Travel lifestyle

10 Best Online English Teaching Companies (2021)

 

The internet is a wonderful thing. It’s opened the door for people to earn a full-time income or side income from anywhere in the world. Teach English online, learn how to start a travel blog, become famous on social media, or be a brand ambassador for large companies. It’s all possible.

If you’re looking to teach English online, you’ve come to the right place.

Here I’m going to list the best online teaching English jobs, how you can find a job with them, and how much money you can expect to earn from teaching English online.

If you’ve been on this blog before, you’ll know that we volunteered to teach English in Myanmar and Laos, and we moved to China for a year while teaching English as a profession. All of those experiences were incredible. 

These days, we’re all about helping travellers find ways to earn money online so that they can turn travel into a lifestyle — without actually having to move abroad as we did.

Teaching English is a rewarding and enriching experience – both in-person and online

We’ve been travelling since 2008 and thanks to the internet, we’ve been able to earn more money online than we ever did in our well-paying jobs in Canada.

We want to help you do the same thing.

I’m happy to share these top 10 companies to teach English online so that you too can make money from anywhere in the world.

Can I Teach English Online?

You can teach English Online if you meet these requirements — almost all of the companies will require the following:

  • Native English speaker, or near-native English speaker
  • Solid internet connection, microphone, webcam, and quiet space for lessons
  • You have a Bachelor’s degree or you are currently enrolled (in some cases this isn’t obligatory)
  • A TEFL Certificate (in some cases this isn’t obligatory) — click here for a list of the top 7 companies.
  • You’re from Canada, the UK, or the United States (in some cases all first language English countries)
  • You are enthusiastic, passionate, and positive

These are the basic requirements to teach English online, and I will list a few more specific requirements for each company below.

It makes sense that you must be able to speak English at a native level and that you have a solid internet connection (if you don’t, why would students sign up with you?), but I really don’t think having a university degree in any subject should be a requirement to teach English online, or in-country.

But hey, those are the rules.

Nicola Teaching English online
Teaching English online is a great job

Do I Need a TEFL Certificate to Teach English Online?

Yes, you do need a TEFL certificate to teach English online with the higher paying companies.

However, there are some great companies to consider if you don’t have your TEFL: PrePly, Cambly, and Skimatalk don’t require a TEFL certificate. EF Education First only requires a 40 hour TEFL which you can easily (and affordably) obtain here.

In most cases, no previous experience is required, but it helps if you have worked with younger children in the past and have taken a TEFL course — which will give you a proper understanding of lesson plans and how to run a class.

Plus, if you have a TEFL certificate, are a native English speaker, have a good internet connection, and are enthusiastic, your odds of getting accepted for the job will be much higher. Some of the companies below don’t require a university degree or a TEFL certificate.

There are 7 TEFL companies that we recommend. With a certificate from one of these companies, you’ll be able to teach English online in no time. Click here to learn about the top, most reputable companies. 

Not only is teaching English online a great job for digital nomads and remote workers, but it’s also an excellent gig for stay-at-home parents and retirees who want to keep busy now that their careers are finished.

Update 2021: See our latest posts about the things you’ll need to know before teaching English online, our list of 15 pros and cons of becoming an online English teacher, and the essential equipment you’ll need in order to teach online.

How Much Does It Pay to Teach English Online? 

In general, teaching English online pays between $10 – $25 / hour. 

While you might not become a millionaire when you teach English online, you will earn enough for a life of travel, or it could be a nice addition to your current income. This is especially true if you’re basing yourself in a country with a low cost of living.

For most teachers, this job is coupled with another form of income (such as travel blogging), or at least supplemented with free accommodation through house sitting or some other sort of exchange.

While you’re teaching online, you could be taking care of a dog and living in a pool villa in the Caribbean! If you haven’t heard of house sitting & pet sitting, click here to learn how to receive free accommodation around the world while earning income from your online teaching jobs.

teach english online from anywhere in the world
Teach English online from the Caribbean – while receiving free accommodation!

Magic Ears is based in China and is high paying at up to $26 USD per hour and you can work from anywhere in the world. This is the best teaching English online job available for Canadians and Americans. What makes Magic Ears standout is that you don’t need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in order to apply — you simply must be actively pursuing a degree.

VIPKID is based in China and is high paying at up to $22/hour and you can work from anywhere in the world making it a top English teaching job online (available for Canadians and Americans).

GoGoKid is based in China and is high paying at $25/hour. but, you must live in Canada or the USA.

EF Education First offers $20 USD / hour, is based in the USA, and is available for Americans and UK citizens. You must be living in the USA or the UK.

Some of the companies pay per minute, while others pay hourly.

In some cases, you must commit to a certain amount of hours each week, while in others, you set the teaching schedule.

There’s also the opportunity to earn bonuses and referral pay. Plus, if a student cancels on you, you will receive compensation. Some companies pay via PayPal or Payoneer, while others do a direct deposit to your bank account.

12 Best Companies to Teach English Online

Wondering what is the best company to teach English online? It depends on your qualifications, but the standouts are Magic Ears, VIPKID, EF Education First, Skimatalk, Preply and GoGoKid.

There are lots of online teaching jobs out there, but if you want to teach English online, you need to make sure you’re going with a reputable company.

Unfortunately for those of you who aren’t from Canada, the United States, or the UK you won’t be able to work with the companies that pay the most. 

Don’t worry though, there are more options listed below.

I’m going to start with the three most reputable and popular companies that hire North Americans to teach English online, and then move on to others.

If you’re from Canada or the United States, there’s no question that working for Magic Ears, or becoming a VIPKID teacher is your best option because you can work remotely and the pay is high. 

If you’re currently living in the USA or the UK, EF Education First or PrePly are great options for you!

Update March 2021: Magic Ears is currently looking to hire as many online English teachers as possible. VIPKID is also looking to hire online ESL teachers, making it a great time to apply. GoGoKid has a confusing payment system and is a bit difficult to go through the interview process. If you’re an American or UK citizen (and are currently residing there), have a look at EF Education First — the longest-running online English teaching company that pays teachers $20/hour (and is currently hiring).

My best piece of advice when applying to teach English online is to submit your application to more than one company on this list. The more places you apply, the greater your odds are of getting hired. 

1. Magic Ears – Teach English Online to Chinese Students

Magic Ears is currently the top choice for ESL teachers from the USA and Canada. Founded in 2017, this company is a great option for English teachers.

The platform connects teachers with Chinese students aged 4 – 12. Lesson planning, marking homework and spekaing with the students’ parents is all dealt with by Magic Ears — you’re simply there to teach!

Classes are 25 mintues long, and you can earn up to $26 per hour.

Pros to Teach English Online With Magic Ears:

  • It’s a high-paying position at up to $26 per hour
  • You can work remotely from anywhere in the world
  • No Bachelor’s Degree is required, but you must be actively working on obtaining your certificate
  • Magic Ears offers a TEFL for just $20 (not transferrable to other online English teaching jobs)
  • Set your own schedule (but open at least 30 “peak hour” slots within your first 30 days)
  • Classes are 4-on-1 which is easier to manage than a larger group
  • Magic Ears creates the lesson plans for you
  • Application and interview procedure is easy 
  • Use their teaching platform — no need to download any apps or programs
  • You don’t need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Salaries are paid via PayPal 
  • There’s an engaging community on Facebook and assistance is available

Cons to Teaching English Online With Magic Ears:

  • Only Canadians and Americans can apply
  • Time change issues if you aren’t living in Asia

learn more & apply to magic ears

2. GoGoKid – Teach English Online to Chinese Students

GoGoKid is a great option for teachers from Canada and the United States. This relatively new company has been around since 2018 but has been quickly making a name for itself.

The platform connects English teachers with Chinese children aged 3-12. You won’t have to worry about creating lesson plans, marking homework, or speaking with the parents, GoGoKid takes care of that and you get to focus on teaching ESL.

Classes are 25 minutes long each, and you can earn up to $7-10 dollars per class. However, there are incentives for an additional $2.50 per class bringing the potential total to $12.50 per class, or $25 USD per hour.

Pros to Teach English Online With GoGoKid:

  • It’s high-paying at up to $12.50 per class ($25 per hour)
  • Work remotely from anywhere in the world
  • Set your own schedule (but open at least 30 “peak hour” slots within your first 30 days)
  • Classes are 1-on-1 which is easier to manage than a larger group
  • GoGoKid creates the lesson plans for you
  • Application and interview procedure is easy 
  • Use their teaching platform — no need to download any apps or programs
  • You don’t need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Salaries are paid via PayPal or wire transfer
  • There’s an engaging community on Facebook and assistance is available
  • GoGoKid offers online academy training and live workshops

Cons to Teaching English Online With GoGoKid:

  • Only Canadians and Americans can apply
  • You must hold a Bachelor’s Degree (in any subject)
  • You need to have a TEFL Certificate (which isn’t a con really, as it will help you be a better teacher)
  • Time change issues if you aren’t living in Asia
  • The interview process is a bit confusing
  • The payment and bonus system is also confusing

LEARN MORE AND APPLY TO GOGOKID

3. VIPKID – Teach English Online to Chinese Students

VIPKID is an excellent option for North Americans who want to teach English online to children in China. This company came onto the scene in 2013 and has been exploding ever since.

The platform connects Chinese students with teachers and they deal with the lesson planning, marking of tests, and speaking with the parents of the children you teach. When I taught English in China, those were things I had to do on my own, which was definitely a downside!

Classes are 25-30 minutes each, with a potential earning of $22 / hour. 

Update March, 2021: As mentioned above, VIPKID is now looking to hire a lot of teachers. If you want to teach English online and are from the USA or Canada, now is a good time to apply — plus, you can work from anywhere in the world.

Pros To Teach English Online With VIPKID:

  • Work remotely from anywhere in the world
  • VIPKID creates the lesson plans for you 
  • VIPKID is a recognized and professional company
  • Set your own schedule to work as many or as little hours as you like
  • It’s high-paying (up to $22 / hour)
  • The students are adorable and well-behaved
  • All classes are 1-on-1
  • Helpful community of teachers and staff of VIPKID
  • You don’t need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Holiday and seasonal incentive (ie: paid extra for working Christmas)
  • $50-$60 referral bonus

Cons To Teach English Online With VIPKID:

  • It’s only for North American teachers
  • You must have a University degree (in any subject)
  • Only teaching children in China (as opposed to different ages, in different countries)
  • Time change issues if you aren’t in Asia
  • If your internet cuts out for more than 3 minutes, you will be charged with cancellation of a class

learn more about vipkid

4. Qkids – Teach English Online to Chinese Students

This program is actually very similar to VIPKID, but there are a few differences.

Pros To Teach English Online With Qkids:

  • You don’t need to have a degree, BUT you must be currently enrolled in University
  • High-paying – up to $20 / hour
  • $100 referral bonus for teachers who refer other teachers
  • All materials and lessons are provided
  • Training is included
  • Flexible schedule
  • You don’t need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese
  • Very engaged community

Cons To Teach English Online With Qkids:

  • You must actually be in Canada or the United States
  • No holiday or seasonal pay incentive (ie: no extra pay if you work during Christmas)
  • It’s only for North American teachers
  • You’ll only teach Chinese children (rather than students from around the world, and of all ages)
  • Time change issues since you aren’t living in Asia
  • You must commit to a minimum of 6 hours per week
  • 4 students maximum per class (could be either a pro or a con depending on what you prefer)

Both VIPKID and Qkids are great companies and they both pay their teachers well, but each has its own style. Maybe apply for both of them (or all of them in this article), so that you have a better chance at being hired, and making more money!

LEARN MORE ABOUT QKIDS

5. Cambly – Tutoring Online to Worldwide Students

Cambly is a much more informal teaching setting than VIPKID, Qkids and GoGoKid, and there are many differences.

The people who you’ll be talking with already speak English at some level and for the most part, they are just wanting to practice their conversational skills.

teach english online with cambly become a tutor
Speak with people from all around the world to help them practice their English

This is a platform where students sign up and pay a fee, and log-in via an app to chat with tutors who are online. Teachers (tutors) can log-in at random, or you can book a shift.

Although there are students from all around the world, most of them hail from Saudi Arabia. As of recently however, there has been a boom in South Korean and Turkish students. Here are the pros & cons of online tutoring with Cambly.

Pros To Teach English Online With Cambly:

  • Work online from anywhere in the world
  • No experience necessary
  • No university degree or TEFL certificate required
  • Set your own hours
  • Meet people of all ages from all over the world
  • Can have repeat students who you really get to know
  • Informal setting where you just chat with students about casual topics
  • Lessons and materials are available with Cambly if needed
  • Easy sign-up
  • No contract needed
  • Safety protocols in place (ie: ban student immediately for inappropriate behavior)

Cons To Teach English Online With Cambly:

  • The pay isn’t very high ($0.17/minute, which is $10.20 / hour)
  • No guaranteed hours
  • It can be tedious to “chit-chat” all of the time
  • There’s a free trial available for new students meaning you may have to deal with a few who aren’t serious about practicing their English
  • There’s the potential for inappropriate students, especially if you are a female tutor (hit that “ban” button!)
  • You will need to be sensitive to the cultures of many countries, and be aware of what is acceptable to talk about / not talk about

*Note: It was suggested by a female Cambly teacher to not use your real identity when signing up as a tutor. I thought this was a great idea because you’ll avoid having people stalking your personal social media profiles. One downside of the internet!

Click here to read our review of Cambly and click here to apply.

