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26 Best Digital Tools for Teaching English Online

an online teacher recording her class

As an online English teacher, setting up a fun-filled yet organized virtual classroom can be challenging. You might have a goldmine of ideas for planning lessons and engaging students, but you’re unsure which tech tools are the best fit to make them happen. If this has been a challenge for you, don’t worry! We’re here to help by sharing some of the best tools for teaching English online.

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What are digital tools for teaching English online?

When teaching English online, tech tools are essential to carry out the many tasks of planning and teaching. From scheduling tools to virtual classrooms, there’s a lot to consider and a lot of tech options to weed through. Some of the technologies available today can take your teaching to the next level, but first, let’s consider the main tech tools an online teacher should have to ensure a successful experience.

A basic online teaching toolkit typically includes:

  • Video conferencing software
  • Virtual whiteboard tools
  • Lesson planning tools
  • Media creation tools
  • Webcam tools
  • Screen recording apps
  • Online game/activity platforms
  • Quiz and assessment creator tools
  • Extended learning apps

For the fully independent teacher, there may be additional tech tools that can be helpful as your online tutoring business grows. The tech tools you need may vary depending on the size of your business, but here are some additional items to add to the list for the teacherpreneur toolkit:

  • Online learning/student management platforms
  • AI-powered teaching assistant tools

While many of these online tools can be used for free, some may require a subscription or have paid versions that include more features. The good news is that, oftentimes, you won’t need to be tech-savvy to use these tools. You can learn as you go or watch tutorials online to become a proficient user.

Learn the essential online teaching tools and the skills needed to use them in the virtual classroom by earning Specialized Certification in Teaching English Online.

Bridge alum, Belinda, teaching English online.
Bridge alum, Belinda, teaches English online and is launching an independent career as a teacherpreneur. Read her story.

What technology tools can you use for teaching English online?

There are several ways you can teach online, and your role may determine the types of tech tools you’ll need. If you freelance online for an ESL company, they may provide all the teaching tools you need within their learning platform. However, you may still find digital resources like language tutoring apps and online game-making software you want to recommend to your students.

Similarly, if you tutor for an online marketplace, you’ll have many online teaching tools at your disposal through the marketplace learning platform. However, you’ll likely need to create your own lesson plans, games, and activities as a marketplace tutor. There are plenty of tech tools available for lesson planning and games and activities.

If you are an independent online English teacher or teacherpreneur with your own teaching business, you’ll need the largest tech stack, as you’ll be in charge of all aspects of your online teaching business. This means you’ll likely need more than the basic online teaching toolkit to keep up with scheduling, lesson planning, student management, marketing, billing, and more.

Now, let’s explore some tech tools for teaching English classes online.

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Video conferencing software

If you’re an independent, online teacher, you’ll need to have some way to deliver your classes. Most online teachers use video conferencing software to host their tutoring sessions. There are several popular options, and the one you choose may be based on personal preferences or the types of courses you teach.

While teleconferencing programs vary in the features they have, they should at least enable you to use your video camera, share your screen, and chat with your students. They should also be stable, user-friendly, and able to accommodate groups. Features like breakout rooms can come in handy when teaching groups.

Read about how to increase your job prospects by teaching English online to groups.

Bridge alum, Kaylynn, teaching Business English online
Bridge alum, Kaylynn, teaching Business English online to groups with Bridge Corporate Language Learning. Read her story.
1. Zoom

Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing software options, and it’s a great fit for teaching English online. It’s easy to use and provides the following features:

  • A built-in virtual whiteboard
  • Breakout rooms to split students up for group activities
  • A chat box that allows you to send messages to the entire class or individual learners
  • Screen share function that allows you and your students to share not only your materials or documents but also audio from your computer
  • Cute emoji buttons that let participants raise their hands, send virtual applause, and react to others

Zoom comes in a free version, which you can use for one-on-one lessons or group classes for a maximum of 40 minutes per session.

2. Microsoft Teams

Another popular communication platform is Microsoft Teams, which is commonly used by professionals. So, if you have Business English students, chances are they have this software already installed on their computers!

