It wouldn’t be unfair to say that, with the advent of the internet, it’s become increasingly common for people in part-time or full-time work to have a “side hustle”. What does that mean exactly? Essentially, a side hustle is another source of income in addition to your regular job.
At the same time, the world of teaching has become more accessible. That’s only heightened since the Covid-19 pandemic, with teachers and schools finding ways of online teaching to make sure learners aren’t missing out. The same is true in private tutoring and further education.
Meanwhile, teaching English as a foreign language has only continued to blossom. If you’re following the threads here, we’re saying that teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has become one of the best options for those looking to make some extra cash, especially when it’s done online.
With so many fantastic online English teaching companies popping up over the last 10-20 years, there are some great choices if you want to add teaching English to your career and secure that “side hustle” so many are opting to pursue.
What is TEFL?
What is TEFL? Good question. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It’s also described as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), and other acronyms.
Essentially, they’re all the same thing; teaching English to people whose first language is something else. This can be done online or in person around the world, by gaining TEFL certification through a recognised, accredited TEFL provider.
Why you should teach English online
There are plenty of great reasons to teach English online. From a career perspective, it’s a chance to really open the world up. Few industries have access to jobs worldwide like teaching, specifically English.
There’s enormous demand for English teachers around the world. This is particularly true in emerging economies, such as the Far East and the Middle East. With English being the lingua fraca of business, several governments are prioritising learning the language to create more competitive generations in terms of world business.
There’s an incredible amount of flexibility when you teach online. For starters, you can combine teaching English with your primary career – and that’s because, if you teach online, you can set your own hours. Want to do a bit of teaching in the evenings and weekends? Sure! Want to break up the days if you’re working part-time? Not a problem, either. Teaching English is a really adaptable side hustle, meaning you can essentially pick it up and put it down whenever you want to.
Also, it’s super easy to get started. Once you have a TEFL qualification, there are myriad businesses online looking to get English teachers tutoring students. We’ll explore some examples further on, but it’s vital to know that English teaching online is a booming industry, that’s malleable around your work schedule.
From a holistic perspective, it’s also a great way to engage with your local community or people overseas. Teaching English can help people who’ve moved to English-speaking countries integrate, or you can help those who want to move to English-speaking nations. For yourself, it’s a chance to broaden your skills, learn some of the intricacies of your native language, and be rewarded with fantastic experiences.
How much can you earn as an online teacher?
If you’re TEFL certified – we’ll get to that – you can earn good money teaching English online. Ultimately, it depends on how you do it.
Provided you join an online English teaching company and work a certain amount of contracted hours, you’ll find that the going rate for lessons can be quite high. You’ll likely be teaching a variety of nationalities, and the more time you’re able to put in, the more rewarding it’ll be. The going rate for newly qualified teachers is between US$10-20/£8-17 per hour, though more experienced teachers can garner up to $40/£34 a lesson.
If you prefer self-employment, however, you can start your own English tutoring business. It can take a while to build a client base, of course, especially if it’s your side hustle. However, you can set your own hours and your own levels of cost. In terms of overheads, you only really need the teaching materials, a working computer and a solid, reliable internet connection.
How to make TEFL a side hustle
So, now we know a bit about TEFL and the advantages of making it part of your career. How, though, does a person get to that point? What does someone need to viably make teaching English online a side hustle?
Well, let’s get into it, and discuss the routes and the online teaching companies that are always taking on new hires!
Get TEFL certified
The first part of your TEFL master plan has to be getting TEFL certified. 120 hours of TEFL training is the industry standard; employers these days are unlikely to accept anything less. There are a range of different TEFL qualification courses online that provide all the materials you need to succeed, one-to-one tutor support, extensions and no extra fees for the certificate itself.
If you want to really stand out when it’s time for the job hunt, you could consider Advanced TEFL courses. These advanced courses include Business English, further qualifications for teaching young learners, exam preparation, and more. If the emphasis is on wowing employers and you have the spare time, extra qualification goes a long way.
Don’t be fooled by budget courses on Groupon and the like, which promise fast TEFL qualification for discount prices. These courses aren’t properly accredited and accreditation matters a great deal. The fact is, employers won’t look kindly on a rush job, you can’t just hurry a qualification if you’re planning on making a side hustle, let alone a career, out of teaching English.
Not only that, these courses don’t have proper tutor support, and are full of extra costs, including the very certificate you’ve already paid for!
Make sure you have all the equipment you need
You’ve made it onto the internet, and that’s half the battle. To teach online, very obviously, you need to have a reliable internet connection. Ideally, you won’t be too near anything that disrupts your lessons, so reliable WiFi and a noise-free environment are essential.
