Insider Tips for Teaching English Online from 100+ Successful Teachers


Tips for teaching English online

Are you interested in becoming an online English teacher? Does it sound too good to be true? Are you overwhelmed by all the info out there? Then you won't want to miss our insider's tricks and tips for teaching English online!

This is the perfect job for a mom whose looking to make some extra cash while still being available to her family. 

We spoke to 100+ teachers from different companies like VIPKid, Magic Ears, Whales English, Cambly, Palfish, Qkids, and DaDaABC to find out what unique tips they could share to make your experience easier, better, more fun and more fulfilling.

Are you ready for some invaluable, first-hand advice from inside the online teaching trenches? Keep reading!

"Use your resources and be creative! Don’t try to imitate someone you see on YouTube, find your own groove! Don't go overboard in your first couple of weeks and try not to take on too much!" - Sarah from VIPKid

"Make sure you're ready to wake up bright and early, have an engaging space (classroom) to teach from, and have a positive, upbeat mindset. You definitely need to have an energetic personality if you're going to teach from home.

Also, don’t question yourself. If you're passionate and prepared, this will work for you. Follow social media pages that support the company you're working for and get involved in the online teaching community. The support is out there!" - Jenni G from VIPKid

"Research the school for sure! Ask questions! Learn how and when they pay you and what type of training and support is offered.

There are several Facebook groups out there with reviews of the companies. Be mindful that there will be lots of people posting their referral links. If you do use someone’s link make sure they help you through the hiring process since they're earning a commission." - Rebecca from VIPKid

"Get out of your comfort zone! This is something I'm still working on, but if you're a shy person, it will be hard to have a fun, engaged lesson with students. Since we cannot physically be right there, we really have to put on a “show” and be engaged for the students." - Greta from VIPKid

"Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I teach with VIPKID, and I love it. But I also have a writing coaching and book editing business, and that’s where most of my income comes from! That way, when things are slow with VIPKID (like during the Chinese New Year), I know that I have other income coming in." - Kate from VIPKid

"Get your TESOL certificate first. It only costs $20 on Groupon. Do your research about which company you want to teach for. There are so many out there and they all offer different things. Every company has its pros and cons." - Anna from Qkids

"Smile and have fun!" - Paul from Palfish

"Approach each opportunity with a good attitude. Each new student is a life you can touch even through the online classroom! You can do this job as long as you have a computer and a smile!" - Melissa from VIPKid

"Personally, I don’t like teaching kids. I have taught them before and went over to adults. Many parents interfere and, broadly speaking, Asian parents demand a lot from their kids. You may even come across a parent abusing a child physically during class as they expect their child to be perfect and not make mistakes. That’s hard to watch and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I would suggest speaking to the school before you begin teaching to find out how they cope with abuse in the classroom and what you, as their tutor, should do when it happens." - Mitzi from Cambly

"Just try it! You’ve got nothing to lose. If you’re already a teacher in school, this is a great way to supplement your income. If you do something else and just want a change of pace and to try something new - go for it! It’s so refreshing to see these kids light up your world in a completely different way. If you’ve got no clue what you’re doing in life (that was me) and just need some money to float you, this is an easy solution. Either way - it’s a lot of fun and you’ve got nothing to lose." - Astrella from Palfish

"I think it’s important to remember that, for the little kids just starting out, that this is all very new to them. If they’ve never had exposure to English, they won’t understand anything you’re saying. So using the TPR you learn in training is really important.

Be patient with your students and don’t expect them to understand everything at first. Focus on creating a fun and relaxed learning environment so they can thrive." - Bonnie from VIPKid

"Just keep smiling. Teaching online might stretch your comfort zone. Embrace it. When I started this, I almost talked myself out of it. Then I decided to do it simply because it scared me. I have never regretted it. I have taught over 1,850 classes in the last 19 months." - HollySue from VIPKid

"I’d say be the person you’d want to talk to if you were learning a second language online. At, Cambly most students are grown-ups but it’s a nerve-racking situation. I’ve spoken to science professors, engineers, and even a judge, and I can see they feel embarrassed when they make a mistake.

My approach is to be kind and patient, but also to have tricks and topics up my sleeve to keep them on their toes so that they’re not having the same lesson every time and are pushing themselves to use new vocabulary and expressions." - Charlie from Cambly

"Diversify! Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Companies come and go, plus they probably won’t be able to give you all the hours you want. Unless you’re happy with just 10 hours per week, you should try to work for 2 to 3 companies that complement each other. One regular, one short notice, one daytime school (or off-peak hours). To achieve a full-time income, I think that’s the best strategy.

Also, be patient with schools. It can take 3+ months to see how it’s going to go in the long term.  Don’t jump ship too early or you’ll never get established." - Martin from Whales English

"Never put all of your eggs in one basket. Sign up for multiple companies if possible. The online ESL world is constantly changing, one up-and-coming company may tank after a few months or may make changes that dramatically alter your income/hours.