Niels, an online Business English tutor from Peru, delivers his classes through Microsoft Teams. “I use this program because it is connected with a variety of other apps, and I can use my digital pen and avoid typing so much,” he said.

Microsoft Teams includes the following features:

  • Screen and audio sharing
  • Chat function that lets you communicate and share documents with everyone in the virtual room
  • A variety of fun and professional-looking backgrounds
  • Easy-to-use scheduler

You can make use of all of Microsoft Teams’ features and have online meetings with an unlimited number of participants using its free version. Meanwhile, you can also upgrade to the premium version to get cloud storage and Microsoft Office apps.

A Google Classroom workspace
A Google Classroom workspace
3. Google Classroom

Another software option with video conferencing plus additional organizational features is Google Classroom. This program can be used as a one-stop shop where you can manage and host your classes. With Google’s suite of programs like Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, Forms, and Sheets, you can create, assign, grade, and leave feedback all within the drive and host your live classes in the virtual Google Classroom. Google Classroom also integrates with a variety of apps like Screencastify, Flipgrid, and Kahoot!

When choosing the best organization platform, make sure that both you and your students can access or navigate it easily. It should also let you share materials or documents with ease. Google Classroom can help with:

  • Creating, distributing, and grading homework
  • Organizing your lessons into modules or units
  • Uploading materials and storing them on Google Drive
  • Tracking students’ progress  
  • Posting comments and class announcements

While Google Classroom does have a free version, you can opt to upgrade to obtain more space – which could be useful if you have lots of files!

Get the information you need to learn how to teach English online from home or anywhere.

Online English teacher Krzl's virtual whiteboard
Online English teacher Krzl’s virtual whiteboard

Virtual whiteboard tools

Some video conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams includes a virtual whiteboard, but there are many free and subscription-based options available as well. A good virtual whiteboard will allow users to collaborate in real time, allow attached files, include presentation options, and be accessible from anywhere. Below are a few to consider.

4. Canva

Canva has an online whiteboard that can be used for real-time collaboration. There are editable templates or a simple blank canvas that can be used, as well as a variety of text, shape, and drawing tools.

Canva is a versatile tool that can also be used for images and graphics. From posters to Zoom backgrounds to slides, Canva lets you design many different types of graphic materials. Among its many fun and useful options, it allows you to:

  • Choose from a wide range of professionally designed templates
  • Upload and edit photos from your computer
  • Customize text, graphics, layout, and colors
  • Organize your creations into folders

You can use Canva, including its whiteboard function, for free and enjoy its basic editing features or you can get its premium version, which gives you access to more templates and design tools.

5. Miro

Miro is another online whiteboard that can also be used for real-time collaboration. It is free for the first three boards and then requires a subscription. It has a variety of tools and lots of integrations as well, and it includes multiple ways to organize and present information. You can simply share the link with students and work together on the virtual whiteboard.

Read about the ways technology is revolutionizing English language teaching.

Lesson planning tools

There are so many online tools and resources for creating effective, interactive lesson plans. Let’s look at some examples of digital resources for creating lesson plans and other classroom materials and some options for finding ready-made lesson plans.

6. Lessonplans.ai

With Lessonplans.ai, you can generate lesson plans that include activities and resources quickly and easily. Because this AI tool is specifically made for lesson plan generation, it’s easy to use and ensures the lesson plan is comprehensive and effective. The generator includes fields to fill out such as grade level, lesson title, and lesson description. Access is subscription-based.

7. Claude

Claude is an AI assistant that can be used in multiple ways but is well-suited to lesson planning. You type in a detailed prompt, directing the chatbot to create a lesson plan, and it will generate the lesson plan for you. The more details you provide, the better the lesson plan will be. It’s always important to review the information for accuracy with any AI-powered generator, but these tools can do most of the heavy lifting for you. Simply generate your lesson and update the content as needed.

8. ChatGPT

The ChatGPT chatbot can be used for a variety of purposes, but it’s an excellent tool for lesson planning and other class materials. With a well-crafted prompt that includes a detailed description of the age of students, lesson objectives, mode of course delivery, and other information, ChatGPT will generate a lesson plan you can check for accuracy and edit as needed.

