Best Ways to Make Extra Cash as an ESL Teacher

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

ESL teachers are not renowned for their luxurious lifestyles; driving round in sports cars, living it up in 5 star hotels, or skiing in the Alps every weekend (unless they are teaching English at a ski resort).

If you are working in the Middle East or some parts of Asia, like South Korea, Japan, and more recently Vietnam, then you could actually save quite a bit and live well. However, the average ESL teacher’s wage is just about enough to pay your way and get by.

Money is one of things individuals consider when they are teaching English
To Dubai or Not Dubai…

Plenty of teachers I work with here in Spain have said ‘Well, you don’t get in this game for the money,’ and it’s true. I became an English teacher to travel the world and live abroad, not to get rich. That was back in the day though, and now I have a family to look after so I need to find extra income to live comfortably.

As in most professions, if you want to up your standard of living and live well, you’ll just have to work harder and do more hours. Here are some great ways to supplement your income.

Private students


ESL teachers can do private classes to earn more money
Private lessons can provide beer money

Getting private students between your normal classes is a great way to earn some extra cash. Usually classes are one on one, so you feel as if you can really focus on the student and make a difference to their level. There is relatively less prep time as classes are typically conversation based, so you just have to chat and correct mistakes when appropriate.

Also the pay per hour is normally higher than working for a language school. Getting paid in cash can be an enormous help at the end of the month too when you’re running out of money. I actually do extra business classes in the morning, but that is arranged through my employer.


I don’t tend to do a lot of privates anymore because I found students let me down a lot. They would cancel at the last minute, or just drop out if their circumstances changed; maybe they got a job or decided they preferred to learn German. There may be travel involved unless you can get students to come to your place, if you fancy that.

ESL teachers can put up advertisements to promote their private English classes
Stick your advertisement here

How to go about it?

You can either put up ads in public places like internet cafés, on lampposts, notice boards, or have a search on Google for websites to promote yourself as a private teacher. Here in Spain a lot of teachers use Mundo Anuncios. Once you get a couple of privates though, word of mouth is the best way of expanding your student base. You can even offer joint class deals, which means you make more per hour, and they pay less.

Becoming an official speaking examiner


I’ve been a Cambridge speaking examiner for about six years now and it has been a great way to boost your income. The pay is great compared to usual teaching rates too.

It’s not all about the money though, becoming an examiner has greatly improved the way I teach. With my B1 or B2 classes I know exactly what my students need to do to improve their marks.

It can be a bit nerve-racking at first, as you have vigorous training and need to be able to assess students correctly, but once you find your feet the whole process is actually enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about classroom management and the candidates can be interesting to listen to.

I know friends who are Trinity oral examiners too and they get to travel a lot. It’s a different ball game as you are doing the exams alone with the students, but it’s more interactive.


Unfortunately the work is often at the weekends, which, for me, means less time with my kids. It can make the normal week that little bit longer too, waking up on a Monday morning knowing you have 6 days ahead of you can make it a hard slog.

Fortunately the sessions tend to be only 4 or 5 hours, so it doesn’t take up all day. I enjoy doing it though and I’ve met a lot of decent people through examining.

How to go about it

I was actually recommended to start examining by my boss and she had the contacts. Ask around with the teachers or find where students have to go for the Cambridge or Trinity speaking exams and try to get in touch with the centers which organize the exams. Check out this link on how to become a Cambridge Speaking Examiner.

Online teaching


Online teaching is the future of language learning
Video conferencing has become a popular tool for online teaching

The option of giving English classes while chilling in your pajamas seems to be getting more and more popular. Again many of the advantages are the same as private students. You can give more attention to the students, there should be less prep time and often classes are conversation based.

Another great reason to teach online is that you can meet students from all over the world. I miss teaching Asian students as I had such a great time over there.


I tried this a few times and I just found the whole experience a bit weird. I know this is probably the future, but I prefer being with the people I am teaching. Also it was tricky to hear the students well at times as the internet connection with my students wasn’t great, but I’m sure that can be solved with a decent pair of headphones.

I also found it hard to get in the rhythm and find students who could fit into my busy schedule. A lot of the market is in Asia, and their timetables didn’t fit in with mine. It’s worth looking into though.

How to go about it?

You can either set up on your own and start a blog or set up a website publicizing yourself as an online teacher, or use an existing company. There are plenty of businesses you can sign up with. Here are a few I’ve been recommended to try: Italki, Lingoda, and Verbling, but you can easily find more online.

Hopefully these options will allow you to get through the month, maybe save up for a new trip somewhere, or help get your kids through school. Best of luck!

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