Want to join the ranks of successful online English teachers? Then it’s time to obtain a few essentials that will make you a professional candidate to thrive in the TEFL industry!
Getting these fundamentals ready before you start applying for online teaching positions will signal to your future employers that you are serious about the job, and you’ll stand a much better chance of being hired.
What Do I Need to Become an Online English Teacher?
An Accredited TESOL or TEFL Certification
This certification prepares you to teach English online, and it is an essential qualification to be considered and hired by an online English teaching company. For more information about the ins and outs of what qualifications are needed, read this post, and this one about holding a degree.
A Tailored Resume
This is the first document potential employers see. Therefore, your resume ought to show off why you’re ideal for the online teaching position. Use a professional photograph, include your education, relevant work experience and skills, organise the layout, keep it short, simple and to the point and edit grammar, punctuation and spelling. Not sure what to put in the cover letter? Read our go-to cover letter post that outlines the key points to include.
An Outstanding Introduction Video
An introduction video is a short 1 minute, 30-second video that teachers record on camera and explain a little background information about themselves, their skills, and what they’re hoping to achieve. This video accompanies your resume when you apply for an online English teaching job, and therefore needs to show off your best self. You must speak confidently and promote yourself accordingly, using a neutral accent and focus on clear pronunciation.
A Workable Class Space
One of the most exciting parts about teaching online is designing a class space conducive to teaching and learning! Devote some time, effort and a few funds to set up this space, starting with your background. Stick up a poster or two geared to your students’ age - such as the alphabet and shapes for young learners, or a world map and wildlife for teens to adults. And be sure to put up your name so that your students have a constant reference to who’s teaching them and still feel like they are attending class sessions in a fun, exciting class space. If you prefer the digital nomad life - teaching while travelling - create a portable classroom space that is lightweight and easy to set up.
The Right Equipment
Laptop: If you are serious about teaching English online, it would be ideal to invest in a decent laptop. Some recommended specifications to adhere to would be to ensure that your laptop has at least 4GB of RAM and has a reasonable processor. We’d recommend procuring a laptop with an i5 processor as it is strong enough to stably support company platforms’ software and ensure smooth operations within the platform itself.
Camera: Most laptops will include a webcam of some kind, and although this can be fine for normal video calls, it isn't always suitable for teaching on a professional online platform. In-built webcams often struggle to deal with changes in light; they don’t deliver enough detail and can struggle to focus on different items, such as flashcards or realia, which you hold up. The solution? If your in-built camera doesn’t produce the best quality picture, invest in an external camera that you can place on top of your laptop. Note that camera placement is also important. Your background, head, shoulders and chest should be perfectly in frame with no walking space behind you.
Lighting: Hand-in-hand with having a good quality camera, when it comes to teaching online you’ll need to ensure that your students can clearly see your facial expressions, your background and the materials which you display to them. Your class needs to be well-lit, not casting any shadows onto your face or visual aids. Consider investing in a ring light that you can place behind your camera for optimal lighting.
Headset: With teaching online, you’ll also need to hear clearly, and be heard by your students. Using inbuilt speakers can sometimes cause sound feedback issues, such as when the microphone picks up the sound coming from your speakers, or transmits all background noise, resulting in a whistling echo or distraction. To avoid this disruptive, unprofessional issue, most online companies require that you use a headset with a built-in microphone. And one step better is to invest in a noise-cancelling headset! These deliver much better sound quality for your students, allowing them to hear the words you’re pronouncing clearly.
Every good teacher uses props, flashcards, pictures, and realia to support lesson quality and effectiveness and their teaching style. When teaching online, you’re trying to replicate an in-classroom experience, thus using realia brings that ‘real’ element to online lessons. Invest in a few items, raid a sibling’s toy stash, or put your creativity to work to make your own flashcards or reward system. For more information on what props to acquire and how to use these tools in your online English lessons, read this blog post.
The last essential to becoming an online English teacher is possessing the right skillset. At iTTi South Africa, we equip you with how to use the tools, technology, and techniques to teach engagingly online. Sign up for one of our TESOL courses where our trainers impart further knowledge from first-hand experience. Contact us today, and in a short space of time, you could be all set to start your fulfilling new career as an English teacher online!