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Guide to Teaching English on Skype

Interested in teaching English from home on Skype. I've been teaching English at home for almost a year, so I wrote this great helpful guide for anyone who is considering teaching English at home on their computer.

Internet Connection

In order to teach online you will need a fast and stable Internet connection. It's impossible for the students to get a clear video and understand you well if your Internet is too slow, or frequents cuts out. A headset and microphone is also a great investment. Skype often lags, so the students can often here their own voice echo if you do not use headphones.

Next you will need to download Skype. You can grab the latest version from their website here. Most online English companies may create a Skype account for you that they expect you to use for all their lessons, but it's best not to use your own person Skype account. You will inevitably be adding large numbers of students for regular and trail lessons and it's easy to get them mixed up with your friends and family. These days it's also very easy to end large group messages on Skype, and many students aren't happy about receiving messages that were intended only for your friends. Also be aware of what you write as your Skype status. "Had a crap day, I hate my job" may affect your image as a serious teacher.

Working space

Next you need a A background with not distractions or people walking back and forth. Students will also complain if there is too much background noise or your family members interrupt the lesson. A quiet room and a blank wall is probably your ideal background. It's also a great idea to practice teaching in front of your computer and watch yourself via the webcam. That way you can get a great idea about what the students can and cannot see via on their screen.

Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is a great way to show your students, photos, videos, and flashcards. (See how to use screen sharing here) Using a whiteboard or paper flashcards is a great way to show materials to your students, but they can be difficult to see or read through a camera on the screen. Colors may also appear different depending on your lighting. PowerPoint is a great tool you can use to make slideshows and flashcards to show to your students and you can even send them the copies as PDF files at the end of class to help them review. If you don't have power point you can use Google's free version called Google Slides. (You can use it here) It's great because you can store your files online and access them from any computer. Here is an example of some color flashcards that I made myself using Google Slides.

Kids Classes

These days online kids classes have also become quite popular. This can be quite challenging because it can be difficult to explain things to children and interact with them via a computer screen. In most cases the parents will be in the room so their behaviour is usually not a problem, but a lot of children have problems sitting still. Songs and dance are great for keeping their attention and they are quite easy to demonstrate on the screen. Showing them Powerpoint flashcards and videos via screen sharing is also great. Here are some great games that you can also adapt for online teaching. Click on the game to find out more about how to play it.

Here are some songs which are also great for Skype lessons. You can also show them the video via Skype screen sharing. Find out more about how to teach songs here.

Be prepared for bad Internet connections

Even if you have the best Internet connection and computer in the world it doesn't mean that your students will too. Always have a back up plan in case of technical issues. Your great slideshows and videos may suddenly stop working on a students computer and you will have to think of some new material.

Great Websites to use when teaching online.

Great for teaching children phonics and how to read. They have plenty of interactive and simple stories for young learners.

Oxford Owl 
A great collection of online story books which you can read with your students, but you will need to sign up to use this site.

Sentence Monkey  
Games for teaching grammar and reading to kids and beginners.

Breaking News English
News for adults in easy English. This website has lots of interesting writing activities that you can use along with the article, such as fill in the blanks. The articles are also in levels, and there’s lots of online spelling actives that you can even use to test your students on a computer. They also have speed reading.

Great Companies that you can apply to 

Most companies usually prefer applicants with some teaching experience or ESL or education qualifications. You will often be asked to do a demo lesson during the interview (sometimes without being told) so it's best to practice before any interviews. Most interviews are usually done via Skype.

A Japanese company that offers kids lessons as well as adults. Pays 600 yen for every 25 minute lesson which is not bad for a Skype company. The online booking system is also very flexible and easy to use. Apply here.  

Cafe Talk
This site seems to offer a little more freedom and you are free to decide your own lessons, time and costs, and then wait for a student to pick your lesson. The lessons are paid for in points that the students purchase from the site, so you don’t need to worry about credit cards or bank transfers. The site pays you via Paypal once a month. The only disadvantage is that you need to promote yourself and it may take a while to get regular students. Apply here