Diversifying your portfolio will also help with online teacher burnout as you’ll have multiple curriculums, different types of students and ideally different hours that you can teach from, allowing your brain to function a little longer than spending 30 hours teaching the same thing over and over again!" - Kat from DaDaABC

"My advice would be to not doubt yourself. You can do it! If I can do it, you can do it. Jump in. See what all the fuss is about. Earn a paycheck in your pajamas. Why not?" - Ashley from Palfish

"Definitely vet the school to make sure they’re legit, but read reviews about them from current teachers, too. There are several programs that offer ESL teaching jobs and ultimately I decided to give it a go because I had NEVER read a bad review of VIPKid. All of the teachers love it." - Lauren from VIPKid

"Don’t give up. The application process and your first class are the hardest. Everything after that becomes easy and fun." - Carrie from VIPKid

"Be yourself! Yes, it's good to watch videos of other teachers giving tips and ideas, but don't try to be exactly like them. You be you. Take their advice and incorporate it into your specific style. If you try to be an energetic teacher and that's not your norm, you will attract students that need that energy full time and you will get burned out. Do your style of teaching, the students will find you. Happiness will ensue". - Cami from VIPKid

"I would be open to working with multiple ESL companies if you want to see any type of livable income. I’d suggest that you stay organized and do your research to find the pros and cons of each reputable company." - Cecily from VIPKid

"Find a mentor who will work with you. You’ll get a lot of teachers willing to share their referral link with you but make sure you choose someone who will help you throughout the hiring process. Teachers get a bonus when you use their referral link or code, so make them work for their money! Don’t try to copy someone else’s teaching style. Do what feels right and natural for you, and the kids will love you!" - Nadia from Qkids

"Watch videos on YouTube about teaching online if you're brand new to the industry. Most companies require the same basic things. There are tons of great resources out there to help you succeed. Also, make sure to get a mentor with that company. Most companies pay their teachers to help people get hired. They pay us specifically to spend time helping the candidate, not just to refer you and collect the money! Pick a mentor that allows you to message them questions, have a video call to practice for the interview, and gives you the resources to succeed!" - Jacob from Qkids

"Always remember that we have some major differences in our cultures. This is true no matter which online teaching company you choose. Our country is a democracy and theirs is not. It is always best to stick to the lesson plans provided and avoid any political conversations when having free talk with the students.

The lessons can also contain some generalizations that wouldn’t be as widely accepted in America (for example, gender generalizations can occur - the boy plays with a ball, the girl plays with a doll). It’s best not to get upset or read too much into these stereotypes. Just teach the lesson and learn as much as you can from your very unique experiences you’re experiencing through teaching English." - Alea from VIPKid 

"It comes with time! Just be patient, take it day by day and you will learn what works best for you. It is not as hard as it seems to be, and it could change your life!" - Samantha from VIPKid

"Invest in good equipment! I thought the internal cam on my laptop would be fine, but was so happy when I switched to my Logitech c920. Good headphones are a must. If you're teaching from a laptop, try to ensure that you're connected directly into your router. All of these not only improve the quality of the lesson from your end, but show the company that you are really invested in being a good online teacher." - Alyssa from Magic Ears

"Do you!  There are many companies out there and it's important to find one that suits what you want. It's also important to remember that every company has negatives and positives - you need to prioritize what you want and figure out what negatives you can deal with.  Don’t rely on other people’s opinions to decide for you." - Kelly from iTutorGroup

"I always encourage teachers to HAVE FUN! Yes, this is an important and serious job, teaching English to students, but the more engaged and fun you are having teaching the more engaged and invested the student will become.

Children in China are under a lot of pressure to perform well in school, we want their experience with VIPKId to be one to look forward to, not dread.

So I tell applicants that it's okay to step out of your comfort zone, act a little or even a lot silly. Be exaggerated and dramatic. I often say that I feel as if I put on my own Blues Clues show each day." - Jen from VIPKid

"My best piece of advice would be to just have fun with it. You will get all kinds of personalities and if you just have a good time and be yourself, you can’t go wrong." - Courtney from VIPKid

"A lot of these online schools recruit teachers with little-to-no experience and personally I don’t find a problem with that, as long as the teacher is willing to learn.

Get on YouTube and watch videos on how to teach certain topics in grammar and phonics, and review the lessons in advance so you are ready to teach the topic.

Be willing to be flexible and change your style up, mix it around. No one teaching method will work for all students. Using a combination of methods usually works best." - Melissa from Palfish

"Practice talking slowly. The lower level kids need you to talk slower but the companies will not like you dragging out words, and this takes practice. Learn TPR. Start slow! You have to get used to working in front of bright lights so early in the morning, so start with fewer classes and work your way up. 

Save money, as some times of the year are slow in the ESL world and China has lots of holidays. You may make $1200 one month and only $500 the next.

