The 21st century has witnessed the rise of countless new ways to become self-employed and independent. This change in how we live and work can be largely attributed to the internet. Thanks to it, people from all corners of the world are able to communicate, share ideas, and gain instant access to a wealth of information… Anyway, you don’t need an introduction to the internet; after all, you’re using it right now to read this! What you might need an introduction to, though, is the world of online teaching.
Teaching English online has increased in popularity in recent years. Why? Well, firstly, it allows people to practise what they love doing in the comfort of their own home. Moreover, it’s a great way to earn cash while you travel abroad. Working online, without the need to commute to a brick-and-mortar workplace, allows people more freedom than ever before.
Sound interesting? Of course it does! Read on for a little bit more info on online teaching and how to become a digital nomad yourself.
Before you do anything, anything at all, I strongly suggest you consider getting qualified.
“But surely I don’t need to bother if I’m going to be my own boss?!” I hear you ask. While I understand where you’re coming from, it is still very important that you gain some credentials and the skills needed to be the best teacher you can. The benefits of training and earning an accredited qualification, freelance or not, outweigh the effort and cost.
For starters, completing a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course will provide you with the foundations, confidence, and knowledge needed to effectively plan and carry out lessons. You’d be doing yourself a massive disservice by neglecting to attempt any training whatsoever. Furthermore, having the qualification is going to look great on the CV. Not only will you be able to prove to future employers that you know what you’re doing, but, in the case of a self-employed freelancer, students will be more likely to choose you as their private tutor. Someone with experience and qualifications is going to beat someone without – fluent English won’t cut it.
There are loads of course providers out there, making it difficult to choose which one to go for. The important things to look for are accreditation, hours of training, and cost. The first of those is probably the most important, though. Since there is no single regulating body in the TEFL industry, companies must find endorsement from relevant external bodies. In this sense, The TEFL Org is the most accredited provider in the UK, meaning you can be sure of the quality of their courses and the recognition they receive from employers.
Advantages and disadvantages
I’ll try to narrow the positives and negatives of the digital nomad lifestyle, otherwise, it could be quite a long list!
Control over income
How much control you have does depend on whether you go totally freelance or work on a platform/for a company. If you decide to be independent then you have, more or less, complete authority.
Like above, this does depend on whether or not you work for a company or on a platform. Choosing when you have lessons and work gives you a sense of freedom that is unbeatable elsewhere in the industry.
Work from anywhere
Another huge draw for teachers is the opportunity to teach from any location in the world. The Web means you can tutor students from China, Brazil, and Egypt while you sit in a Parisien cafe or your comfortable living room. It’s a great way to supplement your travels abroad – the true definition of a digital nomad.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, though.
Teaching online isn’t like doing it in a classroom at a school. Creating an online presence can be difficult and finding work at first might be a little confusing, with so many platforms and websites you can market yourself on.
Responsible for finding own students
This is especially true if you go freelance. Without the safety net and resources of a school or company, it is tricky finding your own clientele. You will have to learn how to advertise your services and build up a reputation.
Without the schedule of a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job, your lessons may occur irregularly. In terms of income, this might be a bit of a pain as you will likely not have a steady, hourly wage.
It’s up to you to weigh up the benefits against the drawbacks. Keep in mind, the greater the risk the better the reward!
If you decide to go down the route of tutoring with a platform then it can be a struggle figuring out which is best. Below are several that offer good rates and have a decent student base:
You can teach up to 4 children between the ages of 5 and 12 in a single lesson. According to reviews, they offer their tutors a consistent schedule.
Pay: Up to $19 USD per 40 minutes.
Hours: no minimum.
Student ages: kindergarten to high school.
One of the most prestigious and well-known English language companies out there. EF are a very reliable platform with lots of jobs available. Unfortunately, only UK and US passport-holders can currently work as an online tutor for them. On top of that, they ask that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate.
Pay: $13-$16 per hour plus benefits.
Hours: Flexible. 25-minute lessons for kids.
Student ages: Two groups: ‘Kids’ and ‘Adults’.
As you may have seen, platforms and companies will more often than not ask that tutors hold some level of qualification, whether that be a teaching certificate or a degree.
There you have it! For those seeking a job and lifestyle that provides flexibility and freedom, consider becoming an online English tutor.