Anyone interested in making money online has undoubtedly heard about teaching English via video chat to students around the world. If you google “teaching English online’ you’ll be bombarded with ads promising things like ‘$23 an hour! flexible schedules! and very easy working conditions’. In this article, I hope to cut through the crap and give you an accurate idea of what teaching English online is really like. I’ve been a teacher for over 4 years now and I really enjoy it but that doesn’t mean it is for everyone.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Teaching with iTutor
These are the primary benefits of teaching English online
- Flexible Schedules
- Good pay
- Easy job
Some of the primary drawbacks include:
- Pay highly based on student feedback
- Sometimes you won’t get classes
This is one of the biggest benefits of teaching online. You get to choose your hours and thus how much you want to make. However, the largest companies are based in Asia which means you’ll be working at night or in the wee hours of the morning such as 3am-6am. What’s worse is most companies require their teachers to teach a minimum amount of ‘peak hours’ which are between 5pm-8pm Bejing (+8:00) which is 4am-7am New York City time (-11:00)
Asian employers are known for overpromising the benefits one can receive by working for them. This is common throughout Asia but not so much in the west. Many western teachers are perturbed to discover that the pay they receive at the end of the month isn’t what they expected (lower). Different companies justify it in different ways. iTutor, for example, promises a pay of $16-$20 an hour on their ads but what they don’t tell you is that figure is based on bonuses you may or may not receive from students. Seeing as most students don’t bother to rate the lessons that means you won’t get the bonuses. Also, having your pay based so heavily on student ratings is problematic in of itself as students can be capricious, especially small children which are also allowed to rate the teachers.
Other companies just pay very low. BiboGlobal, for example, pays just $5 per 25-minute session ($10 an hour). Other companies pay more but again you’re highly dependant on bonuses.
What it boils down to is some companies are better than others. I suggest thoroughly researching companies before you decide to hitch your wagon. Also, beware of companies that won’t even give you a range until you pass the interview. In my experience, the pay is typically low.
It’s an Easy Job!
I can honestly say that teaching English online has been one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had. While you can’t just read the powerpoint slides and expect to get good ratings the prep-work is minimal–zero. One thing I love about dealing with older students is that I can talk and bond with them. In other words, I’m getting paid to have conversations with new people from all around the world!
If you teach little kids you will need to buy some props, like stuffed animals, hand puppets things like that but those who already enjoy working with kids shouldn’t have a problem with this at all. The key to being successful with any age or English level is to get them to laugh. I love making my students laugh, even if it’s at my expense. If I make them laugh then I know I’m getting a good rating plus they enjoyed the lesson and probably learned a lot more than if I just had them read the slides.
Requirements for iTutor
Most companies teaching Chinese students have the same basic requirements to become a teacher
- A Bachelor’s Degree (any subject)
- A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certificate
- Be a native speaker of English (there are exceptions)
- A laptop
- Stable high-speed internet connection
Some of the more choosey ones *cough VIPKid cough* want you to have some online teaching experience. However other companies, like BiboGlobal, don’t require a degree but they also pay substantially less–around $10 per hour.
Tips on Getting Hired
The days when anyone with a degree could get hired are over. With its growing popularity companies are becoming more selective than they used to be but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get hired relatively easily. I work for iTutor and I didn’t even have to do an interview, I just submitted a video and it wasn’t even that good. LOL! Other companies require a little bit more effort, however. Some tips to get you started are:
- Make sure you have good lighting
- Get an educational backdrop (a background photo of ABCs for example)
- Use TPR (be very expressive with your facial expressions and use hand movements to convey your instructions)
- Be enthusiastic and wear a smile during your interview.