TEFL and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

TEFL and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

For decades the TEFL industry has gone from strength to strength. The ever-increasing number of English language learners in the world has resulted in a huge range of opportunities for qualified EFL teachers all over the globe.

But we’re now living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic is drastically changing the way we live our lives and impacting businesses of all kinds. There’s no denying that the TEFL industry is being hit hard with schools closing and recruitment halting in many parts of the world.

While there’s a huge amount of uncertainty at the moment, there is some hope to be found amidst it all. The online teaching industry is well-placed to thrive in such times, and we’re hearing reports that several platforms are facing such an increase in student demand they’re struggling to recruit teachers quickly enough.

It’s also been heartening to hear from course graduates working abroad who have been able to move their work online. Most employers are doing their best to support their teachers and finding ways to adapt.

Should you get TEFL qualified now?

If you’re open to teaching English online then yes, you should absolutely get TEFL qualified now.

Due to the pandemic, we’re seeing an increased demand for online English teachers. The online teaching industry has been rapidly growing for many years and with a sudden spike in demand there’s a lot of work available for qualified teachers at the moment.

Teaching English online is a good option if:

  • You’re having to put on hold plans to teach English abroad. Teaching online is a great way to build up your teaching experience.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in unemployment or fears about the security of your employment.
  • You’re looking for a flexible way of making additional income.
  • You need to find a way of making money from home.

What do you need to teach English online?

What you need to teach online can vary, but the minimum required is a 120-hour TEFL qualification . Without a TEFL qualification it’s going to be impossible to work on most online teaching platforms and very difficult to attract clients, which means you’re hugely restricting your earning potential. A TEFL qualification quickly pays for itself when you start working online.

Certain platforms will require a degree as well. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, there are still plenty of options .

It’s very easy to quickly start earning money online once you have your TEFL qualification. If you’re aiming for success and to maximise your earnings, then see our earlier post for 10 tips for online teaching success .

You will also need the necessary equipment for teaching online, such as a webcam, headset, and access to reliable WiFi. This is something many people will already have, but if not it’s not very expensive to order items from Amazon.

Getting your TEFL qualification

Thankfully, it’s easy to get your TEFL qualification right at home. Taking an online-only TEFL course puts you at no disadvantage - just make sure it’s a 120-hour TEFL course, as this is what the vast majority of employers look for.

You can study towards your TEFL qualification entirely at your own pace, which means if you’ve got the time to dedicate to it you can get qualified in a matter of weeks. Under normal circumstances, it takes someone who’s working or studying full-time around 8 to 10 weeks to complete the 120-hour online course. But with many of us now confined to the home, it’s possible to complete the course in a fraction of the time.

Top tip : make sure to get your qualification from a recognised and suitably accredited  TEFL course provider. Incredibly cheap Groupon TEFL courses are not recognised by many employers, so rather than saving you money they can often simply be a waste of time, money, and effort!

At the time of writing, all of our classroom TEFL courses are suspended until the end of April. This will be reviewed again in the coming weeks, so please see our COVID-19 notice to keep up to date.

What about teaching English abroad?

No one knows when things will go back to normal. With countries bringing in further travel restrictions and lockdowns with each passing day, it’s fair to say that any plans to teach English abroad in the near future will be on the backburner. Employers are constantly reviewing the situation and as soon as it's possible and safe to do so recruitment will start up again.

Getting your TEFL qualification now with the intention of teaching abroad is a good option if:

  • You’re planning on teaching English online in the interim.
  • You want something productive to occupy your time with while you’re spending a lot more time at home.
  • You want to get qualified now so you’re ready to apply for jobs when things go back to normal.

What teachers and employers are saying

“I have wanted to teach English online for a while and I gained my 120-hour TEFL qualification a few months ago. The reality that I’m probably about to lose my job as a waitress due to coronavirus has given me the push I needed to apply for a job with PalFish. I’m also a part time student so teaching online is very appealing - I can be in charge of my own schedule and work it around my studies. With coronavirus forcing school closures around the world the demand for online teachers is really high right now, which also encouraged me to give it a go!” Poppy Watson, applying to teach online

“With only one week delay we transitioned from the classroom to the computer. Teaching online is a different skill set. You do not have that immediate feedback of the students in front of you, and therefore you have to approach the lesson at a slower pace.” Tristan Cotterill, English teacher in Zibo, China

"We have over 1800 students, split between Business education contracts, local high schools, local primaries and our own campus, so obviously closing the school down completely has been a bit of a nightmare scenario. 90% of our business contracts continue on schedule as before, however now held over skype instead. Often people don't believe video classes can work initially, however many of these adult students have spent the week videoconferencing at work, and are beginning to be much more receptive to offers of online classes." Alex Millington, Director of Studies, Speak , Slovakia

“Currently our EF teachers in China are teaching their students via our online classroom platform to ensure that students continue their learning progress. Teachers are working from their apartments until the current situation improves and normal school operations can resume. We believe this is the largest live e-learning project undertaking in history. Teams around the world have worked around the clock to get the new online classroom up and running and to integrate it with our scheduling system.” EF English First

Find out more about teaching English online with our definitive guide .

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