How to Choose the Best Company for Teaching English Online

By
July 21, 2021

Are you on a job hunt for online ESL teaching jobs? With plenty of virtual English companies promising the flexibility of working from your couch and making your own hours, it may be tricky to choose which employer you should apply with. If you find yourself with this dilemma, here are the most important things to consider when picking the best company for teaching English online.

1. What are the requirements to teach English online with the company?

The hiring requirements for each online tutoring company will vary, so a big part of choosing where to apply is making sure you have the right qualifications. Here are the most common requirements for jobs teaching English online.

  • TEFL/TESOL certification. Employers usually ask for a teaching certification with at least 120 hours of study time.
  • Teaching experience. While a lot of online ESL jobs require at least a year of teaching experience, a number of companies welcome newbies. Learn more about teaching online with no experience. 
  • Technical equipment. Aside from having a working computer, a headset with a microphone, and a webcam, you may have to comply with the Internet speed required by the online company.
  • A bachelor’s degree. You may need a university degree (or to at least be enrolled in a degree program) to be qualified for jobs with most online teaching companies, though there are some that accept applicants without a degree.
  • High level of English proficiency. Although some employers only hire teachers from native English-speaking countries, you can also find many companies that only require you a high level of English proficiency. So, if you’re a non-native English speaker, don’t let this requirement deter you!


Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the requirements to become an online ESL teacher.

2. What age group does the English tutoring company work with?

With your qualifications in hand, another consideration is the age group you’d like to teach. As an online English teacher, you can opt to teach with a company that caters to young learners, adults, or both age groups.

  • The majority of online English schools, especially the bigger ones like VIPKid, GOGOKID, and PalFish, cater to kids or teens. Teaching these youngsters will require you to be brimming with energy and have fun, engaging activities up your sleeve!
  • Companies that offer English classes to adults mostly cater to working professionals or university students who study English after school or work hours. Lessons for this age group may need to be a bit more structured and relevant to their career or personal goals. If you think teaching adults English is your forte, consider applying to companies like iTutorGroup, EF Education First, and Open English.

To decide which you prefer, take into account your preferences, your teaching experience, and even your personality!

Elaine, from Singapore, gives online ESL classes to students in Chile

Elaine, from Singapore, gives online ESL classes to students in Chile


3. What’s the schedule for online English teachers with the company?

Online English companies usually have established teaching schedules and peak hours, or the times when the demand for teachers is at its highest (which could mean more bookings for you!). Within these teaching hours, you can choose to open slots so that learners can book lessons with you. The company can also assign students to you, depending on your availability.

It’s also important to check the minimum number of hours the company requires. For instance, Magic Ears expect tutors to commit to at least five hours per week. Most online ESL companies, however, don’t have a minimum hour requirement.

If you live in a region that is different from your students’, you’ll also have to consider your time zones and organize your teaching schedule well. For instance, if you like in the U.S. and your learners are based in China, you may need to work in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

4. What’s is the company’s pay rate and bonus structure?

Depending on the company and your qualifications, your hourly rate as an online English teacher can range from around $12 to $26. Your income can also increase through the performance bonuses and referral incentives that many online companies offer.

Check out typical salaries for teaching English online or abroad.

Alternatively, when you work on online tutoring marketplaces like Preply and iTalki, you can set your own teaching rates. The majority of marketplace English tutors charge between $20 to $25 per hour, and those who have special niches like technical English or language exam proficiency prep usually have higher rates. Take note, however, that these marketplaces take a commission fee for the lessons you give on their platform.

Make the most of your income as an online ESL teacher with these tips.

5. Are there future opportunities for growth with the company?

For many online English teachers, having the opportunity for advancement is a factor in choosing which company to work with. Some companies offer the possibility to move up to become a teacher trainer, coach, or curriculum developer.

GOGOKID teacher Kristie Hunter, for instance, has advanced into other roles at the company since she started three years ago. “In addition to my student classes, I coach workshops per week, admin our official Facebook groups, and help create video-based learning materials for our teachers,” she shared.

Kristie Hunter GoGoKid teacher

Kristie Hunter is a GOGOKID teacher and coach


6. What support does the online English company offer new and experienced teachers?

The good news about teaching ESL with online companies is that almost all of them provide tutors with the curriculum, materials, and training needed for their classes, so class preparation is minimal. Aside from these, a company may assign tutors a mentor to help them improve their craft, as well as professional development opportunities to step up their career game.

Find out more about the types of support online tutoring companies provide new teachers. 

What are some of the best online English teaching companies?

Now that you know what questions to ask when choosing an online tutoring company to apply with, check out this rundown of some of the best online English teaching websites and platforms:

GOGOKID


Based in China, GOGOKID caters to kids aged 4-12. Online English lessons are taught one-on-one, and the company provides the curriculum and teaching resources for teachers. GOGOKID also has a “credit score” incentive, which means that the more classes you give and 5-star feedback you receive, the higher your income can get.

GOGOKID hires teachers who speak with a neutral North American accent and preferably with some ESL teaching experience.

Whales English


Whales English connects online teachers to young Chinese students ranging from 3-18 years old. Aside from offering above-average pay rates, the company also has a great support system for its tutors.

To become a Whales English tutor, you need to be a native English speaker and have at least one year of teaching experience with kids. You’ll be required to teach for at least eight hours a week.

Hallo


A social app and learning platform in one, Hallo is a tutoring marketplace that lets online English teachers give private classes or stream their lessons live. By getting more class bookings and subscribers, your prospects of earning more can increase.

Before you can live stream on Hallo, you have to submit a self-introduction video and live stream it within a week after getting accepted. Meanwhile, if you want to teach private lessons, you should possess at least one year of teaching experience.

Speaking English


An online ESL company that caters to Israeli kids, teens, and adults, Speaking English promises tutors a supportive work culture, career growth opportunities, and even free Hebrew courses.

Speaking English requires teachers to be native English speakers with at least one year of online teaching experience. You’ll also have to commit to teaching at least 20 hours per week, from Sunday to Friday.

online English teacher

Suchismita, from India, teaches English on the Preply platform


Preply


A tutoring marketplace that welcomes online English teachers from any part of the world, Preply lets teachers choose their own hourly rates and schedule. When you work on this platform, chances are you’ll find learners from varying backgrounds and English learning needs. So, if you thrive on teaching a niche like Business English, this marketplace is the best place to advertise your specialized classes!

While Preply is open to native and non-native English speakers alike, it will require applicants to submit a self-intro video and a professional photo. Also, you should be able to provide your own teaching materials and assessment tools.

EF Education First


One of the top online companies that cater to adults, EF has students from around the world, so you won’t have problems finding learners at any time of the day. You can teach individual students or groups, and the company takes care of the lessons plans and online materials that you’ll need.

To be qualified to teach with EF, you’ll have to be legally allowed to work in the U.S. and have a bachelor’s degree.

Jonathan, from Argentina, teaches ESL to adults with Learnlight.


Learnlight


Offering online English classes from around the world, Learnlight is a great fit for teachers who prefer to teach adults. When you teach for this company, you’ll have a chance to teach specialized programs and act as mentors to their students.

To become a Learnlight English trainer, you should have high proficiency in English and be able to teach a minimum of 10 hours per week. They also prefer teachers who have a business background and an advanced level in a second language.

You don’t need to sift through a long list of job offers and make difficult decisions on where to send your applications. By knowing what to look for in a company and choosing potential employers that match your qualifications, preferences, and professional goals, you can make an informed decision on which companies are best for you.

Narrow down your job search by checking out these companies currently looking for online English teachers.