Teach on Your Terms: How to Successfully Teach English from Home

It’s 6 a.m., your alarm clock is blaring and all you want is to hide under the covers and go back to sleep.

But if you keep hitting snooze, you’ll be late for class.

Which is a significant problem when you’re the teacher.

Yeah, a room full of students is counting on you to be there. So you get up, get ready and go.

Super-teacher on the move once again.

But you can’t help but wonder if there’s a way for you to use your educational superpowers on your own schedule. Preferably not before noon.

Teaching English from home is a great option that allows you to share knowledge, make the world a bit more grammatically correct and do so from the comfort of your bed. Or couch. Or special chair. (I’ll leave that choice up to you.)

Plus, you’ll be the one in charge of your schedule, lessons and how many students and hours you choose to teach. A pedagogical CEO of sorts. (What a school might call a principal, but you’re in charge, so pedagogical CEO it is. Or maybe super-educator. That has a nice ring to it…)

Sound good? Here are some tips to successfully navigate the world of teaching from home.

Super-hero cape not included.

How Do I Get Started Teaching from Home?

To get started, there are a few basic logistics for you to figure out:

  • Time: Decide how many hours and when you want to teach. You’re the one who’s now responsible for managing your own time. It’s a good idea to set aside a certain amount of time each day that you want to devote to teaching, for example, from noon to five.

Set aside a chunk of time that allows for some flexibility depending on students’ schedules. And remember that you’ll use some non-teaching time for planning lessons, marketing yourself and communicating with potential students, so think about when you’d like to do that, too.

  • Place: You’re probably thinking, “Duh! The place is home. That’s the whole point!” But carving out a specific place within your home to get work done is important. When teaching from home, you need a space where you can work without being disturbed or distracted (like this).

It can be very easy for family members or Netflix accounts to interrupt our best intentions to get work done. Setting aside a work-only space (preferably with a lock on the door) is a good way to help yourself work from home.

  • Prerequisites: Now that you’ve identified a time and place for teaching, be sure to have a current version of your resume, your teaching certificate and any other credentials such as a TEFL certification on hand. It’ll also help to have letters of recommendation or references ready so that you can make a strong impression with potential students.

What Types of Home-based Teaching Are There?

Teaching from home can be done in many different ways, some of which are:

  • Writing: Teaching doesn’t have to be done by talking one-on-one with a student. It can also be accomplished by writing lessons that instruct students. Writing educational content is a great way to work from home.

Some schools hire teachers to write lessons that’ll be taught by others, some schools need curriculum writers and others need educational content or tests written. This is an indirect way to teach without interacting with students and can almost always be done online.

  • Lessons: Plan to spend about an hour for each lesson that you schedule. What you teach will depend on each individual student since you’ll likely be working one-on-one or possibly with a small group. You and your students can work together to set the content of the lesson based on what they wish to improve or are struggling with.
  • Conversation: Sometimes students simply need to practice speaking English in a supportive environment. Helping them to speak more naturally and with good pronunciation can be practiced over Skype.

It’s best to have native-level skills when teaching conversation. You can also throw in a few new idioms, discuss current events or try different conversational scenarios to keep the lessons interesting.

  • Specialization: You may find it helpful to market yourself to a certain niche. Maybe you want to teach English grammar or English reading. Maybe you want to help students write better in English or learn new colloquialisms or cultural insights. These specializations will help you to distinguish yourself from other teachers and allow you to teach your strengths and interests.

For any student-centered teaching, don’t forget to focus some attention on homework. Ultimately, only so much can be accomplished in one lesson. Hopefully you’ll have clarified some areas of confusion and practiced some new skills with students. But for them to continue improving, they have work to do for next time.

Come up with a few activities for students to do in between lessons, such as making notecards to memorize content, writing sentences to practice grammar, reading and answering comprehension questions or speaking to improve pronunciation.

What Are Some Possible Obstacles to Look Out For?

Every job has its struggles, even teaching from home. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Technology: Gotta love it. When it works, it’s great. If it doesn’t work, there goes your lesson. Technology plays an especially prominent role when teaching English from home, both for interruption-free lessons and clear audio so your students can learn correct pronunciations.

Try out all technology ahead of your lesson to make sure there are no problems. Consider using wired internet rather than wireless for a more stable connection. Make sure you have a quality microphone or webcam for teaching on Skype.

