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Teaching English to Adult Students Online

Teaching English to Adult Students Online | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Presently, I take care of my ninety-six-year-old father at home and have no immediate plans to teach overseas. Fortunately, I live in a community (Aurora, Colorado) that has over 140 different language groups and ethnicities. Aurora ranks as the tenth most diverse community in the United States. I have worked toward my TEFL certification for the future; however, I have plans to use the training now.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Roland A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Personal Plan

As soon as I get my certification documents I plan on teaching online and in my community. If I should outlive my father, I plan on traveling and teaching abroad. However, I see no reason to wait. I have created a webpage, blog, email site, brochure, business card, etc. to jump-start my business. I feel fortunate to have these topics on which to write. I chose this topic because this represents my first step in my business plan.

Online Platforms

My Internet search yielded ten major companies that hire teachers to teach online to adults: English First, Learnlight, Italki, SkimaTalk, Cambly, Tutoring, Open English, Preply, Verbling, and Verbalplanet. I process them now comparing and contrasting requirements, commitments, pay scale, and work processes. As soon as I receive my certification I can start teaching. This represents a fast way for me to start making money, fortify my skills, and get into the rhythm of teaching full-time. These businesses give me a platform to which I can refer students that I meet in my everyday life. When I in a place to travel overseas, I will go already in full swing.

woman in headphones

Also Read: Should I take a TEFL course online or in a classroom?


Most online schools require a bachelor’s degree, TEFL certification, fluent English speaking, fast reliable Internet, Skype or equivalent, a computer, headphones with microphones, a quiet place to teach.


Most online teaching jobs require the applicant to take a test or submit a sample teaching session and written lesson.Availability: Although online teaching jobs have a great deal of scheduling flexibility, online schools do require that the teacher book classes ahead, be on time for those classes, and not cancel except in dire emergencies. Teachers can enjoy a vacation as long as they plan it with the school.


Salaries can vary from $12 to $24 per hour depending on the school and the country for which you teach. Teachers in Canada and the United States can make maximum salaries developing and teaching lessons for Chinese students as China anxiously desires English for business purposes.

people in a computer class

Also Read: "Slang and Idioms for Business English Learners"

The Effective Online Teacher

Be Present: Online teaching has many advantages such as cost, access to a native English speaker, small classes, fewer distractions, focus. However, the online teacher has disadvantages. One can easily lose the person to person interaction available in the physical classroom. The effective teacher needs to understand the platform upon which he/she teaches. Student users may not understand how they can interact with their teacher especially if they come to the class as a new student. The effective teacher should explain the various ways that a student can interact and access the teacher.

Set Expectations

With the physical distance between teacher and student, online students may not feel the same accountability to the material and teacher as what we normally see in a school setting. The wise, effective teacher sets expectations and grades work to let students know the Internet has overcome the physical distance. This is not a virtual classroom. It is a real classroom with real expectations, real consequences, the real reward for work well done.

Engage the Students with Work: The effective online teacher has to bridge the distance gap. The teacher can fall prey to the same virtual trap as the student. The teacher must make special efforts to engage the students. All the exercises and methodologies learned and used by the TEFL teacher in the physical classroom--the effective virtual teacher uses online.

woman with her hands on the touchscreen

Also Read: "Online Teaching and Interacting with Parents"

Correct Carefully

Correction can lead to hard feelings in any setting. Lacking the relationship crafted in a classroom, students may more easily develop hard feelings toward correction and feel the freedom to express it more. The online teacher must carefully craft their corrections and supplement corrections with a heaping spoonful of encouragement.

Relationship and Feedback

The online teacher should spend significant time utilizing email and discussion boards to contact the student. Develop relationships outside of class. Get feedback from students. Feedback with cut down on uninformed, impersonal criticism toward the teacher.

Project (Individual and Group)

Help maintain accountability and keep students plugged into the class. These projects, especially if fun, build a sense of anticipation toward the upcoming classes.

Also Read: How much can I earn teaching English abroad?


A good online teacher encourages students to use the Internet. I always feel surprised by students, even students who have grown up with the Internet, how often they fail to access the Internet for answers. The Internet just gets better each day. I recently found an app that diagrams sentences--a great help to those learning English grammar.


Students should feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of a class even if they struggled. The book of Ecclesiastes says that there are a time and season for every event on the earth. There is a time to celebrate. The end of a class should celebrate that which we have learned even if it came hard even if it appears small to others. A good teacher online or in-person celebrates learning.

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