If you have little ones or often get sick, make sure you work for a company with a lenient cancellation policy. This is hard to find in the ESL world, and Qkids has one of the best cancellation policies." - Aleska from Qkids

"My very best tips for teaching English online are to go for it. Don’t be frozen in fear and not apply for a month, like I did because I felt intimidated. Whether you’re a seasoned teacher or not, if you have a knack for teaching and a love for children, you will do just fine. If that's your heart's desire, go for it!" - Janita from VIPKid

"Don't be intimidated by the bells and whistles you might see online. Yes, an extravagant classroom and props can be fun to share with your students, but at the end of the day, it's important to know that students learn differently and it's ok for teachers to teach differently, too. Be true to your own teaching style and students will find you." - Jennie from VIPKid

"If you're thinking about teaching English online, welcome! Take pride in becoming an online teacher. Get yourself a comfortable teaching area where you can set up your classroom.

Some people might not understand what you do for a living and some people might have some misconceptions of your job.  But you'll soon start to see the fruit of your labors and it will be sweet. You won't regret your decision. It’s worth it!" - Stephanie from VIPKid

"Take advantage of the many free resources available. There are YouTube videos for setting up everything you need, passing the interview, and getting great reviews from parents. Everything is out there for you to use! Simply research and put in a little bit of work to make it happen!" - Jenn from VIPKid

"Make sure you have working headphones with a microphone, webcam, very fast internet speed (at least 25 mbps download speed), have a huge availability early in the morning Mon-Sat, have a bachelor’s degree (it’s a law over in China now), and have a TESOL (that’s a law in China now as well for us teachers). Make sure you set aside your taxes every month when you are paid and file them quarterly." - Breanna from SayABC

"Jump in! You will need to have good equipment, a headset, and a camera, but the most important thing is your passion and care for students! If you're smiling and sharing positive energy, if you're good at TPR and know how to make your students happy, this will be a perfect place for you to work. Come and join us, we will be happy to have amazing teachers!" - Milena from iTutorGroup

"Find a company that's trustworthy, established, and growing.  Avoid “shiny objects” such as startup/copycat companies that do not yet have a reputation. If you’re putting in the effort to get hired and commit to teaching, find a company that will support your dreams!" - Kristina from VIPKid

"Have fun!" - Michelle from VIPKid

"I would advise others to really do their homework and talk with people that currently work for the online ESL company they have an interest in. Their advice can be valuable. It’s so important to do your own research." - Karen from VIPKid

"My best piece of advice for someone who wants to apply is to be yourself! Don’t watch YouTube videos of other teachers and try to be just like them because they’re bubbly and over the top. Don’t try to be mellow because you see calm teachers. The students that need you and that connect well with your teaching style WILL find you. You will be loved and adored by so many children because of your individual personality." - Alyssa from VIPKid

"Getting hired is the most challenging part. Once you’re in and teaching in the classroom, the pressure is off a little and you can learn to make each class your own. The students that you fit well with will continue to book you over and over. My schedule is FULL of kiddos that I adore, and our personalities really mesh. Stick with it and you can make great money and have a ton of fun!" - Jessi from VIPKid

"The best piece of advice I have is to take the chance and give it a try. I was incredibly nervous about teaching online because it felt so out of my element. It took me weeks before I gathered the courage to go through the hiring process. I’m so glad I did. I have met the loveliest people through work.

I may be the teacher, but I have had my eyes opened to a whole other culture and country due to this job. Working for VIPKid is so much more than just a paycheck, it’s helped me grow as a person." - Courtney from VIPKid

"If you work for a Chinese company, you will not find one that's perfect. It's about finding one that works for you!" - Jill from Whales English

"I’d say be patient, work hard, and good things will come. When I started teaching online, which was back in 2007, I was making $800 per month. I had to pay my dues and clear a lot of hurdles, but I’ve found a position that I’m really happy with.

Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of a good education. Not everything is learned in a book, but having a strong educational background (beyond an online certificate) is really important. Go earn your master’s or doctorate. Get highly qualified and the doors will begin to open for you!" - Jay from Whales English

"Don’t get caught up in props, backgrounds and technical stuff until you have your feet under you. Go basic. Find out what your groove is before you invest a small fortune.

Also, and I wish this were a requirement for all online English teachers: get Ed Nace’s Loud and Clear "feedback book." It was early in my time as an online teacher, and I was starting to feel like I was just reading from a prepared lesson and not really making a difference. Then I got his book, and it changed my attitude. All teachers make a difference.

I’m very honest in feedback with parents. I can sugarcoat things when needed, but sometimes, you just  need to say, “I”ll be happy to see Bao Bao in my class again when a parent can be present,” or “I hope you'll be able to find a teacher who fits Bao Bao’s personality. I wish him well in the future.”

I’ve found parents to be helpful for the most part. They are just like us... spending money on something else for their kid, and they want them to do well. Just be honest and polite!" - Ruthie from VIPKid

"Make sure the company you're looking to work for is reliable. Don’t spend a lot of money on your start up. I already had a reliable computer and internet. I bought inexpensive headphones ($25) that are still going strong over a year into teaching. I only spent about $15 on my background and initial props. Also, once I started making a steady income I did invest in software to track my business expenses and taxes. But most of all, have fun!" - Moira with VIPKid

"You can do it. Have confidence in yourself and do your own thing, but remember you're providing a service to paying parents, so show up and do your job well with a sincere desire to teach a quality class. 

Provide individualized, constructive feedback. It only takes a few minutes and parents have a choice to book you or someone else, so help them see the value in what their children are learning.

