How to Teach Online So You Can Travel the World

I’m buzzing right now because I just gave probably the best class I’ve ever given online. Her name was Maria. She’s an astrophysicist and lives in Spain.  When we were discussing the idea of doing classes online I asked her what she might want to talk about and she said, “Astrophysics?” and I thought she was joking. But it turns out she’s actually an astrophysicist, and thus spent part of our lesson today lecturing me on the properties of a neutron star and defining things like compact matter and explaining what a “high mass x-ray binary system” was.

It made me realize that teaching online, if you’re living in a place like Mexico (Note: If you work for the company Appen and you’re reading this I don’t live in Mexico, I live somewhere outside New York City [hence my IP address] and enjoy hiking in the Adirondacks and going into the city for coffee with friends), is definitely the way to go. I’ve always shied away from online classes because I thought they were awful. But the REASON I thought they were awful is because all the classes I’d taught online had either been through A) Open English, a company started by a Venezuelan guy that’s MASSIVE in Latin America but boasts, at least when I taught for them, one of the worst interfaces in the history of the internet, and B) On Skype using my cellphone. In retrospect, I don’t know how/why I ever taught on my cellphone. It was a joke. I would literally write things down on a piece of paper and flip the camera so my students could see what I’d written. In my defense I was (sort of) living in Germany at the time and was very confused. I was trying to answer the question of: What does it mean to be an adult? What does it mean to be self-sufficient? And actually I answered the question quite succinctly and quite easily. Being an adult means buying things like spinach and bell peppers that you don’t really like but you’re know they’re good for you so you buy them anyway. That’s it. Like I said, it’s easy.

So what are your options for teaching English, or just teaching in general, online?

They are myriad, and I shall explain them to you in great (medium) detail:

1. Private Skype classes

Private Skype classes are good because you get 100% of the plunder, but bad because there’s no kind of virtual classroom where you can easily show images or draw or things like that. It’s not a huge problem, because you can still use the chat box to accomplish most of these functions. That’s why the class this morning was (at least in my opinion) so dynamite. The chat box revolutionized things for me. Imagine being able to say one thing, and either type that same thing at the same time, or type something completely different. (You say: “You’re doing a great job, keep it up!” You type: “Your English is terrible. This is hopeless.”)

Also, if you do Skype classes, you (usually) have to find your own students. Where can you do this? Spain has a great website called Tus clases particulares, France has Le bon coin, and if you do a little light research you can usually find a sort of classifieds option for each country. Which is probably something I should do for Mexico, like, two weeks ago.

2. Online Tutoring via a legit company

I’m currently contracted with Varsity Tutors in the US. I’ve done zero jobs for them. They pay $15/hour, but a lot of the classes are for 1 hour and 1 minutes, which means you only teach an hour but get paid for an hour and a half. Twenty two dollars and fifty cents for an hour’s work??? This is unfathomable to me right now. I cannot fathom it. I will not fathom it.

Another similar site is The good thing about these sites is that there are tons of subjects to teach. On Varsity Tutors I’m set up to teach French 1,2, all levels of Spanish, and some levels of English. I tried to qualify for geography but failed the quiz, which caused me to have a flashback to the 8th grade Geography Bee when I got out on the first question because I confused latitude and longitude and then possibly soiled myself. Hopefully Varsity Tutors gets their shit figured out and starts sending me jobs soon.

[Update: Almost as soon as I posted this post Varsity Tutors sent me an email with a referral link. For each tutor I refer, I get $80 (if they get approved for ACT, Algebra 1, Calculus 1, SAT, or Statistics) and the tutor gets $80, too. For any other subject, we each get $40. THAT MEANS YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO TEACH. All you have to do is get contracted and approved and we both get $$$$$$. Here’s the link:]

3. Teach the Chinese

There are a lot, a lot, a lot of rich Chinese people who will pay gross sums of money to have their sucklings inculcated with the fineries of the English tongue. I’m currently going through the hiring process with VIPKid (“Part-time Teaching, Full-time fun”), a company based out of Beijing who boasts Kobe Bryant as an investor. The thing I HATE about these companies is that, since you’re teaching English to children, they want you to act like a clown. They want you to have a “fun background” behind you, like pictures on your walls, and smile a lot. Anyone who’s hung out with me for four seconds knows I despise smiling. So this is a struggle for me. But they pay well, up to $22 or so an hour, so it might be worth throwing self-respect to the wind.

These are all the opportunities I can think of right now. I’m sure there are more. I know there more. Which is why if you know of more, or know of any awesome ways to make money online, preferable cold, unbending US dollars, let me know in the comments.

I leave you with a quote from Good Will Hunting:

“Good day gentlemen and until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.” – Chuckie, Good Will Hunting


Special thanks to Sam Kidder for supporting this this “bljaag.”

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