There was a time when a teacher who wanted to travel abroad and teach English had to wait years to get a decent job opportunity that offered enough money and perks. You needed a degree, a lot of money to travel, years’ worth of experience and patience to wait for that one vacancy.
What if I told you, I had to do none of that? I had just three things at my disposal, my bachelor’s degree, some teaching experience, and an internet connection.
1. Why teaching English online to students living abroad is a good option?
To this day, I still get asked why I chose to go online to find English language teaching jobs and why did I focus on finding these jobs abroad. My answer has always been the same; it was simply because of the benefits teaching English online offered.
English is a global language
English certainly has become a global language. No matter which country you visit, the English language is mostly used to bridge the communication gap between the visitors and the locals. They may not understand it fully but a few words that sound familiar to them could be enough to help you out of a sticky situation.
According to Ethnologue’s 2018 edition, about 1.12 billion people across the globe speak English either as their first or second language. This makes it the most spoken language in the world.
Non-native speakers learn English for a number of reasons, which has created a huge demand for teachers who can teach the language at different levels. As an English teacher, you simply cannot find yourself short of students who either want to learn or improve their English language writing or reading skills.
English in the education and corporate sector
Almost all leading universities in the world use English as the main language to teach and communicate. Moreover, most of the textbooks are written in English. I still remember that many non-native speakers in my class had to take extra off-campus language learning courses or classes to improve their English. They did this to understand the lectures and books better. In fact, that is how I started to think that teaching English to students living abroad could be a good career option.
These students also need to get a good grip on the language because most of the corporate sector across the world uses English as its official language. Therefore, in order to secure a good job after graduation, students want to be proficient in English speaking, listening, reading and writing.
I have been teaching English online for almost a decade now and a huge percentage of my students are job seekers and students from other countries who travel abroad to study. They consider English as a major tool for success. Even though I didn’t travel for the first four years after college, you could still say that I have been teaching abroad for almost 10 years now.
This need to learn English has created a multitude of opportunities for English teachers to go online and find students across the globe.
People who want to improve their English before moving abroad
Students and job seekers are not the only group of students you can teach online. I deliver two lectures every day to a group of women who log in from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and even China. Some of them are married to spouses who live in the UK or the U.S. These women want to improve their English before their immigration paperwork gets approved and they move abroad.
All I am trying to say is that the world will never have any shortage of people who want to either learn or improve their English. That is why I have always considered abroad (especially countries with non-native speakers) a huge marketplace for online English teachers. It all just comes down to how you find these students and build yourself a classroom. The good news is I am here to help you with that.
2. Who can teach English online?
There are many people who want to get online to teach students living abroad but struggle to do so. Most of them assume they need to have a proper degree or experience in the field to start their tutoring business online.
A lot of people have asked me if they needed some sort of special certificate to teach abroad – a special diploma or permit from the country where they find students.
So the basic question is who can choose the online option to teach English to students living abroad.
You can teach online if;
You do not have the visa to travel abroad
Yes, good native English teachers are always in demand in non-English speaking countries. The salary could be good and you get many other benefits. However, if you do not have the visa or the (financial) means to get thevisa/paperwork for traveling then you can start tutoring online.
You want a second career option
Many of us have a day job, which some of us love but some don’t. Online teaching is ideal for those who have the passion to teach but want to or have to keep their regular jobs. You can get online and decide your own teaching hours.
3. How can you teach English abroad?
If you have no experience of learning or teaching online then you may need to do a bit of homework before starting your online business of teaching English abroad.
Here are a few very important tips that helped me a great deal in getting a good start.
First – You need to have expert-level knowledge of the language
If you do not have an in-depth knowledge of the English language my advice to you is to not consider teaching online as a career option. Your students will want to improve their speaking, writing and reading skills, which means your own language skills must be advanced.
So, what exactly do I mean by in-depth knowledge?
From grammar to syntax, vocabulary to sentence structure, you should be familiar with every aspect of the language.
Second – you need to find platforms that will allow you to teach English abroad
This is an extremely important point; when I started teaching abroad, I spent a great deal of my time searching for places that would hire me. Finding the right teaching platforms are not only important to land jobs but they also allow you to build a network of students, learners, and fellow teachers. This network then grows through referrals, which could be the foundation on which you could build your own business.
