What is the definitive guide to teaching English to students at home?

Teaching students at home can either be a blessing or a curse so read more to find out the things to do and things to avoid. Setting up is easy if you keep a clear head and read the small print!

I have always wanted to teach international students in my own home and thought it would be a very satisfying way of interacting with students, as well as earning money in my chosen career.  I realised that I had to prepare not only the classroom, but the house and suitable teaching material.  No longer able to run into the staff room and grab extra teaching materials or shout for some advice on whichever teacher is there, you have to be super prepared.   So here are some quick tips on how to prepare for a successful teacher/student partnership.  

All you need to know about getting ready to teach students in your home in a hassle free successful partnership.

The important small print        

I think the first one has to be general housekeeping.  Not very exciting but with regards to your Insurance and operating a business from home.    You can certainly find a lot of useful information on the Internet or approach your Insurance Company.  Most insurance companies are writing up useful information as to what they require from you and what is also required legally.  I have found most of the information is more or less the same, but this website is pretty clear on what is needed 


Any website similar to this will have good basic information and give you a head start but usually Public Liability is a good place to start.

Also, don’t forget to inform the Tax Man.  Once you work from home you become “self employed” and will be responsible for your own Tax Returns.  Find out more here…


Make sure your house is safe.  

Yes well this is quite important because if you have someone in your house and, for example, they slip and fall and injure themselves you could be looking at a large bill for compensation or, worse, a Court Case.  Having adequate insurance will protect you but you do need to make sure your house is safe.  No carpets sticking up.  Electricity safe and functioning.  Light corridors etc etc

Have adequate equipment 

To be able to teach successfully and professionally a lot of people think all they need is a pen, paper and a whiteboard and they are off.  However, if you are a qualified EFL teacher you will already have cut your teeth on your classroom teaching and will have spoken to colleagues along the way.   Crossing your fingers and hoping is certainly not enough.  If you want to be taken seriously and be kept busy you will definitely need the following;

A fast and reliable computer

good internet speeds and if your student connects in your house, there should be no reduction in the speed and access to the wi-fi should be simple.

a camera, microphone and headphones – all good quality to enable you to do on line teaching via Zoom or Skype. These should be there for days when your students are unable to come to your home.  Please don’t use your mobile phone!  That’s a definite “no no” if you want to appear serious and professional.

 a space to work.  Both for you and your student.  No one wants to be perching things on their lap, so make sure you have a large table for you both to work from.  Trays or folding tables are not suitable!  Don’t even think it! 

a white board.  Although this is not entirely necessary it is a good tool to make the lessons easier to understand as well as more visual and by default, interesting.  It’s a variation on your teaching methods.  Sometimes using the PC; sometimes work material via books or downloadables and sometimes working together on the white board.

a subscription to a good reliable and professional on line teaching facility for you to keep abreast of new developments as well as downloading up to date materials and also to enable you to offer new and exciting techniques.  No one wants the same material rolled out to them from twenty years ago.  The clue is Remember, what worked 20 years ago, certainly will not be relevant now.   I rather like this site.  It offers material to download for students from beginners to advanced; exam preparation and also business English.  You name it –  this site has it.  Home | Onestopenglish

 Join a professional body.

There are lots of organisations you can sign up to which not only allows you to discuss things with other virtual colleagues but also keeps you abreast of current changes and legislation.       The one I particularly like is  Teflnet | Teaching English as a Foreign Language . It’s such a comprehensive website and not only does it have a variety of topics on peoples worries and questions with lots of answers, suggestions and feedback but it also has teaching materials and job offers.  A simply brilliant one stop website to bookmark.

Stresses of working from home – the reality

Of course working from home can be less stressful.  No more running to catch the train or find somewhere to park in a busy city.   The downside is that you won’t have the emotional support and banter of colleagues but you can find inner peace working on your own.  You are your own Master and Driver and you can decide when to work and how much work to do.   Having students coming to your home means that you don’t need to venture past your front door – work comes to you, but remember, it can be intrusive.

Is it cost effective?

A recent survey has shown that one of the ways to save money is by working from home.   Travelling to work may sound fine and dandy if you are a slave to bus timetables, crowded trains and inflated travel costs but otherwise you may well consider working at home.  It’s the students who have to worry about those things now, not you.    The miles you rack up on your car will be halved and you won’t be buying expensive coffees whilst walking to the workplace from the train station.  This popular website makes a very good argument on the costs of travelling to and from each day.

How Much Does It Cost To Travel To Work? | RIFT Refunds

Structure your day 

Yes whilst it will be exciting to plan you own daily timetable make sure you strike that happy balance.  You don’t want to have so much work that you are welcoming students back to back and not having time to have lunch or prepare the evening meal for the family.  Likewise, you have to be a little proactive, otherwise you are going to be having one student a day and the rest of the time yawning out empty in front of you.  Its always about balance. Balance. Balance. 

And finally…. 

Whether you have started up a new career teaching from home and have never had colleagues in the same Industry as you are in now or if indeed you have said goodbye to your own ones at the Language School and started up at home, then never dismiss the importance of friends, colleagues, sympathetic ears, forums and chatting .   You will feel isolated from time to time and if things go wrong, as they will, then you need to be able to chat it through with people who know what you are going through.  Whilst your own kids may listen to your outpourings in exchange for a bar of chocolate or an extra hour of TV or your nearest and dearest allows you to “unburden” over dinner, there is no substitute for chatting it through with someone who can really live and breath it.  So, before you start, make sure you do indeed have someone to chat to.

Otherwise, don’t look back.  It’s new and exciting and a little scary but believe me, once you make the break and start teaching English from home, you will wonder what took you so long…