How to Make Money Teaching English Online in the UK

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Fact about me: when I’m not blogging about making money, I’m a languages geek.

I’ve been studying foreign languages at school, uni and in my spare time (just for fun!) as long as I can remember.

Following my passion for language learning, I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to live and study in several different foreign countries, including Japan and Russia. And while I was abroad, I worked as an English teacher.

So the idea of making money from home by teaching English online is one that really appeals to me!

Teaching English to foreign students can be a really fun and rewarding job. You get to interact with cute kiddies, share your own language and culture, and you might even inspire someone to travel or live abroad themselves some day.

And if you don’t even have to leave the house to do this job? Perfect!

In this post you’ll learn how to teach English online and get paid. We’ll look at what it takes to become an online English teacher, and I’ll also share several companies currently recruiting for online English teachers in the UK.

(I’m focusing on the UK because several of the big-name companies out there only recruit from the US, and I wanted to write a post to help out my fellow Brits. But most of the companies in this post recruit globally, so if you’re based elsewhere, it’s still worth taking a look!)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. That means that if you sign up with some of the companies mentioned below, I may receive a commission. There is no cost to you.

Have you ever thought about becoming an online English teacher? You can get paid to chat in English to cute kids over the internet! It makes a perfect side hustle idea for students or stay at home parents. Here's everything you need to know about teaching English online, including the best companies to sign up with.

How does teaching English online work?

Most online English teacher positions will be through a third-party company that organizes scheduling and payment. Some companies will provide lesson plans and materials, whereas others will leave it up to you.

Online English lessons are usually one-on-one. That means you have the potential to form a great relationship with your students. It also means that discipline is less of a problem than in real-life classroom situations!

Most students will want to book in with the same teacher each week for continuity. But there are some jobs where you just log in and take whatever lesson is available.

Both you and your student will need a webcam and headset with microphone so you can communicate and interact with each other through the computer.

There are jobs available teaching students of all ages, from kids as young as 6 up to adults.

All age groups have their advantages and disadvantages!

Personally, I’ve found it can be easier to work with adult students, because they’ve chosen to study English for themselves so they’re typically more motivated.

But then, the little kids are SO CUTE, and the lessons involve fun things like games and songs! And they don’t ask such tough grammar questions 😉 it’s really up to you who you prefer to teach.

Advantages of teaching English online

Teaching English online makes a great work-from-home job for many reasons!

Since you can do it from home, it makes a great job for stay-at-home parents, carers, or anyone who has to be around the house a lot or can’t travel to an outside job.

It’s a very flexible job. You can usually choose your own hours (within reason – obviously you have to be online at the times your students are online). You can choose how many or how few lessons to take each week.

Companies such as Education First like to book lessons in blocks of four to eight weeks. This means you can plan ahead for future weeks, but you can also plan to work more or fewer lessons depending on how busy you are.

teaching English online with EF

It makes a great way for teachers to make extra money in the school holidays.

And finally, teaching English is incredibly rewarding! You have the opportunity to make a real impact on a young person’s life and maybe even help them to get a job or inspire them to travel or work abroad in future.

If you think you’d like to teach English online from home, read on to find out how to get started.

Requirements for teaching English online

The requirements for teaching English online depend on the company you want to work for.

Generally speaking, these are the essential requirements:

  • Fluency in English!
  • Fast internet connection with webcam and headset
  • A quiet place to work
  • Great communication skills, intercultural awareness
  • Enjoy teaching and working with children

Then, depending on the company, some online language schools may require additional qualifications, including some or all of the following. You should check with individual companies before applying:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate or equivalent qualification
  • Some companies require citizenship or residency of a particular country (e.g. the UK, US or Canada)
  • Experience working with kids

Teach English online to Chinese students with EF (Education First)

One of the best known companies for teaching English is EF (Education First).

EF have been around since 1965. They have ‘real life’ language schools all over the world, and they also run an online language school!

Their reputation and experience make them a great first choice if you’re considering becoming an online English teacher.

EF are currently recruiting for online English teachers from the UK to teach English to kids in China, aged 6-10.

With EF, you’d be teaching one-on-one classes of 25 minutes each.

