Table of Contents

Education First Review Summary

Education First/EF offers live 1v1 and group online English teaching for Native Speakers. Experience isn’t essential but you must have a degree and be willing to acquire a TEFL certificate. Base pay is £9.50 plus benefits (holiday pay, pension), materials are provided, and hours are flexible but difficult to fill.

Pay (per hour):£9.50-10.90
Location / language requirements?Native English Speaker
Degree / diploma required?Yes
Teaching certificate required?Yes*
Teaching experience required?No
Student age (Adults/Children)?Both**
Class size:1v1/group
Minimum hours (per week):0
*You can acquire your certificate while you apply
**mostly adults

Pros: 

  • Teaching experience not essential
  • TEFL not needed at point of application (but must complete before teaching)
  • 1v1 and group classes
  • Flexible schedule with no minimum hours
  • Teaching materials prepared and uploaded ahead of classes
  • Benefits include holiday pay and pension contribution

Cons: 

  • Basic pay rate
  • No full pay for student cancellations
  • Must be a Native English Speaker
  • Difficult to get enough hours (not a full-time option)

What Is Education First?

Education First, also known as ‘EF’ and English First, is a longstanding company that offers a range of educational services including language learning, cultural exchanges, academic degrees and study abroad programs. They have also been a pioneer of internet-based instruction, establishing EF English Live in 1996 to become the world’s largest online English school:

Is Education First Legit?

Education First’s longevity is a testament to their legitimacy, having helped millions of students learn languages for more than half a century. Founded in 1965 in the Swedish university town of Lund, they have a global presence with over 600 schools in 100+ countries. The company and its schools are accredited, and EF English Live currently has an ‘Excellent’ score of 4.3 out of 5 from thousands of Trustpilot reviews.

About Education First Online Teaching – EF English Live

Education First online teaching helps students from 120+ countries improve their English.

All instruction and teaching materials are delivered in the English language, and uploaded to the online classroom ahead of your lessons, so there is little prep to do yourself.

Following the lessons, teachers have to fill out a short feedback form, also in English.

This is what the EF online dashboard looks like:

EF online dashboard

How Much Does EF Pay Online Teachers?

Education First salary information is not shared for all currencies/countries, however, EF Teach Online lists the starting pay rate as £9.50 an hour, which they say can be increased to £10.90 with performance bonuses:

  • £0.25 per 20-minute Private lesson
  • £0.50 per 40-minute Private lesson
  • £0.50 per 45-minute Group lesson
  • £0.50 per hour for student satisfaction

Unlike most online ESL companies, Education First offers some extra benefits as part of their 11-month temporary employment contract, including holiday pay amounting to 12.07%, and a 3% company contribution to the voluntary pension scheme. EF also handles any taxes and National Insurance contributions.

Education First payments are made to bank accounts on the 28th of the following month.

EF Online Hours and Schedule

Education First allows you to teach flexibly when it suits you, just set and adjust your availability each week in their online scheduling tool, where you may also pick up extra lessons.

There is no seasonality, classes are available 7 days a week for 362 days of the year.

Lessons run from 6am-11.30pm, with EF peak hours between 10am-3pm (for UK teachers, this may vary for other countries).

Education First online classes last 20 minutes and 40 minutes for individual one-on-one lessons, and 45 minutes for group classes.

EF Requirements for Online Teachers

Education first welcomes ‘applications from everyone interested in an online teaching job, whether you have previous teaching experience or not’. Though they add that ‘an interest in learning is always good to see’, even if you only ‘coach a local sports team, or you’re a new parent’.

There are, however, some firmer requirements that need to be met in order to teach online with EF:

  • You should be fully-fluent (C2) level in English
  • You should have a completed bachelor’s degree (in any subject)
  • You will need to have completed at least a 40-hour TEFL certificate from an accredited source. This can be done while you apply (at your own cost), and it should be a general certificate rather than a skills-specific one, e.g. TEFL in Grammar.

EF Technical Requirements

Tablets and mobiles are unsuitable for teaching online with EF, and you will require a computer matching these minimum specifications:

  • CPU: Intel i5 (10th generation) or higher
  • Memory: 16 GB or higher
  • HD: 30GB free capacity, SSD HD
  • Screen resolution: 1536 * 1024 or higher
  • Windows ONLY, Windows 10 or higher
  • Browser: Google Chrome 102 or higher
  • Webcam: 1080P webcam is needed (Logitech C920 recommended)
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Network: Uncapped internet with download speed of 1 Mbps (2 Mbps recommended) and upload speed of 1.5Mbps (3 Mbps recommended) – you can test your connection speed here.
  • Peripherals: Green screen and ring light

EF Recruitment Process for Online Teachers

Education First usually has new teacher intakes each month. To be considered for the next one, you can complete this application form with the following information:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Location
  • Nationality
  • Highest level of education
  • Any other languages at an advanced level (C1 level or above on the CEFR) that you would feel comfortable using to teach bilingual classes
  • Do you have an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate?
  • How many years of teaching experience do you have?
  • Teaching experience in: Online teaching, English as a second language, Special educational needs, Mentoring or coaching, Other teaching, None of the above
  • How did you hear about us?
  • What interests you about online teaching?
  • Add your documents: CV, degree certificate, teaching certificate

An alternate application form can be accessed here.

