Online teaching positions are normally flexible short-term opportunities with around 15-20 hours of teaching a week. Teaching online means you have the flexibility to teach wherever you are in the world – from the comfort of home or in an exotic faraway land! It’s also a lot easier to set your own schedule and fit your teaching hours around your lifestyle. Online teaching roles are aimed mainly at teaching young learners via an online interactive learning platform. But there are opportunities to tutor adults, too.
How to Use Social Media to Your Advantage as a TEFL Teacher in 2023
You may think social media is something you should discourage in the classroom. It could be seen as a sign that students are not paying attention to you. Of course, you would be correct if they were messaging friends and playing games on social media. But there are many constructive ways to use social media to your advantage as a TEFL teacher in 2023. Both to build your business and as a classroom tool, so let’s look.
Social Media as a Marketing Tool
As a qualified TEFL teacher, the biggest challenge is often finding work abroad. Either way, there will always be competition for your job, so marketing yourself is essential in finding work. Most leading platforms have a role to play so that you can use any of them. But those considered the most useful are Instagram and Facebook.
Instagram started as a picture-sharing platform. But over the years has evolved, and now short-form videos or reels are the most popular way to share content. The content, no matter what form you choose, should be hash-tagged to enhance visibility. You should also follow accounts that are related to TEFL. You will always find more opportunities when you are part of a community.
The first thing to do with Facebook is set up a business page for your TEFL work. This means you keep your account and work profile completely separate. On the page, you can add valuable information, things like how to contact you and the type of work you are looking for. It also gives potential employers or students easy access to contact you. You need a personal Facebook account to create a page, and you will need to use Messenger to reply to people. As part of the page, you can also set up a group area which enables people to interact more easily. Finally, you should join other groups that work in the TEFL industry. Facebook has recently made things better. You can now join these groups from your business page rather than using your account, which helps with branding and consistency.
Social Media as a Classroom Tool
Using social media as a classroom tool is also a positive tip that has been widely utilised by TEFL teachers working abroad and online. It enables you to communicate with students on platforms that they use socially anyway. You can open dialogue with future students and use it as a medium for your current students to contact you if they have any questions or concerns. It can also be a teaching aid if you produce material for channels like YouTube and can aid homework assignments while raising your profile as a first-rate teacher. The best social media platforms for use as classroom tools are YouTube and TikTok.
YouTube in the Classroom
YouTube is a long-form video-sharing platform, although you can also share much shorter offerings. First, you need to create your YouTube channel, and then you are free to add video content which in theory can be up to 12 hours in length, but realistically we think your students would lose interest fairly quickly. If you have a topic that will take a long time to explain on a video, consider breaking into down into shorter bitesize chapters, as students are more likely to engage when you do this. The videos are in the public domain, so while you may make them primarily to help your students understand a topic better, they could be found by others looking for TEFL information which could widen your profile and help you get your name known in teaching circles.
Before making videos, look at the platform and search for others demonstrating how to teach English. You will find a range of content, some of which you will be inspired by and some of which will make you cringe and perfectly demonstrate how NOT to create content. This will help ensure that your videos are engaging, fun, and appealing to your students.
TikTok in the Classroom
The reason we have included TikTok on the list is that younger people often choose this as their platform of choice. It is a short-form video creation platform, making it perfect for sharing things like snippets of conversation. Engaging with young people in a way they understand is perfect, but just be sure to keep any personal accounts separate from your TEFL account.
How to Add Content
Being on the platforms is not enough; you must regularly publish fresh content. This can seem daunting, so here are some ideas to get you started.
Go on the days of learning through a textbook only. English is often taught online, but even if you are abroad teaching English, there are still plenty of opportunities to use social media to create English tips and mini-lessons. They can be short and demonstrate a single word in both English and the language of the country you teach. It’s surprising what grabs the imagination of a social media audience. You can suddenly find yourself racking several thousand followers from something as simple as a single-word translation video. Of course, this also works with vocabulary and grammar, not just pronunciation. You can also highlight idioms and some of the strange words used in the English language. You can be as creative as you like, as people love to be entertained.
Memes and Funny Posts
The advantage of having a social media account rather than being just an online teacher is that you can afford to be funny and have some jokes. Some of the most amusing memes feature well-loved characters from cartoons or movies that are trending and point out the apparent satire in everyday situations. Plenty of memes are available that focus on the English language to ensure that you are not infringing copyright by sharing things or crediting the source to cover yourself.