You would need to be available for peak lesson hours in China, which are weekday mornings in the UK (10:00am GMT to 12:30pm GMT weekdays). There are also lesson slots on weekend mornings (9:00am GMT to 1:00pm GMT).

woman working from home teaching English online

One of the best things about teaching with EF is that they have prepared lesson materials for you to use. When I was an English teacher, I found that I spent way more time preparing the lessons and creating worksheets than actually teaching. So having high quality prepared materials would be a godsend!

TEFL certificate

If you want to teach English with EF – or many other online English schools – you’ll need a TEFL certificate.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and it’s an internationally recognised teaching qualification.

You can actually obtain a TEFL qualification online, and it’s not too expensive.

You can take a fully accredited online TEFL course at an 84% discounted rate using this exclusive link! Your 84% discount code will be automatically applied at checkout.

If you don’t have your TEFL certificate yet, you can still apply to EF, as long as you plan on finishing the course by the time you start work.

If you don’t have a teaching certification and you’re not interested in obtaining one, you can still find online English tutor jobs without TEFL. Scroll down to this section to see your other options!

Full requirements to work with EF

Here are the full requirements to teach English with EF:

  • Ability to connect with kids!
  • Native English speaker with a Bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Minimum 40 Hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification (or higher): submit now or provide when obtained at beginning of contract term
  • Experience in early childhood development, teaching, coaching or mentoring is preferred, but not required. Life experiences count
  • Excellent cultural awareness, communication and motivational skills
  • Commitment to delivering a high level of student engagement satisfaction
  • Access to a headset, personal computer, and wired Ethernet connection
  • Willing to complete an online Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, reimbursed after the successful
    completion of probation

They have headquarters in the UK for easy communication and payment.

Here’s one EF English teacher talking about her experience: (note, she teaches adults rather than kids, but you can still get a good idea of how the company works)

Does teaching English online pay well?

By now you’re probably wondering how much online English tutors make.

Well, as with all jobs, it varies!

EF (Education First) payment starts at £8.50 per hour with opportunities to earn up to £12.50 per hour. In addition, they offer performance-based bonuses, holiday pay and even pension contributions!

From what I’ve seen, £9-£10 per hour seems to be the average for online English teachers. But most companies don’t offer holiday pay or pensions. (EF is an exception because it’s such a large company and as I understand it, you would be paid through the UK office).

Another site I recommend is iTalki. iTalki is slightly different from EF because it doesn’t employ you directly. It’s more like a platform where freelance tutors can find students.

On iTalki you can set your own rates. It’s up to you how much you charge, but obviously you want to price yourself competitively based on your experience and qualifications. Many qualified TEFL teachers on iTalki charge £14-20 per hour, while unqualified ‘community tutors’ charge around £8-£10.

woman working with laptop teaching English online

When you teach English online, instead of a salary you are usually paid by the hour or by the lesson. So the amount you earn depends on how many lessons you can teach.

With most online English teaching jobs, you’re unlikely to get enough work from one company to make a full time wage.

It makes a perfect side hustle for a student, stay-at-home parent or a teacher during the holidays. But if you need to earn a full time income you will probably need to sign up with multiple companies, or combine it with another way to make money online.

Is teaching English online legitimate?

You might be wondering if teaching English is a legitimate way to make money online.

Good for you for questioning – there are a lot of scams out there in the world of making money online, and it pays to do your research.

Teaching English online is definitely a legit work from home job. Companies such as EF have been around for years and have employed hundreds of people. You can also read reviews from former employees on sites such as Glassdoor.

However, if you get a job offer from a less well-known company, I’d advise you to do your due diligence. Research them on Glassdoor and on TEFL forums before signing up.

Exclusive offer: Discount code for online TEFL course to find better online jobs

Not all English teaching jobs require a TEFL cert. But if you have one, you’ll greatly increase your chances of finding work.

In particular, it’s a requirement to teach English in China – one of the biggest markets for online English teaching work.

And some schools actually have a higher hourly rate for TEFL qualified teachers.

Not to mention, going through a TEFL course will give you invaluable confidence and skills to excel as an English tutor!

Luckily, you don’t have to attend a college, or even spend a ton of time or money to obtain your TEFL qualification. International Open Academy have given me a special discount code for 84% off a 120 hour TEFL course which you can take fully online, in your own time. 

This works out at around £100 off! Your code will be automatically applied at checkout when you click through the above link.

The course is completely online and self-paced. You have access 24 hours a day and you will get your accredited PDF certificate instantly after passing the online test at the end of the course.

