How to be successful at teaching English online

How to be successful at teaching English online and make money

Get tried-and-tested tips on how to be successful at teaching English online. These tips will help you make money online by teaching English as a second language.

Working for yourself and especially working for yourself online can be very rewarding. But, working online for yourself, has its own set of challenges. These tips will help you overcome the hurdles to success and enjoy a fulfilling career teaching English online

8 Tips on How to be Successful at Teaching English Online

  1. Get accredited TEFL certification
  2. Be properly equipped
  3. Show up, on time, every time
  4. Cultivate a good attitude
  5. Specialise in a niche
  6. Be prepared for class
  7. Use online support
  8. Diversify your income streams

1. Get accredited TEFL certification

Before you start teaching English online, get the necessary training. Not only will having an accredited TEFL certification improve your job prospects it will also ensure that you know what you are doing. You do after all want to provide the best service possible to your students. And, this starts with being suitably qualified to teach online.

eTEFL Online specialises in online teacher training which includes TEFL Certification Courses and expert Online Teacher Bundles. We provide more than online TEFL courses. We teach our students how to make money online by teaching English as a second language.

2. Be properly equipped to teach online

Equip yourself for success in the online classroom. You don’t need much to teach English online so invest in the equipment you do need.

Make sure that you have the following:

  • fast, stable internet connection
  • good noise-cancelling headset
  • high-quality webcam
  • good quality audio and video set-up (the correct hardware and software)
  • professional setting (a decent virtual classroom environment)
  • professional attire (dress presentably even if you’re teaching from home)
  • a comfortable chair and working space
  • teaching aids and materials (visual aids and fun props) – you’ll build these up over time.

Teaching English online is one of the most easily accessible career paths out there. As you can see it only takes a small investment to get started. With just this bit of equipment, you can begin to teach and make money online.

3. Show up, on time, every time

Tip number three on how to be successful at teaching English online is to be on time. This is the most fundamental rule: always show up on time for your classes.

If you cancel too many classes or worse don’t show up, you will lose your students and your teaching contract will automatically be terminated.

This means you need to get a reliable Internet connection and a back-up power supply (if power outages are an issue where you are). Plus, you need to stay on top of your schedule. Avoid no-shows at all costs and do not be late for your own class!

4. Cultivate a good attitude to make money online

As in life, adopting a positive attitude will help you to be successful at teaching English online.

Smile and maintain a positive attitude. You want your students to enjoy learning and look forward to your classes. Learning a new language is an adventure, so make it fun for your students.

Research shows that more actively engaged students retain information better. If your students enjoy learning with you, they will learn more quickly and easily. Needless to stay, happy students make for good business. So put the energy in and remember to smile.

5. Specialise in a niche to be successful at teaching English online

Choosing a niche is also another way of adding an independent stream of income to your earnings. By specialising in a niche you can supplement your profiles on freelance websites and your contracts with online schools.

Teachers who specialise in teaching niches make money online more successfully. They earn more per hour and increase their income earning potential.

Find out more about specialising in English teaching niches online.

6. Be prepared for class

Always prepare for your classes. Have a lesson plan and activities lined-up and ready to go.

One of the main differences between face-to-face classes and online classes is that online classes require more intensive, one-on-one engagement. Even for small group online classes teachers need to engage their students more actively. Essentially, online classes require more focussed attention to the specific student. That’s because the classes are usually shorter and smaller. And, there are fewer distractions. So, you need to maximise the time you have – using every minute of the class time to teach.

A top tip from experienced online teachers is to take notes about your students. This helps you to provide personalised lessons and connect with your students. It’s also a good way to show parents that you care and pay attention to details. All of which will help you to keep your students and secure new ones.

7. Use online support

You will also need support. No-one can do it all by themselves and working from home or while travelling the world can be lonely. Start by joining some Facebook groups for online teachers. Also, follow online teachers on social media for inspiration and guidance. Then there are also teaching forums and WhatsApp groups that can help you make money online.

Don’t underestimate the value of online support. In our experience, it is hugely beneficial to new teachers. That’s why we offer our clients ongoing teacher support via several channels. In fact, all of our teacher training programs include membership to our exclusive Facebook support group, closed WhatsApp group and members-only Resource Centre.

8. Diversify your income streams to make money online

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Rather diversify your income sources. It will provide you with more financial security by reducing risk.

For example, what if you don’t have any students signing up for classes one week? Or the online school you work for stops paying you? Perhaps, your niche is exam preparation, and your students all graduate with flying colours so you have no-one left to teach… Or, maybe you teach in Chinese-based online schools, and the laws change in a way that disqualifies you, then what?

That’s why it’s best not to rely on only one stream of income. And why we recommend having your own private students and contract positions with online schools.

The more you diversify, the better.

This advice holds equally true for creating a resilient career in any field. Especially when it comes to ways to make money online. It is not only a valuable tip for how to be successful at teaching English online but for other ways of generating a secure income.

Parting advice for teaching English online successfully

The most important steps to success in teaching English online are to be professional and personable.

Being professional means getting suitably qualified (doing an accredited TEFL course), being prepared for class, and showing up on time. As well as, dressing presentably and being equipped to deliver online classes. And, you’re more likely to succeed if you are personable. By personable we mean pleasant to work with and learn from. Cultivating a positive and cheerful, yet polite attitude will definitely help you succeed.

Of course, being a knowledgeable teacher is also essential. This is something that will improve over time. As you gain experience you will naturally become a more skilled teacher. More skill and more experience, in turn, means you will make money online more easily.

So to begin with, learn the ropes (get TEFL certification) and approach your online teaching career professionally. If you follow these tips you will succeed and make money online soon. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun on your journey to success!

Take a look at our Online Teacher Training Courses for well-priced online training options. And join our eTEFL Online Facebook page where we regularly share competitions, TEFL teaching jobs, tips, special deals, and more.

For more advice on how to be successful at teaching English online and getting TEFL certified contact eTEFL Online.

2 thoughts on “How to be successful at teaching English online and make money”

  1. Hi there

    I am interested in etfl certification and teaching English online. I am in Uk and have teaching experience at tertiary level.

    1. Jody Van der Westhuizen

      Hello Lindiwe

      Thank you for your comment and your interest in eTEFL Online Teacher Training.

      Based on what you have told me, one of our Online Teacher Training Programs would be the best option for you. You can find all 3 options here but I’d recommend the Professional Program as that includes our 120-hour TEFL certification course and our live career mentorship program to help you launch your career after gaining your certification. We also include lifetime support and access to our Teacher’s Resource Library where you can download lesson plans, take free courses, and find external links to other free and paid resources.

      If you have any questions, feel free to email

      Kind regards,

      Admissions Director – Europe

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