Along with that, you’ll need teaching materials. There is a wealth of great online resources for teaching English, from lesson plans and apps to grammar guides and video lessons.
You’ll need a good pair of headphones and, ideally, a microphone to use while you’re doing online lessons. Otherwise, it’s a pretty economical gig!
Apply for online teaching jobs
Once you’re qualified and you have everything you need, it’s time to polish off that CV. Like any other industry, an up-to-date, attractive and comprehensive Curriculum Vitae is vital. Where TEFL is concerned, there are definitely things to mention and things to avoid – read our guide here!
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good cover letter, too. This seminar by The TEFL Org’s Carl is a fantastic resource that’ll help draw employers’ eyes to your application, and emphasise the range of skills and attributes you can bring to an online teaching role.
Often, an employer will ask you to provide a demo lesson. Firstly, don’t panic. This is very normal, and it’s actually great practice if you’re a new TEFL teacher. Secondly, you do need to impress, but there are so many ways to get an employer onside. Here’s a fantastic guide to demo lessons!
10 great online teaching companies
So, who rules the roost when it comes to English teaching services online? As a company established by TEFL teachers, we’re very well-versed in the industry, so here are 10 great landing spots for the intrepid side hustler!
One of the more famous online learning websites, Cambly has a well-established reputation for taking on new recruits. Cambly doesn’t have any restrictions in terms of experience or minimum hours, making it a perfect place to get started. Wages start at around $8.83/£7.65, and you don’t even need TEFL qualification – but it’d be a major plus.
Established in 2007, Hong Kong-based Italki has become one of the biggest names in TEFL, and it’s not a mystery as to why. Italki has carved a particular niche, helping to popularise one-to-one video teaching. Little wonder, then, that prospective teachers are flocking in their direction, with plenty of opportunities to teach students from around the world.
You’ll need TEFL qualification to apply, and you can set your own hourly rate in terms of wages.
Not just for English teachers, Preply has built a considerable membership through its teaching of other languages, including Italian and Spanish. Boasting tutors from 185 different countries, Preply teaches to all ages, and again, teachers can set their own hours and hourly rates, giving that extra control over your schedule.
As a language school that prides itself on flexibility for students, don’t be surprised to see it included here. If you’re looking for that side hustle, without having had prior experience, Skyeng fits the bill.
You’ll need to do a minimum of 15 hours of teaching (3 hours an evening over a business week, if you prefer), but this is a great choice if you’re otherwise self-employed, or work part-time. Over 110,000 students learn with Skyeng, so you won’t be short for students!
If you’d prefer to teach East Asian students, Japan-based Skima Talk is ideal. Serving Japanese and South Korean students, Skima Talk has grown in popularity. Classes can be conducted any time, 24/7, with adult learners taking on 25-minute sessions. You don’t need teaching experience, but you will need to be a native-level English speaker.
At US$10-15/£8.55-12 per lesson, Skima Talk is one of the more lucrative language teaching companies to work for.
Let’s be clear – Superprof isn’t exclusively a language tutoring tool. You can find drum tutors as readily as English tutors, it’s a very large service. However, opportunities are there to be found, and Superprof makes it extremely easy for prospective English teachers to get started.
Another company that lets you set your own rate, all learners are welcomed and you don’t need teaching experience. Also, there isn’t a minimum number of teaching hours, so you can hustle at your own pace.
One of the biggest tutor sites in the world, iTutorGroup is a service for adult learners to find one-to-one English tutoring. Primarily for Chinese audiences, iTutor applicants need to have a degree, but if you have one, your side hustle will boast prepared lessons and a competitive wage that can rise to over £16/$14 an hour.
With a focus on the corporate world, Learnlight provides virtual, digital or combined English teaching courses for students. You will need two years of teaching experience to teach for Learnlight, but it does offer one of the better starting wages for online English teaching companies.
If you’re imagining well-spoken masters of combat, you’re probably a wee bit off, but if you’re imagining a very reputable English teaching company, then you’ve got it. Utilising modern technology to provide a 24/7 tutoring service, English Ninjas has over 400,000 students receiving high-quality tutoring.
Based in San Francisco, Verbling has emerged as one of the big names in online tutoring. Boasting teachers who can speak 70 different languages, the company has grown significantly since its founding in 2011. You’ll need experience, but the wages, starting at around £11/$13 for newbies, make this a very viable side hustle!
Teaching English online: a great side hustle!
So now we know how easy it is to get started, what you need and how you can making teaching English online an ideal side hustle.
If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Tens of thousands of people have gone from needing extra income to becoming fully-fledged online English teachers within months. Provided you have a proper TEFL qualification, the time and the wherewithal to get started, you won’t look back!