The pros and cons of teaching English online

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I’ve had an overwhelmingly great experience teaching English online, so much so that I write a blog about it! My job teaching online with VIPKID has allowed me to travel the world, spend time with loved ones, and chase hobbies to the point that they’ve turned profitable.

I’ve learned about other cultures and met amazing students, all while doing a job that I genuinely enjoy.

That being said, nothing is perfect. While I usually spend my days rambling on about how much I love the flexibility of this job and the adorableness of the students, there are also days where I feel exhausted and ready to throw my router out the window.

If you’re interested in teaching online, this breakdown will give you a complete picture of the best and worst parts of the job. If you’re just joining in, make sure to check out these online teaching posts first! 

Pros and Cons of Teaching English OnlineRound 1: Location

Pro – Location Flexibility

Teaching online lets you work anywhere with good WiFi. For those of us who long to travel, this is an amazing perk! You can teach from your home, your friend’s house, a hotel room in the mountains, or a bungalow on the beach. Being location independent has allowed me to be there for milestones in the lives of my loved ones and travel to places I never thought I’d see. 

Con – You are limited to places with good WiFi

Even though you can work from anywhere, that anywhere better be well-connected. In most places around the world, this isn’t a problem, but if you really had your heart set on teaching English online from the tundra, you might run into some issues.

Before I started teaching English online, I relished trips where I didn’t have a good internet connection. Now I’m one of those crazed WiFi people I used to make fun of.

Round 2: Schedule and Hours

Pro – Schedule Flexibility

I get to set my own schedule, including what days I work and how many hours I work. When my sister came to visit over Christmas, I was able to take several days off in a row without asking permission from anyone. If I know something fun is coming up, I can choose not to work those days.

Then, when I have a lot of free time, I can book more classes and make more money. I usually set my schedule for about three weeks in advance.

Pro – You can work as much or as little as you want.

Similar to the schedule flexibility point, you can choose to work as much or as little as you want. Teaching English online can be a weekend side hustle or thirty-hour commitment. You can even teach online with a traditional full-time job. And it can change every week with your preferences.

Con – No cancellations/Early mornings

Classes can’t be canceled once they are scheduled unless it is an extreme circumstance. No sick days – you just work through it or take the canceled class penalty. Also depending on your time zone, you might be working very early in the morning.

When I teach from the east coast USA, I usually work from 6:00 am – 10:00 am. You get used to the morning hours, but it’s an adjustment if you’re not a morning person. 

Round 4: Workspace

Pro – Work from Home

I wear pajama pants to work. Every. Single. Day. I absolutely love working from home and not having to commute anywhere for work. When I’m traveling, I pack up my traveling classroom and teaching backdrop into my backpack and take it with me. It’s easy and minimalist and I love it. 

Con – No in-person work community

I guess this could be a pro for some people, depending on what your work colleagues are like! But I’ve been lucky and I miss spending time with my co-workers before and after school. While there is a large community of online teachers on social media, I definitely miss unwinding with my teacher friends after school. 

Round 5: Lesson Planning

Pro – Lessons are done for you

With most online English companies, there is minimal work outside of class. Lessons are prepared in advanced and aligned to the level of the student. No weekend lesson planning, no mountains of essays to grade. This means that you work the hours you are paid for and no more. 

Con – You don’t get to use your creative juices to make lessons.

You pretty much have to stick to the curriculum, which for some people isn’t as fun as getting all creative with it. There is a little room for individual finesse, but most companies expect you to stick to the provided curriculum. You can, however, have lots of fun with your teaching props and background!

Printable Online Teaching PropsRound 6: Pay and Earning Potential

Pro – High pay per class

Simply put, the pay is great for most online English companies. And since it is a work from home (or wherever in the world you are visiting) position, you don’t have to pay for gas or transportation to work. The company I work for, VIPKID, pays between $18-$22/hour.

Con – You only get paid for classes get booked (not classes opened).

At first, it might take a while to get fully booked. Opening up 100 classes doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed pay for all those classes. It takes some time to get consistently booked. Stick with it!

Con – No benefits.

I don’t know of any companies that have full-time options with benefits, medical insurance, or retirement plans. Those are things you will have to navigate on your own.

[irp posts=”1422″ name=”How much can you really make teaching English online with VIPKID?”]

Round 7: Students

Pro – The kids are amazing!

Teachers see a wide variety of students of all age and ability levels. I constantly meet new students and I adore every one of them! Since most online English programs operate independently from schools, your kids are in your class as an extracurricular. This means it’s more fun and less stressful than traditional classroom lessons. 

Con – Who you teach is pretty random.

Parents sign up for your classes and you don’t get to reserve spots for specific students. If you really have a great connection with a student, you might not get to see them very often if you book up fast. While it’s great to meet lots of different students, it can be challenging to build lasting bonds with sporadic lessons. 

Overall Thoughts About Teaching Online

For me, the freedom, flexibility, and fun that come with teaching online outweigh the downsides. Sure, there have been frantic moments where the internet goes out and it feels like the world is ending. I miss chatting with my work friends on our planning periods and I’ve taught through my share of colds.

But then I remember how sweet my students are and how excited they are to tell me, in English, what they did today. When I consider that this job has given me the flexibility and finances to travel long-term, the downsides seem very small.

Then I look down and realize it’s five in the afternoon and I’m still in pajama pants. And that pretty much seals the deal!

Teaching with VIPKID

I teach English online with VIPKID and I have had a great experience! If you are interested in teaching English online, I encourage you to check them out. You can find their FAQ and additional information here:

You can apply to VIPKID online with my referral link here

Referral Code: NICOL0117

If you decide to sign up for VIPKID and found this post helpful, consider using my referral code. When you use my referral code and complete the recruitment process, I’ll get a bonus for recruiting you.

After you apply with my code, Send me a message letting me know. I’ll be available to answer any questions you have as you go through the application process. 

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About the Author

Hi! I'm Nic. Let's chat about remote work and ways to incorporate more travel into your life. Whether you're here to find an online job or need some tips for planning your next trip, I've got you covered! More about me

12 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, and the WiFi – Pros and Cons of Teaching English online”

    • Hey Natalia! I usually work about 4 hours a day, 4-5 days a week. Usually, I make between $1,100 – $1,500 per month depending on how much time I take off for adventures that month. 🙂 I’m working on a post about the financial side of teaching English online which should be ready soon!

  1. Do you have a TEFL or a TESOL certification? Just wondering what kind of credentials are required…
    And do you happen to know of a reputable online company that’s geared toward teaching adults?

    • Hi Paige, Yes I got my TEFL certification through International TEFL Academy. It helps with getting online English teaching jobs but it is not required. Typically the requirements are a bachelors degree, native English speaker, and experience working with children. As for working with adults, I have a friend who works for iTutorGroup and really likes them! She mostly has adults and the classes are small group. I linked to their FAQ page so you can see if they look like a good fit! 🙂

  2. Hi I plan on doing the tefl level 5 course next month would you know if south Africans are having success finding jobs teaching online? Thank you Louise

    • Hi Louise! If you’re a fluent or native English speaker with a neutral accent, you can teach with companies like iTutor Group, Cambly, or Palfish. These don’t have nationality requirements. You can also look at iTalki if you want to teach other languages in addition to English. Thanks! 🙂


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