  • Teaching differences: Teaching from home, especially online, is very different from teaching in a classroom. It can feel awkward at first to try to explain a new concept over Skype rather than in person. You may need to adjust your teaching style to find what works in this new environment.

For example, you might not have the textbook that your student uses, which can make it hard to get on the same page. Pun intended. But you also have many online resources to draw from. After explaining a topic to students, you can direct them to a website with examples of that topic so that you can both look at the same content even though you’re in a different location. Thanks, internet.

  • Teaching resources: Just because you’re not in a classroom doesn’t mean reference books and teaching tools are irrelevant to you. It’s just as important for home-based teachers to provide level-appropriate, engaging English resources to their students. Of course, there’s lots of variability in what resources your students will benefit from. Make sure to ask lots of detailed questions about their language goals so you can choose from your personal favorite textbooks, activity websites or language apps.
  • Payment: Make sure that you get paid for each lesson and that it’s easy for your students to pay you. This will likely mean using a platform like PayPal. If you’re teaching through an online program, be sure to review their payment policies. If you teach students in your house, they can pay by check or cash. Be sure to set your rates ahead of time, communicate them to your students and state what forms of payment you accept.

How to Find Students and Teach English from Home Like a Boss

You’ve got your computer all set up, a lesson planned and you’re eager to start teaching. What’s missing? Oh, yeah. Students! A vital part of every lesson. Here’s how and where to find them:


The cool thing about Wyzant, compared to other tutoring platforms, is that you have the opportunity to teach virtually or locally. If you prefer in-person teaching, that makes Wyzant a great option, but it’s also useful just as a matter of diversifying your searches for students.

Wyzant has grown more and more competitive in the last couple of years as progressively experienced tutors come on board. While that does mean you’ll be competing with lots of other skilled tutors—especially locally—it also means that you can charge higher rates than on other sites.

One thing to keep in mind is that Wyzant charges teachers a 40 percent commission on all their earnings during initial classes, although this does go down to 10 to 25 percent as you continue teaching and establishing your skills. And while it’s important for you to maintain a current and attention-grabbing profile, Wyzant takes care of marketing and putting potential students in front of you.


This is a generalized job website, but there are many opportunities for English educators to find.

To search for online teaching jobs, simply type “online teacher” or “teach from home” into the “job title” box and leave the “location” box empty. You can then sort the results by date or relevance and further narrow down your search by salary, job type, company and experience level.

You can try searching specifically for English or ESL teaching jobs, but many online teaching jobs are already English-related and you could eliminate English jobs from language or online schools if you make your search too narrow.

This website will give you the most results (one of my searches came up with more than 20,000 jobs), but that also means it can take a while to sort through them all and find the ones that are best for you.


This is a job board website focused on freelance, part-time and telecommute opportunities. It has a specific online teaching section.

The good thing about FlexJobs is that they screen each job to make sure that it’s a legitimate opportunity and not a scam. Because of this, they charge a subscription fee starting at $14.95 per month or $49.95 per year. If you’re willing to spend some money, this is a good job site that’ll save you some time by only presenting you with solid, vetted opportunities. Because of this, there are also fewer postings to sift through.


This is a website for jobs in higher education. It’s free to use and has listings specifically for remote jobs. From the remote listings, you can search for English educator jobs or simply scroll through the listings.

They offer some different opportunities besides traditional online tutoring, such as online university teaching positions and curriculum writing positions. Many of these job opportunities prefer a master’s degree, but there are some options for educators with a bachelor’s. You can optionally create an account to upload your resume and apply to jobs through their website. This is a good site to find higher-paying remote jobs.

Local Tutoring

Teaching from home doesn’t have to be done virtually. You can run your own tutoring business out of your home where local students come to you.

To get started, go to schools in your community and tell them you’re a tutor who’s looking to help students learn English. Leave your contact information, resume and references with the school. It helps if you’ve attended the school, taught at the school or know people from the school, so that they’re familiar with you and feel comfortable recommending you to students.

You can also contact schools that you’ve been involved with in the past even if you don’t live nearby. These can be a good starting place to find tutoring students for Skype lessons. As your business grows, you can continue contacting more schools and even branch out to schools all over the world since your tutoring can be done online.


Once you’ve found students, it’s time to get teaching! And you don’t even have to leave the couch…

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