Teaching English online as a non-native speaker

Can you teach English online if you’re a non-native speaker? Yes! If you’re fluent in English you can find work teaching English online as well as abroad!

While non-native speakers can find themselves excluded from a number of popular online teaching companies, there’s no need to despair because there are still plenty of options out there. In this article we’re going to take a look at some of the companies that hire non-native speakers as well as top tips for securing work.

Who is considered non-native?

Native-speaker bias is sadly common in the TEFL industry – abroad and online. It can be discouraging, we know, but increasingly more awareness is being raised to combat this discrimination.

There are a lot of online companies out there that will only hire native English speakers, or require you to have a passport from an English-speaking country. These countries are sometimes referred to as the “big seven”, and are: the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. However, it should be noted that South Africans can be more limited as not all online teaching companies categorise South African applicants as native.

If English isn’t your first language or you don’t have a passport from one of the seven countries listed, then most companies will consider you a non-native English speaker.

Companies hiring non-native speakers

When searching for work it’s important to first identify if the company hires non-native speakers or not. We’ve done some of the hard work for you and below you can see salaries and requirements for a number of online teaching companies that accept non-native speakers!

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
Engoo £2 - £7.20
($2.80 - $10)
No Yes All ages None Preferred Yes None Apply
Ginseng English £7.50 - £11.25
($10 - $15)
No No Young learners and teenagers None Preferred Yes Preferred None Apply
Italki* Set your own hourly rate No No All ages None Preferred Yes None Apply
Latin Hire £5 - £9.50
($7 - $13)
No Yes All ages 5 Yes Yes 1 year Elementary level Spanish or Portuguese required Apply
Preply* Set your own hourly rate No No All ages None No Yes Preferred Apply
Skyeng £2.20 - £14.50
($3 - $20)
No Yes All ages 15 Yes Yes None Apply
Superprof Set your own rate No No All ages None Preferred Yes None Apply

Load More

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

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Top 5 companies hiring non-native online English teachers

Amazing Talker

Amazing Talker is a platform that allows teachers to set their own rates and choose their hours. While they currently boast that their top 10 tutors earn around £4,500 – £8,000 a month, don’t expect to be earning anywhere close to that if you’re just starting out! As you gain more experience and build a reputation with students you’ll be able to start charging more.

One of the great things about Amazing Talker for non-native English speakers is that you can teach other languages on the platform too. There are students looking to learn a variety of languages, so you have the option to teach your native language alongside English.

Apply here

51Talk

51Talk takes pride in being the only online English company listed on the New York Stock Exchange! They have over 250,000 students and employ more than 20,000 teachers, many of which are from the Philippines but teachers from elsewhere in the world can apply.

To teach with 51Talk you need a BA degree and speak fluent English in a neutral accent. You’ll also need to be available during their peak hours of 6pm-8:30pm (weekday) and 9am-8:30pm (weekend) Beijing Time.

Apply here

Palfish

Palfish is a little different from most online teaching companies because it’s an app. While you’ll need a computer and good quality webcam for other online teaching jobs, all you need to teach with Palfish is your smartphone and a stable internet connection.

Non-native teachers can apply to be a ‘Regular Teacher’ with Palfish, but only native speakers are accepted as ‘Official Course Instructors’. You’ll also need a TEFL qualification and some teaching experience. Regular Teachers are able to set their own rates, with Palfish taking a 20% commission.

Download Palfish

iTutorGroup

iTutorGroup have been about since 1998 and are based in China. They look for teachers with a BA degree, TEFL qualification, teaching experience (preferably online), and a commitment of 6 hours a week during peak times.

Their pay structure differs from many platforms and as teachers build up ‘tenure’, through length of service and number of lessons taught, they can ‘lock in’ higher guaranteed bonuses per lesson.

Apply here

italki

italki is an online marketplace where teachers can advertise their services and attract students. Like Amazing Talker, you can teach other languages alongside English.

You’re in complete control of prices, schedule and lesson content as a teacher on italki. Successful teachers on this platform find their niche and understand how to make their profile stand out from others. It can be competitive, especially for those just starting out, so you’ll have to put careful consideration into how you market yourself in order to attract students.

Apply here

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Tips for finding online teaching work as a non-native speaker

Get a good TEFL qualification

It’s really important that you get TEFL certified through an accredited provider. Your qualification should consist of at least 120 hours, which is the industry standard.

Doing a budget course can seem tempting, but there can be many issues with such courses, and if you’re trying to build the strongest CV possible you want to steer well clear! One of the first things many employers look at is accreditation, so make sure you get qualified with a reputable company that’s going to prepare you for teaching.

Sit a proficiency exam

If you’re a non-native English speaker then employers will require evidence of proficiency. And the easiest way of proving that you have an excellent level of English is with a proficiency exam. Having a good IELTS or TOEFL score, for example, can really help your application. Bear in mind that a TEFL course alone is not proof of proficiency.

Try to look at it from an employer’s perspective. If it’s difficult for them to see verifiable evidence of fluency in your application then they aren’t likely to go out of their way to look for it. Make it easy for them.

Sell yourself!

As a non-native English speaker you have first-hand experience when it comes to learning a language. This means you’re able to empathise with students and understand their journey better than most. You also likely have a more in-depth understanding of grammar and how the English language works than the average native speaker because you’ve studied it, both as a learner and on your TEFL course. Emphasise this in your applications!

And be sure to highlight any education you’ve undertaken in English, as well as any time spent living/working in English-speaking countries.

Want to find out more about teaching English online? Download our FREE Guide to Teaching English Online now!

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