If you decided to pick the path running your own teaching business, then here is a checklist to build a successful online English teaching business. Otherwise, you’re welcome to visit this Ultimate Guide to Online English Teaching Jobs.
Here are key elements we will be covering throughout the guide,
- Video conference software
- Teaching curriculum & materials
- Payment method
- Contract – pay rate, cancellation policy
- Online teaching supplies
Please do let us know and leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions!
English Curriculum and Lesson Planning
In order to deliver a great English language learning experience, knowing what kind of English curriculum and lesson to plan is crucial. First, you need to determine what type of student group will you be focusing on? Know your audience!
- ESL students – you will likely be taking care of the students new to the country, ones are interested in attending a school or obtaining a job in English speaking countries, or simply want to enhance their English skills. You might want to take a lesson or certificate like TEFL to teach students English as their foreign language.
- Adult and Business professional – Business professionals tend to be the simplest ones to teach and the ones paying a relatively high rate. Adults usually have clear goals on why they dedicate time and effort to learn English, which is usually ESL students. However, the downside is that there are very few of them and due to the nature of adult life, which is the category with the most frequent cancellation. Here are some tips for teaching adult and business professional
- College entrance exam preparation – exam preparation is the best area to engage. Students have a clear goal to achieve, relatively long term engagement, and the last but not the least, highest pay rate among others. However, the bar for the teacher also high compared to other student categories. You might need to show them your SAT, GRE, or GMAT English score if you’re teaching them that particular subject.
How To Create Online Lessons
There are many resources that help teachers create their own lesson plans, curriculum, and plans for their students. See the Marketplace to find the hidden gems. There are also sites out there that have everything done for you in a turnkey manner.
- Best Teacher – it offers many different written exercises and ideas for teachers to use. Even if you decide to not use something directly from these websites, they may inspire ideas to help you create your own written exercises.
- ESL Gold – The strong point with ESL Gold is that it is automatically translated into nearly 70 languages to help your students. You can use the lessons when teaching one on one or in group lessons. Leverage the power of their site by sending your students to their lessons when you are not online with them.
- If you need some ideas for your videos and other presentations, take a look at Prezi. This resource allows you to make high-quality presentations for your classes. Think of it as PowerPoint on steroids.
- SpeechPeek allows you to show individual attention to each student. With this tool, you can record your assignments as a video. Your students then use the software to record their answers with audio. You can then send them feedback about their audio files. This is a great tool if you have students that require extra attention.
- WizIQ has continued to grow in popularity since it is a full platform for teachers who create courses or simply want to teach one-on-one. They continue to add features on a monthly basis and from what most teachers tell me it is a must-have if you do not have a technical background but want to have your own platform. They do not provide lessons or courses, but they get rid of the headaches when it comes to building them out, a place for hosting, and selling them to potential students.
How Do I Get Paid?
Being paid by providing services on the internet is now easier than it has ever been before. The most popular ones are:
- Paypal – By far the largest of online payment providers and currently available in 203 countries. The majority of your students most likely already have a Paypal account.
- Payoneer – An alternative to PayPal that is being used by many students in developing countries where PayPal is not accepted.
- Bank Wiring – Bank wiring can be expensive if the transactional amount if not significant enough due to the typical flat $15 international wiring fee.
- ACH and transfer – the free alternative of money transfer by the bank, but only work within domestic money transfer.
- Gumroad – This is an excellent and easy-to-use system that allows you to accept payments through credit cards or Paypal. They pay you through PayPal as well. One other function that Gumroad has which most others do not is the ability to collect taxes from people who are located in the EU.
- Stripe – this is a popular platform that can be used by most payment plugins on WordPress and other online systems. It is harder to get approved than with PayPal or Gumroad but you will incur lower fees in the long run.
- SamCart – this has become a fairly popular system to use but can get a little pricey if you are not pulling in a large number of students. There are a large number of functions that can help you to promote your lessons and courses as well and provides strong tracking software.
Planning Your Lessons
You will have a lot to remember and to keep track of. To help you with this, you should use a calendar to efficiently plan your lessons. Here are three of the most popular. I highly suggest that you use Google Calendar or iCal. The reason why is that if you plan on having your own website or will be freelancing then either of these will probably sync up with whatever online booking system you are working with or plug-in that is being used as a booking system.
Here are a few online booking systems:
- Acuity Scheduling – one of the main things about this calendar is that it will adjust to the time zone of your student. Your students can view your real-time availability, select the date and time for a lesson, and then pay with Stripe, Paypal or Authorize.net.
- Appointy – with this scheduling system you have a lot of social sharing functions and have the ability to integrate with Reserve on Google.
- SimplyBook.me – this looks like another solid solution for teachers since it offers a booking web page, a Facebook button for instant booking, full-blown statistics tracking system, and a booking button to help you integrate into your existing website.
Here are a few plugins for WordPress sites that allow for online bookings:
- Bookly – this plugin integrates with Google Calendar and WooCommerce for streamlined user experience for you and your students. If you do not have WooCommerce you can still receive payments by using PayPal, Authorize.Net, and Stripe.
