Work remotely

Disadvantages of teaching English online

Joanna Horanin

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Teaching English online has many advantages. You can live anywhere you want, travel and earn money at the same time. Thanks to it I’ve managed to live in Thailand, Vietnam and Poland and soon I’m going to be travelling again.

So far I’ve only told you about the good side of online teaching, but what about disadvantages? I think there are only a few of them, but it’s worth considering them before you start teaching English online.

This is not a typical remote job

If you would like to teach online you need to realise that this is not a normal remote job and it won’t give you the same opportunities as other digital nomads have. Designers or web developers can work in coffee shops, or by a pool. If the internet is not good enough they can always go to a co-working space and work there a couple of hours. This also helps them to make friends.

What about online teachers?

Forget about working in coffee shops, or by the pool. These places are too crowded and too noisy. You can use a private room at a co-working space, but that means paying more money. You can never work in the same room as other people as you need peace and quiet and you don’t want to disturb others.

You can live the nomad lifestyle, but you cannot work in the same conditions as people who are not required to be in a voice chat all the time.

Getting clients

If your only source of income are your lessons, then  you need to be sure that you have enough hours per month to be able to cover your bills and necessities. This can be stressful.

To be a successful online teacher you need to secure clients and that means promoting your services. This will include advertising, writing a blog, updating your social media, replying to emails, talking to potential customers – all of these things need to be done daily.


When I first applied for my job as an online English teacher I was told time and a time again that I must remember that I might feel lonely at a later stage. Doing 5-6 hours of lessons per day means that you won’t interact with people (except your students of course) for most part of the day. To be honest, I was actually looking for a job where I wouldn’t need to chit-chat with anyone. I’ve never liked small talk at work and dealing with my colleagues. That’s why teaching online seemed like the perfect job for me.

In general, I don’t miss working in a team. I enjoy my own company. But, I noticed that it has become a challenge for me to meet people and create a bond with them. Because I move from place to place, where I don’t know anyone, the possibility of making real friends has decreased. After all, at certain stages of our lives we tend to meet more people through work. I must admit that I miss having a group of friends whom I can meet for beers on a Friday night.

Lack of routine

If you work outside of your home, a routine always creeps into your life. We often complain, not realising that having a good routine is important for our mental and physical health. Every day we get up at the same time, we go to work, we come back, we eat and we go to bed. Our lives have rhythm.

When you work remotely this rhythm is disrupted. At the beginning it is great – you don’t need to get up at 6, commute in traffic and answer to your moody boss. After a few weeks you start working in your pyjama, take a shower at 5 pm and are too lazy to go shopping, so you start eating junk food, you don’t exercise and start feeling tired and out of energy. You don’t want to do anything. It is easy to forget what a routine is. Only people who are motivated and can discipline themselves everyday can achieve a lot through remote work. Before you start teaching English online ask yourself if you are able to stick to a schedule and follow a routine.


This is one of my greatest worries – will the place I’m going to stay at have decent internet? What will I do if it’s not good? Will I find another place to teach my lessons? It gives me a headache. I would like to go to Bali, but I know that decent wi-fi is hard to find and it might not be good enough for my lessons.

You need to be prepared that your life will depend on the speed of your internet connections.

Low pay

Teaching has always been underpaid and teaching English online is no different. I think minimum pay for one hour should be $10 and I wouldn’t accept anything lower. Even with this rate it is hard to earn enough to be able to have a good life. At the moment I earn $11 per hour and I need to do 60-100 hours per month, which is quite tiring.

Believe it or not, there are schools that pay as little as $1 per hour. Remember to respect your work and don’t agree to do low-paid assignments.

The best solution is to give private lessons. Then you can charge anything from $20 per hour, depending on your experience and skills. However, to be able to earn enough money you need to get enough clients per month and that requires a lot of work.

Other interesting articles:

How to become an online English teacher

8 Reasons why you should become an online English teacher 

Get to know my story and become an online English teacher

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