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Online teaching versus classroom teaching 

Similarities and differences.

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is an industry that is ever-changing, and one of the most interesting developments in recent years has been the rise of online teaching.

Teaching students from around the world through video-chat platforms such as Skype or Google Hangouts has given many TEFL teachers the opportunity to set their own schedules, make money, and travel more.

The rise of online teaching has nevertheless caused debate within the TEFL industry, with many arguing that teaching remotely does not hold up to the experience of teaching in a classroom; and while there are pros and cons to online and classroom teaching, the debate is likely to rage on for some time. It's useful therefore to check out some key similarities and differences between online teaching and classroom teaching.


Lesson planning

While the way you teach classes may be slightly different, a lot is the same in the classroom. Students want to learn the same things and you will are likely to end up using virtual versions of the same coursebooks you would use in a typical classroom.

Teaching Methodology

While there are some differences between teaching online and teaching in the classroom, the majority of the methods you use in the classroom will be similar.

Your methods of correction, and your teaching style will remain largely the same. You may have other issues to deal with but on the whole, the tried and trusted methods of the classroom should see you through.


Most language schools will require you to have a CELTA or TEFL qualification. There are no extra qualifications required to teach English online, though it is recommended that you have some previous knowledge of using video chat platforms. A lot of online schools may require teachers to have a degree.


Classroom Management

One of the biggest differences between online teaching and classroom teaching is classroom management. While in a normal classroom environment, you can control what your students do, these things go out of the window when you are teaching in an online environment.

In an online classroom, a child or older student can walk away from their computer, mute their microphone, or leave the class. While this is uncommon, it can happen and is something that can make online teaching very tricky.

There is also the issue of distractions. While students may get distracted by their friends in a classroom, it should be fairly easy to separate them and to control the issue. Things are very different with online teaching. There is no way of telling if a student is browsing or checking their social media. One effective way around this problem can be to share your screen and get your student to read out what is in front of them.


One of the great advantages of teaching online is your schedule. Teaching online means that you don’t have to spend hours commuting across a city to get to your classes.

The typical schedule for an online teacher is fairly similar to that of a language school teacher. The majority of your classes are going to take place in the late afternoon or possibly early morning. This is because a lot of the students will have school in the day.


The big question a lot of people have when it comes to online teaching vs classroom teaching is, which one pays better?

The biggest benefit financially to teaching online is that you don’t have to pay anything out. If you work for an online employer or teaching platform then they will take a cut from your wages but other than that, you are saving a lot of money on commuting, buying equipment, and other small costs.

In terms of rates of pay, this will depend on where you live. One advantage of teaching online is that you can get a wage that is high for the country you live in. For example, if you have decided to be based in Eastern Europe but are working for an online school based in China, your wages are going to be significantly higher than what you would get teaching at a local school.

Online schools do tend to work like language schools, and this means that you are not likely to get paid holidays and will probably not get paid if lessons are canceled.


There are many pros and cons to both teaching in a classroom and teaching online. The decision on where to teach will always come down to a personal one. Location, money, and travel are always going to be important factors for a lot of people in the ESL industry and there are plenty of pros and cons on each side of the coin in these areas.

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