- WPBooking Calendar – if age is a sign of quality, then this plugin should be the top of your list since it is one of the oldest booking plugins. The main quality of this plugin is that it is extremely easy to use for you and the student. It is well-documented and allows you to customize your functionality by adding custom fields.
- Birch Press – this is another plugin that is proven and allows you to add a professional booking management system without too much in terms of configuration. Your students can easily book appointments and pay for them using PayPal account or Credit Card.
If you are developing your own website or other types of online platforms you should consider looking into planning and tracking software. This will help you to stay on track and understand how much time you are spending all the various tasks. Here are some popular tracking tools:
- Tracking Time – this is what I use all of the time. It can be used with multiple people as well by simply adding them to your tasks. It helps me to understand where I am putting my effort without making much effort to set up projects and tasks.
- Asana – highly popular tool and good for when working with teams. It is extremely fast and responsive to use. The downside is that it can get rather costly once you add on a large number of team members.
- Due Time Tracking – Has a great free and paid-for versions. This is a good choice for those who are also billing for freelance work.
- Rescue Time – Another great free application with a feature-rich paid-for version at a reasonable cost.
How Do I Communicate With My Students?
There are many, many, many different tools you can use to help you communicate with your students. Many of the schools also have their own proprietary communication platforms, but you might not consider getting into that router due to the complexity and cost of building a proprietary platform.
Video Conference Tools
The quality of your video and audio chat has a great qualify factor on the English teaching service you provide. The unreliable and unstable conference introduces great uncertainty and frustration for both you and the students. Here’re some of the top communicating tools we recommend,
- Zoom: Zoom is a very powerful conference tool with a comprehensive feature set, including conference video chat, screen sharing, session recording, reliable performance, and more. Many smaller companies also use Zoom if they don’t have their own in house teaching tools.
- Skype: Skype is an extremely popular app for video conferencing and instant messaging. It’s free unless you’re using its group conference feature.
- Appear.in: this is a newer app, but is very reliable and does not require any downloading of software if used on a computer browser. It doesn’t even require you to create a login account.
There are so many other options if you wish to look into them, but we would recommend you to try the ones above before you decide to move into others because common ones tend to be more reliable and greater familiarity for students as well, likely they already Skype installed on their computer and phones. You want to use a communication tool that feels natural and easy to use. The easier, the better.
Ideal Internet speed for video calling or screen sharing is 10+ MB/s for both uploading and downloading from a reliable source. Anything lower you’re risking the bad video and audio quality during the lesson, especially you’re not the only person consuming that Internet bandwidth. However, if that cannot be achieved, then a minimal 5 MB/s is a must, otherwise, you’re now risking losing business or a job if you’re working for a company.
What are reliable sources? Direct cable connection is certainly the most reliable one. However, nowadays Wifi is the most likely method you’re connecting to the Internet, just make sure you’re not too far in distance from the Wifi router and no major obstruction, concrete wall for instance, between the router and your Internet device. Wifi shared and tethered from your cellular phone is not a reliable source for delivering video calling.
Platforms For Online Language Courses
If you are working as a freelancer, you have to find students on your own. You will need to make your own website, market yourself, process payment and legal matters, and promote your courses. This is doable but it takes time and takes a lot of dedication. Furthermore, there is no getting around the fact that it helps if you are technically savvy or willing to make the effort to become that way. However, whether you have made the decision of building your own online English teaching business or not. While you developing your business, you can continue to teach online for some established companies, here is a complete list of online English teaching jobs.
Creating Terms And Contracts
If you are teaching on your own you really should have a contract that your students are aware of. At the very least, it is recommended that you take the time to create an FAQ-style document to send to new students. They will probably have questions when they first sign up for your course, and if you send them a prewritten document, you could ease their concerns. This will help them trust you, and when you are providing services online, trust is everything.
Here are common terms and conditions you should cover,
- Pay rate – ex. a fixed rate of $30 per hour for one-on-one and $20 for an additional student. Discount for multiple sessions if pay at once?
- Payment period – ex. prepaid for 10 classes or pay afterward?
- Late payment?
- Lesson package – provide a comprehensive curriculum consist of perhaps 10 lessons and pay at once will increase your class schedule and income stability. You will able to focus on teaching instead of worrying about recruiting students at the same time.
- It is incredibly frustrating if the student does not show up in the allocated class slot or cancel/make a rearrangement at the last minute.
- ex. Minimal class rearrangement within 24 hours notice. Half or no refund if they cancel just a few hours before the class started?
- ex. Emergency policy if the student needs to cancel the class for the unexpected event.
Creating Your Own Website
This is a bit harder to do and I will explain this in more detail in other posts. The main thing that you need to know about going this route is that you will have to be good at creating your own lessons and content. Another important item to consider is that you will either need to become tech-savvy when dealing with building your own site, creating a sales funnel, setting up e-commerce, and other functions, or be willing to hire someone to do these things for you. There is a lot more to it than you think!