Teaching English abroad is truly an amazing experience. However, the current global situation has definitely shown that it’s essential to have a backup, especially when you are living in a foreign country. In this post, let’s look at why you should teach ESL online while teaching English abroad.
Disclaimer: this post contains referral and affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase or sign up to teach using one of my links, I receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! This helps me continue to provide free content for teachers. Thank you!
Why Teaching English Online is Essential for Teachers Working Abroad
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket is a phrase that all teachers should live by.
These days, schools are constantly opening and reopening, changing policies and cutting funding.
If you are teaching English abroad, then you are even more vulnerable to change. If you suddenly lose your job, you are not only without income but also without the safety net of government support and family or friends nearby. A lot of it comes down to your visa status.
In 2020, I found myself in this exact situation in when the Australian English language school where I worked told me they were unable to give me any hours since the Australian government was only providing income support for Australian citizens and permanent residents. (I missed the cut off by 14 days!)
I suddenly found myself without an income and unable to qualify for any government assistance due to my visa status. What did I turn to? Online teaching.
How to Choose an Online ESL Teaching Company When Working in a Foreign Country
First of all, I always recommend teaching for 2+ online teaching companies. Why? Online ESL companies are constantly changing their policies, enrollments fluctuate and pay can suddenly decrease.
To protect yourself from these changes, make sure you have another company or two you can open slots with when one no longer serves you. I actually started as a niche teacher (meaning that I taught a specific subject – in my case, Cambridge exam prep – on my own platform) and then added Outschool which I still teach for and absolutely love!
Secondly, make sure you are eligible to teach from the country where you are living. Some companies require teachers to be based in an English speaking country, while others allow you to teach from abroad. Also, talk to a tax accountant in both your country of citizenship and country of residence to see if there are any tax implications for you.
Thirdly, look for companies with low or no minimum hours and flexible schedules. The idea is to be able to open up slots if something changes unexpectedly or if you’d like a bit more cash that month.
If you do end up losing your job abroad, then you can add additional ESL online teaching companies with more structured hours.
One of the best companies for teaching online while traveling is Cambly. Cambly is great if you are new to teaching online since no degree or experience is required.
Online teaching changed completely in August 2021 when China changed their tutoring laws. To find out about non-Chinese online teaching companies, check out the video below.
For Qualified Teachers – Try Niche Teaching!
If you are a qualified teacher and aren’t afraid of creating your own curriculum, then private niche teaching can be a great option. This option does take time to build up in order to find students, but can ultimately lead to earning a lot more per hour and creating your own schedule.
Another advantage is that you can choose what you teach and to whom you teach it. This means that you’ll be passionate about your subject and can pick and choose students who are a great fit for you. When I did niche teaching, I taught highly motivated learners preparing for the Cambridge exam and it was fantastic!
If you’d like to learn more about niche teaching, then you can also check out this article on successful niche teacher Tara Cull.
Teach ESL Online While Teaching Abroad: Pros
- Income protection in case you lose your job and aren’t eligible for government unemployment support
- Finance traveling, going out, etc. with online teaching
- Work during weekends, holiday breaks, summer break, etc. if you like
- Work from the comfort of your home with a simple set up (for ideas on what to get for your online classroom, check out this post)
- If you own a freelance teaching business, this can help qualify you for digital nomad visas abroad.
Teach ESL Online While Teaching Abroad: Cons
- Companies are constantly changing policies, minimum hours, bookings, incentives and pay rates – it can be difficult to keep track of everything
- Some companies require you to teach during peak times in China which can be difficult based on where you are located
- Some online teaching companies require you to be living in your country of citizenship and not abroad
- Niche teaching can be much more lucrative, but it takes time to build up your students
I hope that I’ve convinced you that teaching English online while teaching ESL abroad is essential. If you’d like to learn more about teaching English online, check out my Teach Online playlist on Youtube.