For me the early days were easy; I posted fliers on campus and offered my teaching services. It got me a few students, which was great for a student like me. However, after a few months I wanted to expand and teach English as a foreign language; therefore, I had to look for a proper online school.
I started to look for good opportunities that were reliable and offered consistent work. A friend of mine who had been teaching abroad online for a while told me about VIPKid.
4. What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online teachers’ portal that allows you to connect to students living abroad and offer your teaching services internationally without leaving your home.
The platform has a huge network of more than 60,000 teachers and 500,000 students from over 35 countries.
The whole concept of teaching from home was perfect for me; I could set my own working hours, attend my regular classes and earn pretty well.
5. How does VIPKid work?
To ensure that each student gets full attention, VIPKid offers one-on-one classes. The course that you teach is provided by the portal itself. You just have to go through the material before your class and prep for it.
6. How do you apply for VIPKid?
Here is how you can become a teacher on VIPKid;
Your English must be fluent.
You must at least have a bachelor’s degree in any field.
You should either have a year of regular teaching experience or some experience in mentoring, alternative education or tutoring etc.
You must be in a position to give VIPKID at least six months of commitment.
If you fit the criteria you can apply for a job by using the following methods;
Book an interview – you can book an interview by picking a time which suits you; mark it on the calendar that appears on the interview page. You will then have to take a 30-minute demo class.
Pre-recorded interview – you can record your lecture or lesson and send it to the website for review.
7. What happens once you get selected?
You must give your weekly schedules at least a month in advance. These schedules are made available to the students every Saturday. The students then choose the schedule that suits them the best and book a lesson the details of which are sent to your email.
8. How do you take VIPKid classes?
The students are the ones who book your classes. Once you get picked you can use VIPKid’s own video platform to take a class. This way you do not have to give your personal Skype or other online information.
9. How does the payment work?
The best thing about VIPKid is that not only do you get paid per class you can also get a few incentives. These incentives are based on how well you perform and how many classes you can finish each month. You are paid according to the duration of your class.
A 30-minutes class – $7-11
An hour-long class – $14-22
The pay reaches you between the 10th to 15th of every month and is transferred directly to your bank account.
You will work through VIPKid as an independent contractor, which means the taxes you pay on your payment depends on your state laws and tax jurisdiction.
10. Benefits of teaching English abroad through VIPKid
Teaching international students through VIPKid has multiple benefits that can help you in the long-run. Here are some of the benefits that I enjoyed during my time as an online tutor on VIPKid;
- It has an online app – this was great for me, I downloaded the app on my phone, which I could access from anywhere. Whenever I was booked for a class I would get a notification and I could check that without having to open my laptop or signing into my account.
- Helps you save money – If you plan to travel and teach abroad then teaching online is the best possible way to save up some extra money. The best thing is that you can keep teaching even when you are traveling, which means you never stop earning. I was able to not only save money but also get the necessary experience required to get conventional teaching jobs.
- Gives you the experience you need to teach regular classes – If your ultimate dream is to travel abroad and teach English then you can start teaching through VIPKid. You can get some valuable experience under your belt, which will help you with your dream to travel for teaching.
- You can set your own working hours – This was one of the biggest factors for me; I wanted to work on my own terms and choose my own working hours – I just wanted to be my own boss. You can decide what time you will teach, how many hours will you teach and how many students you want to teach. It also gives you the freedom to get a day job until your online tutoring business picks up.
- You do not have to leave the comfort of your home – You can interact with students from all across the globe without leaving your home. You simply do not have to deal with morning routines, bad early-morning traffic, and gloomy subway rides. You can stay in your house, do what you love and earn money.
- You can see if you love teaching before moving to another country – Moving abroad to teach English is a big decision; you leave your country, family, and friends behind.
Moreover, teaching English to people who do not understand the language can be a frustrating task; therefore you need to be absolutely sure that teaching English is what you want. Trust me, you do not want to travel across the world and find you have no flair or patience to teach English to non-native speakers. Use VIPKid to see how well suited you are for teaching.
The kind of experience I got by teaching through VIPKid has been invaluable. It allowed me to flourish as a teacher and reach students beyond borders. It gave me a great foundation to build my teaching career on. To this day, I still am a member of the VIPKid team and teach students from all across the globe.