Although it’s a ‘120 hour course’, since it’s a self-study course, most people find they complete it much quicker.

I think this course is a no-brainer for anyone serious about teaching English online.

The exclusive discount is only available through my link (affiliate link). The code is applied automatically at checkout.

How to teach English online without a degree or qualification

Of course, you might not be interested in taking TEFL at all.

If you don’t have a teaching qualification, or even a degree, then your options are more limited.

But it’s still possible to teach English online without qualifications!

In this case, you will have better luck finding work providing English conversation practice, rather than teaching full lessons.

iTalki is one platform where you can find work as a self-employed English teacher or tutor. On iTalki you have complete freedom to set your own rates and hours, although it’s worth spending some time to research what other people are charging to make sure you’re competitive.

iTalki has two different levels of teacher: ‘Professional Teacher‘ (who hold a qualification) and ‘Community Tutor‘. Anyone can apply to be a Community Tutor.

Get paid to chat in English

Community Tutors on iTalki mostly offer informal tutoring and/or conversation practice. Students might also ask you to help them with their homework, suggest native reading/listening materials, or answer general questions about your language or culture.

In effect, you can get paid to have conversations in English!

This is a great way to get started to teach English online with no experience. The rates are lower, but all you have to do is keep a conversation going in English for an hour.

iTalki students are usually older and very motivated because they’re paying for the lessons themselves, so this can be an interesting and fairly easy side hustle. I love the idea of getting paid to chat in English to students from all over the world.

iTalki doesn’t offer any kind of materials or curriculum, so it’s up to you to decide on the lesson topics with your students.

One other cool thing about iTalki is that they have an ‘instant tutoring’ function where you can log on in your free time and work with any students who are available right now! This could improve your chances of getting more paid work when you don’t have anything scheduled.

how to teach english online and get paid

Best online English teaching jobs

As I mentioned above, I think the best online English teaching job in the UK right now is EF (Education First). This is because they offer training, prepared lesson materials, competitive pay, bonuses and even holiday pay and pensions!

They are one of the biggest names in language teaching worldwide so you know they are legit, and you can’t go wrong.

However, if EF isn’t for you, here are some other places you can apply to teach English online.

All of these sites offer teaching English online jobs for UK nationals. If you want to teach English online from the UK, the best sites to apply to for you will depend on your qualifications and experience, so take a look at this list and see what works for you:

  • iTalki (set your own rates and schedule. No qualification needed.)
  • Cambly (get paid to talk in English.  No qualification needed but you must be a native speaker)
  • PalFish (teach English to Chinese students via smartphone app. There are two levels of teaching/pay: higher level with TEFL/TESOL cert, and lower level with no qualifications)
  • DaDa (teach students in China from anywhere in the world. Bachelor’s degree and TEFL/TESOL cert required)
  • GoGo Kid (requires Bachelor’s degree)  (currently only recruiting those with right to work in USA or Canada)
  • TEFL UK (must hold a TEFL or TESOL certificate, or be willing to complete one within 3 months of starting)
  • Baron’s English (requires TEFL qualification and native British English)
  • Lingoda (requires teaching experience)
  • Voxy (requires teaching experience)

Please note, this list is for your reference but I don’t have experience with all these companies so please do your own research before signing up!

Alternatively, you can consider going freelance and teaching your own private English lessons with the help of some of the great software for teachers around these days. You would have to advertise and find your own students, but on the plus side you retain full control of your business, hours and fees.

There are also many Facebook groups such as Online English Teachers which share regular job listings.

Facebook groups are also a great place to get feedback and opinions from the English teaching community. For example, if you get an offer from a school that you haven’t heard of before and you want to check whether they are legit, I recommend asking around in one of these groups.

Earn money teaching English online

There we have it – an overview of how to make money teaching English online, a list of best online English teaching jobs, and I’ve even given you an exclusive discount link to take your online TEFL certification!

Teaching English online is a truly rewarding and potentially lucrative work from home job option, so I hope this post helps you if you think it might be for you.

Have you taught English online before? Which companies have you worked for?

I’d love it if you could share your experiences in the comments to help other readers!

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This post was first published on 4 December 2018 and was last updated on 7 April 2020.

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Wondering where to find work from home jobs teaching English online in the UK? Click through for my list of top recommended companies. Teaching English online is a fun side hustle idea!