“How much can you really earn teaching English online?”
“Can you make a living working from home as an online English tutor?”
These are just two of the questions we receive weekly. While some teachers give English lessons over the internet to supplement their current income, many teach online permanently.
Teach English Online
There is the myth that because it is an online class, it will be cheaper than a class in-person – while this is true for some online courses, it isn’t for online language lessons.
If you follow a set course syllabus or if you are writing tailored lessons for each student, this will dictate how much you should charge per lesson.
With a set course syllabus, your lessons are already planned out so preparation time if any, is scaled down. The student also knows exactly what they are signing up for beforehand.
By writing tailored lessons for each student, this will take more time so you should adjust your hourly rate accordingly. Providing your students with recordings of the lesson, worksheets and extra study materials can also increase the hourly rate you charge.
Using simple maths, take the number of hours you are available to teach and multiply that by your hourly rate – with this, you can estimate what you could earn on a weekly or monthly basis.
Some teachers choose to do it the other way around and start with the income they are looking to earn and then divide this by the average hourly rate to work out how many lessons they need to give per week/month. It is a ‘guesstimate’, but it will provide you with a good indication of the time you need to set aside and also an idea of your earning potential. Don’t forget to take into account the time necessary to plan lessons and correct homework!
Types of online English lessons
There are many different motivations for English learners to take online English lessons. Some are interested in just improving their conversational English for an upcoming holiday to an English-speaking country, others may be looking to improve their job prospects, and some have specific requirements, e.g. looking to learn English from a teacher with an American accent as they do business with clients in America.
N.B. A slightly reduced rate is usually offered for group lessons (when teaching two or more English language learners at the same time) as the tutor’s attention/time is split between the different learners.
General or conversational English
Expect to earn anywhere from £8 / $10 per lesson upwards
Give English learners some help with their fluency and correcting basic errors. These typically don’t include in-depth grammar study.
Expect to earn from £20 / $25 per lesson upwards
These lessons normally cover topics like writing emails, proposals and presentations, and some even provide help and advice on etiquette. Tailoring lessons towards a specific workforce/industry, for example, the oil and gas sector, marketing professionals or engineers if you have work experience in these areas can increase your earning potential.
Expect to earn around £20 /$25 per lesson
English learners preparing for their IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge proficiency exams do look for extra tuition in the run-up to the examination date. Familiarise yourself with the setup of the exam and download past papers – use these as a basis to create tailored lesson plans.
Job interview coaching
Expect to earn around £15 / $19 per lesson
Just like a typical job interview, you will be helping the learner practice talking about themselves, their strengths and achievements, and what they can bring to the role. Roleplay and scenario-based tasks are best used in this type of lesson.
Sample or trial English lessons
Normally free or for a small fee
Get to know a bit about your students and let them find out more about you and what you can offer them!
Some offer these lessons for free but find that learners have no intention of signing up for paid lessons. It is also easy to cancel if there are no fees involved so even a nominal amount of US$1 will stop last-minute cancellations.
English lessons for particular nationalities
Expect to earn from £10 / $12.50 per lesson
Some students prefer a bilingual teacher so they can communicate in both their mother tongue and English. It might also be worth noting that some nationalities struggle with some parts of the English language or pronunciation of certain groups of words so you could target your lessons towards Spanish English language learners or South Korean English language learners.
Block lessons for regular students
Most online English schools and freelance English teacher offer students an incentive, like a discount or a free lesson. For example, if they book a block of lessons in advance:
‘Book 10 lessons and get 10% off’ or ‘Sign up for 5 lessons and receive an extra lesson free’.
This gives you more security, knowing that these lessons are scheduled and paid for in advance. It also provides the learner with the chance to save some money.
When researching online English tutors, you will find that the majority of online English lessons are displayed in either US Dollars ($) or Euros (€) as these currencies are the most common used on the internet. Depending on who your ideal or target student is, it might be worth considering displaying your online English lessons in their local currency or have a couple of currency options to choose from.
Receiving online payments
PayPal is the most common payment method for teaching English online lessons, and it’s straightforward to use. It only takes a few clicks to send an invoice to your students and keep on top of payments: PayPal charge £0.20/$0.30 plus a 3.4% fee per transaction.
Interested in becoming a qualified online English teacher? Enrol on our Teaching English Online Advanced TEFL Course
Do you already teach English online? Don’t forget to share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below.