Info for Beginners

Please Note: Due to the rapidly shifting state of the online ESL industry, we are currently not accepting new applications.

Why teach English online?


If you’re a native English speaker from USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, you can expect to earn roughly $20 per hour or more. Some of our members earn about $27 per hour. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to refer to you guys as “Native English teachers” from now on.

If you’re fluent in English and from any country not listed above, you have several attempts to make at the available options out there. We’ll help you make those attempts as strong as possible. There are several important factors at play here, so it’s impossible to be specific about your expected pay or your chances of getting hired. Our members who are not from those 6 native English speaking countries above earn a maximum of about $10 per hour. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to refer to you guys as “Non-native English teachers” from now on.

South Africans, if you’re living abroad and meet a few other requirements, we have a ~$20 per hour opportunity for you to consider. Aside from that, we haven’t found any good online schools that pay that sort of rate. It’s mostly due to the load shedding (rolling brown-outs). Our research is ongoing and we hope to find something soon.

A marketable skill set

Teaching English is a valuable skillset that you can build a career with. There is huge demand all over the world for English teachers, and that demand is still on the rise. English is the global language, and that won’t change any time soon. There are an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide who are studying English. More than 300 million of them are in China alone.

The Chinese middle class is growing fast. In order for Chinese students to be accepted into the best universities, they need to demonstrate a higher level of fluency than their peers. Chinese folk take education very seriously and will pay top dollar for their kids to have the best chance of success. China is the main country to focus on for teaching English, but it’s not the only one. Fluency in English is an absolute requirement for many desirable career paths in the business world, in nearly every country worldwide. 

A useful skill set

These skills and insights you’ll gain as an English teacher are useful in so many ways. General teaching skills, social skills, psychology, body language, intonation, and more. If you’re at all introverted, shy, or have social anxiety, prepare to get out of your comfort zone, tackle it head on, and build that social “muscle” along with your confidence.

A rewarding career

What a great feeling it is to finish a lesson with a student that internalized some new knowledge! For those of you who will be teaching Chinese kids, they are awesome and we’re frequently blown away by how intelligent they are at their young age. For those of you engaging in conversation practice with adults, this casual lesson style is often enjoyable and effective.

It's flexible and it gives you options

For now, this could be a supplement to your income, but down the road you might consider replacing your current job if you have one, maybe teaching abroad at a brick & mortar school, or even traveling to other cities or countries while you teach online.

Our founder, Lee, has been a “digital nomad” for 6 years and counting, in 7 countries. He’s heard of every digital nomad job there is, and at this point he would put teaching English online very high up on the list. Currently, he can earn enough in one 25 hour week of teaching to pay for a month’s living expenses, and so could many of you. For you expats, digital nomads, and aspiring digital nomads out there, Lee will be happy to offer his insights.

How online English teaching works


  • A halfway decent laptop or PC with a webcam is required for most schools. One of our most popular schools uses a platform for mobile phones and tablets instead.
  • A decent sounding USB or Bluetooth headset. You can buy a cheap used one if money is tight. This may not be necessary if you teach exclusively for the school mentioned above.
  • A somewhat quiet room.
  • A solid, stable, and somewhat fast internet connection that allows you to have uninterrupted video chats.
  • If you’re teaching kids, you will probably need a “background” at some point. Something behind you that creates a classroom environment. These are often required when you start teaching, and they will also improve your chances of passing the interview. Most backgrounds consist of color print-outs attached to a wall or poster board. This is a simple task that will be explained further in the guides, and we can even send you some colorful images to print out. Most teacher backgrounds are quite simple so please don’t get hung up on this step.
  • If you’re teaching kids, you will probably need props at some point. Props are objects you can pick up and show to the student to make your lessons more fun and engaging. These might be a couple of toys, stuffed animals, or everyday objects. These are often required or suggested when you start teaching, and they will also improve your chances of passing the interview. Inexpensive props are totally fine, and can be hand-made or even household items. Again, this is a simple task that will be explained further in the guides.


  • Most of you will be teaching lessons, usually 25 minutes long, with slides provided by the schools. Some schools have more fun and interactive lesson material than others. Teachers are not expected to develop their own curriculum.
  • Some of you will be engaging in casual conversation practice with adults, without any lesson material.
  • There is a minimal amount of work we need to do besides teach. Again, you don’t need to develop curriculum. The after-class progress reports for the students tend to take about one minute each.

Your future students

  • Most of you will teach 1on1 lessons with Chinese kids aged 5-12. Some of you will teach adults, if you have a preference for it. Some of you will teach groups of students, and if you’re with the right online schools, you’ll be paid more for it.
  • Some of you will engage in 1on1 casual conversation practice with adults of all ages, but mostly under 40 years old.

Online Teaching platforms

All online schools we work with have a website or app where teachers can log in, check and adjust their schedules, preview the lesson material for upcoming classes, enter a “classroom” to teach, and more. Part of the process of becoming an online teacher is learning how the school’s platform works. You’ll learn this over time through experience.

Class schedules

  • Most of you will be teaching during China’s peak hours, which are about 7pm-10pm Beijing time on the weekdays, and 10am-10pm on the weekends.
  • Some of you will be teaching students from around the world, with much less emphasis on China’s peak hours.
  • Some schools offer extremely flexible scheduling, and some schools have rigid scheduling. The schools with rigid scheduling tend to have the most consistent bookings. We’ll provide you with specific details about scheduling for each school.

Getting paid

  • Almost all online schools pay their teachers sometime between the 5th to the 15th of the month, to cover the salary earned in the previous month. Most schools pay by wire transfer, and some use Payoneer or Paypal.

The application & interview processes

This is only an overview.  All relevant details about these processes can be found in our step-by-step guides for the schools.  Generally speaking, these are the main steps:

  • Register an account on the school’s website or app.
  • Fill out an application form. Some schools require a CV / resume, but most don’t. You may be required to write a text intro about yourself, record an audio intro about yourself, or record a video of yourself. These text, audio, and video intros all share a few common characteristics. You’ll describe your background, your teaching experience, and possibly some other things that make you interesting, unique, or a good choice as a teacher. If you pass this stage, you’ll be notified, usually within a couple of days, but some schools take longer.

After your application is approved, most of you will book an interview and/or a demo class, and begin preparing for it.

  • The interviews are very straightforward and usually take 10-15 minutes. You’ll describe your background, your teaching experience, and possibly some other things that make you interesting, unique, or desirable as a candidate.
  • A demo class is a 3-15 minute lesson with an imaginary student. Either nobody’s in the room with you, or the interviewer will pretend to be a student.
  • After finishing the demo class, you’ll wait to hear the results. This usually takes 1-2 business days.
For general info about how to succeed with the interview & demo class. please check out this section!
  • Who this program is for
  • What you can expect from this program
  • Why this program was created
  • Why join this program?
  • Factors that affect your options
  • Overcoming procrastination, anxiety, and doubt
  • The best 2 steps you can take right now

Get hired and $10 will be donated on your behalf to Ghana Community Pathways!

Ghana Community Pathways provides educational opportunities, community directed capacity building and support for families in need at the village level. It seeks to empower and give hope to disenfranchised youth in rural Africa.

$10 will be donated to Ghana Community Pathways on your behalf right when you get hired! Let’s support a great cause and help to create lasting  change through education and more.