If you want to earn some extra cash from the comfort of your own home, online TEFL teaching is a great side hustle to get some extra income. It doesn’t take long to get qualified, and the beauty of online teaching is that it can be worked around your other commitments. Newbie teachers earn around minimum wage, but with experience, it can turn into a lucrative operation. Read on to learn how you can earn money by teaching TEFL online.
What is TEFL?
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, but is also known as TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), TESOL (Teaching English to speakers of other languages), and ESL (English as a second language). TEFL students range from young learners and teens to adults of all ages. People decide to learn English for a variety of reasons – they might be required to pass an exam to gain admission to a university, or be required to learn it for their work.
Some parents sign their kids up for English classes to help them get ahead, especially if the English language classes in their school aren’t of great quality or are taught by non-native speakers. Some people want to brush up on their English before a holiday abroad, or just for the fun of attending a class and making new friends.
TEFL students have widely varying abilities, with teachers often preferring to teach one level more than another. Across the world, a student’s language ability (and not just in English) is often categorised by their CEFR level – this is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Beginners are level A1 or A2, intermediate students are B1 or B2, and advanced students are C1 or C2, with a completely fluent C2 student being hard to tell apart from a native speaker.
What Does a TEFL Teacher do?
When you become a TEFL teacher, whether by teaching English online or face to face, your role will vary depending on the needs and motivation of the student, but the basic principle is the same – to help them improve their English. TEFL lessons will usually focus on all skill sets – reading, writing, speaking and listening – as well as focussing on vocabulary and grammar.
Some courses and classes are general (often called ‘conversation classes’) but there will also be people who study English for specific purposes, such as business English, English for pilots, English for medical professions, etc.
Who can become a TEFL Teacher?
For most TEFL jobs, there are three things you need to be/have in order to be a successful candidate:
- A fluent speaker of English
- A degree (in any subject)
- A TEFL qualification
If you have all three of these things, it’s easy to find work as a TEFL teacher, especially if you have some tutoring experience.
However, don’t despair if you can’t tick all the boxes. While many employers look for native speakers, if you speak English to a fluent level (CEFR level C1 or C2) and you have a good accent, you’ll still be able to apply for certain jobs. Having a degree is usually non-negotiable for paid work as a TEFL teacher, but again, there are loopholes. For many voluntary positions (some of which are open to those who are aged 16 or above), a degree isn’t mandatory. If you gain experience in a voluntary capacity, this experience will look good on your CV and could help you get paid work in the future, even if you don’t have a degree. Finally, most jobs will require that you hold some sort of TEFL qualification.
What Qualifications Do You Need?
As mentioned above, a TEFL qualification is a necessary requirement for nearly all TEFL positions, but don’t worry if you want to start making money by teaching English online and you’re not yet qualified – TEFL qualifications don’t take a long time to study for, and you can get your certificate in a matter of weeks depending on the course you take. TEFL qualifications aren’t all equal, and the certificate you decide to study for will depend on a number of factors:
- Cost. Prices for TEFL qualifications vary widely, and while you’ll want to grab a bargain, don’t assume that any course will do – if you choose a course from a poor provider or one that doesn’t include all the information you’ll need to do the job, it’ll be useless in securing paid work
- Online, Face-to-Face or Combination. You can study for a TEFL certificate entirely online by watching videos and working through reading material on your laptop. Face-to-face courses can be intensive (usually over a month) or part-time over several months. A popular option is combination courses which are mostly online but include an intensive weekend of face-to-face tuition
- Length of course. If you want to get qualified quickly, doing an online course (which you can complete at your own pace) will probably get you certified quicker than waiting for a face to face course in your locality
- Level of course. The most popular type of TEFL qualification is a generic TEFL certificate. These can be basic introductory courses or level 5 courses which are more in-depth and will give you access to better jobs. Other types of TEFL qualifications are CELTA certificates (a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, level 5, provided by Cambridge) or Trinity TESOL (level 5, provided by Trinity College London)
Finding a Course
If you want to find a professional TEFL course, browse the wide variety on TEFL Org which provide both standard and advanced TEFL courses, with specialisations in teaching English online. Read reviews from previous students, and look at what else the company can provide, such as internships or an online jobs centre.