How to teach English online without experience

Are you considering teaching English online but are feeling concerned about your lack of teaching experience? Everyone has to start somewhere!

We’ve put together some useful information and tips to help you navigate the world of online teaching as a newbie teacher. By the end of this article you should be ready with an action plan to get out there and find your first online teaching job!

Do you need experience to teach English online?

Good news: experience isn’t necessary to teach English online. There are plenty of online teaching companies out there that don’t ask for any previous teaching experience, so as long as you have at least a 120-hour TEFL qualification there are jobs out there for you.

Bear in mind that just because you might not have direct experience teaching English that doesn’t mean you don’t have experience elsewhere employers are after. If you’ve taught in other capacities then that will be hugely beneficial when applying for jobs. Have you trained people in the workplace? Given presentations? All relevant! And if you’re applying for a job teaching young learners be sure to emphasise any experience you have working with children.

An online English teacher waving

Where can you teach English online if you don’t have experience?

Below you’ll find a table detailing the requirements for a number of online teaching companies that don’t ask for experience. While we take every effort to provide you with up-to-date information, online teaching companies do regularly change and update their hiring criteria, so make sure to do your own research, too.

Company Hourly rate Degree required Lessons provided Students Min. hours per week TEFL qualification required Accepts non-native speakers Previous teaching experience required? Additional requirements Application link
Zebra English £12 - £18
($16 - $24)
Yes Yes Young Learners None Yes No Desirable Legally allowed to work in US or Canada Apply
51Talk £12.75
($17 average)
Yes Yes Young learners None Preferred Yes Desirable but not required Neutral accent Apply
Panda ABC up to £22.50
(up to $30)
Yes Yes Young learners 8 hours min., 12 hour max. per week Preferred No No Bachelor’s Degree in relevant field (ex. Education, Linguistics, Languages) Apply
Hugo English £10.50 - £15
($14 - $20)
No Yes Young learners and teenagers None Preferred No No US, UK, Irish, South African, Australian and NZ accent Apply
Ginseng English £7.50 - £11.25
($10 - $15)
No No 5 to 15 year olds None Preferred Yes Preferred but not required None Apply
Palfish up to £16.50 plus bonuses
(up to $22 plus bonuses)
No Yes Young learners 10 hours/week Yes No No Teachers from the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Ireland, or Australia Apply
EF Teach Online up to £15
(up to $20/hour)
Yes Yes 5 to 14 year olds None Yes Yes Preferred but not necessary None Apply
Dada £11.25 - £18.75
($15 - $25)
Yes Yes 5 to 15 year olds 10 hours per month Yes No 1-2 years desirable but not required None Apply
Preply* Set your own hourly rate No No All ages None No Yes Recommended but not required None Apply
SayABC up to £12.75
(up to $17)
Yes Yes Young learners None Yes Yes Minimum one year preferred None Apply
Cambly £7.65
($10.20)
No No Young learners and adults None No No No None Apply
Skima Talk* £7.50 - £11.25
($10 - $15)
No No Adults None Preferred No Prior English teaching experience / training preferred but not required. None Apply
Italki* Set your own hourly rate No No Young and adult learners None No Yes No Degree or TEFL required for Professional Teacher Programme Apply

Load More

*Online marketplace. Teachers set their own rates.
Information accurate as of January 2021.

5 tips for finding an online teaching job if you have no teaching experience

Get a quality TEFL certificate

First things first, you need to get TEFL certified. And you need to make sure you get your qualification through a properly accredited course provider, which will ensure you’re suitably prepared and ready to start teaching for the first time.

One of the first things employers look at is accreditation, so if you’re an inexperienced teacher a cheap Groupon TEFL course isn’t going to cut it. Accreditation is external quality control, which helps give you and employers confidence that the course is everything it claims to be.

In terms of how long the qualification should be, 120 hours is the industry standard. Level 5 courses (which are Ofqual-regulated) include more hours of study, and are a good option if you’re looking for more comprehensive training. But there’s no need to go overboard – doing hundreds of hours of training isn’t going to open up any more opportunities or better paid jobs, it just means you’ll take significantly longer to get qualified and into paid work.

Put together a strong CV

You need to really sell yourself and stand out from the crowd with your CV.

Think about what you can do to boost your CV. That could be with advanced TEFL training or volunteering, for example. And make sure you’re showing all your relevant skills and experience in the best possible light. Get a friend or family member to read it through and give it a proofread.

Check out our CV guide for helpful tips, and if you’re a TEFL Org student you can take advantage of our CV builder as well!

A female online English teacher holding cutouts of letters

Nail the demo lesson

Demo lessons are a very common part of the application and interview process for online teaching jobs. You may be required to record one in advance or deliver it live in front of an interviewer or panel.

For new teachers, this can understandably feel a little daunting. But if you’ve completed your TEFL course you do know your stuff, it’s just a case of demonstrating that to the interviewers. We’ve got some great tips for putting together a demo lesson, which guide you through how to approach it and what to expect, so be sure to check it out.

Focus your job search

We all know how time-consuming and demoralising applying for jobs can be. To make the process as pain-free as possible, it’s a good idea at the start to establish what companies you meet the requirements for so you don’t waste any time.

The table above highlights a number of online teaching companies that don’t require you to have any previous experience. But it’s important to be aware that companies can have other requirements. Some may require you to be a native English speaker (or have a passport from an English-speaking country) and others may ask for a degree. Non-native speakers can check out our advice for applying for online jobs here, and if you don’t have a degree you’ll find lots of helpful info here.

Once you’ve put together a list of companies you can apply to work for it’s time to fire off those applications. Many online teachers work for a few companies to get more hours, so we recommend applying to several at a time. Even if you’re only looking to make a bit of additional income from a few hours of teaching, it’s a good idea to try working for different companies to see what’s the best fit for you.

Manage your expectations

It’s important to understand that when you start teaching English online you won’t immediately have a full schedule, and you probably won’t be on your ideal hourly rate. This is particularly true if you’re new to teaching English as a foreign language.

When you’re starting out as a teacher who has no previous experience, you want to focus on building your teaching experience. The more experience you gain the more hours you’ll be able to work and the more you’ll potentially be able to earn. Like any new career, you start from the bottom and work your way up!

For more information about getting started as an online English teacher download our FREE Guide to Teaching English Online.

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