Very likely, the idea of teaching English online appeals to you… but you have some doubts. That’s common whenever you are considering diving into something new. On this page I’ll try to address some of the most common questions which I receive.

If you don’t find what you are looking for here, please write to with your question.


How can I apply for a teaching job?

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How to teach English online is not a school, and I don't hire teachers. Rather, I offer an online course which teaches you everything you need to teach English online, whether through an online school, or as an independent teacher.

Who is John Clites?

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John Clites is the creator of the course "How to teach English online...from anywhere," and he will be your coach as you move through the course. John is a US citizen, living abroad since 2008. John has taught English since 2008, and online since 2012. Click here to learn more about John.

Why would I want teach English online?

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There are many reasons. For one, teaching online ifits into almost anyone's schedule. You can teach full-time, or part-time, whenever you have time. Pay is decent, and the work is enjoyable. You can work from the comfort of your own home, or use teaching online as a way to fund world exploration.

I currently teach English face to face. Is teaching online better?

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Teaching online offers many advantages over traditional face-to-face instruction. You don't have to go out in bad weather. You can more easily deal with rescheduling classes. Perhaps most importantly, you don't waste time traveling from student to student. You can therefore "stack" classes one after another and make more money. And if you want to see the world, few jobs offer greater mobility and freedom than teaching online!

Who teaches English online?

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Teaching English online can be great for so many different people: retirees, stay-at-home moms, university students, recent grads, digital nomads, the unemployed or underemployed.You can watch this YouTube video to learn a bit about why I think teaching English online can be the perfect money-generating activity for all of these groups.

What qualifications do you need to teach English online?

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In part this will depend on whether you plan to work for an online school or whether you plan to teach independently. A four-year university degree is a big asset, and many online schools will want you to have one, although typically the degree can be in any discipline. And while some (though not all) schools like their students to have a TEFL, CELTA, TESOL or similar teaching certificate, in my opinion these certificates don’t prepare you to teach online and I wouldn’t pay the $2,000-$3,000 to earn one. I feel pretty strongly about this topic, and actually posted a video on YouTube about it. I discuss qualifications in Section 3 of my course. []

What is covered in this course?

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I have tried to make this course soup to nuts, covering everything that you need to get started teaching English online, from tech setup to brushing up on your own English to materials I recommend to working with schools or working independently to assessing prospective students to scheduling to lesson planning to – of course! – delivering great classes. To see what’s covered, hop over to the Learn-More page and read down the left-hand side.

Who will I teach?

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Much of that is up to you. I currently live in Brazil and teach principally adult professionals here. I have a couple of friends who teach children in China, which is a huge market these days. I have subscribers to my course who focus on Spanish-speaking students. There are people of every background who want to study English online, so you’ll want to define a niche as you begin teaching. You can learn more about defining a niche by watching this video I posted on YouTube.

How will I find students?

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There are lots of ways to find students. Free methods include classified ad sites, relevant forums, “matchmaker sites” like italki, and Facebook. You can also run pay ads on Facebook and relevant sites. Although you could set up a website and a YouTube channel, I don’t recommend it. Instead, find your first few students, teach them well (I’ll show you how!), and they will send more students to you.

What can I do if I really hate marketing?

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First, you’ll probably discover that finding new students isn’t that tough after you get the first few and word of mouth takes over. But if you really just hate marketing, why not try working for online schools? They will find the students for you. You can always migrate into finding your own private students later – in fact, that’s a pretty common path for newer teachers. I discuss working for schools – and provide a listing of 30 or so – in Section 4 of my course.

How much can I make teaching online?

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Obviously, it depends on factors such as your intended niche, your qualifications, and how effectively you market yourself. But I’d say that for most of you out there, $15 – $20 USD per hour is a reasonable expectation. More is certainly possible once you have experience. Multiply this by the number of hours per week you’d like to teach to estimate earnings potential.

Is the technology required difficult?

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No, it isn’t. Very likely, you already have most of what you need already. A basic computer will do. You’ll probably want a headset with a microphone if you don’t already have one, but for many folks, that’s the only hardware investment required. You will also need a solid internet connection, and you should develop some basic troubleshooting skills. (I provide a checklist for that in Section 2 of the course.)

Can I teach if I don’t know grammar?

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The first thing is to recognize that you DO know grammar. You grew up speaking English. You know it intuitively, even if you don’t (yet) know all the grammar terms you’ll need. You also know idioms, and slang, and lots of valuable cultural stuff. As with just about anything, good preparation helps to ensure that you are ready and that things will go smoothly. In Section 3 of the course I recommend a couple of good grammar books which remove the stress from teaching grammar.

What does a typical class actually look like?

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Obviously, how a class unfolds will vary. If you work for an online school, they will typically provide you with class materials and a plan, so it’s pretty easy. Just do a quick review before the class and follow the map they provide.

If, like me, you decide to go independent, you’ll need to prepare your own lesson plans. Most of my classes begin with some conversation, which is what most students want and need. In between, we might cover a grammar point, learn some vocabulary, or perhaps learn some expressions. Sometimes the student will read an article aloud, which we then discuss. And I like to always finish with more conversation. If you select good materials, then it’s not difficult at all.

I give more tips for planning effective lessons in Section 8 of my course, and Section 9 is a big old fat section (in three parts) about how to deliver those lessons.


So, how could TEOL fit into YOUR life?

You might be looking at teaching English online as a way to generate a bit of side income, or as a way to keep on contributing after retirement, or as a way to keep a toehold in the workforce while raising kids. You might even see it as a way to fund a life living abroad, or some extended exploration.

And teaching English online can do all those things.

I teach “full-time,” which means 20-25 hours per week of classes, plus a few more hours of class prep and admin tasks. This workload affords me a very nice if not extravagent lifestyle, living in a coastal city of Brazil. (I’ll get some video together to show you what my life is like – and what yours could be like, if you are so inclined.)

I realize that you probably aren’t all that excited about actually teaching English. A little secret? Shhhh. Neither was I initially. But as I got into it, I came to enjoy it more and more. I actually look forward to many classes, and I view many of my students and former students as friends.

And, if I’m honest, it’s just not that hard. I’ve had hard jobs. Physical jobs. Stressful jobs. Thankless jobs. By comparison, teaching English online (often in surfer shorts and flip flops!) just isn’t that bad.

On this page, I’ve tried to answer the most common questions I receive from folks considering teaching online. I hope that in doing so I’ve not only alleviated a few doubts, but also demonstrated that I know a bit about the subject.  I’d like to encourage you to try my course. It’s truly soup-to-nuts. Check out the testimonials. Note that the course comes with a 30-day guarantee, backed not only by my word, but by Teachable, the hosting site. I think the price is very reasonable. You’ll earn many more times. Compare what my course covers to the other program you see out there. Mine covers far more – and is $200 less! And I offer a 3-payment option if money is tight right now. Here’s the link to learn more about the course and what it includes:

And, if you’re ready to pull the trigger and do this thing, here’s the link to subscribe now: