ESL Tutoring: an online tuition survey

As online tutors it can sometimes feel like we are operating in a vacuum. Sitting behind our desks all day can be lonely and we don’t have the regular staff room experience to bounce ideas off each other. That’s why it is rewarding to read about what other online tutors think about the profession. Recently, I came across a very interesting study which surveyed 400 online tutors…

The survey was conducted by The Tutor Pages, a site dedicated to showcasing tutors in the UK and that provides useful articles and content to tutors. The study, which you can access here, may be one of the first large-scale surveys of the online tutor landscape. Although the survey focused on the UK (90% of respondents) and covers all forms of tuition (not just ESL tuition) the survey and its results might certainly be helpful to anyone currently teaching or thinking about getting into online ESL tutoring.

I’m going to run through what I found to be some of the most useful findings related to online ESL tutoring!

Survey Finding: 36% of tutors teach both in person and online, while only 6% tutored exclusively online
My Takeaway: As we’ve stated before, it’s critical to use your “offline” contacts to develop your online business. Being able to serve your customers both in person and online are great complements. Also, it can be lonely to conduct your entire ESL tutoring business from behind a computer. In the past, my business partner, James Heywood, has taught many of his same students both in person and online (on summer holidays and during travel). This is a great suite of services to offer your students and their parents.
Survey Finding: 81% of tutors use Skype as their preferred videoconferencing system
My Takeaway: Simple, easy-to-understand tools are superior to overcomplicated systems. Although we would still suggest that is superior for online ESL tutoring (and is also free), we can understand why tutors default to Skype. It’s easy to use and already understood (and likely downloaded) by students. Skype has also recently upgraded their screen-sharing capabilities.
Survey Finding: Those tutoring adults and those tutoring ESL feel that an online format is highly appropriate for their subject matter.
My Takeaway: Working adults are busy and can benefit from the reduced total class time of online ESL tutoring. Although, there are also benefits of the online format for young learners and their parents (e.g. child safety). Quite surprisingly, child safety only ranked 7/8, when the survey asked parents for their reason in selecting online tuition. I can see why some tutors may be apprehensive to teach young learners online, but I can assure you it is possible!
Survey Finding: Most tutors charged the same fee (or only slightly less) for online tuition as they do for in-person tuition.
My Takeaway: Given that online ESL tutoring can be 2-3x less time intensive than in-person ESL tutoring (when you take into account travel time and set-up), even if you are charging slightly less for online tuition, going online still makes perfect sense from a financial perspective.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at the Online Tutoring survey by the Tutor Pages, please access it here. What do you think of the findings? Are you currently ESL tutoring online? Let us know!


  • Chris says:

    April 30, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Really interesting…I can attest to the feeling of operating in a vacuum. I network with other teachers when I can, but since so many of us are teachers as well as entrepreneurs, I think a lot of online teachers have a lot on their plates.
    I’m in the minority in that I use a virtual classroom, and I teach exclusively online.

    • James Heywood (Off2Class) says:

      April 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for stopping by. You are right. When you own and operate your own small business, there is no support staff to do any administrative tasks and so this takes up time that would perhaps otherwise be spent chatting with other teachers in the staffroom.
      However, Jack Askew advised recently that he has set up a successful forum with online teachers. The issue for me is that I never give communication with other teachers a high priority, an attitude that I need to alter, since I always learn much from other educators. My plan within the coming months is to get more involved with other teachers. I also teach exclusively online so I think I need to catch up in a constructive manner with other teachers on a monthly basis at least. Maybe an online monthly video-conference coffee with other teachers could be the way to go?
      Best wishes,

      • Chris says:

        May 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

        Thanks for your response. I’m familiar with Jack and I’ve exchanged some emails with him. He expressed something similar to me about his Facebook group, but I’ve worked on my own through much of the material he covers in his course, the purchase of which is the necessary prerequisite to join the forum. It’s much the same with other entrepreneur mastermind groups that you can join online. Most of them have a fee, which I can understand. Commitment tends to follow cost, and charging is a way to ensure quality.
        I’ve been doing the same kind of thing so far this year. After 2 years of working nearly entirely alone, I’m now reaching out to other online teachers. I’m interested in the same kind of regular video conference chat — we should set something up!

        • James Heywood (Off2Class) says:

          May 3, 2015 at 6:04 am

          Sounds like a plan. I’m going to send you an email and set up a time with you to organise a chat.
          Best wishes,

Leave a reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *