be wondering how to prepare for your interview. Well, this may differ from company to company. However, in my experience and from others’ experiences I’ve seen online, most of the time it starts off as a traditional interview. Since it’s an online company, of course it’ll be online as well. You can expect questions discussing your educational background, why you’re interested in teaching, if you have any teaching experience and if so, describe it. You know, the basics.

Then in my experience, after the preliminary questions we were transported into the online portal to do a mock classroom. This may differ greatly from company-to-company. In some companies, like Dada, your mock class is right after your traditional interview. In other companies, you have to pass the first round to get to do the mock class. The time of the mock class may vary as well. I’ve seen it vary between 15 and 30 minutes. I was provided with the lesson plan once I scheduled my interview, but you may not be. However, the lesson plans are so straight forward, you’ll be able to figure it out.

So all you need for the interview process: yourself, your personality, your smile and energy. Make sure to be very enthusiatic and lively when doing the mock class. Actually behave like you’re teaching a child, even if its awkward and you’re talking to a grown man. Some people may want to buy props to show what you’ll use in your class, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to “invest” in props or a decorated background until I got the job. So while it may help, it’s not absolutely necessary.

OK, I got the job! Now what will I need to be an English teacher?

Attire: You can probably guess what  I’m going to say. It will vary company to company. The great thing is no matter what you’ll be able to wear pajama bottoms (or no bottoms) so it’s only your upper half that you’re worried about. For Dada, you need to have a sky blue shirt. That’s it. It can be a button up, a blouse, or a T-shirt. The only main restriction is no V-necks, tank tops, basically things that shows “too much” skin. I bought two Hanes t-shirts from Amazon and it cost me less than $10. Can’t beat that. Click the photos below to shop them.

Background/Set-Up: Most companies want you to have a background that somewhat looks like a classroom. For people with spacious rooms, or even better a spare bedroom, this is easy to achieve. However, if you’re like me and you have a small room/dorm and need a space to teach, don’t fret. I literally use a small wall in my room for my “classroom” set-up. A cheap fix to decorate the wall cost me $10, again on Amazon. Wall decals. They are cute, fun, you find a bunch of different themes, and you don’t have to worry about ruining the wall when you move out. Check out the wall decals I bought by clicking the photo below.

Lighting: I didn’t purchase anything to help with lighting. The lighting in my bedroom isn’t particularly good, especially with where my wall is. However, I already had a small lamp so I use that along with my room light to ensure the room is well lit. However, if you are particularly worried about lighting check out these different lamps: Limelights Lamp for $19.99, Simple Designs Lamp for $11.99, and Ikea Floor Lamp for $21.89.

Headset: Most companies want you wear a headset with a microphone. I have seen some people use just traditional earbuds that have an attached microphone. Think: what comes with your phone. However, I do think it looks more professional to have the headset. You can splurge on one if you’d like, but I got a super cheap one from guess where? Amazon. You can buy the one I have here for $18.99.

Props/Toys: It will likely help your younger students engage more in the lesson if you have some props. Maybe stuffed animals, hats, a mask, anything. Since your lesson plans will change all the time, it’s hard to know exactly what props you should get. So I suggest picking things that have various uses. For example, a stuffed blue bear can be used when discussing the alphabet (“b” for bear!), if you are discussing toys, or if you’re discussing colors. If you’re strapped for cash or don’t want to invest too much yet, use what you have. I got creative and found little things around my room to use.

My green notebook comes in handy when I’m telling the student to read something, if there’s a picture of someone with a book or if I want to talk about colors with them. I also have a fuzzy pair of pink earmuffs which look pretty cool to the students, especially if I put them on. Also, when I was trying to distinguish the difference between “soft” and “softly” I pet my earmuffs to use them as an example. Anything can be a props! Just think outside the box.

Main Takeaway

All in all, I want to let you know that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to be a great teacher. Sure, I haven’t been doing it for a while and I’m sure there’s a lot I’ll learn. And I’m also sure that some people have benefited from investing extra in their setup. But if you are unable to, do not fret! You can be a broke college student with a corner in your dorm and do this job well. The main thing you need is a positive attitude.

Hope to see you soon.

I hope this blog was of some value to you. Check back weekly for more blog posts. And check out my Youtube channel to learn a little more about me. See you in the next post!

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