When I coach someone to hire, I always point them to an e-book that a current VIPKid teacher, with a lot of teaching experience in China, wrote on providing valuable feedback to Chinese parents that translates well from our English words into the Chinese culture. 

It’s so helpful and also often improves teacher ratings. As a VIPKid teacher, 5-apple ratings by parents are super important in earning rewards, getting future bookings, additional contracts and raises. It’s helpful to read through that e-book upon hire to get a good understanding of what parents expect and how to exceed their expectations." - Michelle H. with VIPKid

"Set up your classroom to be a space you enjoy being in day in and day out. Make it reflect your personality and make sure you can reach props without leaving the screen. 

Make sure the company does not limit you in the number of hours you work or the pay rate and make sure there is scope for growth in the company.

I’ve had many teachers from other companies reach out to me on Instagram and Facebook asking me what VIPKid is like because the company they're with only allows a few hours a week, or the company promised so many things they have yet to provide.

I researched every single company out there until I was blue in the face, and while VIPKID may not be the highest paying, they were definitely the most reputable." - Lauren from VIPKid

"Try to create a fun and engaging conversation with students. Create opportunities for the student to be smart. Instead of telling them directly, give clues about a fact or grammar point and let the student figure it out and tell you. 

Make silly mistakes or ask ridiculous questions to engage them in the conversation.

Let the student teach you! Ask them about their country, family, hobbies, opinions, etc. Be curious and encourage them to be curious." - Jenny from VIPKid

"Have fun. Seriously! I love teaching online because I laugh a lot. My students really bring me joy and make my job fun. It can be hard waking up early all the time in the wee hours of the morning but if you go into each day with a positive attitude, those students can really bring a smile to your face." - Morgan from Magic Ears

"Be patient with yourself as you learn how to teach online. You can have 20+ years teaching in a school setting, but online is a different teaching world. I’ve seen teachers who are in college be successful at this and teachers who have masters degrees and have taught for 20+ years not be able to teach ESL online. If you want to do this, then know you can!" - Debbie from Magic Ears

"Knowledge is power, so use your resources! Find a teacher that is already in the online ESL industry to help guide you and teach you the ins and outs of teaching online. It will help make you feel more prepared and allow you to have the smoothest transition possible into this career field!" - Carley from Magic Ears

"Definitely look at your options. There are so many companies out there and it’s important that you find a company that fits best with your lifestyle and your teaching style!" - Raquel from Magic Ears

"My best piece of advice is to search the company name on FB ESL pages and see what others have had to say about them... not just people looking to refer. Join the actual company pages on FB where you can see the tone of the group. If people are generally unhappy, that’s a bad sign. For the most part the teachers who work at Qkids are some of the most content. I have worked for 4 other ESL companies for short time periods when looking for a back-up during slow periods but Qkids is my favorite." - Mary from Qkids

"Definitely look at your options. There are so many companies out there and it’s important that you find a company that fits best with your lifestyle and your teaching style!" - Raquel from Magic Ears

"If you're thinking about teaching online, remember that personality and alertness is key! It’s different than teaching in person as we're missing physical touch as a form of communication, so people have to rely on your personality, engagement and props to help understand the message you're trying to communicate.

Anyone can be an amazing online teacher if they incorporate  dedication and understanding needed to help transmit the English language. It’s also important to ensure you connect with the platform and company you want to work with! You’ll know the right fit when you get there!" - Cia from Magic Ears

"There are so many online ESL companies these days, and some teachers are better suited for one over another. There will be horror stories shared on blogs or Facebook or YouTube for every company. Take those stories with a grain of salt, as you will also find someone praising a company endlessly without any criticism.

To be honest, I almost didn’t start with Magic Ears after I was hired because I watched a video about someone’s bad experience. That happens everywhere. We're all human. I'm so glad I kept going anyway, because Magic Ears really is the best fit for me. I hope you find it is for you, too!" - Katie from Magic Ears

"You know, it’s kind of grim advice, but be aware that burnout is really common in this field because of the way some of these companies treat their tutors.

I don’t want to discourage people from tutoring online because it has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done, but I’ve just seen too many people pour their hearts into a company only to have the rug pulled out from under them.

My best advice is to work with more than one company! Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, use those different peak times to make sure your schedule is always full.

And also work for your students! Being controlled by a company’s unfair and unforgiving policies is only going to frustrate you! Focusing on your kids and giving them the wonderful gift of an English education is going to make you love going to work!" - Jacob from Cambly

"Your first class with be nerve wracking, especially if you haven’t done it before. But you get used to it so fast and you’ll love it. 

Make sure you go with a reputable school of course. And if you can do a TESOL course as well that will certainly help! You can do them online fairly quickly." - Breanna from DaDaABC

"Kids are kids! Seriously, have fun in the classroom and do not allow yourself to become so rigid that fun is not possible.  

Often these students have already had a full day of classes and likely we are not the first extra curricular activity they had that day. Be fun, be open, be mindful you likely will be teaching a completely different culture than your own and expect to be surprised at times.

