TEFL

Online Teaching Platforms for ESL Teachers

A TEFL certificate will open lots of doors for our students and relocating overseas isn’t always necessary! Online teaching is now extremely popular with ESL teachers and students alike. Advances in technology have made it so much easier for teachers to deliver lessons over the internet which allows you to reach students all over the world – from the comfort of your own home!

If teaching online is what you are looking to do then you may be asking yourself: where do I start? As well as an internet connection, you will need to make sure you have the correct software to deliver your lessons with. Fear not, as we have put together a list of the most popular platforms used by online tutors which should make your transition to teaching online a little bit easier!

Skype

This is by far the most widely known and is an easy, free and simple way to connect with students all over the world.

Pros

  • Most students will know how it works – perhaps more than any other software
  • Many of your students will most likely already have an account
  • Free to make video calls (including group calls)
  • Good quality calls
  • User-friendly interface
  • Doesn’t require an app – browser-enabled

Cons

  • Scarcity of any special features
  • No whiteboard
  • Difficult to record videos
  • Occasionally buffers
  • Only works with people with a Skype account

Skype is, in conclusion, a fine choice for TEFL tutors looking only to conduct basic lessons. These are perhaps best suited for intermediate-advanced learners who don’t need the resources that a less-experienced speaker might. However, there are plenty of other options too, many of which cater to an even wider range of students.

Google Hangouts

Google has an increasing number of useful apps and Hangouts is a fantastic option for delivering EFL lessons online!

Pros

  • Whole host of Google apps at your fingertips
  • Video calling (groups, too) and instant messaging
  • The majority of people will have a Google account of some sort, making it easier to join Hangouts
  • Can record lessons
  • Free
  • You have the ability to share your screen with students

Cons

  • Although Google is very well-known, Hangouts is not and so less people will be familiar with it
  • Still not as many features as other sites

Google Hangouts is a great option for teachers looking to have simplicity of Skype but with the ability to do slightly more. Other than the fact less people own a Hangouts account, there’s no reason you should use Skype over this.

WizIQ

WizIQ is slightly less known than either of the above sites. However, that doesn’t make it any less effective and delivering quality lessons. There is a very varied array of different features to use here.

Pros

  • Specifically for tutors and students
  • Includes a whiteboard so that you can and your students can convey your ideas better
  • Lessons are automatically recorded
  • Deliver assignments to your students who can the submit them
  • Give feedback
  • Group calls along with ‘breakout rooms’ where students are split up in groups that talk with each other privately.
  • Upload worksheets, presentations, and a number of other features

Cons

  • Students will very unlikely be familiar with this
  • May seem a bit confusing
  • Can be a bit of a hassle to use all of the features to their maximum potential
  • Not free (gasp!) – prices currently range from the equivalent of $190 a year to $890, depending on the type of package you choose

If you’re looking to really advance your lessons in terms of content, size, and structure then WizIQ is highly recommended. If you’re not willing to pay the fees then Hangouts or Skype will do the job.

Preply

Another fantastic platform to use, Preply allows you to sign up as a teacher and access thousands of students looking to learn! With the option of advertising lessons in-person or over Skype, it’s a great option for online tutors.

Pros

  • Thousands of students accessing the site
  • Can advertise both Skype and in-person lessons
  • Students that contact you will already know the price and what is on offer
  • Company markets the platform for you to attract students

Cons

  • Commission can be high – varies depending on the hours of teaching you do
  • Lots of tutors offering similar services

Preply almost acts as a directory for students looking to learn and gives you the ability to access thousands of students. Although you have to pay a commission on your lessons, it’s a small price to pay for the potential number of students that use the site.

So, who should I go for?

This is the big question and, generally, there is no wrong answer! All of the platforms available have benefits and disadvantages and it may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few different options.

If you’re just starting out and want to offer fairly basic, inexpensive lessons then Google Hangouts or Skype are a good option. WizIQ is great for group tuition or slightly more advanced levels. Preply gives you access to thousands of students and, for a small commission, they cover all the marketing which means that you don’t have to.

So that’s that. Hopefully, you’ve now got a clearer sense of what exactly it is you need to do.

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