ChatGPT can also help with everything from gathering information to composing letters to proofreading texts. You can make the most out of this AI tool by:

  • Searching for facts quickly
  • Generating reading passages such as stories
  • Creating questions for class discussions
  • Creating writing prompts for students
  • Teaching vocabulary by making word lists and demonstrating how to use words in a sentence
  • Teaching grammar by showing sentence examples
  • Finding mistakes in sentences (you can paste a student’s written work into the chat and ask the bot to identify the errors)

In addition to creating your own lesson plans, you can also find many ready-made lesson plan options, both free and for purchase, available to online English teachers. These typically include presentations, videos, interactive assignments, and assessments that can be used as-is or revised to meet specific needs. The following are some examples.

9. Fluentize

Fluentize lessons, for teens and adults, are video-based. Ready-to-use lessons can be used in both digital and printable formats. Lessons include an authentic, real-life video, a teaching presentation, and interactive student activities. Easily integrated into video conferencing software like Zoom, teachers can present the lesson and share screen control with students to complete the interactive activities.

There are free and paid lessons, and while most lesson plan companies have subscription plans, you can purchase individual lessons on the Fluentize site. Lessons are one credit apiece, and you can purchase a single credit, five credits, 10 credits, or a full-access subscription.

Take a closer look at ESL lesson plan companies and the types of resources they offer.

10. ESL Pals

ESL Pals has over 600 ESL lessons for all ages and levels. Lessons are downloadable as PDFs and include objectives, a video, worksheets, and more. There are free lessons as well as several subscription plans available.

Find the materials that will benefit your students the most with the free

ESL Teacher’s Guide to Lesson Planning Resources

a woman choosing a lesson from Fluentize on her tablet

Media creation tools

Make your presentations, infographics, and other class materials more engaging by leveraging online tools, many of which are now AI-powered. In addition, you can also use these tools to brainstorm ideas with students or assign collaborative projects, such as creating a presentation.

A media creation tool should be user-friendly and provide a variety of options for building, editing, and styling content. Collaborators should also be able to share and access the workspace. Here are some image and graphics creation/editing tools to consider:

11. Lumen5

Lumen5 is an online AI video creator that is set up similarly to building a slide deck. There are templated designs, style and color themes, and more. It’s very user friendly, and the AI feature can do a lot of the design work for you. There is a free version as well as several subscription models.

12. Image Creator from Microsoft Bing

You can also get creative with images by using Image Creator, an AI-powered image generator that is part of Microsoft Copilot. It’s free to use, and you simply type in a prompt and it will generate an image. Create images for class activities, as part of lessons, or to enhance presentations. And since it’s free, students can use it as well!

Webcam tools

Spicing up a virtual classroom may be challenging for teachers, especially if you need to be creative in setting up your teaching background and capturing youngsters’ attention in class. If you’re looking for a digital tool that does all these tricks and more, you can rely on webcam and streaming apps that can add filters and effects to your videos.

Make sure that your webcam software is compatible with the video conference platform you’re using for classes. Additionally, webcam apps can usually slow down your computer because of high CPU usage, so check that your desktop computer or laptop meets the platform’s system requirements. Here’s one great example:

13. ManyCam

ManyCam is the go-to webcam app for most online English teachers nowadays. You can use it to add elements to your teaching backdrop, play games, show virtual objects onscreen, give rewards to your students, and more!

Through this user-friendly program, you can:

  • Replace your background with an image or a video
  • Add fun borders, banners, text, and stickers to your video frame
  • Use face masks to appear as a different character or animal onscreen
  • Choose multiple video sources
  • Display time tools, such as a digital clock, stopwatch, and timer, onscreen
  • Zoom your camera straight from the app

ManyCam offers free, standard, studio, and enterprise versions. While you can use the app’s basic functions with its free version, you can enjoy more features and add more video sources when you upgrade to a premium version.

