Remote working has become the norm and Costa Rica is a great country to do it from. Teaching English online can be an attractive option to make a steady income from the beach, the Central valley or wherever you want, as long as you have a good internet connection. Teaching degrees and teaching experience are not required by all companies with Engoo being a good example.
Other companies like Outschool allow teachers to develop their own curriculum and set their own schedules. This kind of freedom and flexibility can be attractive for potential digital nomads looking to make some extra cash.
I had the opportunity to converse with Kristen Basore who has carved out a full time career as an online teacher. Kristen is also a popular Youtuber and in her videos she shares valuable insights about online teaching.
Please tell us about your journey as an online English teacher.
I started teaching English online in January 2018. I had just experienced a layoff in the corporate world and a colleague recommended online teaching as a part-time job while looking for work. In August 2018, I secured a full-time classroom teaching job, but continued to teach online and grow my business. Three years later, in June 2021, I was able to leave the classroom and make online teaching my full-time job.
Have you traveled and taught English online? If not, do you know other teachers who have done the digital nomad thing teaching abroad?
My days spent traveling were done while working onboard a cruise ship whose internet did not have the strength for online teaching. I know many teachers who live abroad and teach English online. They share their experience of teaching online English classes in the morning hours and then having the afternoons and evenings free for friends, family, and hobbies. Their work-life balance looks very relaxed and comfortable.
If people are interested in teaching English online but do not have teaching experience or a teaching certificate what do you recommend?
My biggest piece of advice would be to do your research and ask others who are teaching online. In 2023, there are several online platforms – many that do not require teaching experience or a certificate to get started. I recently released a video on my YouTube channel, Kristen’s Classroom, sharing 28 online teaching opportunities available to those interested in getting started.
A couple of years ago the Chinese government made major changes to the rules regarding online English learning for Chinese kids. How do you see the Chinese and Asian markets for teaching English online these days?
There have been a few new platforms that cater to Asian students looking to learn English. I’m not currently teaching with any other than VIPKID, who now offers English classes to students around the globe. I do expect to see additional platforms for Chinese and Asian students emerge in future years.
What kind of equipment do online English teachers need?
When it comes to equipment, my top three are: reliable internet, good quality computer or laptop, and headphones. Extra equipment that I’ve found helpful are webcams, microphones, and a ring light. It’s all about showing your students you take your job seriously and want them to have the best learning experience possible.
Any other tips can you give people who are starting for the first time teaching English online? My tips when getting started would be to start with a small number of students. As time goes on and you develop your teaching style, you can add additional students to your schedule.
Additionally, surround yourself with others in the online teaching field. It can feel lonely teaching from home, but having a community (even one on social media), can help teachers not feel alone. Lastly, do not compare your journey with anyone else. The online teaching space has and will continue to change, so everyone’s experience will be different