How to become an ESL Teacher |6 easy steps

*DISCLAIMER* Some links may result from a small commission if you click and sign up using my link. No purchase required.

I love teaching English online! I can do it right from my phone/computer from ANYWHERE in the world. Yes, it gets challenging sometimes, but all the pros are way better than those little cons. I have not opened my closet in months, and I can take time off when I need to without being told there isn’t enough time for me or that I needed to request it 6 months ago.

I quit my job because of health and didn’t know where to go from there. I was online and came across a post about a company (I will mention it later), and I said “what the heck? Why not?” I do it almost every day and I want to give you the same opportunity. I will not say that you’ll make tons of money because the reality of it is that it depends on you (you can make $$), but if you’re looking for something that will allow you to work on your own time, from anywhere, and make money then keep reading below.

Be a NATIVE English speaker and 18+ years old

I can’t stress this enough. English must be your first language because they want it taught so the children/adults can have conversations with people who are not English teachers. Much like how you’d talk to friends and family. Sometimes there is not a curriculum in place, and you may do what is called “free talk”, which is not a lesson, but basic conversation. I have a free talk student whose parents prefer a curriculum, but I must put it together myself (I will talk about where I go to get my lessons, don’t worry). There will be adults who are just practicing because they are going to an English-speaking country and want to ask questions or see where their skills are. You will have to provide proof of nationality, such as a passport or a birth certificate with a driver’s license.

Get a 120-hour TEFL or TESOL certificate

If you are like me, you’re thinking “a what?” A TEFL is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Or a TESOL, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. I have the TEFL, and there is no difference between the two because they mean the same thing. You will need this as a requirement for any of the companies you’d like to teach English will ask for it.  You will have read and answer questions to get the certificate sent to you via email. Make sure your email is active and you can use it. You will need to provide the certificate to the company for proof.

You can go through the International Open Academy to get your certificate. You will have to pay for it. Everyone used Groupon (as did I) to get a lower amount. Please do NOT buy it through the International Open Academy website!!

Here is the link: Groupon for IOA certificate

It may say the TESOL, and that is perfectly fine.

This is what the certificate will look like: 

IOA TEFL Certificate


Do you need a bachelor’s degree?

Great question……Maybe. Some companies require you to have a bachelor’s degree and some do not. I will provide a list of a few companies and their requirements below. I do know that the requirements are changing for the Chinese government, so companies who did not require one may require one. Also, the degree can be in anything.


Do you need experience teaching?

Another great question! You need SOME sort of teaching experience. You can think back to when you were in school and you had to present your 9th-grade science project, well honey that can be considered teaching. If you had to give some sort of directions or oversee anyone, then you have teaching experience. For example, I have never taught a class, but I used to train new employees. So, that does count as teaching because I had to provide instructions and show how something needed to be done.



Wow! I can’t believe that it is that time already! What I provided in steps 1-4 are things that you can find anywhere, but this is the most important part.

·         Have a colorful background. Go to the dollar store and look in their learning section and spend at least $3. Grab some paper, markers, and a stuffed animal. These are 3 things that will help you get started. You’ll want to have all these things BEFORE you apply. You will use the paper and markers to make flashcards of a cat, dog, monkey, fish, and any other animals you can think of. You can also make flashcards of numbers 1-10.

Image of flashcards that I made

Picture of flashcards (B)

·         Take pictures in front of your background, use kid-friendly filters from FB messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat. Take at least 5 non- filter pictures. Be sure you have great lighting and SMILE.

Picture with a Filter

·        Set up a Payoneer account and PayPal account. For some companies, you will get paid through Payoneer. Payoneer allows you to get paid by international clients. You can withdraw the funds to your bank account or once you get your first deposit you can apply for their Mastercard (which I use). PayPal is similar, and you can apply for their Mastercard card too.