In my experience focusing on combining fun with education is essential to a great classroom experience!" - Alex from Whales English

"Teaching English online is a wonderful job and it gives you the chance to get in touch with the Chinese culture.

However, you have to keep in mind that these kinds of companies work all year round (Whales closes only for Chinese New Year), which means that you have to plan  ahead of time so you can teach your classes or let your teacher support know about your holidays well in advance so they can look for a substitute." - Enid from Whales English

"Learn to enjoy the adrenaline. And you also have to be a little zen. It’s easier said than done. It’s easy to get frustrated when you have a student in a trial that can’t read when the other student can. It’s harder to take deep breaths and understand the bigger picture." - Glen from Whales English

"Read teacher reviews of the school you might want to work for. They're not all the same and teachers are very helpful about sharing their work experience, but also keep in mind that disgruntled teachers may be more verbose than happy ones, so take it with a grain of salt.

A handful of disgruntled teachers compared to hundreds of happy ones should be weighed correctly. Also, read through the contracts carefully about pay, bonuses and deductions. Ask lots of questions regarding this if it isn’t clear." - Heidi with Whales English

"Read real reviews online, watch YouTube videos of actual classes, be patient (you won’t get a full schedule right away) and remember not to make this your only source of income because these companies have a tendency to come and go." - Lewis from Whales English

"Compare the benefits and disadvantages of each company. VIPKid pays the best but you aren’t guaranteed a booked schedule. Other companies pay you for a set schedule even if you aren’t booked, but pay less, so it all depends on how flexible you need to be." - Ashley from VIPKid

"I think that it’s good to have a secondary gig because hours are not always guaranteed. It depends on the bookings with the students. I’ve had times where I’m completely booked and other times where I haven’t been able to teach as much. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and make sure you have a good safety net!" - Aurora from Magic Ears

"Make sure you don't over overwork yourself; give yourself time to rest. Working from home is great, but we tend to work more in the comfort of our own home. Also remember you are in control of the class; make sure to not go too fast or too slow and you will be an amazing tutor." - Ivan from Cambly

"Learn one positive thing from each teacher that you meet. Put all of these things together and make it your own. This can be teaching techniques, prop usage, referring, skills, and so much more. Be yourself, be sincere and be proud. This job is so much more than teaching online. You are touching lives and having an incredible impact on families. Teach the curriculum and teach with your heart." - Karyn from VIPKid

"My best piece of advice is to invest in your education and equipment. There are some quick, cheap online ESL certification classes and that might be all you can afford in time and money. However, I think that the more you know about ESL techniques and methodology, the more effective you will be as a teacher.

I invested in a quality online TEFL certification program from ITA (International TEFL Academy) out of Chicago and it’s definitely paying off! I also invested in fiber optic Internet service and a nice laptop to teach. This has resulted in almost no classes transferred due to IT issues. These two investments have helped me more than any prop I’ve bought." - Michelle from Magic Ears

"If you have a kid who just won’t respond/is on their phone - be 'Dora the Explorer.' So say the question, pause, say it again (maybe rephrase it a little), pause, then answer and cheer the student as if they answered it on their own. Then even if they are too scared to participate in class, they still hear proper English conversation, and if they were distracted in class, they can still return and watch the replay and practice along with it." - Joscelin from VIPKid

"I think it's really important to do your own research and not solely rely on reviews in Facebook groups or job boards.

Firstly, I would look to see if the school has a presence online. What's their website like? How straightforward is the application process? What's their communication like? What are their expectations and requirements? Make sure you are  clear about these things before applying.

Then I would look at reviews and get an overall picture of what people are talking about. However, I wouldn’t let these reviews solely dictate whether you should apply or not.

Reach out for help and surround yourself with positive people! Apply to a school that suits your needs. Are you looking for daytime work or early morning work? Do you want to teach adults or children? Are you limiting yourself only to the Chinese market?

Answer some basic questions for yourself first and then jump in, it’s a wonderful job with lots of potential and opportunity!" - Tim from VIPKid

"Go for it!! I spent 1 year hemming and hawing about whether or not to try it. I regret that so much! You can start slow, and open your schedule little by little. It might feel overwhelming or that you don’t have enough, but everyone starts somewhere." - Danielle from SayABC

"Join online teaching groups and see what the members have to say about teaching English online. Ask questions about the schools, the requirements, bonuses, hours, etc. Ask every question you can think of. Then you can put the pros and cons together to make sure that this is for you. Teaching online is not for everybody." - Bree from Whales English

"This sounds so obvious, but REMEMBER that English is not their first language. I had a conversation once with a ‘teacher’ who was working with another online company and wanted to apply for Whales. She told me she was, at the moment of the conversation, in a ‘lesson’ with a student in her other company and was really fed up with talking to people who had no English. Erm… wrong job for her?

