How To Teach A Language Online

How To Teach A Language Online

If you’re able to speak a second language and understand the mechanics of language learning, then teaching languages online could be your ideal career. In this post, we look at how to teach a language online, including getting started, setting your rates, and finding tutoring jobs.

The online tuition market is growing from strength to strength, and languages will always be a perennially popular choice for students. That’s why teaching a language online can be a great career move for tutors. However, with all the online tutoring platforms out there, it can be hard to know where to start, and how to make your lessons effective for all learners. We’ve created this guide to help summarise the most important elements of how to teach a language online.

Choosing A Platform to Teach a Language Online

Your first step towards teaching a language online is to choose which platform you’ll use to conduct your lessons. Some of the most well-known platforms are:

  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts
  • Zoom
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In terms of starting out, Skype will probably be the most familiar to you, and thus the easiest to grasp. It gives you the ability to call and message your students, as well as to share links and documents.

Beyond Skype, Google Hangouts is great, because it allows you to easily link your lessons to Google Drive. With Google Drive, you can create a shared a drive, and folders, for each student, where you can store documents, and any work you may do during your lessons. Just like Skype, it’s very easy to use.

Each platform has its benefits; take some time to research them before you decide which one you’ll use.

Getting Set Up as an Online Language Tutor

Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to make sure that you have the basics of online tuition down. These include:

  1. A good learning environment

Do you have a reliable Internet connection? Is the room where you’ll teach quiet and well-lit?

  1. Good audio and visual quality

Is the sound and picture quality good on your computer/laptop? If not, do you need to invest in extra tech, such as a microphone or webcam?

  1. Screen sharing and document/link sharing

Do you know how to screen share, and share documents and links, on your chosen online platform? This will be key for effective, interactive lessons.

Creating Learning Materials

Once you’ve got your teaching set-up sorted, it’s time to think about the materials and resources you’ll use during your online language lessons. Just as with face-to-face lessons, there are four main skill areas that you’ll want to cover with any language you teach:

  1. Listening
  2. Reading
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing

For each skill area, some materials and resources you could think about creating and using are:

  1. Listening: Videos, podcasts, and music

With online tuition, you have the whole Internet at your fingertips, so make the most of it! Using screen-sharing to watch videos in the target language with your student, or listen to podcasts, then discuss them afterwards can be great to develop listening skills. You can tailor your materials to the topic you are learning at the time – for example, you could watch weather forecasts, listen to news stories about politics, or even listen to music, if you are learning about more cultural aspects of the language.

  1. Reading: News articles, short stories, and blogs

To develop reading skills, you could either choose to send your students articles or short stories in advance, that you can then discuss during your online lessons, or you can simply find and use them during your session. Taking turns to listen to your student read, and then have them listen to you, is useful to simultaneously develop their listening and reading skills. By including a variety of reading materials, such as blogs and news articles, will help to keep lessons engaging and interesting.

  1. Speaking: Discussion topics and presentations

Many of the resources mentioned above will spark discussion in the target language, and thus create an easy way to incorporate speaking into your online lessons. You could also, depending on the student’s workload, ask them to prepare a short presentation based on the topic area you are focusing on, to practice their skills. They could even create a PowerPoint presentation, and screen-share videos with you to make it more interactive.

  1. Writing

Writing can be a trickier skill to develop through online lessons, but it is by no means impossible. Using worksheets that you can send to your student beforehand, or share through your Google Drive, then screen-share together can be a great way of incorporating writing into your lessons. You can also use past papers to work on areas such as essay planning and grammar.

Other resources you could think about incorporating into your language lessons are games such as vocabulary flashcards, simpler games such as Hangman that you could do with your student using a Google Drawings document, or Word Association in the target language. There’s lots of inspiration online, so take some time to research games that you feel will best benefit your students.

Set Your Online Language Tuition Rates

With your online teaching set-up finalised, you can start to think about how much you’ll charge for your online language lessons.

If you have never tutored before, or are planning to tutor exclusively online, you may want to have a Google search of what online tutors in your subject area, and with similar levels of experience, are charging for online lessons.

If you are already tutoring, and want to now include online lessons in your repertoire, it’s generally expected that online lessons will be cheaper than in-person tuition. For example if a tutor charges £35 per hour for face-to-face lessons, online lessons may cost around £25 per hour.

There is, however, no industry standard across subjects and levels for online tuition costs, so taking time to do some research will help you decide upon your rates. Don’t set rates too low, but do remember that by teaching online you are not incurring potential costs, such as those for travel.

Finally, you’ll need to consider how you’ll receive payment for your online lessons. You can choose to do this through bank transfer, or through PayPal, and you should make sure that you use invoices and receipts to keep track of payments safely received.

How to Find Online Language Tutoring Jobs

Marketing your services as an online language tutor can be one of the most challenging parts of tutoring. You might want to have a read of our post, 7 Steps to Effectively Market Your Tutoring Business Online, which will give you useful tips to spread awareness of your online business.

Ideally, once you’ve established your online tuition, students will come to you, but until then, you might want to keep an eye on tutoring jobs boards like the one we have at The Tutor Website. Finally, in order to maximise your chances of being found in your local area through online searches, you should think about signing up to our private tutor directory.

For more advice on how to teach English online, check out this video from online French tutor Ophelia Vert:

At The Tutor Website, we provide advertising to both in-person and online/Skype tutors through our tutor directory – so feel free to sign up and create your profile.

Related posts:

How to Become a Language Tutor

How to Become an Online Tutor

Skype Tutoring: How to Teach Online with Skype

How to Teach English Online


Natasha Saednejad

Natasha Saednejad is a French, Spanish, and ESL tutor in Surrey. A graduate of French & Hispanic Studies from King's College London, Natasha runs her own tutoring company in Surrey, NMS Tuition.

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  • teaching a language online
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