Teaching English online is a great way to get experience—and put your TEFL certificate to good use, if you have one!
Indeed, there are numerous websites and apps that allow ESL teachers to make a good wage, while having full control over their own schedules. And even better, many of these companies don’t require any previous teaching experience.
So, if you’re a native English speaker who is looking to make some extra income and hone your teaching skills, becoming an online ESL teacher could be the perfect gig for you!
Keep reading to learn about some of the most popular ESL platforms. We’ll tell you about the companies, along with their pay rates and schedule expectations, so you can start applying to teach English online today.
Created by two ex-Google employees, Cambly pays native English speakers to have short, 20-minute conversations with adult ESL students located around the world. The platform primarily hires tutors from the United States, Canada, U.K., Australia, and a few other English-speaking countries.
As an online ESL teaching platform, Cambly is a fun, low-pressure way to chat with non-native speakers in a casual environment and assist them with their English skills.
Working for Cambly, you make your own hours and schedule, allowing you total flexibility. Simply login whenever you have availability or pre-book appointments with students. The decision is yours!
As a Cambly tutor, you earn $0.17 USD per minute, which evens out to $10.20 USD per hour. Every Monday, you’ll receive your weekly payment over PayPal.
Teach English to children in China with VIPKid, an online platform that provides ESL teachers with full lesson plans to use. As a teacher, all you need is a reliable internet connection, computer camera, and a headset. The lessons are one-on-one and last for 30 minutes each.
While VIPKid doesn’t require teaching credentials, they do specify that applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree. Since the company advertises to Chinese parents as providing ESL teachers with university degrees, they will not compromise on education level, even if you have previous teaching experience.
To become an online ESL teacher, you also need to successfully complete an interview and a demo lesson. If VIPKid likes what they see, they invite you to sign a 6-month contract with them.
While English teachers schedule their own hours on VIPKid, the company suggests that you set your availability for times when students won’t be asleep or in school, based on Beijing standard time. You’re also required to submit your weekly availability a month in advance.
VIPKid teachers earn $14-22 USD per hour and receive payment between the 10th and 15th of every month. Your payment rate will be determined on the skills demonstrated in the interview and demo lesson. However, every time your contract is up for renewal, you can negotiate a raise.
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For on-the-go teachers, the app Palfish is a great option.
Available to use on both iOS (Apple) and Google cellphones, Palfish is primarily used by Chinese students of varying ages and English-speaking teachers. As you’ll see after downloading the app, the interface is written in both Mandarin and English.
Palfish allows ESL students to phone you whenever the app shows that you’re online. During the call, you can teach them a short lesson using pre-made slides or simply have a conversation. Teachers can opt to conduct one-on-one conversations or broadcast to a small group of up to 6 students.
While Palfish recommends that its ESL teachers have a TEFL certificate, it’s not mandatory, and the company also doesn’t discourage non-native English speakers from becoming teachers.
The nice thing about Palfish is its complete flexibility. You can use it when you want, where you want, and as much as you want—all the company requests is a four-hour commitment per week.
ESL teachers on Palfish also set their own pay rate. While the payment average is around $10 USD to $18 USD per hour, many successful instructors charging $30 USD or more per hour. Palfish does take a 20% cut, so set your rates accordingly, and they pay through Payoneer (an alternative to PayPal).
4. Magic Ears
If you enjoy interacting with children, Magic Ears is a kid-friendly platform that pairs Chinese children with an ESL teacher.
As an English teacher for Magic Ears, you teach a group of four children, who will be between the ages of 4 to 12. The classes last for 25 minutes each and the company provides the teaching materials, which you will need to review prior to the lesson and prepare the relevant props.
To apply to Magic Ears, you must be a native speaker of English from the U.S.A. or Canada, and they require that you hold a Bachelor’s degree. No teaching experience is required, however, and the company provides online training sessions for its new ESL teachers.
The application process to Magic Ears is very similar to VIPKid. Applicants are required to present a demo lesson, along with a filmed interview, and pass a background check. If your application is successful, the company asks you to sign a 6-month contract.
At Magic Ears, English teachers earn $18-26 USD per hour, and they are paid on the 10th of every month through PayPal or bank transfer.
For individuals looking to teach ESL students located worldwide, check out the online ESL platform SkimaTalk.
On SkimaTalk, English teachers are expected to deliver one-on-one lessons to students, who are generally adults. Each lesson lasts 25 minutes, although students are encouraged to book back-to-back lessons with you to maximize their learning. Teachers can either use the SkimaTalk teaching materials or create their own lesson plans.
After each lesson, your ESL student will rate you. Successful teachers on SkimaTalk receive high ratings not only for their teaching skills, but also for their punctuality and reliability.
To become an ESL teacher on SkimaTalk, you don’t need to have any teaching experience. The platform is open to native English speakers from Canada, U.S.A., the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand who are over 18 years old and successfully complete the application tests.
English teachers on SkimaTalk set their own rates, from which the company takes a 20% cut. So, it’s important to set your rates accordingly. Payday for SkimaTalk teachers occurs once a month through PayPal.