18 Creative Ways To Recruit Online ESL Students [must read]

Are you planning on becoming an online English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher but do not know how to recruit students? This article will show you creative ways to do just that.

The best 18 creative ways to recruit online ESL students are:

  • Forums
    • Quora
    • Reddit
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Pinterest
    • YouTube
  • Language Websites
    • iTalki
    • Preply
    • Verbling
    • Duo Lingo
  • Paying for Ads
    • Google Ads
    • Facebook
    • YouTube
    • Twitter & Instagram
  • Teaching Companies
    • VIPKid
  • Create A Website

Now you know the best ways to recruit ESL students. Let’s find out which one works best specifically for you.


There are heaps of online forums you can use to get in touch with potential English as a Second Language students. This recruiting method offers one major advantage, market exposure. Students that are looking for an online ESL course can discover your course at any time. This diminishes the marketing expenses associated with advertising your class all over the Internet. 

The most popular forums where you can search for potential students are:

Each one has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s analyze the most important aspects when it comes to recruiting ESL students on those two platforms. 

NOTE: Neither of the above-mentioned forums allow their users to directly advertise services. You can not post a discussion promoting your online ESL course but you can scout potential students and get in touch with them to discuss further details.



This online platform is more of a Questions & Answers forum. Users ask questions and other experienced users answer them. This website can be used without having to pay a monthly subscription fee. 

If you want to use Quora you must perform the following steps:

  1. Go to Quora.com
  2. Click the Create an account button
  3. Fill in the required data (username password email address)
  4. Confirm your email address
  5. Complete your profile information (interests hobbies workplace etc.)

From now on you will be able to ask and answer questions on the Quora platform. You can search for certain topics using the search bar that can be found at the top of every page. When you find someone asking a question about learning languages online you can answer their question and recommend your website if they want more information.

This is why it represents a great opportunity for you and your ESL course. It can be successfully used to exponentially increase your brand’s awareness and entice in new students. As of the latest statistics there are roughly 300 million users registered on Quora.  The down side being that it can be very time consuming.  If you are just starting out it is a great way to build a relationship with new students.



Just like Quora, Reddit is another great online forum that is available worldwide. It acts like a traditional forum with discussions and replies. This platform has over 330 million registered users. That is why it is a great opportunity for you as an ESL teacher to advertise your course and recruit students.

To sign up for Reddit do the following::

  1. Go to Reddit.com
  2. Click the Sign-Up button
  3. Complete the demanded information (email address username country and password)
  4. Review the data and click on the Create my account button
  5. Log in to the platform and fill in your profile with relevant data (interests favorite topics etc.)

Using Reddit is completely free. However certain subreddits (narrowed down niches) require their users to fulfill several conditions before being able to create and reply to discussions. The audience is very wide on this platform. 

Use the Search function to discover relevant topics and subreddits. For example, if you are interested in English As a Second Language topic you can access the appropriate subreddit. There you can reply to other users’ questions to recruit ESL students for your online course. 

Social Media 

When it comes to advertising your course it is very important to have a strong presence on commonly used social media platforms. Most potential online students especially in the younger age brakets are regular users of social media. Therefore it is a great opportunity to recruit potential ESL students for your course. 

The most popular social media platforms where you can scout for students are:

Each of these platforms allow you to reach different audiences with different needs so you need to know what your market is to decide which of these groups works for you.



This is one of the most popular social media platforms with owning 60% of the social media market. Facebook is globally available and can be used for free. The only condition of creating an account is having a valid email address or a valid phone number.  It has a wide variety of people from all countries using it.

Its main purpose is to connect people and allow them to share content with each other. This platform allows users to create and join groups based on their interests. This is the part that is relevant for your online ESL course. 

You can use the Search function to discover groups that have English language enthusiasts and potential students. There are heaps of groups that allow you to get in touch with people that are interested in learning English As a Second Language. Check out the complete list of Facebook groups related to ESL by clicking on the following link.

LINK: Complete List of Facebook Groups about English As a Second Language (ESL)

Another great option when it comes to recruiting online ESL students via Facebook is using the live video tool (called Facebook Live). It allows you to get in touch with potential students in real-time. You can answer their questions about the course or present the relevant benefits that your class will bring to them. 

To learn more about how you can recruit students using the Facebook Live function make sure to take a look at the following article.

ARTICLE: 5 Ways to Use Facebook Live for Student Recruitment 



LinkedIn is another great social media platform that you can use to get in touch with potential ESL students. Compared to Facebook which is commonly used for personal interaction and keeping contact with your relatives and friends.  LinkedIn is designed to allow professionals to post an online resume and talk with other professionals and businesses.. 

It is more of a business network that allows students that are looking for an ESL course to message you as an English teacher and discuss further details about your course. LinkedIn is a great way to increase your brand awareness and get students that want to learn a second language for work reasons.. 

The number of registered users that are active on LinkedIn is significantly higher compared to the above-mentioned forums. More than 610 million members are constantly checking their accounts while approximately 39 million students (and recently graduated) are using LinkedIn to find a job or enroll in relevant courses. 

To learn more about how you can use the LinkedIn platform to recruit online ESL students read this article.

