Everything you need to know: Teaching English Online

Whether you’re looking to supplement your current income, work on a part-time basis from the comfort of your own home or want to fit your working week in and around your current commitments, teaching English online may be the answer for you!

This isn’t a new concept but the advances in modern technology and the ease of connecting with people around the globe, a lot more students are now looking for online teachers and demand is increasing day by day.

Teaching English Online

With reduced overheads, a lot of people will assume that running, or attending an online class will work out at costing less money. Although true for some classes, the can’t really be said for online English lessons.

Following a set syllabus or tailoring your lessons specifically to fit a students’ desired end goal will dictate how much you can, or should charge, per lesson.

If you follow pre-prepared lesson plans, or a set syllabus, your time spent planning and preparing your lessons is reduced. It works out at being more time effective for you and any potential students will know exactly what to expect before starting their lessons.

Preparing individual lessons can take longer and you would need to take this into consideration when setting your hourly rate. If you were also intending to set provide your students with additional resources – video recordings, work sheets and further reading – you should also factor this into your hourly rate.

It’s relatively simple to project your weekly earnings as well! Just use simple math to multiple the number of hours you can dedicate to teaching online and multiply that by your hourly rate. If you want to use online teaching to earn a specific sum of money before your start, flip the equation round and, starting with your desired income, divide this by your hourly rate to figure out how many lessons you will need to deliver.

This is obviously a ‘guess-timate’ but it will give you 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 time necessary to plan lessons and correct homework!

Types of online English lessons

Whether they are looking to improve their English for an upcoming vacation, looking to brush up on their business English skills for an upcoming job interview or are simply looking to continually improve their language skills, the motivations for learners to take up online English lessons vary!

One of the advantages that you have is that some employers overseas will have specific requirements for their employees. We have a lot of requests from students in Asia looking to learn English with an American accent to improve their work opportunities. Similarly, online schools such as VIP Kidz will only employee American and Canadian teachers for that reason.

N.B. A slightly reduced rate is normally 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 $15 per lesson upwards

Give English learners some help with their fluency and correcting basic errors. These normally don’t include in-depth grammar study.

Business English

Expect to earn from $30 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 industry, marketing professionals or engineers if you have work experience in these areas can increase your earning potential.

Examination preparation

Expect to earn around $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. Familarize 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 $20 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 cancelations.

English lessons for particular nationalities

Expect to earn from $15 per lesson

Although you don’t need any additional language skills for completing your course, some students may like a teacher that can communicate in both English and their mother tongue. You could also look at designing your lessons to cater to one particular type of learners – perhaps Latin Americans who have Spanish as their first language.

Block lessons for regular students

Most online English schools and freelance English teacher offer students an incentive, like a discount or a free lesson, if they book a block of lessons in advance e.g. ‘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 gives the learner the chance to save some money if they are planning on taking regular online English lessons.


When researching online English tutors, you will find that the majority of online English lesson 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 online English lessons as it’s really simple to use and almost everyone knows about it. It only takes a few clicks to send an invoice to your students for each lesson and allows you to keep on top of all your payments. PayPal charge $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

Are you already teaching English online? Don’t forget to share your experiences with other readers in the comments section below

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *