Q&A: Everything you need to know about teaching English to adults online

teaching English to adults online

I was recently chatting with a friend who has been teaching adult ESL students for years. He lives in Ireland so the opportunities are limited and although he’s planning to teach abroad eventually, there are a few personal reasons why he needs to be in his home country for now.

For years, he’s had to work to meet the demands in ESL schools in Ireland. A lot of these teaching positions are temporary, seasonal and part-time. I am sure this is the case for many ESL teachers who stay in their home country.

He is CELTA qualified, has an MA in English and grammar is his first language. He is passionate about helping people learn English…the exact kind of person global English learners would be lucky to have.

All this leaves him in an awkward position - there’s a global ESL market that needs someone with his skills. Yet, he can’t reach his students. He’s limited to students who turn up on his doorstep. And in an English-speaking country, that’s not as many as he needs to pay the bills.

So what do you do when you can’t physically get to your ESL students?

Like many other teachers, he’s taking advantage of the online teaching opportunities that are flooding the internet at the moment. I assumed this meant he was logging on at all hours of the night to teach Chinese kids basic vocabulary.

This would be a pity. Not because that’s a bad job, but because he has been prepping adults for university education for years. He’s the guy you go to when you want to fine-tune your English skills. Teaching at a lower level could get boring fast for someone that can debate sentence structure at a level that leaves most native speakers flummoxed.

The idea of him chanting the word banana with a grin slapped on his face seems wrong. But thankfully it’s not the case, he has managed to get a position teaching adults online in Europe.

I knew these existed, but I didn’t really know the extent of the demand. Most online positions I’d seen online were kid-centric. A lot of elementary and middle school level basic English. But his position sounded like a dream. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about his role tteaching adults ESL online.

Interview with an online ESL teacher for adults

teaching ESL online to adults

 

What were the requirements for teaching adults ESL online?

I needed a high-level TEFL qualification, I think CELTA is required. To apply again, I'd just focus on my knowledge of grammar and language, and I'd put emphasis on interpersonal skills.

 

What hours do you teach?

My hours are basically whatever I like! I generally put my availability between 8 am and 10 pm, 5 - 7 days a week, as I find it's best to cast a wide net. I teach adults online during European hours, so there’s no need to be a night owl. The most actual teaching time I've put in for a single day was 8 hours (or 16) classes.

 

How flexible is teaching adults online and do you have to work a minimum number of hours?

The hours are actually super flexible and I can teach the hours I want. I tend towards full-time working hours just because that suits me best. But I'm under no pressure to teach any minimum number of online teaching sessions.

Because I can set my own availability it means I can always take a few hours in the middle of the day to go to the bank, the doctor, catch up with a friend that’s only in town for a few hours. I can work around my life, rather than live around my work!

 

Which company do you work for?

I teach for Fluentify, an Italian company that teaches both private individuals and offers packages to companies for their employees.

 

Are your students always adults?

I've taught a few teenagers, but the majority of students on the platform are adults. It’s more conversation-based learning, so the students tend to be high level enough and I work with them individually on their personal problem areas.

 

What nationality are your adult online students?

The vast majority of my Fluentify students are Italian, but I've also taught Japanese and French students on the site.

 

As you’ve taught online and in the classroom, can you tell me which one you prefer?

I don't currently teach in the classroom because I prefer the flexibility of the website at the moment. I don't know if it's better than teaching in the classroom. It's certainly different. It requires more focus for the entirety of the session, but can also be less demanding with just one student at a time.

 

What salary do you make teaching ESL to adults online?

The salary is currently better than the going rate in a language school in Ireland. I'm currently on two different rates. Teaching business professionals pays 11 euro for a 30 minute session while teaching private students pays 9.50 for a 30 minute session. The private sessions paid less when I started as a new tutor, I think it was 7 or 7.50, but I got a raise as I progressed. The majority of my sessions these days are the private ones.

 

What problems have you encountered teaching English to adults online?

As far as tech goes, it’s all been straightforward enough. I've really only had one problem student online. He got super clingy and started sending me messages demanding my attention and needing more from me, while taking none of my advice and apparently not realising that I had other students and priorities.

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Where can you find online ESL jobs teaching adults?

teaching esl to adults jobs

After hearing about his experiences teaching adults online, I couldn’t help myself, I needed to know more. The salary was good and the hours were sociable and flexible. What more could an online tutor want?

I know that at Teach Away we hire adult online ESL teachers, but I wasn’t sure how many other companies offered that flexibility. It turns out you can pretty much find an online ESL role to fit your needs - all you’ve got to do is a little bit (okay, a lot) of Googling. To save you scouring the internet, I’ve put together a list of companies hiring ESL online teachers for adults.

Online ESL companies catering to adults

Company

Hourly salary (USD)

Minimum hours

Timezone

Requirements

iTutorGroup

$18 - 26

No minimum

Worldwide

- 1 year of teaching experience

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA 

ABC International Group

$18 - 25

12 hours/week

Not stated

 

Lingo Live

Varies depending on your location

15 hours/week

Worldwide

- Native English speaker

- 3 years of classroom experience

Fluentify

$8 - 15

No minimum

Worldwide

- BA degree

- CELTA preferred (or recognized TEFL)

eBerlitz

$14 - 15

No minimum

Worldwide

- Native English speaker

EnglishTutorOnline

Varies depending on your location

No minimum

Worldwide

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

- Native English speaker

- Some teaching experience

SkyLearn

Varies depending on your location

8 hours/day

Europe (mainly Spain)

- BA degree

- TESL certificate

Break Into English

$14 - 16

2 hours/week

Worldwide

- BA degree

- North American accent

Novo English

$10 - 20

No minimum

Europe (mainly France)

- BA degree

- North American accent

Educastream

$11 - 13

No minimum

Europe (mainly France)

- UK-based native English speakers

- Some teaching experience

FluentBe

$10

No minimum

Poland

- Native English speaker

- Some teaching experience

51Talk

$22

33.5 hours/week

Asia

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

- Some teaching experience

Koolearn

$950 - 1,250/month

Not stated

Asia

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

First Future

$12 - 20

No minimum

China

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA or teaching experience

New Vision Learning Services

$14 - 22

Looks to be full-time

Asia

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

DMA1on1

$8 - 9

Fixed

Taiwan

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

- ESL teaching experience (preferred)

Hiknow

$3 - 4

Part-time

China

Not stated

A Top Class

$10 - 11

No minimum

China

Not stated

Likeshuo

$16 - 26

20 hours/week

China

- BA degree

- Native English speaker

- Experience teaching adults ESL

Tutoring

$4

No minimum

Korea

- BA degree

- 2 years of teaching experience

NIL English

$10 - 15

10 hours/week

Korea

- BA/associate’s degree

- TEFL/CELTA

- Native North American accent

Kampus World

$10 - 15

No minimum

Worldwide

- BA degree

- TEFL/CELTA

- 3 years of experience teaching adults