How to go from teaching English online to teaching in-class?

This post discussion focuses on making the transition between teaching English as a second or foreign language online to doing the same thing in a physical classroom. It assumes you have been teaching for some time online in a particular situation and therefore have background knowledge of teaching.

There are three main factors that we will cover:

  • Worldwide location
  • Type of school
  • Type of class
  • Worldwide location

Teaching English online may be done from anywhere in the world where a good stable internet connection is available. Teaching EFL in-class is also available worldwide in English speaking and non-English speaking countries. You should do enough research to make yourself aware of the culture of the country you intend to teach in, as you may find the requirements somewhat different if you have been teaching online.

Also read: TEFL, where can I teach?

Some of the main differences could include, working hours, holidays, contracts, dress code and a number of country specific requirements. You may be employed as a teaching assistant in some countries and your work could focus entirely on conversational English, or you could be the only English teacher in the entire school and have to run the whole thing!

Table of Contents

Type of school

Type of class

Type of school

There are various environments that you may find employment in, which include, though are not limited to;

a) Kindergartens:

The number of kindergartens has rapidly increased over the last ten years. Whilst many are state regulated the majority are privately owned and the quality varies considerably. You should do some careful research as to what your contract involves and talk to teachers currently working there before signing any contract. You should be aware with very young children that "teaching English" would be a bit of a misnomer for what you will actually be doing.

b) State schools at 3 levels (state refers to the government, rather than a regional term):

Typically these are nominated as Primary (5-9 years), Middle (10-13 years) and Secondary (13-16 years), though the names and ages do differ worldwide. As they are government run your contract is with the government and appropriate qualifications and teaching permits will be required. The available spread of jobs in this sector is so large it would take a full post in itself to describe.

c) Tertiary education:

Once state-level (compulsory) education is finished (typically 16 years old), then further education is often described as 'tertiary'. This may take the form of specialist schools for apprenticeships, or schools dedicated to higher level exams such as advanced level (UK) and advanced placement (USA), for example. These schools can be state run or private.

d) Private language schools:

There are a huge number of private language schools teaching English worldwide, particularly in Asia, though you will find them in almost every country. They are usually regulated in some way, though the standards of these schools can vary enormously. As with other situations you need to look at the terms and conditions of your contract carefully.

Also read: What types of school hire English teachers abroad?

Type of class

Our final consideration here is perhaps the biggest change you will need to make when moving from online teaching to in-class teaching. Most online work is done either one-to-one or with very small numbers of students. In-class classrooms often have up to fifty or sixty students in one class and they will all be there because they have to be, rather because they want to be. Planning and delivery of lessons to sixty students requires a lot of careful preparation. You can't approach the methodology of a large class as a single unit, there are too many people. You will need a very clear plan as to what is supposed to happen when and break the class down into smaller units. Effectively you will simultaneously be teaching three classes of 20 students, so you will need to organize them in this way.

Also read: What can I do after teaching English abroad?