Language Schools vs Marketplaces- What’s the Difference Anyway

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Since the implementation of strict government regulations in China beginning in July 2021, many teachers (especially in the US and Canada) have found online ELT no longer a lucrative job market. Teaching English online has become divided into two major camps: tutor marketplaces and language schools. Marketplaces seemingly provide little support but also little regulation and generally a lower commission than language schools, letting teachers set their own prices. Online language schools tend to provide more support in the form of lesson materials, customer support, and language assessments for students, but they may also require greater certifications, regular hours and/or mandatory teaching observations. School typically take a bigger commission for each class or pay teachers a standard hourly rate. Teachers must decide which works best for them: we’re here to help!


Gerald Smith
Gerald Smith is an EL teacher and journalist. He's written about the online EL job market, tutor marketplaces and native speakerism. In 2021, he graduated from Stirling University with an MSc in International Journalism. Originally from Texas, he now lives in Glasgow.
Jack Lingshuang Mao
Growing up in China, Jack Mao’s interest in languages was sparked by his grandfather, a translator, who taught him English and Japanese. While Jack’s undergraduate studies were in mathematics and philosophy, he later went on to earn master’s degrees in Japanese studies and linguistics from the University of Colorado, where he researched using computational methods to model phonetical patterns of speech. Jack has been teaching Chinese, Japanese, English, and linguistics for nearly 10 years and is currently getting certified as an English-Mandarin medical interpreter.
Alice Copello
Alice has been in the foreign language teaching industry for 12 years, taking on various positions as an English language teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies and coursebook writer. She has a BA and an MA in TEFL/TESOL as well as a CELTA and a DELTA, and she is passionate about everything related to language learning and teaching. She specializes in teaching exam preparation, as well as working professionals and general language teaching to adults.
Alyse Bukoski
Alyse is a veteran online ESL, ELA, and Spanish teacher. She is an Adjunct Professor at Beijing Normal University, a teacher for online companies in China and the USA, and an independent teacher. She is the co-admin of the Facebook group ESL Diversified and operates Next Steps Teaching, a consulting business that supports those interested in teaching online or reinventing themselves as online teachers in an ever-changing industry. For more information contact: nextstepsteaching@gmail.com.

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