Where to teach English Online: Best Websites to Teach on for Both Native and Non-Native Speakers


Hello everybody, Liza here and I'm super glad to welcome you to today's session. I'm excited that it didn't take long after the previous one and by the way if you didn't see the previous live stream I strongly recommend you do because last week we discussed teaching in China. I know that many people are interested in going abroad to teach and to discover new cultures. So if you want to know a little bit more about it feel free to check it out. Today we are going to talk about a slightly different approach to teaching which is online teaching. Today's session will take approximately 45 minutes. First we'll cover some of the teaching modes in online teaching because there are actually a couple of them. Then we will consider various online teaching resources. Finally, we will move on to a Q&A session.

Let me just enlarge the screen and before I move onto the first slide please let me know where you guys are from. I am in Russia in the beautiful city of Yekaterinburg. It's right in the middle of Russia, quite close to Siberia and it is finally getting warm so I feel happy every day because our winters are really gloomy and it's hard to stay cheerful. This period is actually getting really awesome. So where are you guys from? Let me know in the comment section because I can actually see everything you type in there and I'll know that I'm not alone here.

We have someone from Scotland, I'm not sure how to pronounce your name and I don't want to make a mistake. Nice to hear from you in Scotland, I actually have been there as a teenager many years ago and that country is beautiful. I really love that part of the UK. Gwendolyn from Malaysia is with us as usual, thank you for coming again and again, I really appreciate your interest in these live sessions. I believe there are many people from different corners of the world, so let's just move on to the main part of today's session. Also, we have some people from Peru and from Delhi, India. I can see on YouTube someone from Algeria, that's cool, nice to see you.

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Okay, so as some of you probably know online teaching is in great demand these days and as I see the job market there are two main ways to teach online. The first one you can see it's on the left here, these are some of the online teaching companies you might work for. At the same time there are marketplaces, actually a lot of them, so it's really simple to dive into teaching and start as soon as possible after you finish your TEFL course. It is really convenient at the same time because you don't need to go anywhere, you can just set up your home classroom and stay safe and sound. If we go to some examples of online teaching companies versus online platforms, you can see that there are VIP Kids, Magic Ears, and Q Kids. These companies are the leaders of online teaching because they are well known and reliable. They have been present in this business for a long time, but they have some challenges as well.

If we talk about online teaching marketplaces there are also some really famous platforms. For example, italki and Cambly, but again they have some problems. It's not as easy as it might seem to start working for these companies. If for example you are a non-native English teacher, it would be difficult to get into an online teaching company like VIP Kids because they still prefer to hire native speakers. However, Magic Ears have simpler requirements. They write something like we hire fluent English speakers. Either native speakers or non-native English speakers who are at the C-2 level. But still it is a little bit challenging because they have this requirement you are supposed to meet.

With italki and Cambly, these platforms are more flexible. They generally don't hire, they just provide you with a marketplace and you can advertise your services there. However, if we take italki as an example, unfortunately they have few openings for the English language right now. Although you can actually consider teaching some other languages, for example if you are proficient in French or whatever. It can be a really good place to start, but for English teaching it's a bit complicated. You have to constantly check their website and right after they open positions for English teachers apply for it.

As for Cambly, they have a different approach, they offer this marketplace for various English teachers and they even prefer people who have skills and experience in other fields. For example, if you are a marketing manager or a top entrepreneur you can actually apply to Cambly and start working for them because they offer different types of lessons. Like lessons for business people or for professionals from different fields. For Cambly you would probably think of a special strategy to advertise yourself, but again they have openings around the year and it's not that difficult to get into. These are the most famous online platforms and online teaching companies here and on this slide you can see some less famous ones. I believe they are really interesting, especially for those who are just starting out on their career.

If you look at the online teaching companies you can see the top ones are mentioned here. You can also see that I have stated the level of students they work for. Top Online Teachers and Libra English are focused on young learners, so if you specialize in teaching young learners these two websites would probably be the most interesting for you. As for Lingua TV, I believe it's a website from Germany and they provide various types of English lessons from adult students to business English and exam preparation. It's actually a great platform to provide your services, especially if you're focused on exam preparation I believe.

