As the TEFL industry has evolved over the course of its existence, it has also expanded, meaning that teaching opportunities now present themselves in new and creative ways. One of these changes and major perks about being a TEFL teacher, particularly an online English teacher, is schedule flexibility!
Your typical working hours may differ from traditional working hours due to the following:
Peak Times and Time Zones
Companies base their lessons around peak times, which are the hours of the day when the demand for online English teachers is greatest. These peak times vary from country to country. Depending on the online company’s student clientele, some peak teaching hours are after school, while others may be in the morning. Sometimes your teaching hours could even be as part of a local public school’s full-size English class with a teacher’s aid in-class to assist while you teach virtually!
As online platforms are situated in different locations around the globe, time zones naturally differ. Teachers can therefore work for companies from as early as 2 AM South African Time and have their lessons even run through late into the evenings. As most online platforms are based in Beijing, being 6 hours ahead of us, teachers can expect their peak working hours to be between 12:00 and 15:00 on weekdays and 08:00-15:00 on weekends.
Conversely, Europe’s peak ESL/EFL teaching times are weeknights and weekends, with a time difference of 1-2 hours behind or ahead of South African time depending on the country. Japan’s peak hours are outside of school hours - weekends, early mornings or late evenings - with a time difference of 7 hours ahead of South African Time. Be sure to consult time zone converters to be on time for your classes!
Teaching schedules differ according to the company you have decided to sign with. Some online companies ask that you make yourself available at the same times from week-to-week, hoping that students will consistently book you if they gel well with you. Therefore, it is important to make an outstanding impression during the first lessons so that students want to keep coming back to you each week.
Other online companies may provide you with a fixed schedule with set students. This means that you have guaranteed bookings and will see the same students time after time. The pros of this type of contract are that you will see your students progress over time and be a key part of their English language journey. Also, your income will remain the same, and you won’t have to worry about negative judgment if your first lessons contain little errors (like nervousness!).
Freelance English Teachers
Should you find yourself preferring to work as a freelance teacher on a freelance platform, such as Preply, the greatest advantage is that you are completely in control of devising your own schedule. This ideally positions you to work for as many or as few hours as you’d like! Realise, however, as your own boss, you will have to become accustomed to having an unstable income and are solely in charge of your marketing, lesson material, admin, etc.
Ultimately, when it comes to how many hours you will need to be available to teach English online, evaluate your current lifestyle, lifestyle goals, and determine your desired availability. This will aid in your decision-making when applying to online platforms and accepting contracts.
Need more guidance? At iTTi South Africa, we are fully invested in your goal to become a TEFL teacher. Contact us to join our Job Support Course or TESOL certification, and we’ll guide you in developing essential skills to thrive as an online English teacher.