Also - do not rely on people who spam their referral links at you. DO SOME RESEARCH. You get what you put in. Don’t expect a full schedule instantly - you have to prove yourself. Don’t think that this is a job ‘any idiot can do.’ Let’s try to keep this industry professional by respecting it as a real job that we are trained and qualified for." - Jeanette from Whales English

"Speak to people who are currently working for the company. Ask them all types of questions! When you’re teaching, be the kids’ TV presenter version of yourself! Match their energy and engage with them. Relax and enjoy yourself, and do the best that you can." - Suzanne from iTutorGroup

"Don’t be nervous to try this new experience! Give it your best. Enjoy and have fun with it! The company provides all types of professional development, and between that and if you use a good referral teacher, then you’ll have no problems at all. It truly feels like everyone is on your side and is there to support you." - Nichole from VIPKid

"I would say, stop waiting for the perfect timing and just start taking action. Do all the things you think might be interesting. Try the things you think you might be good at. If you aren’t, it is ok. You can move on. At least you tried. Waiting for perfect timing in life just allows too many moment and opportunities to slip past you. Stop doing that. When my children are adults, I want them to think of their mother and her dreams, talents, hobbies, aspirations, interests, and goals and know she was never afraid fo try." - Beth from SayABC

"Research and try out ways to keep the learning as interactive as possible for your students. Ensure that they are correcting themselves whenever possible, and minimize your talking so that they can improve as much as possible." - Leyla from Cambly

"Love your job! Remember that the job you’re doing is so unique, so fun, so exciting! You’re making a difference. This is one job where whatever you put in, you absolutely get out, and there is nothing more rewarding! Don’t get frustrated or down when something goes wrong- a rejection from a company, low bookings, low ratings, etc. just keep pushing through!" - Brittany from Magic Ears

"You cannot please everyone. These online platforms heavily weight parent/client feedback. Do your best and stay true to your style. Your people will find you. The ones that aren’t your people will move on. Don’t let negative feedback ruin the whole experience. Strive to better yourself, but know that when the majority of your feedback is positive, the negative ones just didn’t connect. And do research! Not every company is reputable and has integrity!" - Stacey from iTutorGroup

"Don’t worry too much about what other teachers are doing. Honestly, online forums can be a great source of advice, but I’ve been in various Facebook groups in the past and there are some know-it-alls who think their way is the best way. They tell you to sing songs and do X, Y and Z for every kid, but all children are different. Quite simply: trust your intuition." - Charlie from DaDaABC

"Be willing to stand your ground. There are many ESL companies out there who take advantage of teachers and teachers constantly make excuses for them. I've been doing this as a career for a long time and I absolutely refuse to accept dishonesty or unfair business practices. You are worth more; don't accept just anything. There are plenty of companies to choose from. If a company mistreats you, move on to the next one." - Jennifer from Cambly

"Do your research. There are SO MANY ESL companies out there, but really only a handful that are real standouts among the ESL teaching community - and even from that list there is a best fit for everyone. I looked seriously into about five companies before applying and getting hired with VIPKid and Qkids. Now I /m only teaching with Qkids because I love it so much." - Stephanie from Qkids

"My best piece of advice is to simply smile. No matter what company you work for, parents want their children not only to learn in the classroom, but also to have fun. For many of the younger students, you may be the first “foreign” teacher they meet.

Smiling is a great way to show them you are friendly and they can trust you in class. For older, more experienced students (even teenagers), smiling lets them know that you have confidence in their abilities and it encourages them to do their best. Smiling is a universal language and can do no harm, only good!" - Sierra from Magic Ears

"Best advice to someone who wants to teach English online to kids is to do your research. Find a company that fits for you. One that fits with your lifestyle. Then find a mentor who will actually help you get through the process. Remember, you’re an independent contractor and this is a business. Work that business. Continue to grow and learn yourself." - Julie from Cambly

"I think the best piece of advice would have to be to genuinely enjoy working with, talking to and playing with children." - Rosa from Cambly

"Learn as much as you can! Teaching your native language may sound easy, but it isn’t! Reach out to fellow teachers and build a network. It can be isolating working from home, but the online community is so strong that it's like having 1,000 of the best co-workers ever!" - Emily from Magic Ears

"I would say get your lighting set up. I have photography lighting and it was worth the money. I spent a lot of money on tech at Walmart. Get that photography lighting.

Familiarize yourself with ManyCam. I love ManyCam. It has a cool filter so it looks like you always have makeup on or like you got ready when you might not have. Get a background from eBay. And then again, just practice, practice, practice. Bring your A game, bring your own personality, get a mentor, and do your research and watch YouTube videos!" - Vanessa from Magic Ears

"Research the schools well. Since VIPKid came onto the scene, many other similar companies have popped up but have turned out to be a nightmare. In some cases teachers did not get paid! So really do your research and hear from teachers who actually work with the company." - Delilah from VIPKid

"Get your certificate and go for it! I will admit, it's a little strange sometimes. It’s just odd when you first start… sometimes your smile will be fake, getting up early and exerting energy is tough, coffee is a must, you often deal with puppets and props and a childish backdrop, sometimes struggle with making sure your face is lit enough, all of that.

But to be able to work from home… to travel… we don’t realize how freeing that is until we're doing it. You can make over $20 an hour, work in the morning and be done by 10 or 11 and you have the whole day to do anything else you want! Most people aren’t even awake at that time." - Bella from Whales English

"Constructive criticism is the best. If you need to add something to your feedback about the child's performance, try to stress what they did well first.

