How to Prepare for a Career as an Online Language Tutor

Have you fallen in love with the nuances of the English language? Do you enjoy interacting with others and passing on such knowledge? Are you actively involved with the virtual community and do you enjoy a strong social media presence? If so, why not redirect your energy and effort towards the online tutoring community?

Whether you hope to teach virtual English classes for beginners or you are instead keen to help an individual perfect his or her advanced linguistic skills, the (digital) sky’s the limit.

There are thousands of available opportunities and many of these can be found with the click of a button. However, we also need to remember that being prepared well in advance is the best way to ensure that you land the tutoring job of your dreams. Let us therefore take a look at some important prerequisites as well as a handful of skill sets that can help to jumpstart your online teaching career in no time at all.

What Certifications are Needed to Teach English Online?

While some virtual academies might not require you to possess any type of accreditations, it is still best to appreciate the technical aspects of tutoring. There are generally two different types of certifications which reputable firms will ask for:

  • The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
  • The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

The TESL course will last for 120 hours and the good news is that it can be taken online without the need to travel to physical classroom settings. The TESOL will require the same amount of time and yet, it is geared towards students who wish to learn English as a second language. Therefore, it will place a greater emphasis upon communication skills as well as areas of English that are particularly challenging for non-native speakers. Depending upon the type of students that you wish to help, it is wise to closely examine each of these certifications.

A University Degree

Although this was not a standard requirement in the past, things have begun to change thanks to the sheer number of online language schools which currently exist. The demand for tutors is on the rise and therefore, the entire sector has become highly competitive. This is why the majority of online language schools tend to prefer candidates who possess at least a two-year degree from an accredited university.

However, this degree does not necessarily have to encompass language arts. Degrees in business, accounting, marketing, or even law will all demonstrate that you possess the mental acumen to cater to the demands of students who may be located hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.

Of course, a degree may not be mandatory. Companies will sometimes make a decision based upon the past history of each individual. For example, let’s imagine for a moment that you cannot provide a university degree but you have lived in Spain for over 15 years. As you possess a working knowledge of Spanish and you are also a native English speaker, the chances are that your hands-on expertise will be in high demand. This is why it is best to contact the firm in question to better understand their proprietary requirements.

Hardware and Software

Due to the online nature of language courses, it is pivotal that your device can handle live streaming connections. This is even more important if you will be catering to multiple students simultaneously through the use of software platforms such as Zoom, AnyMeeting or Microsoft Teams. Slow speeds will lead to connectivity issues and the sessions themselves may suffer from frustrating lag times (known as latency).

Compatibility is another variable to briefly mention; particularly if you will be employed by a third-party language firm. Some companies choose to utilise bespoke software and dedicated smartphone applications with a specific programming language. You will therefore need to ensure that your platform is equipped to handle both iOS- and Windows-powered apps.

Additional accessories should likewise be taken into account. It is prudent to invest in a quality HD laptop camera so that students can clearly see you during each session. Virtual language classes will also benefit from crystal-clear audio, so an external microphone is likewise extremely beneficial. Sites such as this one will display all of the most relevant options based on parameters such as price and availability.

Personal Teaching Skills

Let’s now imagine that you have obtained the necessary certifications and your hardware is fully up to date. This is essentially only half of the “big picture”. There are several traits which separate an average or subpar language tutor from one who is extremely popular with students from all backgrounds. This is when personality and passion both come into play.

First and foremost, you must enjoy teaching English (or any language) if you hope for long-term success. You should be able to convey eagerness, enthusiasm and motivation to the students themselves. They will appreciate your efforts and in turn, they are much more likely to succeed in their endeavours.

Strong communications skills are also a must. Although teaching attendees about grammar, syntax and phrasal expressions is obviously required, it is just as crucial to listen to what students say. Each individual is entirely unique in regard to skill levels and potential problem areas. The best tutors have the ability to proactively engage with their classes in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

Finally, all successful tutors are keen to develop one-on-one relationships with individual students. These classes are quite common; particularly when referring to more advanced language courses. It also happens that they tend to pay the most (obviously important if you are concerned about financial liquidity).

Online Language Tutors: The Wave of the Future

Virtual language courses are extremely popular and thanks to remote technology, their presence will continue to grow. This is why preparing for what the industry has in store is the best way to ensure a long and lucrative career.

Leave a Comment