As for online teaching marketplaces, you can see Preply, Lingoda, and Cafe Talk. I should draw your attention to the last one Cafe Talk. It’s an interesting platform from Japan I believe, but it actually covers these Asian countries like Japan, South Korea and South Asian countries. So if you want to work with students from those countries it's a great place to start because you can actually set your own price. By the way, when I found this platform for the first time I referred it to my colleague Linda and you can actually see her comments in the comment section right now. She started teaching there and she says it's really awesome. So if you want to try online teaching, Cafe Talk might be the first place to refer to, especially if you are considering going to Asia. I think this is a great way to get to know students from Asian countries, their needs and maybe some challenges they face. I think it's extremely important for teachers who are thinking of going to teach in a real classroom.

Okay, the next point. I have found the requirement for all of these platforms. I mentioned I didn't add the requirements for italki or Cambly because they still don't have those openings. You can see that for Zebra Teaching you have to be fluent in English or know English at an idiomatic level, which means it's important to be C-2 level or maybe C-1. They also require you to have a bachelor's degree or above. Also, they have this really specific requirement that you must be allowed to work in the U.S or Canada. So this option might be more or less for teachers who hold passports from those countries.

If you look at the last one mentioned, Top Online Teachers, they have less requirements. So they all vary and if you want to work for a specific company you can just go to their website and check the requirements they list for English teachers. Sometimes they are quite flexible, even if they state that they hire native speakers only or just bachelor's degree holders, I think you can still contact them and ask if they can be more flexible.

Okay, let's look at the requirements for marketplaces, there are not that many of them. So for teaching on Preply you should be at least fluent in English and TEFL or TESOL certified would be an asset. You could consider Preply if you want to find direct students and just work with them without any companies, especially if you are able to create your own lesson plans and materials. Lingoda asks you to prove your C-2 English level, but I believe that it's flexible as well. And as for Cafe Talk, there are no specific requirements but there is huge competition so you might want to show that you are professional and you have teaching credentials.

So let's go to the next point. It's actually quite normal that companies set some specific fees. I would say that the numbers which you see here are quite common to Zebra English and VIP Kids. It's like a gold standard, but the other platforms would provide you with some alternatives. For example, on Lingua TV you would probably get your rates after the interview. So again it's quite valuable if you are a professional and you can prove that you are worth it.

Let's see the numbers for online marketplaces. Before setting your price you should do some research and see how much other teachers charge. I would say it's probably about the same as VIP Kid or Zebra English. Usually teachers set the price at $16 to $18 or something like that. But you need to know that all these platforms take their cut from that rate. One of my friends who has been teaching on Preply says that at the very beginning it is something like 40%, but they decrease it as long as you stay with the company and as long as you get more students. If you find students on a marketplace there is always the option to ask them to work directly with you, but again the teaching platform also guarantees you some safety and working through them you definitely know that you will get paid. Otherwise there might be a situation when students don't pay you.

I'm going to look at the comment section right now because I can see there are some questions. If you guys still have any questions or concerns on online teaching, please feel free to ask me in the comments box. I'll try to be helpful and address every response. So the first question is, does it require a degree and teaching experience?

I have already mentioned that some companies have those two points in their requirements, so it is always important to check with a particular company to see if you meet their requirements. But for example in the case of Cafe Talk, there are no such requirements.

There is also a question on teaching online versus teaching in a real classroom.

I believe that online teaching will be in demand for many years. I think that it's a real alternative and if you take online classes you will then be able to be more flexible. For example, I have a student from Moscow, so we have this huge distance but we still can get in touch and practice. Online teaching also provides students with some great options as it can be pricey to go to a real classroom. Prior to teaching English abroad it is also a great option to see if teaching is the right choice for you. You can definitely start teaching online and then see if it's something you'd really want to do as a career.