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO CAMBLY

6. Italki – Teach English Online (or any other language!)

Italki is completely different from the 3 companies and programs I listed above. With Italki, you set the pay rate that you will be charging your students.

If there’s a language that you are fluent in (English, Japanese, German, Russian, etc.), then you can apply to become a teacher of that language. You will be in charge of the lesson and the platform it is taught on (Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts).

The rates you should charge are based on your previous experience, your credentials, your student feedback, and what others are charging to teach online.

From what I can see, the professional teachers are charging around $25 / hour, while the community tutors are charging around $12 / hour. Basically, if you price yourself out of the market, you won’t have any students.

You must be a native speaker in the language you are choosing to teach.

teach english online by using italki and make money

Pros To Teach English Online With Italki:

  • You are in charge and set your own fee and your own schedule
  • You decide what you teach
  • Classes are 1-on-1
  • Teach English Online and Work from anywhere in the world
  • There are 2 types of profiles – professional teacher or community tutor. You must show certifications to be considered a professional
  • The platform deals with payments and assists with student issues

Cons To Teach English Online With Italki:

  • They take a 15% commission on your completed lessons
  • You need to come up with the lesson plans yourself (check out our guide to online English lesson planning)

LEARN MORE ABOUT ITALKI

7. EnglishHunt – Teach English Online (or by phone) to Korean Students

Update March, 2021: This company isn’t currently hiring, but they will be again in a few months. Please check back soon.

The online teaching jobs available with this company vary, but right now they are looking for native English speakers who are from the USA to teach Korean business students. You’ll be speaking by phone, but via softphone technology downloaded to your computer.

Pros To Teach English Online With EnglishHunt:

  • It pays $2 per 10 minutes
  • You will be teaching adults
  • The curriculum is provided
  • 2 shifts to choose from: Mon-Fri 6am to 9am, or 6pm to midnight Korean time (you don’t need to be available for the entire shift)
  • You can teach English online or by phone and work from anywhere in the world

Cons To Teach English Online With EnglishHunt:

  • For United States residents only (but can be living abroad)
  • Must have an American bank account for salary deposits
  • Their software isn’t compatible with Apple products
  • You must have 48 hours of college credits or a TEFL/ESL certificate

LEARN MORE ABOUT ENGLISH HUNT

8. EF Education First – Teach ESL Online to Chinese Children (top choice for UK and USA online English teachers)

This is a highly recognized English school with classrooms around the world. But, they also offer English teaching jobs online for both citizens of the UK and the USA.

EF Education first is the longest-running online English teaching company (50 years!) and is highly reputable as well.

If you’re living in the USA or the UK, EF Education First Online is your top choice when it comes to online ESL jobs. To read our review of EF Teach Online, click here

Pros Of Online English Teaching Jobs With EF Education First:

  • Easy to sign up
  • You get to work from home
  • Create your own flexible schedule
  • Earn up to $19 / £12.50 an hour (UPDATE 2021: Teachers for EF can now be paid up to $20 / hour)
  • $30 payment for the introduction/training of EF classes (for US teachers)
  • Salaries are deposited into your bank account
  • Teach the same students each class
  • 1 on 1 classes
  • Lesson materials are available for you
  • Work on EF’s user-friendly platform 
  • No props or toys are needed
  • 24/7 troubleshooting support
  • You don’t need to be able to speak Mandarin or Cantonese to teach English online with EF
  • Make a difference in a child’s life

Cons Of Online English Teaching Jobs With EF Education First:

  • You must be from the UK or the USA
  • You must be actually living in the UK or the USA
  • You must hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in any subject
  • You must have a 40-hour minimum TEFL certificate
  • The time change can be a bit difficult if you’re not a morning person, or if you prefer to not work at night

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO EF

9. PalFish – Teach English Online to Chinese Students (a great choice for teachers without a University degree, and non-native speakers)

This is a relatively new company with many teach English online jobs available.

Founded in 2015, this is another company connecting English teachers with Chinese students. But, unlike the 7 companies I listed above, you can be from the United States, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, or Australia.

And actually, Palfish says that even if you’re a non-native English speaker, but you have a very neutral accent, you are welcome to apply as well. 

Another bonus of teaching English online with Palfish? You don’t need a university degree to teach. But, you do need a TEFL Certificate which you can easily get here.

You can sign up to be an “official” teacher, or as a “free talk” teacher.

