Teaching English Online vs Abroad

For Shakespeare, it was “To be or not to be? That is the question.” For all of us in the TEFL world, the question is always “Do I teach online or abroad?”. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of teaching English online vs teaching English abroad and we’ll let you decide what the best choice is! Let us know what you think and we’ll suggest the right course package for you. 

Teaching English Online 

Whether you are looking to earn extra cash, change your career, or have always wanted to teach English but don’t have any jobs available locally, teaching ESL online is the number one route for thousands of teachers around the world! 

man teaching english online

Most people will go down the employee route first, where you’ll get a standard rate per hour. This means that the online company will help build your student database. You’ll need this when starting out as it’s hard to get off your feet without reviews or experience. You can also Freelance on online platforms, meaning you’ll be able to charge what you want and pay the company a percentage for marketing. This will be your next step when you are ready, as you won’t be guaranteed students this way, but will earn more per student. The final move for some is to go completely independent. Most will not go this far, but once you do, you’ll get 100% profits.


    • Flexibility: Work when you want. The great thing about online teaching is that you set your own schedule and open yourself to as many hours as you want! Be sure to look at your target audience and peak times for learning to make sure you get the students booked in. 
  • Virtual Office: Teaching English online means that you can work anywhere you like! We’ve all gotten used to working from home during the pandemic and that doesn’t need to stop. Be sure to have a nice plain background when giving your lessons. You can also travel the world to your heart’s content and not be tied down to any 1 area! 
  • Small Class Sizes: Teaching online, as a majority, is one-to-one teaching or perhaps a group of up to 5 students. This makes the classroom a lot more manageable and you’ll be able to get a seriously interactive class from it. 
  • Short Classes: Due to sitting in front of the screen, online classes are normally shorter than classroom times, with some only being 20-30 minutes. You definitely won’t run out of stuff to do and there’ll be no improvising during class time. 


  • Instability: With the exception of working as an employee, you are not guaranteed the same income each week or month. You may get cancellations from time to time, and until you have a nice pattern of money coming in, shouldn’t rely on a certain amount. 
  • Working Alone: Like in any industry, when you work online, it can get lonely at times. Be sure to join teaching online groups and make a routine for yourself to away from the laptop. 
  • Set-up Cost: For online work, you’ll need to have stable WiFi, a laptop with a camera and mic, and perhaps some Realia on hand for your classes. If you have these already, you’re sorted! 

esl teacher essentials

Teaching English Abroad

Teaching English abroad is a route that a lot of teachers choose. You may be looking for a short stint during your summer holidays as a teacher, you may be looking to change your career, or you might simply be looking to get your passport to travel without saving so much. Whatever the reason may be, teaching English abroad is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 


  • In Demand: The great thing about TEFL is that nearly every country in the world will have an open vacancy right now. TEFL teachers are extremely high in demand. There are more and more people every day wanting to learn English. 
  • Your Passport: We like to say that your TEFL certificate is your passport to the world. What we mean by that is teachers are so in demand that once you are a qualified teacher, employers worldwide will help you to get to your new destination.
  • Guaranteed Income: TEFL teachers abroad sign teaching contracts. This means you can be assured each month that you will get paid. You’ll have a minimum amount of hours in your contract and some are even simply salaries. If you get offered a job and they don’t offer you something along these lines, then you aren’t looking hard enough. 
  • Worldly Experience: The absolute top pro that we will talk about is the amazing experience you’ll have and the unforgettable memories you’ll make. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

woman living abroad


  • Preparation: Anyone who has lived abroad will know that there are always little things you’ll need to do that you didn’t have on your list before leaving. The preparation can be irritating, and even stressful at times. Don’t give up! It is worth it! If you choose to go with an internship, this will become a whole lot easier. 
  • Home Sickness: Moving abroad has its ups and downs. Homesickness is tough! You are experiencing another culture and are away from your family. Don’t forget to make friends along the way! 

So? What choice do you want to make? which do you think is better? Teaching English online or abroad? What will you do? The world is your oyster!

Absolutely! Teaching English abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’ll make amazing memories and meet a lot of new like-minded people. You’ll grow as a person and your outlook on life will change completely. The world is so big, yet so accessible – why not explore it? Teaching English is an unforgettable occupation you can choose. You will get so much appreciation from all of your students. Learning English as a foreign language is normally an optional school choice or in a private setting. This means your class wants to be there. It takes all the pros of teaching and removes the cons of teaching in a private setting when students HAVE to be there. Your students want to learn as much as you want to see the world.

If you’ve never worked online before and this is your first time teaching, it can be hard to get yourself used to the flow of things. Teaching online is also completely different from teaching in a classroom, so a lot of teachers may find the transition a little difficult. You have to learn how to engage your students without the energy of a school (and be a little tech-savvy in case of any Zoom/WiFi issues). If you’re nervous about teaching English online, we suggest taking our specialist course that will cover amazing methodologies to use!

There are lots of different routes to take once you start planning to teach English abroad! The path you take is ultimately up to yourself and your preferences. A couple of popular ways include joining an internship and securing a job before you go. Whichever route you take, we would suggest a couple of preparation tips: Secure your work permit. You don’t want to be in a sketchy position once you arrive and your travel visa runs out. Try and secure a placement or job before you go. Unless you have family or friends overseas that can support you, we do suggest getting a contract before leaving. This means you won’t put yourself under any stress and can enjoy your new home! Make connections before you leave; whether that’s through an internship program, Social Media Group, or traveling with a friend, it’s always nicer to have a second opinion on your choices.

Yes, you most certainly can. Like any industry, as you enter the online TEFL world, you’ll be at an entry-level position, which isn’t much, to be honest! However, unlike most industries, in this one, you can work part-time and still keep your 9-5 throughout the transition period. Work your way up, collect reviews and gain more students, and teach specialized classes. Once you reach this point, you can definitely make a living by teaching English online! And there are many bloggers, influencers, and TEFL institute alumni to prove it.

The great thing about teaching English online is that you can do it from anywhere in the world! You are a virtual teacher with no classroom location holding you back. Most online companies that you may work for in the future are global companies. Just make sure to set up in a permanent address (perhaps a parent’s house) before jetting off on your new adventure.

The highest-paid TEFL teachers work and reside in the UAE, with South East Asian countries following down the line. Some southeast Asian countries will compare to western wages, but once you take the cost of living into account, you’ll definitely come out with more at the end of the month! European countries also pay well, especially for the business English and exam preparation sectors. These are really popular jobs in Europe due to the continental trading in the EU and trading with the US. However, the cost of living is higher than it is in Asia once you exchange currencies. You can definitely still live a good life and save a little on the side though!

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