Like most people in the past year, you have probably seen a dip in earnings due to a little thing called COVID-19. Whilst Canada boasts the great outdoors, wildlife, and an excellent quality of life, living costs are on the up and many people are looking for new ways to create an additional income. The good news is, not being in the office provides opportunities to increase your earnings from the comfort of your own home.
There are a variety of jobs you can do whilst working remotely, but one of the most favourable and arguably the most fun, is teaching English online. Becoming an online English teacher isn’t as difficult as you think, and you probably already have a lot of skills that can be transferred into your very own virtual classroom. With a little hard work and creativity, it won’t be long before you start to see your monthly earnings grow. One thing to bear in mind is that pay varies across the platforms and though not all of them pay the same, the one commonality they have is that the more students you have, the more money you make. Let’s look at the different ways of teaching online, and explore the pros and cons.
Working for a Platform
For a lot of teachers, this is the most popular way to become an online English teacher. This route is preferable because it requires a lot less organisation on your part. Almost all online platforms will have material that is already prepared and given to you in advance. This is a big plus for a lot of teachers as planning can be very time consuming. Another plus is that the platform you work for will also find students for you, this means you can focus solely on teaching and creating an engaging learning environment.
When choosing who to work for, many teachers seek out companies paying the highest rate per hour. If you do choose to go down this route, it’s important to not only consider their base rate but also additional bonuses offered. Such bonuses can really help to boost your hourly rate and significantly increase your earnings.
The downside to working on platforms is that you won’t necessarily earn as much as you could independently because the middle man takes a cut. It’s currently a competitive market and lots of major platforms have reduced pay and bookings which means you may have to work for a couple of platforms to earn a comfortable amount. Companies such as VIPKid, GoGoKid and Zebra English offer up to $25 for Canadians and have a great reputation.
Find Your Niche
In other words, specialize. The pandemic has forced many traditional classroom teachers to enter the virtual world of English instruction. That being said, professionals from other industries are also trying their hand at English teaching, which means it’s becoming an increasingly competitive environment. One thing you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd is identify a niche. After getting TEFL certification and a few years of experience, lots of English teachers branch out into a particular area of English instruction. Here are some popular areas with a large student base:
- Business English
- EAP (English for Academic Purposes)
- Young learners
- English for Travel and Tourism
- Test Preparation (Such as IELTS, FCE etc.)
- OET (The Occupational English Test is an English language test for healthcare professionals recognised by various regulatory healthcare bodies.)
Student/Tutor Matching Platform
These types of platforms are a great way to connect with prospective students from all over the world who are actively looking for a teacher. The first thing you do is set up a profile and upload a video to showcase who you are and why you’re a fantastic teacher. Students are in the driving seat and will choose tutors based on a variety of factors such as, lesson content, likability and yes, you guessed it, price. For most of the platforms, you set your own hourly rate which allows some control over your earning power but there is a downside.
The platform usually takes a hosting fee and it can be a competitive space meaning you may miss out on some students due to other teachers offering lessons at a low rate. However, don’t let that deter you! There are plenty of students that are looking for quality teachers and are willing to pay the necessary price to get them. Something to keep in mind when using these platforms, is that material isn’t provided. It’s up to you to have an open conversation with your student about the content they want you to prepare and deliver. Canadians are highly sought after along with American speakers of English and on platforms such as PrePly, Verbling and italki it shouldn’t be too difficult attracting students.
Become a Freelance Teacher
With so many free teaching platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, many are on the path to becoming their own boss. The benefit of becoming a freelance teacher is that all your hard-earned money is yours to keep, without the middle man taking a cut. However, it is especially difficult to find students. Even with an attractive website, an active Facebook page AND an engaging Instagram feed, most students are found through word of mouth and recommendation. Another downside is that it can be stressful when you combine the constant self-promotion and the hunt for students. You can head over to TEFL if you would like to find out where you can advertise yourself as an independent online English teacher.
Regardless of whether you decide to work for a company or as an independent freelance teacher, having a website and a strong online presence is undoubtedly going to attract more students. Having a simple, user-friendly site that is easily found demonstrates your credibility as a teacher.
Using apps like Instagram and Twitter are a sure-fire way to reach a wider audience. Posting fun and useful content will create engagement with potential students and turn likes into dollars.
Though relatively new, Clubhouse is a goldmine for potential students. You can host audio rooms, students can interact in real time and you can essentially teach a lesson in there. You can monetize your account in Clubhouse but only once you’ve been an active user for a while. What you can do is host free ‘taster’ sessions and direct people to your website or your Instagram to book a paid lesson.
The Final Word
If you want to increase your earnings through teaching English online there are several ways to do it. Fortunately for Canadians, there are lots of companies that will snap you up. Take your time and try a few of the different methods out, once you’ve settled into a rhythm, you’ll soon see the dollars add up.