Since we updated our guide on the ever changing Chinese regulations with regards to online teaching and how it’s been functionally banned for students under 18, we’ve been inundated with requests for some viable alternatives. That’s what we’re going to cover today.
First off, no online teaching is not dead but it is changing. The golden era where you could signup to VIPKID, Go Go Kids or Magic ears and go through a 1 month rigmarole to get hired and then make 22-24$ an hour has past. As China has a massive market of young learners, it was a once thriving industry.
Now, most teachers should focus on getting their own independent clients. There are some options to teach with a teaching company, but long term you’ll want to know how to run your own freelance business independently.
How to teach online without a teaching company
In general, you’ll need to make a profile on a teaching marketplace and then manage your students independently. The excellent thing about this is you can charge a much higher rate and earn more money per hour than you would at a teaching company. You can also teach adult students instead of small children.
You’ll need to develop your own lessons, slides and process. This could be a bit intimidating for a new teacher, but once you get the hang of it you’ll love the flexibility you’ll have with regards to students, the hours you teach and the lesson material.
Our top non-Chinese ESL companies for professional teachers
Online teaching is still a thriving industry with a lot of growth ahead of it, however you must be willing to adapt and change. Here are our top companies for professional, online teachers.
- EF First
- Learn Light
- Open English
iTalki – Our top pick (Marketplace – you choose your hourly rate)
Leading off our list is the online teaching marketplace known as iTalki. As a language marketplace you can learn any sort of language you want from Spanish, German, Thai or Italian. That means as a teacher, if you’re fluent in these languages you are able to teach them.
What we love about iTalki is the fact that you can build a real teaching business with them. You’re able to charge a high hourly rate (up to $80 an hour), can teach adults and you don’t have to do early morning lessons like you would with a Chinese based online teaching company.
The drawbacks are that you’re in charge of all the aspects of the student experience. From lesson planning, to managing students and time zones, quizzes or tests, to trial lessons and marketing. But long term, once you get established on iTalki and understand how to manage students, you would never want to go back to an online teaching company even if it was an option.
Fiverr – Professional Freelancer (You choose your hourly rate)
It still surprises us how so few people realize they can teach English (or any language for that matter) on Fiverr. Fiverr is a professional service marketplace where you set your gig rate per project in increments of five dollars. You can charge your gig to be $5 or $500.
To get started on Fiverr you create “gigs” and then set a price for those gigs. For teachers, you’ll have to get permission from Fiverr in order to move your students over to Skype or Zoom. But once you do, you’ll get organic sales with Fiverr and you won’t have to worry too much about marketing.
When starting out as a new teacher, you need to compete on price to start, once you deliver 10-20 orders and have a 10+ 5 star reviews you can then bump up your price point. Like iTalki you’re in charge of all aspects of the student experience. However, what makes Fiverr so ideal is that they take care of the payment, messaging and feedback for you.
For an affordable course on how to get started with Fiverr, we suggest checking out Gig for the Win.
Outschool – The creative teacher platform (charge per class)
Outschool was started back in 2014 as a way to provide extracurricular classes for American students. That means not just English lessons, but lessons on a variety of subjects as your students are now worldwide.
To get started with Outschool you need to apply and get accepted onto the platform. Then you’re able to create your course and once you make sales you’ll be required to teach. What’s great about Outschool is that they encourage teachers to come up with interesting and compelling lessons.
You charge per student and the price of enrollment can be anywhere from $5 to $70 per student. That means if you charge $12 per student and have 9 enrollments you’ll make $108 before Outschool takes their 30% cut. As Outschool is a marketplace, once you have good reviews and student feedback you’ll start to get organic enrollments without marketing.
EF Teach Online – A US based online teaching company ($10-15 an hour).
EF or Education First is a multinational education company based out of Florida that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange.
Education first has two business operations, the first one is to offer programs to Americans as a way to place them around the world as ESL teachers and to offer programs for adults and students.
To expand their offerings they now provide an opportunity to teach English online with amazing students around the world. You don’t need any experience, but you do need a bachelors degree and a TEFL certificate. The pay is low at between 10-15$ an hour.
Verbling – The teacher marketplace (you set your own rate)
Founded in 2011, the Y Combinator-backed Verbling links students with language instructors via video chat. This platform offers a similar student and teacher experience to that of iTalki. However, iTalki is much more popular so it has a wider range of students and teachers.