Check out this guide to using ManyCam when teaching English online.

Screen recording apps

Whether used during instruction or shared as a video lesson, screen recording is a handy tool for teaching online. Many free and subscription-based screen recording applications are easy to use and can be added as an extension to your browser for easy access. Here are a few to consider:

14. Screencastify

Add the Screencastify Chrome extension to your browser and you can record any screen. The free version allows up to 10 videos, 30 minutes max per video, but there are also additional subscriptions available for unlimited video creation.

15. Loom

Loom is another screen recorder but also includes AI tools to help generate content. You can use the free version for up to 25 videos, five minutes max per video, or subscribe for unlimited use.

Online game/activity platforms

Games are effective teaching tools for learners of any age. They can be used for icebreakers, concept review, assessment, and many other purposes. Students enjoy them, and they’re a great way to amp up the energy in class. Let’s look at some options for integrating online games in class.

Teacher Shella smiles in a classroom, taking a selfie with her young students.
Teacher Shella, an English teacher in Taiwan, began using Kahoot! when her school shifted to remote learning.
16. Kahoot!

An online, game-based learning platform, Kahoot! lets you create and share your own educational games quickly and easily. Teachers can use it as a warm-up activity, to review concepts they’ve taught, or as a form of assessment. What’s more, it’s totally free to use!

Shella, from the Philippines, is an English teacher to primary students in Taiwan. When they shifted to online classes, Kahoot! became her favorite digital tool, not only for motivating her students but also for checking their understanding of the lesson. “I would tell them that I’d know if they were listening in class because their Kahoot! scores would show me!” she shared.

Making your own learning game on Kahoot! is pretty straightforward:

  • You can choose to add text, images, and diagrams to your quizzes.
  • Once your game is ready, you’ll get a unique PIN to share with your students.
  • Any student who has the PIN can play the game on their computer or mobile device.
17. Baamboozle

This platform includes a large library of games made by teachers, or you can make your own. You can also edit any game. Games can be played in person and online, and with the slideshow feature, the games can also be used as lessons or study tools. The basic plan is free or there are monthly and yearly plans.

Check out 12 low-prep ESL games for teaching online.

Quiz and assessment creator tools

18. Quizlet

If you’re looking to make learning and memorization more fun for your students, Quizlet could be your online platform of choice! This free education app makes it easy for teachers to create flashcards, study guides, and interactive games for any age and level.

On the Quizlet platform, you will be able to:

  • Make customized flashcards
  • Build study sets that students can use for reviewing past lessons
  • Craft various types of student assessments, such as a written quiz or a spelling test
  • Add your own list of terms and definitions for your learners to study or memorize
19. Quizizz

Quizizz is AI-powered, so you can generate activities quickly, saving prep time. Added as a Chrome extension, you can easily generate quizzes from the app by connecting your favorite educational websites or uploading PDFs and docs. You can also use it to generate reading material.

Additionally, Quizizz has integrated accessibility tools like read-aloud, audio response options, translation, and leveled text.

Learn about ways to use AI tools for English language proficiency placement, leveling, and progress monitoring.

Extended learning apps

Many teachers also integrate language tutoring and practice apps in their instruction, which provides students with opportunities to practice speaking skills beyond class time.

20. FLOW Speak

FLOW Speak is a language tutoring app with over 400 English conversation lessons students can repeat over and over until they become comfortable and confident. Teachers can recommend the app for additional practice or offer access as part of their instruction. The app provides AI-powered instant feedback to students, and teachers can access an administrator’s dashboard to track student progress.

21. TalkPal

TalkPal is a language practice app that provides conversation practice through AI-generated conversations or roleplays. The conversation practice is based on real-life scenarios so students can build skills in practical uses of English.

Read about ways to hyper-personalize your Business English teaching with AI.

What additional tech tools might a Teacherpreneur need?

For the fully independent online teacher running their own online tutoring business, many of the online tools already mentioned will be essential. Teacherpreneurs juggle all the typical online teaching responsibilities plus the marketing, student management, and business tasks as well. So, finding ways to streamline processes and maximize your time is incredibly important.

