Andréia Zakime has worked in the field of language teaching for more than 15 years. She has taught young learners and adults, and worked with course design and teacher training. She is currently a Cambridge CELTA tutor based in Barcelona. She is also the co-founder of What is ELT?, a blog dedicated to teacher development and education.
A dream job for many people is one that will allow you to travel the world, meet new people and make friends along the way. This is why more and more young professionals have been aiming to become location-independent professionals and live a nomadic lifestyle. The idea of becoming a digital nomad is very enticing: it will allow you to learn about new cultures and generate a range of diverse professional and personal possibilities. However, embarking on this adventure is not easy. In addition to the challenges of not having a home base, one of the biggest difficulties is to find a reliable source of income that will enable you to work from anywhere.
If you are looking into possible career paths to work from the road, you may have already considered taking on a teaching job.
In this post, we will talk about things you need to consider and the steps you need to take to start a career as a TEFL digital nomad.
1.Do I want to be a teacher?
Some people decide to become a teacher as a transition job; others would like to pursue a teaching career for life. In both cases, the first thing you need to bear in mind is that teaching requires commitment, effort and energy. Remember that you will be responsible for helping your students to reach their goals in learning a second language, and these goals might include passing an international exam, preparing for a job interview, or learning English just for fun. Sounds like a lot of responsibility, right? And it definitely is. But it is one of the most rewarding jobs that a person can have. Your students’ success is your success, and contributing to someone’s trajectory is always gratifying.
2.Do I have what it takes to be a good (online) teacher?
In the teaching job market, you will find several types of teaching positions – some are very demanding and expect a lot of involvement with the students and the course provider. Others are a bit more flexible and will require less outside-the-lesson work. For example, if you choose to work for a language centre (online or face-to-face), you might need to provide a certain number of hours of availability, have a fixed timetable and dedicate some of your time to lesson planning and preparation. Other more flexible options will allow you to change your availability more frequently and provide you with all the materials you need to teach. Regardless of the choice you make, you need to remember that a good teacher needs to be a great communicator, knowledgeable, dependable, punctual and accountable for their learners.
If you are teaching online, you would also need to ensure you are comfortable with working in front of a computer for part or most of the day. You would need some computer skills in order to deal with any technical issues if/ as they arise, to use the online platform effectively and to create engaging online lessons for your students.
3.Do I need to get CELTA certified to teach English online?
Although English course providers in certain countries may not ask for a TEFL certification to teach English lessons online, there are countless advantages in holding a recognised qualification from a reliable institution before you start offering services as an online English instructor. Apart from providing you with the skill set you need to do the job confidently and successfully, a recognised TEFL certificate will improve your chances of landing a great teaching job and making you more employable. In fact, it is a mandatory requirement for some organisations. Getting a recognised TEFL certificate could mean the difference between getting paid €8 an hour or €20 an hour when you start working.
There are countless TEFL courses available, but around 75% of employers request a Cambridge CELTA certification. The 100% online CELTA course is one of the best ways you can get started teaching English online. Graduates of this course are not only able to prove their teaching skills by presenting future employers with their CELTA certification, they can also demonstrate their abilities teaching online, due to already being familiar with many online tools. As a digital nomad, you are very likely to do most of your teaching online.
During the 100% Online CELTA course, you will not only develop the techniques and skills you need to be a successful professional, but you will also have the chance to network with tutors and fellow teachers from all over the world. This means you are already in touch with teachers who might share the interest in going on an adventure abroad, and you will make friends based in a lot of different countries.
4.How can I find work teaching English online?
So you now hold a Cambridge CELTA and you can’t wait to start your first teaching job. The world is your oyster. You are looking forward to starting your journey and heading to your first destination as a digital nomad. But, before you go, it is a good idea to start looking at job opportunities, understand a little more about the TEFL market and consider the options that you have.
Many novice teachers look for agencies and schools who will offer them online work according to their availability. This is a great option for those who would like to work and have a source of income, but still want to have the free time to enjoy the perks of being a world traveller. Most of these agencies and schools will offer additional training or an induction programme. The greatest advantage is that you can definitely work from the road and do not need to worry about looking for private students, as they usually have many classes to offer at different times of the day.
