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5 Reasons ELT Marketplaces Are a Good Option for Global English Teachers

The online English teaching job market continues to grow, and well-known tutoring companies, like VIPKid and Magic Ears, seem to continually recruit qualified new candidates. However, teaching with a company is not the only option for those looking to become online English teachers! English language teacher (ELT) marketplaces, which are platforms that help students connect with teachers who suit their needs and interests, offer even more options and can be an especially good fit for global English teachers, including non-native English-speaking teachers (NNESTs). Let’s take a closer look at why.

1. Marketplaces have no citizenship/native English-speaking requirements

With ELT marketplaces, teachers create profiles, and potential students that have different budgets, interests, and needs browse through them. However, this doesn’t mean that just anybody can sign up to become an online tutor. Each marketplace has its own requirements, but these tend to work favorably for global teachers.

For example, Preply, a popular company that uses the marketplace model for teaching English online, will evaluate your strengths and basic ELT knowledge before approving a teacher’s profile.

Learn how to teach English online as a non-native speaker.

Other teacher marketplaces such as Cambly, SkimaTalk, and italki each have their own required certifications and skillsets. However, unlike tutoring companies, marketplaces do not have a citizenship requirement. If you’re ready to teach but happen to be born outside of the United States, Canada, or another country where English is the first language, then you should definitely look into marketplaces.

Dive deeper into the role of native speakerism in the TEFL industry.

online English teacher

Suchismita, from India, works with Preply.

2. There are ways to stand out in the marketplace beyond traditional requirements


Highlighting your relevant experience is a great way to showcase your skills to prospective students, as it counts for a lot! Be sure to mention any teaching experience on your profile or in your self-introduction video, but remember that non-teaching experience counts with online teaching jobs as well. For example, if you had a career in business, students looking to learn professional English for their career will benefit from your expertise in business-related terminology and practices.

Specialized certification

ELT marketplaces are a great place to show off your specialized TEFL/TESOL certifications. You can stand out from the other teachers and attract students by getting a Specialized Certificate in Teaching English Online or by taking Micro-credential courses to target specific teaching skills like teaching IELTS exam prep or error correction in the EFL classroom.

TEFL niches

You can also set yourself apart from other teachers and gain a competitive edge by choosing a TEFL niche (or even several niches!) to focus on. For example, you can target business professionals by becoming an expert in business English, or you can offer pronunciation reduction classes. Choosing a niche helps you target specific students and fill more class slots.

3. You can get creative with your online teacher profile

After you’re placed in one or more teacher marketplaces, it’s time to snag the coveted students. In order to do that, you’re going to have to get creative.

Make sure your online teacher profile stays true to your strengths. Create an introductory video that showcases your experience, lesson plans, and definitely your interest in ELT. Keep in mind that you need to be work at advertising and selling yourself! You’re competing to teach English online as a non-native speaker, which you can use as a selling point. NNESTs know what it’s like to learn English, so you should use that to your advantage to convey your knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching.

Marek Kiczkowiak, a TEFL equity advocate, discusses native speakerism.

ELT marketplace teacher profiles

An example of what students see when scrolling through an ESL marketplace

4. You can choose your students

Perhaps you want to take on students who grew up in Latin America and are looking to improve their English, or maybe you want to specialize in teaching younger kids who want after-school lessons. Whatever the case, one of the best parts of working for a marketplace is finding your niche and getting to decide.

Students with the same first language

As a bilingual teacher, your knowledge of a second language can be a selling point on the ELT marketplace platform, where you may choose to carve out a teaching niche working with students who speak the same first language.

For example, Sheyla, a Brazilian online English teacher in the U.S. caters to Brazilian students who share her first language, Portuguese: “I started off by putting an ad on a Brazilian Facebook page where the community shares information with the immigrants in the USA. The first week that I put the ad up, I filled up a schedule with four classes per day.”

Sheyla, an independent English teacher in the US

Sheyla, an independent English teacher specializing in teaching Brazilian students 

Students in the right time zone

As an NNEST, you may also live in a part of the world that is more compatible with a particular time zone. By working via online ELT marketplaces rather than a traditional tutoring company, you can set your own schedule.

Finally, given the way life has changed with the COVID-19 outbreak, learning English online is now commonplace. Finding ELT jobs for non-native English teachers has also taken off to the point where you’ll be able to pick and choose the students that come your way.

5. You are your own boss

While you’re not exactly starting your own online ELT business, working via a marketplace certainly gives you some autonomy over how much you charge and, as previously mentioned, setting your own schedule. Plus, it’s nice that marketplaces for teaching English online take care of all financial transactions between you and your students.

Some NNESTs may find that not having a salary cap is one of the biggest pros of working with a marketplace as opposed to doing other types of online English teaching jobs. This way, you can market yourself at a price you think is fair. Just make sure you get the proper TEFL/TESOL certifications to stand out and show what you’re worth!

Read about how to become a TEFL teacher as an NNEST.

ELT marketplaces are an especially good choice for non-native speakers because of the many ways to stand out beyond traditional requirements. They offer a higher degree of freedom and autonomy, meaning that you don’t have to have a certain passport or live in a particular area of the world to be considered as a teacher. While there is a lot of hard work involved in getting a teacher profile up and running, once you get the hang of what students are searching for, the ELT world is yours.

Ready to begin your TEFL career but wondering where you can teach as a non-native speaker? Find out here!

Rashmi is a culture vulture who hopes to travel the world. News is her second love, after coffee.