In regards to teaching English online, get ready for your life to change. Having this freedom is strange at first. You'll think it's too good to be true; however, this is definitely something you can obtain. I quit my full time job at the hospital as a CNA/heart monitor technician. I'm so thankful that I decided to take a chance and work the 'unconventional' job." - Danielle from Magic Ears

"Smile and expect the unexpected! You never know who you might meet in the classroom!" - Alana from Whales English

"My best advice would be watch YouTube videos on how to teach online, join ESL groups online, and don’t jump into just any school. Do your research. Work for more then one school, but maybe start with one and see how you go. Find what 'you' want and then apply to the school that fits that mould." - Janna from DaDaABC

"In my experience, finding the right company that fits your style and personality is key. I tried about 5 different companies and was never completely satisfied until I found the right choice for me, Qkids. Make sure you work for a company that you trust and respect, and begin from there. Don’t give up, it gets easier over time! Your students can’t wait to meet you!" - Samantha from Qkids

"Ask questions and do your research! There are a lot of companies out there. Find the one that works for you. There are companies that pay more and others that pay less, but keep in mind that, for some, you must purchase items for your class, create curriculums or even schedule yourself. Do your homework. The best advice I can give, even if you haven’t taught before, is that once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro! Be energetic and have fun. The students will feed off of your energy!" - Tania from Qkids

"Best piece of advice would be to make sure you have all the basic requirements met, and then after that make sure you complete your teacher profile to get verified. You need to have a great voice to project, an attractive appearance (not like you just rolled out of bed), patience, and a warm, friendly and outgoing personality. I must add that a lot of people make this mistake. Not opening the schedule enough. Parents want to see open and consistent schedules. If you don’t have that, then they’re going to go to another teacher. It’s that simple!" - Camden from Palfish

"Pick a company that works for you. Join FB groups that are dedicated to teaching English online because people share lots of resources with each other on there." - Idara from Qkids

"Research thoroughly and practice a lot before your demo. Watch YouTube videos, hone your skills, and have a huge smile when you apply. This gives you the best chance at high base rate. I put a lot of my attention into building rapport and have a devout following that chooses me as their only teacher. Take interest in the children and keep notes on what they like. Students pick up your energy, so be enthusiastic and make learning English fun." - Jessica from Gogokid

"Learn about the companies you're applying to work for. Read about the CEO and read reviews on Glassdoor (or here! Read reviews on VIPKid, Magic Ears, Whales, and Cambly!).

Reach out to current teachers. They know the ins and outs of a company. If they are still with the company, they know how to navigate them. Take the reviews of fired teachers with a grain of salt.

If you still feel overwhelmed, take my course!" - Ebony from Qkids

"Don’t be scared and blow over wildly like a blade of grass and don’t be stiff to change and suggestion like a great oak tree. Bend and sway like bamboo. 

Don’t compare yourself to everyone else’s experiences and success. Weigh the pros and cons and which pros and cons fit your lifestyle and needs best. There’s no perfect company, but they each offer something that is valuable to somebody.

Look into all the requirements, find video examples and testimonials on your chosen company(ies), and have a strong resume that highlights any and all teaching experiences and interactions.

Be ready for video introductions and presentations if need be and keep it simple. It’s less about the bells and whistles and more about how you can unfold a lesson and draw the learner in to want to be there. Have genuine fun. It shows." - LaShundra from DaDaABC

"Research different companies, as there are a lot out there. There’s a group on Facebook called Hired Online ESL Teachers which is really helpful too." - Justine from DaDaABC

"Make sure you have all your credentials in order before you apply. Many companies want at least a bachelor’s degree, TEFL/TESOL or CELTA, and teaching experience.

Also, be sure to have a reliable laptop, a fast Internet connection, an Ethernet cable, and a headset. Gather some stuffed animals, toys, and flashcards (you’ll need props for most companies).

Be very energetic and smile a lot during your interview and mock classes. Watch YouTube videos about TPR. Be super reliable and punctual. Enjoy meeting all the great kids who will arrive in your virtual classroom." - Cheryl from Gogokid

"Be patient. It takes time to build-rapport with the students and to see your schedule filling up." - Emily from DaDaABC

"Have fun. Personalize your classes. Make each child feel as if they are your only student for the whole day. I love that Palfish is a 1-on-1 classroom and that I can interact outside of classes with them." - Melissa from Palfish

"Be ready to teach Beijing time, as a lot of the companies are Chinese, be ready to be paid maybe once a month (the 10th or the 15th), be adaptable, be flexible, don’t give up after one bad lesson, keep trying and your efforts will pay off.

Some paychecks are better than others.

Always have a positive mental attitude and smile as much as possible. Get up, dress up, show up. Be punctual, reliable, sociable. Talk to coworkers in the Facebook groups when you want to chat about the job or ask questions.

Learn to park the job aside when it’s over and don’t spend all your time thinking about it either because you need your downtime Enjoy it!