Pros of Teaching English Online With PalFish

  • You can work from anywhere in the world
  • Choose your own hours
  • Earn upwards of $30/hour (depending on which type of teacher you choose to become)
  • Receive teaching bonuses
  • Can be a non-native English speaker
  • Don’t need a University degree (but you do need a TEFL Certificate)

Cons of Teaching English Online With PalFish

  • You must have a Payoneer account or a bank account in China
  • You need to do your own marketing to attract students
  • The time change is difficult for teachers
  • You must have a TEFL Certificate
  • You aren’t paid for lesson planning, checking homework and evaluating students
  • The app can be glitchy
  • Not much assistance from the company

Read our review article, here.

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO PALFISH

Other Online English Teaching Platforms

Here are 3 more great companies that you can use to teach English online and earn aN income. If you’re looking to get a job teaching English online to adults, then these might be the perfect online English teaching companies for you.

10. Learnlight

Learnlight is a great platform for teaching English online to business professionals from over 100 different countries in a wide variety of sectors. They offer teachers an extensive library of materials to ensure you’re offering the best classes possible to your students.

There are programs for Virtual Groups, One-to-One sessions, Specialized Skills Courses and Level Assessments.

You’ll need a TEFL certificate, 2 years experience, proficiency in the English language, 10Mbps internet connection, a laptop or desktop computer, a headset, and a webcam for this position. 

The great thing about Learnlight is that you can get jobs teaching English online, as well as Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO LEARNLIGHT

11. Skimatalk

This platform specifically focuses on teaching English online and doesn’t offer any other language classes. They connect eager learners with teachers from all around the world.

You’ll only have to teach English online for a maximum of 25-minute classes with Skimatalk and you can choose to teach as many or as few classes as you wish.

For this platform, no previous teaching experience or a Tefl Certificate is required, making it one of the best platforms for new online English teachers to get their foot in the door.

You must be a native speaker from able to speak American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and/or Irish English fluently.

All classes are done over Skype. One downside to this platform is that you’ll have to complete three 25-minute classes at first for free, and then your fee will automatically be set to $8 / 25-minute session.

After you have some classes under your belt, you can choose your own rates, making this a great platform for earning more money.

Click here to read our review.

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO SKIMATALK

12. PrePly (teach English and other topics online)

PrePly is an online English teaching platform that helps students to prepare for the professional world by teaching them how to speak confidently in public and understand the written word. 

The platform helps students connect with tutors and online English teachers who can help them achieve their learning goals. Students come from all over the world and the age ranges from young-learners to the elderly.

With PrePly, you won’t need a TEFL certificate or previous experience, though if you have both it will help you to attract more students.

If the student likes you, they can choose to hire you on as their online English teacher to teach English online to them for 5, 10, 15, or 20 hours (purchased in packages from the website or app).

Your earnings will depend on the hourly rate you set in your profile. PrePly takes 100% fee for your first lesson, and then around 18%-33% after that. The more you teach English online with PrePly, the lower their commission-rate will be.

Preply helps students prepare to speak confidently with professional tutors from around the world. Language learners can easily find a tutor who matches their learning goals and begin taking lessons within minutes.

Students are from every corner of the world and the age of students will vary from young to old. You can also teach other topics such as school and university subjects, arts, hobbies, and other languages.

LEARN MORE & APPLY TO PREPLY

How Much Money Can You Make Teaching English Online?

You can make between $10 – $26 USD per hour as an online English teacher.

From the companies listed in this post, Magic Ears is the highest paying job teaching English online at $26 / hour, while VIPKID is a close second at $22/hour and GoGoKid at $25. They are currently hiring online English teachers from the USA and Canada.

Have a look at this insider’s review of what it’s like working as an online English teacher with GoGoKid, and this VIPKID review from a teacher. Click here to learn about an online teacher’s salary.

If you live in the UK, EF Education first is a good option for you at $20 USD / hour. They are the longest-running online English teaching company in the business and are based out of the USA (most other companies are based in China).

Plus, EF Education First doesn’t have a long, drawn-out interview process like many of the companies on this list.

So, Is Teaching English Online Worth It?

Yes! Teaching English online is worth it. 

You can make good money, and in many cases, you can teach English online from anywhere in the world. On top of earning a good wage, as a teacher, you’ll be able to make connections with your students. It’s rewarding to know that you’re making a difference in their lives.  

I hope that this article inspired you to teach English online, either as a full-time job or as a side hustle. Except for Magic Ears, GoGoKid, VIPKID, Qkids, and EF Education First that require North American and British teachers, the others are fair game for any nationality and in some cases, you don’t even need to be native English speaking.

Becoming an English teacher is an enriching profession. The year I spent teaching English in China is still one of my fondest memories, I had such a wonderful experience with my students.

But, these days you don’t actually have to travel to China (or abroad) to teach, it can all be done virtually! Check out the teaching English online jobs above and get started today.

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