Vlog Your Life
Blogging has long been a popular way to share an adventure with friends and family, especially if you live and work in another country. Vlogging is the same principle, but instead of writing your experiences in diary form, you record them on video. Many people have already documented their TEFL journeys, but there’s always space for more, and if there’s one thing people love watching, it’s real life. Real-life programs on television channels beat fiction, hands down, and if you can create an interesting Vlog, you will soon gain a broad audience.
If you are considering making a Vlog, YouTube is your best platform. You can talk about your experience as an English teacher abroad or present short, bite-sized lessons that reflect what you learned that day. It is perfect for people thinking about getting into TEFL work, as they will be keen to understand what life is like when you head off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Share Your Skills
On any social media platform where you can share images, it is also worthwhile showcasing your qualifications. It has become an increasing trend for digital badges. But if you cannot get your stuff in digital form, simply sharing your certificate is the perfect way to let prospective students or employers understand the learning journey. You have been on to make you a suitable teacher.
Add a Poll or Survey
Adding a survey or poll to your social media is a great way to boost engagement. This is perfect for Facebook and Instagram stories and allows you to interact with your students. Perhaps you could see what they want to learn or ask them how they most enjoy learning. Not only will it help you become a better teacher, but you can share their responses, helping set you up as an authority in English teaching as a foreign language. You could also create a quiz using the poll options. This might be perfect for an end-of-term event or to recap their knowledge before you change the topic.
Hold a giveaway
Another essential feature of any social media account is finding creative ways to expand your audience. Holding a giveaway is a great way to increase your reach. If you are teaching English online, perhaps you could consider offering a discount voucher to the winner and enter anyone using the social media platform or share, like the page, and tag a friend. This increases your visibility and means that many more people will likely see your account and follow you. After that, it’s up to you to keep your content engaging so that they don’t leave and potentially bring even more people to your site.
Go Live and Create an Event
Offering the chance to join a live stream could be a great way to meet new potential students. It could raise your profile on social media platforms. You can live stream on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. For example, you could offer a short revision session which gives people a chance to practice English skills and also allows you to showcase how you teach. Many people have successfully run speaking sessions using the live features on social media platforms, so if you are confident and gregarious in front of the camera, this could be an excellent way to utilise social media to impact your classroom positively.
Participate in Facebook Groups and Other Forums
While this isn’t strictly creating content for yourself, it’s always worth joining some of the online groups and forums available on social media platforms for people with similar interests. You will find a range of TEFL-specific groups, but you may also find that other language, learning or travel groups are great places to share ideas and meet new people. You can demonstrate your skills by answering posted questions or asking questions to help you learn from other, more experienced English teachers. It is a great way to expand your network and find new connections.
How Much Does Using Social Media Cost?
That is the best bit of using social media! It does not need to cost any money at all. Currently, all social media platforms are free to sign up for. So even if you are a business, you can still take advantage of this free advertising stream and see a range of analytic tools that help you understand how many people are coming to your page and what sort of posts are best received.
Creating posts is not particularly difficult, and even if you are making videos, you need to ensure that the camera you are using is fixed on a tripod so it doesn’t shake. Plenty of people use their mobile phone cameras. There are plenty of apps available, like Canva, where you can create high-end, looking graphics for very little money, if not free.
And there are lots of tools to help you edit and polish anything you want to put up. This is known as creating organic content, as it grows around you from the people who view your site. There are ways of paying to run advertising on social media. You can do this for very little money, especially on sites like Facebook. It can certainly help increase your reach in the early days. There are tools available in all areas when it comes to paid advertising. So that you can set a budget, and it will not be exceeded, keeping it within what you can afford.
Most online TEFL companies will ask for a minimum of 120 hours of TEFL training and teaching practice. Some online companies may ask their teachers to also have a bachelor’s degree. This is particularly true for Chinese companies, as it’s a government regulation (no matter where you are living).
You will more than likely need high-speed internet, a computer with an HD webcam and a headset if you want to teach online. If you have the choice of a video calling platform for your online lessons, Zoom is a good choice. It gives you a clear view of your students. You can also share your screen and create separate rooms for group work in lessons.
If you have no experience in teaching online, a good idea is to get some teaching practice in as employers may ask for “experience” hours, which are unpaid. You can alternatively complete our 10 Hour Virtual TEFL Course, which has a section focused on teaching English online.
You can add our 30 Hour Teaching English Online Course to any primary course to boost your knowledge and skills. The teaching English online course is a huge benefit because it prepares you to enter the online tutoring world – and looks great on a CV, too!
Then there’s our Professional Online Expert Course. This is a specialised online teacher qualification that gives you the skillset and the confidence to hit the ground running. This package includes the 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course, 30 Hour Teaching English Online and the 30 Hour Teaching Young Learners to give you an edge in a competitive market.