If Dada isn’t for you, then look for an adult company. There is so much support out there and resources if you invest your time in this. It can be a full time job for some people or a part time job." - Roisin from DaDaABC

"Do it! A friend had been nagging at me to teach online for years and I kept putting it off as I'm very bad with technology. I tried a few different companies at first before I found Palfish and I really like it. My biggest regret of teaching online is that I didn't start teaching online sooner." - Tara from Palfish

"My advice is to learn from other teachers, especially if you are inexperienced or new to the world of online teaching. There are a ton of Youtube videos and blogs out there where you can pick up a range of tips, tricks and ideas for your classroom." - Melissa from DaDaABC

"My best piece of advice is that if you have a passion and a desire to change your life, greatly consider teaching online, but KNOW that it is quite different from teaching in a traditional classroom. Many teachers who have taught in a traditional classroom sometimes do not make an easy transition into online teaching. Have no expectations about it, but definitely do your research. There are tons of companies out there. 

I have only worked for Palfish, but it was honestly the best thing to happen to me. I stumbled on it on Pinterest of all places! So, look up as much information as you can; however, also remember that you will find both the good and the bad. 

Personal development is also crucial when teaching online, as is patience and persistence. I really think anyone would love Palfish to be honest." - Lee Ann from Palfish

"The best thing I have discovered is working for multiple companies. Gogokid is my favorite company and my main one, but I teach for a couple others, too. I find it is really easy to get burned out when you teach for a long stretch of time for 1 company, so I like to break it up and teach for multiple companies a day. As long as you're organized with your schedule, it’s easy. My schedule looks the same every day, so I know what I'm teaching and at what time. It helps me stay on my toes and not get bored of the same format and lesson over and over again. I on average teach 8 to 12 classes a morning, so changing things up is really nice." - Meredith from Gogokid

"Get your TESOL certification. Most online companies require it. I got mine from International Open Academy. Ask A LOT of questions. Be patient and do not get easily discouraged. Some companies can take longer than others to get started with. And create a nice learning environment." - Ashley from Palfish

"Most of these companies do not have a strong onboarding package or a mentoring program. Teaching online is very different from classroom teaching. Whether you're teaching adults or children, you must be prepared to be 'more' than you would be in the classroom. More animated and use the technique of “show and say”. TPR (Total Physical Response) is a technique that has helped me be successful. I knew nothing about TPR when I first started my ESL journey several years ago but I was willing to seek out the information. Now the technique is part of my approach to helping learners grow." - Brenda from Cambly

"Try it!! If you don't like it, leave. It is what you make of it. Try different companies. They are all different and you're not going to like some and some won't like you. Find the ones that fit you." - Julie from Palfish

"It’s not about how much a company is offering you, it’s about whether or not you actually get classes." - Shaheen from iTutorGroup

"Teaching English online is different from teaching in person. My best advice would be to try and be as fun and engaging as possible, and don’t be afraid to correct. Working online can be very fast-paced, as I often have a new student to teach every 30 minutes. So find your rhythm and figure out what works best for you.

Because you will rarely be able to build a long-term relationship with your students, you must be sure to make good impressions and make learning fun. This goes for kids and adults. Remember, they're paying for you to teach them and taking valuable time out of their busy lives to have these lessons. Focus on making sure they feel enriched, happy and entertained by the end of the lesson, as opposed to bored or discouraged." - Juan from iTutorGroup

"The most successful teachers manage more than 1 company, while they EARN. I specifically use the word 'manage' because being able to divide or balance your work between at least 2 companies will allow you to maximize your time allotment and income potential.

You may make yourself available to work 100 hours per month, but in this industry it’s the clients’ availability that drives everything: you work when students schedule classes. Summer breaks, major holidays, severe weather, and other issues can impact how hundreds or thousands of students decide to 'book' classes.

By working for more than 1 company, and I currently work for 2, you can maximize your overall 'booking rate,' which is the end game in this industry as an online English teacher.

In my case, 1 company books classes for me up to 2 weeks in advance, whereas ITG might book me in less than 48 hours. Once I'm booked 2 weeks in advance, then I will complete my schedule with ITG’s shorter notice bookings. It is always the case that I end up teaching a lot more with ITG because the bookings, again, are computer assigned. I personally work about 30-40 hours per week teaching English online and average about $2800-$3500 per month." - Rick from iTutorGroup

"My best piece of advice would be to make sure you get outside after your classes. Whether you work 2 or 12 classes, it’s so important to have self-care. Take a walk or go grab a cup of coffee.

Also, for classroom set up, make sure you're comfortable. If you get a grumpy student, just smile and keep teaching. Keep in mind we don’t know what happened before their classes. Always remember there is a human being with feelings on the other side of the camera." - Audra from iTutorGroup

There's a ton of great advice and unique insight here from teachers currently working for a variety of companies.

If you're considering teaching English as a serious employment opportunity, or if you're just looking to make some extra cash on the side to support your family, we're fairly certain that these tips for teaching English online will be invaluable!

Are you an online English teacher? Do you have some advice to share? Tell us in the comments!

  • Lori Diallo says:

    Awesome advice! Great insight! Thanks for sharing!

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