Here are some examples of where you can look for work for as an online English teacher:
- The website Tefl.com brings many job offers worldwide and you can filter the opportunities by country and job position. Their app is really user friendly and you can opt to receive notifications to your email with the most recent vacancies.
- TeachAway is an excellent platform for those aiming at exclusively working online. It also offers a filter by position and apply through the website.
- The Guardian Jobs has a page that is dedicated exclusively to TEFL positions. You can filter the opportunities by location, position, salary and type of contract. Their page is always updated with new vacancies and you can create an alert to get the opportunities directly on your mailbox.
Another option is to start and run your own business and have your own online teaching school or become a freelance online teacher. In this case, you may want to receive guidance from an experienced professional by taking a Teaching English Online course with some training in setting up your own online business. Contrary to what most people think, being your own boss is not as easy as it seems: you need to have excellent managerial and marketing skills, be able to prospect and retain students and be extremely organised. On the upside, you can have more flexible working hours and build your own timetable.
Here are some examples of platforms you can advertise your English teaching service on:
- Fiverr is a platform for freelancers to advertise their products and businesses. You can display reviews and showcase your abilities there.
- Upwork is another popular website where freelancers and digital nomads. You’ll be charged a fee for the work found through this platform, and this fee gets lower the more clients you have;
- You can also advertise at Freelancer.com. Although this is used more frequently with quick and specific projects, teachers also use this website to promote their classes and prospect students.
At Oxford TEFL, you can count on our careers advisors to help you thrive and land a great teaching job after the course. You will receive professional advice from our team, guidance on preparing your CV and applying for jobs, and learn about opportunities to teach English online or worldwide. In fact, around 90% of our graduates secure employment within 1-4 weeks of graduation. Find out more here about our comprehensive careers service.
5.What equipment will I need to teach English online?
Wherever you are in the world, you will need to make sure that you have access to very good and reliable Internet connection (minimum: 1.0Mbps/1.0Mbps upload/download) and that you have all the software and hardware you need to teach. This could include:
- A range a devices: desktop computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone
- Headphones and a microphone – preferably in an all-in-one headset
- A (detachable) webcam
- A mouse and a keyboard
- A CD/DVD drive
- Skype – and other video conferencing software, e.g. Zoom
- Voice calling/messaging apps for mobile-use only
- A Cloud account – Google Drive or OneDrive
You will also need a quiet and well-lit place to deliver your lessons. Many co-working spaces offer private rooms that are suitable for teaching. Find out more about what hardware and software you will need in this blog post.
Do you think you would make a good online English teacher? We offer 4-week and 13-week 100% Online CELTA courses. Study with us from anywhere in the world to gain your CELTA qualification and start teaching English effectively online. Apply here or contact us for more information.
Our top 5 tips to become a digital nomad English teacher
Finally, here is a summary of our top 5 tips to help you start teaching English online:
- Gain an internationally-recognised TEFL qualification, such as the Cambridge CELTA. Take the opportunity to take this course 100% online and gain the skills you need to teach online quickly. An additional Teaching English Online qualification would be an added bonus.
- Ensure you have all the necessary equipment to teach from the road including, most importantly, reliable internet connection.
- Decide on and test a platform for online teaching. Some options include Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. Make use of the many features these platforms offer to provide engaging one-to-one or group classes.
- Ensure you consider practical things like holidays in your student’s location, how you are going to get paid, the time zone of the classes and how much preparation time they will be required.
- Select some of the best platforms to advertise your services and contact multiple reputable agencies to help build your online teaching schedule.
Now that you know everything you need to start your teaching career as a digital nomad, check out our 4-week 100% online CELTA course and 13-week 100% Online CELTA course to get ready to take on the world. We hope this post was useful and wish you best of luck in your career as a teacher!
Would you like to find out more? Check out these links:
100% Online CELTA course FAQs video
How does the teaching practice work on the 100% Online CELTA course?
Interview with 100% Online CELTA course graduate: Jeanette Clifford
100% Online CELTA course graduate feedback video