Teaching Online vs. the Classroom – How Do They Compare?By Maggie Palmer
February 26, 2020
Teaching English online has seen incredible growth in popularity in recent years, which leads to consideration of the differences in teaching online vs. the classroom. Which is better for you – the virtual classroom or a traditional, brick and mortar TEFL school? Learning about the differences between these two options can help you decide which career path to pursue – or if you should pursue both!
What are the main differences between teaching English in the classroom and teaching online?
One main difference between teaching English online vs. the classroom is the work environment. Rather than the traditional face-to-face setting in a classroom-based lesson, teaching English online is in a virtual classroom setting. It requires a stable internet connection and a quiet, professional space to conduct classes.
Learn more about requirements to teach online in this article: How to Teach English Online From Home.
For online teachers, the working space is determined mostly by the teacher, rather than the school or language institution, as in classroom-based teaching. The online work environment also involves using interactive teaching tools and software to engage your students as needed.
Most teachers who work in a traditional classroom have set hours. Teachers at language institutes that accommodate students before and after school or work may have split schedules that require both mornings and evenings, or even weekends. Teachers in a K-12 setting, on the other hand, will most likely teach a standard 8-4 schedule.
Online teachers have the flexibility to choose their own schedules, but it’s important to note that much of the demand for online English class comes from countries in Asia, such as China and Vietnam, so you as an online teacher, you may find yourself waking up at odd hours to teach a class in order to catch your students at peak teaching times.
Salaries for classroom-based teaching jobs are set by the schools and generally align with the economic level of the country where they’re located. Click here for average monthly salaries for popular TEFL destinations.
Salaries for online English teachers, on the other hand, vary depending on the company for which you teach, your qualifications and experience, and how many hours you choose to work (many online companies let you work as many hours as you like.) An average hourly rate for an online teaching job at one of the major online English providers would range from around $14 – $25 USD.
If you work as an independent online English teacher, you are free to set your own rates and schedule with your students, which, for experienced and highly qualified teachers, could lead to higher income.
The recommended certification is similar for jobs teaching English online vs. in the classroom. For both, the international standard TEFL/TESOL requirement is at least 120-hours of certification. This can be earned online or via a classroom-based or blended TEFL course.
Additional requirements to teach in the classroom vary mostly by location, and can include a bachelor’s degree or teaching experience. For a look at requirements for classroom-based TEFL jobs by country, check out the Jobs at a Glance Chart.
For teaching English online, it’s recommended that you take a certificate program focused on teaching in the virtual teaching space, specifically, such as the Bridge Specialized TEFL/TESOL Certificate in Teaching English Online. Online teaching jobs may also have additional requirements (a degree or experience working with kids, for example), though this varies from company to company and plenty of opportunities exist for teachers of all experience levels.
What are the pros and cons of teaching English in the classroom vs. teaching online?
Pros of teaching English online
Cons of teaching English online
Pros of teaching English in the classroom
That being said, teaching English in the traditional classroom setting has its own pros and cons.
Cons of teaching English in the classroom
However, there are relevant cons to teaching in the traditional classroom setting.
So, which is better, teaching English online or in the classroom?
You may find the benefits of teaching English online outweigh the disadvantages. Or, you could value the opportunity to teach in a classroom with a group of students more than any of the cons of the job. But for many teachers, there’s a third option – a combination of teaching English online and in the classroom can provide the sweet spot between these two unique teaching environments.