I believe that online teaching works, but for example when I had an interview with my friend for this session who's teaching in China he mentioned that he doesn't like online teaching. He had to teach online during the quarantine time in China and it was really challenging, especially because of the student’s age. He had to deliver online lessons to children as young as three years-old and that is really complicated. For online teaching you'd probably want to look at students who are older and have a longer attention span.

Okay, what's next. For recruitment agencies in specific countries I'd recommend you go to our website as we have a section devoted to jobs and we keep it updated and post jobs on a country-wise basis. You can choose the country you are interested in working in and check if there are any openings. Let me just quickly copy and paste the link to our job section. Follow this link in the chat box I have just sent to you and you will be able to see if there are any options for Cambodia. Thank you for the question, there are not many questions from YouTube usually, so I'm really pleased that this platform works okay.

If you apply for jobs on some specific services, for example VIP Kids, they take some time to review all the applications they receive and then they respond. I actually tried to apply for VIP Kids sometime ago and I received their rejection after a couple of months. I believe it's normal in this business, but if you are still interested in the job offer you'd probably want to send it once again. Just make sure you apply not only with your CV or resume, but also with a cover letter as well because this is the way recruiters consider the application reliable.

What's the biggest challenge in online teaching?

I would say that it's quite challenging to work with groups online. This is something I have just started trying as I'm not that experienced in teaching groups, even in a real classroom. In the online teaching mode it's extremely different, so working with groups for me is a challenge. But it would depend on you as a teacher, maybe you are skilled in teaching large groups and it will be a piece of cake for you. The next challenge is that sometimes equipment doesn't work the way you want it to work, so you have to think ahead. Make sure that your internet connection is stable and that all the applications you're going to use are working.

Apart from these two points I don't see any other big issues. Maybe a minor challenge would be that sometimes if you want to work with students from other countries it can be challenging to charge them for your work if you don't work through online teaching platforms, but there are still ways to overcome this challenge.

This is a good question, how to be a professional teacher online?

Practice, practice, practice. Also, invest in your education. I know that a lot of people believe that being fluent in English or just knowing English at the advanced level is enough, but it's not true. You have to be proficient in your teaching approach, in relationship building, in methodologies, and all that stuff. It's vital that you invest some money into your teaching qualifications. As I have mentioned many times already, it's a great choice to start with TEFL certification. That was something I did many years ago. I was just a graduate from university and I realized that I was trained in translating from English to Russian or from Russian to English but translating was not the career I wanted. So I decided that teaching would suit me best. However, I didn't know how to teach because I wasn't trained to do that, so I started my research and came up with taking this TEFL course. It was really helpful because I could start teaching students both privately and in a classroom.

So it is really important to invest in your teaching qualifications and if you are a non-native speaker it's also important to increase the level of your English. For me it is one of the most challenging things because English is not static, you have to keep updated constantly. Even if you're at the highest level as an English learner.

Okay, if you are TEFL or TESOL certified and you have a master's degree and experience, the next step would be to create a perfect resume, write down a cover letter and start sending your applications to different companies. As I mentioned you can either start teaching for a company or find a place on an online teaching platform. This is almost the same, so you have to back yourself and create your profile to show everybody online who you are and what you can do. At the same time do not underestimate the power of social networks. It's a great idea to write something like, hey I teach English and I have this experience so if you want to have lessons just direct message me, and then post it on Facebook or Instagram. Word of mouth works as well. I found one of my students this way. I just mentioned to her mother that I am an English teacher when we worked out in the gym together and she was like, oh I need a teacher for my daughter, and that was the way I started teaching her online.

As far as I know South Africans are considered to be native speakers and it's much easier for native English speakers to find jobs, especially if you are professional. If you have all those qualifications it shouldn't be an obstacle. I think that in online teaching there are no boundaries for people from different countries and even if you are a non-native speaker you still have this opportunity to teach online. It just depends on you being proactive and working as hard as possible towards your goal.

Yes, some platforms provide teachers with lesson plans and materials. However, if you take for example Cafe Talk, they don't have any materials. It's on you to get prepared and provide students with the materials yourself. With Preply they have special courses designed so as a private teacher you can choose one of their courses and just follow it. There is also an option to create your own materials and work with everything you want to use, so it's actually up to you.