**Here is my link for Payoneer:  My Payoneer link

**if you use this link, we will both get an extra $25 😊

Here is the PayPal link: Link for PayPal


Prepare for your interview

Awesome! Way to go! You have made it this far and you got an email saying it’s time for your interview. Schedule your interview for a couple of days. This will allow yourself to familiar with any policies and the app or site you’re using. Some may have an FAQ section or have a section you can go through that may tell you how to pass your interview. Be energetic and use TPR. TPR means, Total Physical Response, and this means that you are using physical gestures to explain the words. For example, when you want to teach the word mouth, you will point to your mouth.

Picture (A) using TPR for the word 'mouth' Picture (B) using TPR for the word 'mouth'

I recorded a short video of an example of using TPR: 


Also, you will want to have a colorful background. You can go to the dollar store or make something with what you already have at home. I went to Dollar Tree and spent about $5 for my background when I first started. Here is what my background looks like: 

  Class background image

You must keep in mind that you’ll more than likely be teaching kids 5 years and older who may or may not know English words. You’ll want to correct pronunciations, keep it fun and engaging.


Let’s summarize the 6 steps of becoming an ESL Teacher online:

1. Be a native English speaker and 18+ years old.

2. Get a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

3. You may or may not need a bachelor’s degree. Remember it depends on the company you are applying for.

4. You need some sort of teaching experience, but that may include tutoring another classmate or training a co-worker.

5. Apply! Have a colorful background with a few props (stuffed animals and/or flashcards), take some friendly pictures and set up your PayPal and/or Payoneer account.

Lastly….6, prepare for the interview.  Schedule your interview for a couple of days out. Use that time to get familiar with the app or site you will be working on. Practice in the mirror to watch your facial expressions and if you’re able to go through the material you will be using. Always remember to be energetic and have fun.  


All this can be done within a week and you’ll be teaching before you know it. Some things that I did not mention within the steps are: You are in control of the money you make. You will have to be available during 6p-9pBJT (I am in EST time, so that is +12 hours and +13 hours with Daylight savings. It is best to be available 1 hour before and 1 hour after. It is okay to mess with your schedule in the first few weeks but keep it as open as possible in the beginning. You’ll make the most money then and set up a great path for the future. A fantastic resource for getting things like worksheets or to brush up on skills is Pinterest. I was already a user prior, but now I have an ESL Board (My ESL Pinterest Board). Feel free to check it out! I work for Palfish and would love to guide you on becoming a Palfish Teacher. If you’re interested, I can provide help on getting your account set up and one-on-one practice to pass your interview.

*Here is my link to Palfish, and you will have to sign up on your device you plan to teach on (iPad, iPhone, or Android device.) Also, I will get a small commission if you use this link. 

*My invitation code is 02160184; If you use my link please comment below, so I can add you to a group chat. We can meet on Zoom, Skype, or talk on Instagram if you have questions.






Palfish up to $22/hour



*No degree required*

Vipkid up to $22/hour


*Need a bachelor’s degree*

DaDa up to $25/hour

https://www.dadaabc.com/teacher/landing  *Need bachelor’s degree*

Qkids up to $20/hour


*need bachelor’s degree or enrolled in a university program*

iTutorGroup up to $24/hour

http://www.itutorgroup.com/ *Need bachelor’s degree*

GoGo kid up to $25/hour

https://teacher.gogokid.com/ *Need bachelor’s degree*

Cambly up to $10/hour

https://www.cambly.com/en/tutors?lang=en *No degree required*

I know this is the lowest pay, but it pays weekly.


Thank you for your time today and to be sure you never miss out don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list. Please follow all social media and don’t forget to comment below. If you tried these steps tell me about your experience? Where did you apply? Did you get it, and do you have a referral link? I’d love to hear back from everyone!! 


Post Comments(3)

Aisha_H10 months, 1 week ago

Thank you so much Msbene!! Please let me know if you have any questions. 😊

msbene10 months, 3 weeks ago

Nice article!

Aisha_H11 months, 2 weeks ago

Hello everyone! If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful please feel free to comment. I want to hear back from you.

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