Teaching English Online: A Fulfilling Career Choice for Language Enthusiasts

You might be familiar with the term polyglot - a person who has learnt and speaks three or more languages fluently - but have you heard of the word hyperpolyglot? Do you know anybody who is one? Or perhaps you want to become one yourself. A hyperpolyglot is an individual who is able to speak at least twelve languages fluently. 

Teaching English Online: A Fulfilling Career Choice for Language Enthusiasts

Unlike bilingual or multilingual speakers, who have acquired two or more languages since infancy, (hyper)polyglots have made conscious efforts to learn and practise their non-native languages in order to be able to communicate and become proficient in them. You might not be interested in becoming like Cardinal Mezzofanti - who is said to have been able to converse proficiently in more than 39 (some say 70!) languages, but you can put your passion for languages to good use. 

The work-related advantage of learning a foreign language

Living in an interconnected world, the ability to speak more than one language has become a necessary skill to be successful in an increasingly competitive job market. This is especially true about the English language, which is the lingua franca of the business world. It’s the common language that allows communication and business transactions in a wide range of sectors, from politics to the airline industry. Not surprisingly, English is the most popular foreign language learnt worldwide. As a result, the demand for teachers of English as a foreign language (TEFL) is in constant rise.

More and more people are changing their career paths to turn their interest in languages into a lucrative and fulfilling teaching career. While this might seem too good to be true, thousands of people channel their love for their native (or foreign) language(s) and retrain to become language teachers. 

With the invaluable support of advanced technology, they can do so without leaving the comfort of their own home. Online learning/teaching has become more popular than ever and it allows aspiring educators to attend their teacher training course online as well as deliver their own lessons once qualified.

Taking the first steps into TEFL online

There are a couple of different routes you can take when embarking on your online teaching journey. The first option involves venturing into the world of freelancing and establishing your own independent teaching business. By choosing this path, not only do you gain complete autonomy over your work but you also have the freedom to set your own hourly rates and determine how many students you want to take on.

However, before you eagerly embrace the solopreneur lifestyle, it's important to recognize the amount of responsibility that comes with running your own business. Online teaching isn't solely about imparting knowledge; you'll also need to acquire some business acumen. This means handling legal matters and engaging in marketing efforts to attract students and establish yourself as your own boss. Undoubtedly, it can be a lot of work, but the potential rewards are substantial if you're ready to take on the challenge.

If you're not quite prepared to dive into the freelance world headfirst, there's no need to worry! There are numerous online educational institutions available that handle the nitty-gritty details on your behalf. These organisations take care of student acquisition, scheduling, payments, and administrative tasks, allowing you to focus primarily on what you love most: teaching. 

By utilising their platform, you can offer your services while still maintaining the flexibility to choose your working hours, location, and workload. 

However, one drawback of this option is that the hourly rates are typically determined by the platform provider, or in some cases, you have some say in deciding your fee but you'll be charged a percentage of it. On the positive side, many online organisations offer a robust support system, often providing opportunities for professional development and readily available lesson plans and teaching materials that can help enhance your teaching experience.

The tools for online teaching

As an online English teacher, having the right technical equipment is of utmost importance. Without lessons, there's no income, so it's crucial to ensure you're properly equipped. However, there's no need to break the bank on expensive technology. Your reliable PC or laptop, paired with a good internet connection, forms the backbone of your teaching business. Make sure your software is up to date, and ensure that your built-in camera and microphone are in perfect working order. You can always upgrade your tech further down the line.

If you are able to choose which video meeting programme to use for your lessons, do your research first. With so many platforms available, it can be challenging to identify the right one to suit your needs, as they all have their unique features.

In addition to your basic equipment, a stable and strong internet connection is essential. If your home Wi-Fi is unreliable, consider upgrading your service or switching providers. Moreover, if you're planning to teach while travelling, always check the quality of the internet before booking your accommodations. Avoid any unpleasant surprises that may disrupt your screen time and your lessons. You can find numerous free tools online that help test your internet speed, allowing you to make an informed choice.

Whether you're teaching from the comfort of your own home or from a hotel room, it's crucial to have a designated space for your online lessons. Find a quiet area with ample lighting where you can fully immerse yourself in the teaching zone during your screen time. When travelling, choose an Airbnb over hostels, which might be more affordable but can be noisy and lack privacy. 

First impressions matter: incorporate some background props into your teaching setup to give a more professional vibe to your lessons, especially if you travel frequently. A simple background is a good starting point, but your students, particularly younger ones, might appreciate a familiar and visually engaging setting. You can hang up language-related posters or use a whiteboard as a backdrop. Choose props that align with your teaching style and niche. For instance, if you prioritise pronunciation, a phonemic chart is a must-have prop that can enhance your lessons and engage your students.

Teaching English - a heartfelt choice

Teaching is a vocation and languages are the expression of cultural interest. If this resonates with you, a career in TEFL teaching might be the path that can enhance your professional and personal life. Don’t let the lack of experience discourage you - we all have to start somewhere! There are plenty of online articles that can guide you in this life-changing decision - check out this one from The Tefl Org.