How do you maintain order when teaching?

That's a really tricky question because I no longer teach in a real classroom, I teach English online and privately. I have got one group but the students in that group are adults so I don't have this challenge. However, when I taught in China I worked with young learners and there were 30 of them, it was just impossible. In the first place they don't speak the same language as you do so they completely ignore your direction, but what is important is to build some connections at the very beginning. It is especially helpful with classrooms from 15 to 30 students if you make connections as it will be easier to manage them.

That was the only thing that helped me when I taught them in that real classroom, but apart from that it was really frustrating, especially when they got annoying and naughty. It was really difficult because I was so young, I was only 22 or 21 and I didn't know how to communicate with children. I had some favorite students who listened to me, who paid attention, but I couldn't make it up with the majority of them. I believe personal experience is also important. So if you have had a chance to communicate with different children it is really important to get to know them, to build this trust and relationship, and this is probably the only way to order them and to be seen as an authority.

Okay, what are the best games for online teaching?

I believe this question could be addressed in a different live stream because there are many ways to play with children online and in-class. I would only mention that there are some tools I recommend. One is called Word Wall. It's a tool for designing online games and they actually have a library that is filled by work that other teachers have created. Sometimes I also design games from scratch and I use Miro for this. You can actually see some of my previous online sessions because I covered the point of game design only a couple of weeks ago. So check those out. There are some videos related to game design for online teaching.

As for my lesson delivery I work via Zoom, although Skype is a popular alternative. It's completely up to you. The other tool I've been using is Miro, it's an online collaborative board. It's super convenient if you want your students to get involved in your lesson because you can share all the materials and engage them in activities like writing or painting. I really love it.

Is the ESA method practical?

Of course it is. Basically, every time I create my lesson from scratch I consider some engagement at the beginning then the study phase and activities as the last point. This is not the only approach to organizing your lessons, you can actually choose any other method that you like. But generally speaking, Engage, Study, Activate is the best approach, especially for online teaching because it's super easy and it helps you to structure your lesson and make sure the students follow every step. From my personal point of view the ESA method is really effective but there are some teachers who prefer to use other approaches. For example, some people still implement a grammar translation approach. Sometimes I also use it, but only as a part of my overall ESA strategy.

I can see that there are no other questions so let me just move on to the next slide. So this is my friendly invitation to the Facebook group I created for English teachers and those who are interested in English learning. We are all non-native speakers, maybe there are some native speakers in my sessions, but usually there are only non-native ones, so feel free to keep in touch with me if you are interested in this topic. Also, you can scan this QR code or follow this link I'm going to send you. So this is the group to keep in touch with me in real time mode. Please feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to talk to you and maybe if you have any questions related to TEFL or English learning as well. We can talk on Facebook.

I feel like there are no further questions, but if you have any concerns or ideas you want to give me feel free to write everything down in the comment box. I'm going to stay with you for a couple more minutes. I really appreciate you guys coming to my sessions, thanks a lot and I hope that you find them helpful and that the information I try to share with you is useful and valuable. Thank you so much Phillip, I'm usually really nervous especially when I have to share my personal experience and other tips, mostly because of my speaking skills. I feel I have to practice a lot of speaking and this is something really challenging for me to communicate with such a great audience. But I feel that there are so many people who can relate to it and who support it and who might give me a kind response.

All right guys, thanks for joining my group. For those who still want to join, please feel free to send a QR code or follow the link I just sent to the chat box. I think it is time to wrap up the session. It was quite productive and I really appreciate that you guys came and spent some time with me. I hope to see you again soon. Just let me remind you that my sessions take place every Tuesday. Last week was a little bit different because I had to interview my friend who is teaching in China and he didn't have any other time. If you want to teach abroad and if you want to go to China, make sure you watch that recording, it's really valuable.

So that is all for today. Thanks for coming. See you next week. Bye, bye.

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