Teaching English Online to Groups: The Future of the Virtual Classroom

By Maricela Breedlove
January 11, 2021
teaching english online to groups

You’ve been teaching English online for some time now, and you’re finally comfortable teaching your students one-on-one — great job! But, fortunately for you and all other online EFL teachers, online learning is booming, meaning that the future of teaching English online is quickly becoming more focused on teaching groups rather than individual students. So, it’s time to check out the benefits of teaching English online to groups and how you can succeed as a group teacher!

What constitutes a group EFL class?

Online English teachers who teach lessons in a one-to-one setting only have one student at a time. In this scenario, the teacher can focus entirely on their one student, correcting pronunciation and vocabulary in real-time. This also means that you, the teacher, will be the only interaction the student will receive in terms of practicing their English and using newly-learned conversational vocabulary.

On the other hand, as the demand for online learning continues to grow, groups of students are becoming the more likely and, oftentimes, more lucrative option. A lesson with two or more students is considered a group, with smaller groups consisting of 10-15 students maximum. In these classes, the opportunity to have more student participation and interaction grows exponentially, but teaching group online English classes vs. one-on-one does come with its unique challenges, such as managing more students at once.

There are several instances when you might find yourself teaching English online to groups:

  • Teaching young learners with an English tutoring company that offers group classes (a growing trend)
  • Providing Business English lessons for an English tutoring company or when working directly for the company itself
  • Teaching English online to adults who are preparing for a language proficiency test for their university
  • Giving EFL lessons to groups of children who are in a classroom setting
  • Providing private lessons for one or more families at a time
  • Promoting yourself as an online group EFL teacher and filling your lesson with as many students as you feel comfortable teaching

Bridge grad, Skye, teaching a group of adult English students online


Why is teaching English online to groups a good skill to have?

So, whether you’re already teaching English online in a one-to-one setting or you’re just starting out in the field, why would you want to master this new area as an online EFL teacher?

Access to more job opportunities


When looking for online EFL jobs, you may notice that more and more platforms are offering group lessons, meaning that you may miss out on a great work opportunity because you don’t have the experience or the skills to teach in a group setting. While some companies are still willing to hire teachers to teach English online with no experience, online English learning is constantly evolving, so it’s best to take on as much continuing education on various skills as you can to ensure that you’re a competitive job candidate.

Marketability as a freelance teacher


More and more teachers are beginning to go the freelance route and marketing their services online. This is a wonderful option for those who’d like to make the most money as an online teacher and reach the most students possible, all at once.

  • When you diversify your services to include teaching English online to groups, you’ll reach more people than if you’re only willing to teach one student at a time.
  • With virtual learning becoming the norm for a lot of families across the globe, people are looking for ways to include more than one child in online EFL lessons. It’s not unheard of for whole families, including parents, to participate in online EFL lessons!
  • Even better is offering both one-to-one and group lessons. This ensures that you’ll be marketing yourself to as broad an audience as possible.

Learn how to market yourself and attract students with Bridge’s Specialized Certification in Teaching English Online as a Freelancer course.

Potential to earn more money


Let’s be real, money talks. So when teaching English online to groups, the opportunity to make more money with your lessons is a huge advantage. A very simplified and hypothetical situation is the following example of what a freelance online English teacher might charge for lessons:

  • One-to-one lessons: $25 per hour x 1 student = $25
  • Group lesson: $15 per hour x 4 students = $60

As you can see, having the skills to teach groups of students English online provides the chance to teach more students and earn a higher hourly rate than one-on-one classes _ and quickly grow your profit margin and your business.

Learn ways to handle cash flow as a freelance English teacher. 

How to manage online EFL group classes

Online teacher, Jhonny Aryout, with some of his groups of English students


Start with training on how to teach English online to groups.


Whether you have loads of experience teaching English online to one student at a time or are just starting out as a teacher, it’s highly recommended that you take steps to learn some new teaching strategies when approaching teaching English online to groups of students. Taking a Micro-credential course like Bridge’s 10-Hour Certificate in Teaching English Online to Groups is one simple yet effective way to prepare yourself for this type of teaching.

Take advantage of the group dynamic.


In group lessons, students will not only be learning from you but from one another. This is conducive to more interaction, self-correction, and team-based activities for the ESL classroom, such as role-playing, quizzes, and games that are more easily implemented in a group setting. This leads to a much more laid back and lively lesson!

Here are some tips for using games when teaching adults English online.

Teach existing groups.


This could be groups of people who work together, classmates, or friends who are already familiar with one another. This can make English lessons even more effective because of the existing rapport between the students.

Don’t neglect individual communication.


Make sure there’s a way that you can communicate with individual students if necessary. This is a feature on some popular platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, and Skype. Being able to communicate with individual students ensures that you can encourage participation and address individual issues during lessons without disrupting the whole class.

One of online English teacher Italo’s group English classes


Find the right technology and platform for your classes.


If you teach English online for a company, the learning management platform, student scheduling system, and other online tools will be provided for you. However, there are many platforms available to teachers who are looking into freelance teaching English online to groups. Some popular ones include:

  • Calendly for booking your lessons and keeping track of your schedule
  • Edmodo for creating an online classroom where you can make quizzes, assignments, and individual files for each student
  • Bandicam for recording your lessons for future reference

These are just some examples, as there are loads of options out there!

Define goals for your group.


In a group setting, as opposed to one-on-one lessons, you might have to be less flexible and more focused to ensure each student is learning as much as possible and is effectively reaching all of their learning objectives on time. This is especially important in groups of adults who typically like to prepare for lessons beforehand.

Review the essentials of using objectives in ESL lesson planning.

Consider issues that are unique to groups of kids.


When teaching any group of children, the opportunity for distraction and rowdiness can be a concern. Coping with this comes down to making your lessons engaging and maintaining composure when things do get a little out of hand. Take deep breaths, and remember your teaching props and, most importantly, your patience! This is when being able to reach out and communicate with individual students/parents is of the utmost importance.

Check out these types of challenging online students and how to handle them.

online English teacher young learners Magic Ears

Online teacher, Camille, teaches a group of young learners a vocabulary lesson about making pizza


Where can you teach English online to groups?

There are many different online English tutoring companies, each with its own hiring criteria, where you can teach English online to groups of students. Some allow you to teach English online with no degree, while others have more strict requirements to teach English online on their platform. Another difference among companies is whether you’ll be teaching children or adult students. Below are some examples of companies where you can teach English online to groups.

Open English Junior


  • Both group and individual lessons available
  • Students are young learners and teens (Open English, their parent brand, offers classes to adults)
  • Curriculum/platform provided by Open English
  • Must be a native English speaker with 1-3 years of K-12 experience
  • No degree required
  • TEFL/TESOL certification required
  • Must be based in the U.S.

Voxy


  • Both group and individual lessons available
  • Adult students
  • Task-based teaching
  • 10 hours/week minimum
  • 1-3 years of teaching experience required
  • Degree required
  • TEFL/TESOL certification required

Whales English


  • Group classes available (parents select the teachers)
  • Students are young learners and teens
  • Curriculum/platform provided by Whales English
  • 1-3 years of experience required
  • Degree required
  • TEFL/TESOL certification not required
  • Native English speakers based in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand only

Hopefully, this has given you some insight into group ESL lessons and some tips on how to move forward with teaching English online to groups. Whether you choose to pursue freelance English teaching online or work for a specific company, teaching English online to groups is growing in popularity and accessibility. Don’t get left behind!

Check out these 8 strategies to avoid burnout when teaching English online!