EF Online Interview

If your application passes EF’s review, you will be invited to a 30-minute online video interview with their Recruitment Team, where you will be asked about your motivation and interest in teaching English online, your previous experience and TEFL qualification.

It takes 14 days, on average, between the interview and receiving a contract. Once this is signed, you will meet a mentor, get to know the teaching platform and complete online training before you can start teaching students.

Here are some Education First Interview Questions that were asked of previous online ESL/English teacher candidates:

  • Could you explain why you are interested in this position?
  • What motivated you to apply?
  • What makes you want to teach online?
  • Do you have any experience teaching online?
  • How do you think online teaching compares to in person?
  • What do you think are some obstacles presented by teaching online?
  • How would you handle technology problems?
  • How would you address (in an online, virtual classroom) if one student is talking too much?
  • How would you engage a learner who is reluctant to speak in class?
  • What would you do if the lesson materials were not on the platform when you logged in to the platform?
  • Describe a situation in your working life as an independent worker where you have had to deal with a problem by yourself.
  • Can you give an example of a time when you needed to be flexible or think on your feet?

Education First Demo Lesson

As part of the EF live interview you will also have to deliver a short demo lesson with materials provided prior. This video shows you what is expected for this:

Education First and EF English Live Teacher Reviews

Education First Online English Teacher Reviews on the company’s main Glassdoor page currently provide an overall rating of 3.7 out of 5, with a 68% recommendation rate, while the dedicated EF English Live Glassdoor page offers a similar score of 3.8, with 69% recommendation.

Here we have collated some of the more-recent comments from these Education First reviews, with praise about the teaching materials, flexibility and easy platform, but criticism concerning the pay, number of hours, and cancellations:

  • Positives:
    • “Good for first time online teachers as they give you all the materials needed and support you well.
    • The platform is so easy to use and the support team are all friendly and helpful. As there are no set minimum hours it is so easy to work around my schedule and I thoroughly enjoy teaching the children. The lesson content is also planned for you, which makes delivering the lessons even easier. Overall, I love working at EF and it is a wonderful part-time job alongside my studies.
    • Lessons pre planned – Good training for new teachers – Good salary given you don’t have to plan any of the classes – Really friendly students
    • you set your own hours
    • I adore my students, company is truly a reputable company, pay is on time and direct deposited, lesson plans are given as a guide if you are stuck and do not know what to teach, flexibility to teach when you want (if you can get hours), you truly can teach from anywhere if you have a strong internet connection. You have the option to get normal students are work with them continually (I really like this).
  • Negatives:
    • “You can’t cancel lessons on the last hour
    • Not enough hours
    • Pay is low
    • If a student doesn’t turn up, you only get paid for 15 mins of waiting
    • There are sometimes technical issues on the platform, however these are usually resolved quickly.
    • The management constantly threatens that you will lose your job if you miss one class a month, but the issue is they have problems with their server.
    • Scheduling of class hours has become a nightmare (you must now go into a cue on a certain day and fight with other instructors to get classes to teach during the week), the bonus structure is based off our hours that you teach, communication from anyone takes 48 hours. Somewhat impersonal, many teachers are employed and you truly are an independent contractor, they have no idea who you are. Students can cancel at the last moment and you do not get a full reimbursement for your time. (If a student cancels for an hour lesson, you will receive 0.4 of your hourly rate. If a student cancels a half hour lesson, you do not receive anything). It is very hard to do this as a full time job.”

The EF English Live Indeed page provides fewer reviews but a similar score of 3.5 out of 5, and reiterates the previous comments:

Education First Indeed reviews

Conclusion – Is Education First Good for Teaching Online?

Education First/EF is a well-established and reputable organization that offers some advantages over other online ESL companies, most notably basic employee benefits such as holiday pay and pension contributions that don’t usually come with the more casual contracts one finds in this industry. However, the pay is still low, and hours are not guaranteed.

You can apply to teach online with EF here or here.

A list of alternative companies can be found here.

Contact us to help update this article, share your experiences, or suggest other companies to review.


Dr Daniel Spence

Daniel Spence is the founder of Online Teaching Review. He has been an international teacher since 2008, an award-winning academic, author of two books, and holds a PhD, MA, BA (Hons), and TESOL.

Content copyrighted