We’re living in a strange new world and all the norms we knew andused to have been stripped away quite harshly. And this is very keenly felt in the classroom. Dramatically reduced numbers of students, due to illness or shielding or isolating have decimated some schools. The permitted classes must follow ‘social rules’ by keeping pupils apart and wearing masks when moving around the school. Books are no longer given out, or homework marked by hand. 

Where possible, everything has been shifted online, so it’s available remotely on the individual student’s tablet and submitted remotely, so there is no need for any exchange of physical objects. So, from that perspective, it’s almost a relief to some English language teachers that they have to switch to online teaching because that’s where everything is headed, and they will get the best pupil experience.

The question is – do you join an established online school or just go freelance? As you would expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but there are certain things to consider and weigh carefully to ensure that your choice is right for you.


Teaching in a virtual school is much the same as teaching in a brick-and-mortar school. There will be a Curriculum Development Head or department and a structured timetable, and you might have all the lessons provided for you or have to come up with the content yourself. So, your sole responsibility is to deliver content and prep for the lesson. That’s it. You could even have all of the courses, curriculum, and lessons planned if that’s what you’re looking for. Less responsibility – but less independence in the role. The virtual school will keep you firmly in your position, and there won’t be much chance of flexibility today.

You’ll obviously have an interview and must ask all the right questions there. Scope out what they expect of you and your exact duties. Ask about the timetable and pupil orientation. Ask about holidays and sick leave entitlement. It is anything you would ask about if the interview was for a real classroom job. You have options, so check out genuine reviews to see how the company performs. Also, check that they have a decent teaching platform.


Yes, yes, we all know about the benefits of teaching remotely in your own home; the ultimate flexibility, you do what you want when you want, you can structure your timetable around the gym, hair appointments, socializing, and you’re free to take on overseas students in different time zones which allows for much more earning potential. You don’t have the cost of or the inconvenience of your commute. No dashing out of bed ten minutes late, throwing on your clothes, grabbing your stuff, and only remembering halfway to school that you’ve left your phone at home. Most of your stress will probably just evaporate.

But, aside from having the ultimate flexibility, certain advantages are specific to your teaching role. You are free to organize your own timetable, and you can try out different ideas and new techniques that you find interesting without having to run them past anyone for authorization.

You do, however, need a decent teaching platform. In a virtual school, one will be provided for you, so you can presume that it’s fit for purpose, but if you’re organizing one yourself, you must be careful that it’s suitable. It needs to encourage student interaction, for example, and a function for providing rewards for the pupils. If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to be able to physically show rewards, especially for younger children. Other valuable features include the share screen option and a touchscreen for writing on and highlighting things to students. If you’re with a school, they’ll have that covered; if not, research your options. As with everything necessary, thoroughly comb review sites and relevant forums and read around the subject so you can eventually choose one that suits your teaching style and does everything you need to. One of the most used free platforms is Skype, which works perfectly for some. But you also have the option to go for a paying platform if that suits you better.

Ultimately, you’re looking for something that works interactively so you can give immediate feedback to your pupil after each lesson. It should provide you the ability to have a clear and focused opportunity to engage with your students. Having such a quick turnaround also means that you can easily keep a close eye on your student’s progress, which makes life easier for everyone.

In conclusion.

If you want a safe, permanent job guaranteed to bring money in reliably every month or so, then a virtual school is the right choice. You’ll have the school itself to look after you and give you everything you need to be a great teacher.

But if you’re comfortable with going for the more maverick style, then branching out on your own might be the right way to go for you. You won’t have the support network of a school or the luxury of having some of the groundwork done for you. Still, it does mean that you’re free to travel the world if you want to or stay in your bedroom – all you need is a reliable internet connection and electricity source, and you’re good to go!