10 negatives you may experience as an online ESL teacher Digiteachesl > Post

10 negatives you may experience as an online ESL teacher

You guessed it, I am about to lay down some real truth for you right about now! People talk about all the good stuff about this job, but sometimes you only find out the negatives a little late.  I am a full-time online ESL teacher and I have been doing this for a good couple of years. I told you the “10 benefits you experience when you’re a full-time online ESL teacher” and now I am going to give you the exact opposite. 

What are the downfalls? Every job has drawbacks involved so let’s dive into some not so nice things you may experience.

#1: Working behind a computer for hours a day. 

So, this is sort of the case with most office jobs. Long hours behind a computer screen. Becoming a full-time online ESL teacher will not rid you of this. You will need to be behind your computer teaching for 4-5 hours a day and this may frustrate you. Extended periods of computer screen time definitely take its toll on me, so I have learnt to manage it by dividing it up by breaks.

#2: Feeling drained of energy.

The honest truth is that teaching English online is VERY tiring. It requires a ton of energy, especially when you are teaching the kiddies (K12 program). You are on camera and you need to use body language, TRP and smile a lot! If you do this for 4-5 hours, at the end you will likely feel exhausted. Like, to the point where you don’t have the energy to speak to your own family. (I know from first-hand experience) However, like with all things you have to practice and through exercising this online teaching muscle, you will get stronger and be able to handle this more.

#3: Boredom can set in. 

This is a common thing people may feel once they fully acclimatized to the job and are used to it. Boredom does creep in for some people who require more stimulation and challenges in order to keep interested. Once you master the art of your online teaching job, you are likely to not be so challenged anymore and this leads to feelings of boredom. Also, if you are teaching children (K-12 level) the material is often very basic, and that may be boring for you to teach. In which case, going for an adult teaching program or Business English may stimulate and challenge you more. The key is to combat boredom by working on your own side projects that push you. 


#4: Forever chasing the internet

Teaching ESL online is amazing in that it allows mobility and you can travel whilst still earning an income. However, the obsessive pursuit of strong internet connections is real and becomes a huge aspect of your life. Everywhere you choose to go, you need to meet certain internet speeds. This can be hard to achieve as well as it is stressful. You will find yourself on the hunt for speedy internet all the time and this can get frustrating. 

#5: Strict rules and policies in the companies.

Don’t be fooled entirely by the flexibility and mobility of the job. Each online ESL company has strict, and I mean STRICT rules. Due to the nature of the job and having remote employees, companies are designed with little to no leniency for things such as being late to class or cancelling a lesson due to an emergency or being sick. The rules and conditions vary; however, they are all generally firm. If you are not a punctual person, or you struggle to commit to things then you will likely not survive in this line of work. You need to be on time, all the time and you need to provide proper evidence of an emergency if you cannot make it work. 

#6: No work, no pay. 

You know those days in the 9-5 office job, where you are sick and you don’t go to work but you still get paid? Well, those don’t exist in the online ESL teaching world. If you get sick and you are unable to teach, you will not earn money. There is no paid sick leave or anything like that. So it can be considered risky. However, on the other hand, the more you work the more you earn and so it gives the incentive to keep teaching and you can make decent money in those times. 

#7: No paid holidays. 

Shock and horror! There is no paid leave. When you decide to go on holiday for a month, you will not be paid at that time. So you need to organise your finances well enough to be able to take a month of work off with no pay. This may be difficult to comprehend in the beginning, but on the bright side a lot of companies don’t have a maximum amount of ‘leave’ days and so you are able to go on holiday a lot more than a normal office job. I personally cannot fathom the thought of just 20 ‘leave’ days a year! 

#8: Less security.

There is certainly less security when you become an online ESL teacher. A company can terminate your contract pretty quickly if you make a few mistakes (if you’re late, miss a class etc) As mentioned earlier, the rules are strict and if you stuff up there is little to no leniency. Plus, a company can replace you in a day, so you can lose your job and be left unemployed relatively easily. My suggestion is to work for more than one company or have multiple income streams so that if one goes, then you are still okay. (Don’t put all your apples into one basket) Also, read your contract and teachers manual thoroughly so you are fully aware of how you can breach your contract and be terminated. I would like to also mention that losing your job is not the worst thing in this line of work, because there are hundreds of other companies that you can apply too. You can pick up a new online teaching job relatively fast.  

#9: It can be repetitive. 

This is something I have struggled with. Sometimes you find online teaching to be a bit repetitive if it is all the work you are doing. You often have to teach the same lessons, as well as you may see the same students at the same time every day for months and it can become…well… a bit mundane. The job is simple and it is repetitive, that’s just how it is. The only way to help you with this is to put yourself to work in other things too. So work on a project that excites you, learn a hobby that inspires you, or find new and fun teaching techniques to practice to change the classroom up a bit. Keep innovative and growing yourself in other areas, and then perhaps you won’t struggle so much with a bit of repetition and habit. 

#10: Less stability.

The truth is that if you leave your full-time office job and become a full-time online ESL teacher, you are opting for more freedom and time BUT also less stability. Of course, it is possible for you to get hired and keep your job and earn a similar amount of money per month BUT it is also quite likely to lose your job at some point and fluctuate in your income quite a bit on a month to month basis. If you are entrepreneurial and flexible at heart then you would be able to mould yourself and adjust easily to finding new work or picking up a second job. If you're used to being secure and value stability above your time, being mobile and having a flexible working schedule then perhaps it would be best not to leave your 9-5 for online teaching. This is the job for those of you who know they can work around these downfalls and can adapt. I would like to reiterate that your earnings will fluctuate monthly, but remember the more you work the more you make and so the earning potential can be high! 

Alrighty, here you have it, in all its glory! An honest overview of the drawbacks you can experience when you transition to this line of work fully. You may not feel all of these things, but quite a lot of people do. Don't get me wrong, I still love this job and I am totally happy with being full time in this line of work but there are always pros and cons to jobs and I wanted to be honest about them both.  If you would like to personally weigh these up in terms of committing fully to online ESL teaching then I would suggest reading the "10 benefits you may experience as a full-time online ESL teacher" to get a balanced view. 

Educate yourself fully of what the job entails, the good than bad and the ugly! Then you will be able to make an informed decision on whether this is for you or not. If you want to pursue online ESL teaching but not certain as to where to start then download my simple, 4 step FREE cheat sheet here and get that ball rolling! 

I feel like negative Nancy with this post, so do me a favour and please end this by thinking of cute fat baby pandas rolling all over the place. 


There you go, happy again;-)