In addition to the tools mentioned so far, here are a few additional digital tools for the online English teacherpreneur.

Read about six reasons to become an independent ESL teacher.

Online learning/student management platforms

If you’re an independent English teacher or teacherpreneur with your own online teaching business, you may need to upgrade to an online teaching platform or student management system. There are many options available that feature an assortment of tools to help you teach and manage your business.

Analyze 12 learning platforms for online independent tutors with the free

Teacherpreneur’s Guide to LMS and Learning Platforms

22. ClassIn

ClassIn is an all-in-one learning management system that recreates the physical classroom. For independent teachers, multi-tutor businesses, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions, the platform has solutions for both virtual and hybrid classrooms.

The interactive virtual classroom has over 20 teaching tools, such as live chat, polls, timers, and a test bank. It includes a blackboard on which teachers can present materials they have uploaded to the ClassIn cloud storage.

ClassIn has integrated scheduling and student management tools, including the ClassIn calendar. The platform includes comprehensive administrative tools to communicate, take attendance, view learning reports, and track student progress.

23. Koala

Koala is a cloud-based platform for private ESL tutors. Geared toward young learners, it features a whiteboard, co-browser, and 3-D virtual classroom, Playground. It’s very interactive and includes a large library of teaching tools, such as sticky notes, student chat with translation, student awards, and more. There’s a Koala free version with access to worldwide invoicing and Koala Pro with access to everything from the free version plus additional features like the ability to upload PDFs and PowerPoints.

Koala Business is another subscription model geared toward multi-tutor businesses. It includes an admin dashboard, teacher management features, lesson plan sharing, and more.

Members of the Bridge audience can get one free month of Koala Go Pro here!

24. TutorBird

TutorBird is tutor management software marketed to both independent private tutors and owners of multi-tutor businesses. The platform provides tools for managing students, scheduling, invoicing, online payments, and other marketing and business tools.

Users can leverage tools to quickly and easily create custom invoices and other documents, automate email and SMS communications, set registration and cancelation policies, and more. The robust calendar feature includes a variety of categories, providing customization options and integrating with a variety of tech tools.

A website builder tool can also be used to create a custom website where you can add your branded sign-up form for classes. TutorBird provides administrative and student management tools so teachers can focus on teaching.

AI-powered teaching assistant tools

ChatGPT and Claude.ai have already been mentioned, but there are some excellent AI-driven chatbots and platforms to streamline and enhance lesson plans, other teaching resources, and assessments. Essentially, these AI tools can be used as personal teaching assistants. Here are a few examples:

25. Eduaide.Ai

Eduaide.Ai is an AI-driven platform with over 100 resource types and learning objectives already built in to assist with lesson planning and instructional design. It includes tools to streamline administrative duties, personalize instruction, generate instant feedback, create assessments, and much more. You can create a free account to access many of the features or subscribe for unlimited access.

26. Education Copilot

Education Copilot provides AI-generated templates and other teaching resources that streamline lesson planning and class preparation. You can generate writing prompts, class handouts, student reports, project assignments, and much more. There is a 30-day free trial, but after that, there’s a subscription cost to use.

The bottom line is that there are some amazing tech tools today’s online teachers can leverage to enhance their teaching, save time, and expand their earning potential! Whether you’re freelancing for an online company, tutoring for a marketplace, or teaching independently as a teacherpreneur, building your essential tech stack will help you teach effectively and make the most of your time and skills.

Ready to take the leap into teacherpreneurship? Learn more about Bridge’s Teacherpreneur Academy, which includes Specialized Certification in Succeeding as an English Teacherpreneur as well as coaching, monthly workshops and networking sessions, and more to equip you with the tools and skills needed to launch your independent teaching business!

Back in her hometown in the Philippines, Krzl worked as a writer at a TV station before moving to Chile. After she completed her TESOL certification, she worked for language institutes and then decided to become an independent English teacher to business professionals. When she’s not giving classes, she’s either surfing along Chile’s long stretch of coastline, traveling, or practicing photography by the beach.