Essential resources for online English teachers

When you’re first starting out as an online English teacher it’s normal to feel a little lost. While online teaching companies will supply you with everything you need to teach – from the tech to the actual lessons – if you’re going freelance it’s a different story.

Some teachers will choose to only teach via online companies, but if you’re aiming to maximise your earning potential you’ll want to focus on building your own business. Make sure to check out our previous post about how to be a successful online teacher for more about this!

So, those with the ambition to go freelance – this one’s for you. Working independently means taking responsibility for everything – from sourcing students, to the lesson material, and handling payments.

We’re going to take a look at three important aspects of online teaching and the best resources for them. These are:

  • Software and tools
  • Marketing
  • Creating lessons

A woman talking to someone via video call


Software and tools for teaching English online

Let’s tackle the practical stuff first. When you’re teaching online the basics you need are: video conferencing software, a way to share files, and a means of getting paid.

Zoom

It seems like everyone is using Zoom these days – for family quizzes, business meetings, and so much more. It’s a great tool for video conferencing that comes with a range of useful features for teaching online, such as screensharing and scheduling your lessons. The free plan restricts you to 40 minutes, or you can upgrade for longer lessons and additional features.

Google docs

Here at The TEFL Org we love Google Docs. It’s an easy way to share documents and collaborate with others – long gone are the days of sending a word document back and forth awkwardly over email and ending up with lots of different versions saved. Google Docs is a great way for teachers to share documents with students, whether it’s for homework or activities during lessons.

PayPal

Your students need to be able to pay you and since most of them will likely be in a different country a bank transfer can be a costly option. PayPal is a service used worldwide to send and receive money. They take a small transaction fee for international transfers but it’s nothing compared to what your bank would charge.

See our post about 10 of the best tools and software for teaching English online for more!

Marketing yourself as an online teacher

Freelance online teachers need to source clients, which means marketing their services. There are many different ways you can go about doing this but don’t feel like you need to do everything at once! Focus on doing a few things well rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Your own website

If you’re starting out as a freelance online English teacher then it’s essential to have your own website. Potential students need to be able to easily check out your CV and details about the services you offer.

Keep in mind, unless you’re an SEO wizard no one is going to just stumble across your site, so you’ll need to direct people to it through social media or ads. Not sure how to get started creating your own site? Our 40-hour Teaching English Online course guides you through how to do it.

Canva

Canva makes it easy to create visual material for both marketing purposes and your lessons. It’s a graphic design platform that’s completely web-based and it’s free (with options to upgrade). Canva makes it quick and simple to create images, with a huge range of templates and a library of images, fonts, and more to use.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email and marketing service, which is a must-have for keeping in touch with existing students and recruiting new ones. You can use it to send out a regular newsletter, collect leads, and let students know of any news or special offers you’re running.

Social media

Our best tip for using social media for marketing yourself as an online English teacher is to focus on just one or two. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube are some of the big players, but creating content for all of them would be an entire job in itself. Instead, think about your target demographic – what platforms are they using?

A person writing in a notepad


Creating online lessons

Online companies tend to supply teachers with lesson plans and materials, but if you’re out on your own you need to do all of this yourself. It can be a lot of work in the beginning, however if you have your sights set on upping your income then it’s absolutely worth it.

Your TEFL course will guide you through how to approach lesson planning, as well as methods for teaching vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, and so much more. The below are some great resources to help you put together effective online lessons that will have students coming back for more.

Lesson plans

Assemble your library of good-quality lesson plans with the help of the below websites. These lesson plans can be used as is, adapted to your specific needs, or simply used for inspiration!

The TEFL Org PDF lesson packs

ESL Library

Linguahouse

ESL Authority

British Council

ESL Brains

Busy Teacher

Grammar

Grammar strikes fear into the hearts of many newbie EFL teachers. It’s totally normal to feel that way and the only way to get more confident is to dive in and start teaching it! These websites are great resources for both you and your students.

Learn English – British Council

Englishgrammar.org

Grammar Monster

Grammar Girl

Other resources

These resources are specifically targeted towards English language learners and can be great to incorporate into your lessons or used as homework. When you’re teaching English online there are so many ways you can get creative and interactive.

Tinycards

News in Levels

5 Minute English

BBC Learning English

Interested in finding out more about teaching English online? Check out our Definitive Guide

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