Verbling works by way of you applying to become a teacher and then going through an on-boarding process once you’re accepted. You set your own rates and Verbling takes a 15% commission. Don’t expect to make a full time income as a new teacher, like all platforms it takes time to build up your reputation.
Preply – Teaching marketplace (set your own rate)
Preply (odd name) is yet another marketplace that pairs teachers with students in a 1 on 1 setting. You can set your own rates, hours and can teach from anywhere in the world. What’s convenient about Preply is that you teach via their own internal platform so no need to cobble together multiple programs to manage students.
Last, as your success on the platform grows you’ll get more students organically as Preply uses machine learning to classify and recommend teachers to prospective students.
Cambly – The conversation platform ($10 an hour)
Cambly offers consistent work for a low hourly rate from the convenience of your laptop. It’s more focused on casual conversations than structured classes. You can teach at anytime from anywhere in the world. No early mornings unless that’s what you want.
You don’t need a degree as you’re not considered a teacher, but you do need to be a native English speaker. Payment is paid via PayPal the first of the week, so you’ll need access to PayPal as a requirement. Last, Cambly offers a wide range of teaching options.
You can do traditional structured lessons, conversations, IELTS exam prep, interview prep or general business English. Our only issue with this platform is the low pay.
Lingoda – Teach a course to multiple students ($8-13 an hour)
Lingoda pays $8-$13 per hour for native English instructors. You’ll be instructing in groups of five students at a time. All you need to do now is turn up and teach as all the materials are provided for you. It appears that they are slowly building their reputation as a leading language training school, with their platform, material, and class design maturing.
However, their pay rate needs to be increased which is why they are so low on the list. If they would simply pay $20 an hour then they would easily be one of our top recommended companies.
The requirements to get started are simple, be a native speaker (or have a C2 equivalent score), have a CELTA or TEFL certificate and some experience teaching. Once setup you’ll be able to open hours for new students.
Learn Light – The business English platform for adults
Based out of the UK, Learn Light is a platform where you teach adult language learners the business English (or alternative languages depending on the country where you’re working in) and the skills required to be successful.
Everything from expectations in meetings, to interviews and email etiquette to language required for different aspects of business like accounting and finance. Learn Light is currently hiring teachers for a variety of languages, not just English.
The requirements for this platform are for you to be a native speaker, have some sort of language qualification, 2 years minimum experience teaching and a background in business is preferred. The pay is not publicly stated but from our discussions with current Learn Light staff the pay seems to be in the $13 to $16 range.
Open English – The South American platform of choice
Open English was founded back in 2006 in Venezuela. It’s since expanded to be one of the leading learning centers in South America and now provides online teaching opportunities to native speakers.
Students are assigned a “personal study advisor” who helps advise them on what lessons and teachers may be best for them. You as the teacher are assigned lessons and have a wide range of flexibility with regards to meeting the lesson objectives.
The requirements are that you have some experience teaching, preferably online. You must have a TEFL or CELTA along with the required technology to teach. Last, you must be available at least 10 hours per week. If you have any Spanish or Portugese language ability then that’s a plus. The pay is not stated anywhere, but from out email exchange with actual teachers Americans can expect $13 an hour.
Profy – Online teaching with Adults for South America
If you’re looking for a good alternative to Open English that’s focused on adult students then Profy is your online teaching company.
Your students will be primarily adults looking to improve their business English for a corporate setting through conversation. As the focus is on casual conversation and not structured lessons the pay and requirements are both quite low.
Anyone can sign-up, both native and non-native alike. There are also no education requirements and you don’t need to poses a TEFL certificate. If that works for you then you can expect to be paid $10 an hour from Profy. If a trial student converts then Profy will pay you an additional $20 bonus.
Technical requirements to teach online
If you’re new to online teaching please be aware that there are some basic expectations with regards to technology. First, you should have a modern laptop with at least 4 GB of ram if not more. You’ll also want to get a pair of headsets with an attached microphone or a high quality USB microphone in addition to a pair of headphones.
You may also want to consider upgrading your integrated webcam with an external one. Last, always make sure you have some sort of backup internet ready to go for your online class as it’s you’re responsibility to be teaching.
The best non-Chinese online teaching companies
We hope you found this content helpful, it’s disappointing the opportunity of online teaching with VIPKID and other high quality platforms has passed, but rest assured that for any hard working, smart and ambitious teacher there are much better and more lucrative opportunities available.
We strongly suggest you checkout a freelance marketplace like iTalki. It takes time to get setup, but long term you’ll be better off with your own students.