I’ve been teaching English online using Skype since 2006. For me, it’s the perfect job. Not only do I make a living doing what I love, but I am my own boss, answerable to no one except my students. I teach English online to students located all over the world, love my work and I cannot imagine doing anything more rewarding.
I start teaching at 9 o’clock in the morning and finish at 9 o’clock at night, Monday to Friday. Despite teaching around 30 classes a week, I have plenty of time free to do what I want to do. My daily commute lasts about three seconds, and my life is entirely free of stress. I have a job and lifestyle that I think many English teachers would envy. But is this life for everybody?
I should begin, I suppose, by explaining what sort of person I am. I’m not a particularly sociable person, and I’m quite happy with my own company. I have no need for a wide circle of friends, and am happy with the loving companionship of my wife. I’m extremely self-reliant, self-motivated, and have great self-esteem.
To be self-employed in any business requires a certain set of personal qualities, without which you cannot hope to be successful or happy in what you do. Teaching English online is a business like any other and you need the same qualities as any self-employed person.
You need to be persistent, as setting up and running your online teaching business is hard work and will be full of setbacks. Coupled with persistency is the quality of discipline, particularly self-discipline. If you don’t work, you don’t get money. So even if you’re tired and lacking motivation, you still have to be self-disciplined enough to teach English online.
I said earlier that I’m self-reliant, self-motivated, and have great self-esteem. If you hope to succeed as an online English teacher, you’re going to need these qualities as well.
Being self-reliant means being able to rely on your own abilities and on yourself, because you won’t have anyone else to turn to. You won’t have anyone goading you or encouraging you to work, like you have when you’re employed, so self-motivation is essential. As for self-esteem, if you don’t believe in yourself and your ability to teach English online, you’re doomed to fail.
Passion to Teach English Online
First and foremost, you need to be passionate about English. It’s not enough to speak English, to have a teaching qualification, and to have an Internet connection and Skype account. You need to really love the language and to let your enthusiasm for English infect your students. This way you will keep them coming back for more classes.
Some of my students have been with me since I started teaching online. Others have stopped taking classes, sometimes for a period of several years, but have then returned to class. Still others have achieved their immediate goals of passing an exam getting promotion, or a new job, and have stopped taking classes altogether.
This is where self-esteem, and believing in yourself, are vitally important. You need to believe that you are the best teacher out there, and that you provide the best teaching possible. When you lose students, as you invariably will, you must not look at it as a failure on your part. Students come and go, and there are many factors in their lives that conspire to prevent them from taking classes with you. The fact that many of my students have returned to classes after absences of months or years vindicates my own belief in my abilities as a teacher.
You need to be a good communicator, too, to teach English online. I pride myself on my ability to speak to anybody about anything. It doesn’t matter to me whether my student is an army general who wants to talk about military strategy, or a housewife who is happier to talk about recipes and her children. As a teacher, I have to make my lessons relevant to them and their interests, as well as making them as interesting and engaging as possible.
In every business there are times when money comes in and other times when less money comes in. In order to cope with the financial fluctuations of your small business, you’re going to have to manage your money well. You cannot be profligate with your money, and must ensure that you put aside some of your earnings for those periods when times are a little lean.
You will, of course, need to register as a self-employed person with your local tax authority. Doing your monthly account is something you’re going to have to get used to doing. If, like me, you’re not that comfortable with accounting, you’ll need to employ someone to do it for you.
New Skills to Learn
You’ll need a web presence and a social network. Not part of English teaching, learning to build a website and develop an online presence is something you’re going to have to do. If you’re not the sort of person who can learn new skills on your own, you’re going to be at a disadvantage, because you’re always going to be reliant on somebody else.
Personally, I have learned to make high-quality video English lessons which I published on YouTube. I’ve learned to build websites which I use to develop my online presence and attract students. To improve my videos, I’ve also learned to animate in 2D and 3D. This has meant mastering a whole new skill set far outside the remit of English teaching, but which have brought me plenty of students for my online teaching.
Developing a successful online teaching business, like developing any successful business, demands far more skills and personal characteristics than you might think at first glance. This is why the majority of English teachers will spend their teaching careers working to make other people rich in private academies around the world.
If you have what it takes to teach English online, you can enjoy one of the most rewarding jobs imaginable. You can, like me, feel that every day of your life is a holiday, because as Confucius said: “Find something you love doing and you will never work another day in your life.”