David Recine

How to Teach the TOEFL Online: A Guide for Teachers

teach TOEFL online
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I’ve been teaching the TOEFL online for several years now. If you’re interested in doing the same, here is a guide on how to teach the TOEFL online.

How to Teach the TOEFL Online: Where to Find Jobs and Students

The first step to teaching the TOEFL online is to find students and online teaching companies that want to hire you. Most of the available work in online TOEFL instruction is 1:1 tutoring; you’ll find very few online schools that will hire you to teach group classes.

Additionally, most online TOEFL tutor jobs are also not “jobs” in the strictest sense. Often, you’ll work for a company as an independent contractor. It’s also common to make direct arrangements with students students through a website that hosts TOEFL tutors. These kinds of independent tutor hosting websites mediate payments between teachers and tutors, taking a percentage of the teacher’s earnings.

For a list of possible contract employment and host websites, see my two previous posts, Places to Find TOEFL Tutoring Online, Part 1 and Places to Find TOEFL Tutoring, Part 2. The Good Air English website also has a fantastic list of online English teaching companies that can connect you with online TOEFL students.

How to Teach TOEFL Online: What Materials to Use

The best materials for teaching TOEFL online are digital materials that you can easily share with your students over a web connection. Official prep materials such as the free online TOEFL test and the TOEFL practice sets are great. Blogs like this one also host tons of online articles, e-books, and practice materials that you and your students can look at together.

Practice for your TOEFL exam with Magoosh.

E-books are a good idea too. If you buy an e-book version of — say — one of the official TOEFL books from ETS, you can use a screen sharing program to allow the student to view the e-book on your computer.

But even good old-fashioned print TOEFL books can be used with online students. If an online student also has a copy of the book, the two of you can go through the book together. You can also use a scanner to show your students selected pages from a book you own.

(Bear in mind, however, that the eBooks and print books currently available reflect the old version of the TOEFL, not the new 2019 TOEFL. Fortunately, Magoosh offers a guide to using older TOEFL prep.)

And speaking of screen share programs, scanners, and other technology….

How to Teach TOEFL Online: Choosing the Right Technology

When you read the section above, you may have asked yourself, “What is screen share technology?” or “Do I have to get a scanner”? There are several kinds of technology you should have if you’re going to teach the TOEFL online.

Screen share technology allows you to share what’s on your computer screen with someone else on the Web. Skype has a screen share function, and so does Google Hangouts. Most English teaching websites require you to use a free, open-source webcam program to talk to your students anyway, so Skype and Google screen share are both good options.

One issue with Skype and Google’s screen share, however, is that these programs aren’t good for sharing the sound that’s coming out of your computer. If you want to use screen share to show your students audio as well as documents and videos, I recommend a different piece of communication software: Team Viewer.

Team Viewer has really good audio quality. I’ve often used it to listen to TOEFL lectures along with my online students. However, if you or your student don’t want to download and install Team Viewer, you can also share sound with a student simply by turning up the speakers on your computer. Your student can hear the audio you play on your computer as feedback. Believe it or not, the audio quality can be very good when you use this method. Just remember to turn your speakers back down again when you resume talking to the student. Otherwise, everything you say will have an echo.

As for scanners, I strongly recommend that you get a scanner if you’re going to teach the TOEFL online. Scanners give you the best possible image quality when you’re copying pages form print books. But in a pinch, a digital camera — even the one you have on your phone — can be used to make image files of book pages.


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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