We’re living in a strange new world at the moment and all the norms that we knew, and were used 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 classes that are permitted are required to follow ‘social rules’ by keeping pupils well 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 no need for any exchange of physical objects at all. 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 that’s where 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 certain things to think about and weigh up carefully to make sure that your choice is the right one for you.


Teaching in a virtual school is much the same as teaching in an actual brick and mortar school. There will be a Curriculum Development Head, or department, a structured timetable and you might have all the lessons provided for you or you might 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 lesson planned if that’s what you’re looking for. Less responsibility – but less independence in the role. The virtual school will very much keep you firmly in your position and there won’t be much chance of flexibility day today.

You’ll obviously have an interview and it’s important that you 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. Basically, anything that you would ask about if the interview was for a real classroom job. You have options, make sure that you check out genuine reviews to see how the company performs generally. 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, socialising and you’re free to take on overseas students in different time zones which allows for much more earning potential. You don’t have either 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, there are also certain advantages that are specific to your teaching role. You are free to organise your own timetable, you can try out different ideas and new techniques that you find interesting without having to run them past anyone for authorisation.

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 organising one yourself then you need to 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 features that are useful include having the share screen option and a touchscreen is useful for writing on and highlighting things to students. If you’re with a school then they’ll have that covered, if not then research your options. As with everything important, thoroughly comb review sites, relevant forums, read around the subject so you can eventually choose one that definitely suits your teaching style and does everything you need to. One of the most used, free platforms is Skype and for some that works perfectly. 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 give you the ability to have a clear and focused opportunity to engage with your student. 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 that is guaranteed to bring money in reliably every month or so, then a virtual school is probably 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, but 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!