ARTICLE: How to recruit your ideal students on LinkedIn 



Twitter is one of the most popular social media networks in the world. With roughly 330 million users that are using this platform every month, it is a great way of recruiting new students for your English course. It is however losing favour to Instagram and Pinterest for individuals and is becoming more a news feed for businesses.

To start scouting for potential students all you have to do is to complete all the details in your profile and constantly check on various hashtags. You can search and reply to users’ requests and questions about ESL but be aware of the 140 characters limit. 



Instagram is a great way to advertise your course. There are almost 120 million registered users in the United States only. The total number of accounts is way bigger and that means more market exposure for your course.  It is mainly a young to middle aged audience as a demographic. 

If you want to find potential students for your online ESL course you might want to create an Instagram business page. Then you can upload relevant images and videos that will attract potential students. They can use the Direct Message feature to get in touch with you and ask questions if any.



Pinterest is a social media platform similar to Instagram. It is mainly based on images and visual content that you pin on boards. You can use hashtags and descriptions of your images to make your course easier to discover for students. 

You should constantly check relevant hashtags and create your custom board. Do not forget to choose a catchy title for your board and optimize it for increased exposure.  The exciting thing about this platform is that it is predominantly women of all ages and has 335 million users.  When teaching languages this should be very appealing to you as a target market.



Youtube is the most popular video content platform available worldwide. You can successfully advertise your online English as a second language course and attract new students using this website. 

All you have to do is to create a free account (or connect using your personal Google account). Then create your first Youtube channel and start recording relevant videos. There are heaps of possibilities when it comes to recording a video to recruit students. You can either explain the benefits of enrolling in your course or even use reviews from your previous students. 

Another great method is by teaching one free lesson online and then attracting them into your online ESL course.  Or produce heaps of tips and tricks and other helpful videos to build an audience to convert later.  If you get into a regular posting schedule of a couple of videos a week you can build a following quite quickly.  YouTube likes people that post regularly.

Language Websites

There are heaps of language websites you can use to recruit ESL students. The most popular are:

You can start teaching one or two English lessons on those platforms. Then you can attract the students into your online ESL course.  Be careful how you bring students across to your own website so as not to be removed from the platforms.  Maybe mention it after a few sessions that you can give them a discount if they want to learn directly and give them the details on your skype session.



iTalki is a website that links educators and students in one-on-one conferences. This way, students will be able to learn foreign languages and individual teachers can use their knowledge to earn extra money. 

You can use this opportunity to provide potential students with a lesson on the platform then ask them to enroll in your online ESL course for more classes.



Preply is an online platform that allows students to take private lessons and learn foreign languages from online educators. The interaction is run using a live chat that both parties attend. 



Verbling is another great option when it comes to teaching students online. You can successfully use this platform to recruit online ESL students for your course. To do so you can teach them one or two introductory lessons and then let them know you have a private course you would like them to attend. 

Duo Lingo


Duo Lingo is one of the most popular foreign language learning apps available on the market. Millions of students use this platform every month to learn a new language and develop their skills. 

But wait you say I didn’t realise they have a website.  Yes they do and that is where you can go to check out the community groups.  They also have matching facebook groups for most towns in the world you could source new students from.  The website has more features than the mobile app.

Paying for Ads

While it is always better if you can build an audience any other way you can always pay for ads and see how they go.  It is all about picking the right keywords and with teaching languages online you may have to get creative on which words you use.  That is because of the high competition.  What you are looking for is how much in ad dollars does it take to get 1 new student.  This is called your customer acquisition cost.  If this cost is less than the money you make on average from your students then it is worthwhile to do.

Google Ads


It is easy to create a Google Ads account especially if you have an existing Google Account and if you don’t you can sign up for one.  You need to look at how much it will cost you for getting to the right people that are interested in learning the language.  You can do this with the Google Keyword Planner inside Google Ads.  Basically you put in all your keywords and it will spit out a rough price for those keywords.  You can also pick the countries you want to run the ads in through the google search pages.


While this used to be the way to get a lot of people interested there are so many people marketing on the platform you also have to get creative on how you pick your market.  The advantage here is you can pick a specific age group in specific countries and after running a few ads you will soon learn where your market segment is.  So basically where do you get more students from.  This ability to pick your exact market is much better than Google Ads.



We have all seen the video ads at the start of the movies on YouTube and you can do this as well.  You can also put in text ads as well by linking your Google Ads account to YouTube.

Twitter & Instagram

While worth a mention unless you have a big budget it is generally too expensive to run ads on both of these platforms.  Feel free to check them out but once you look at creating your first ad the price will make your jaw hit the floor.

Teaching Companies

There are heaps of companies that will allow you to teach English as a second language online. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Make sure to choose a company that is suitable for your level of qualification, supports you throughout the educational process, and pays you well. 

Here is an example company of the many out there that allow you to teach K to 12 online.



The VIPKID platform helps you to teach English online especially to Chinese students. One of the main advantages is that you benefit from a very flexible schedule. They have a contract length of 6 months for workers but this can be renewed if you do good work. 

If you want to teach ESL on the VIPKid platform you must fulfill the following minimum requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • At least one year of teaching experience
  • Eligibility to work in the United States or Canada
  • Laptop and headset
  • High-speed internet connection

NOTE: To be eligible for working with VIPKID you have to be a resident of Canada or the United States.

In terms of the hourly rate, compensation is between $14 and $22 per hour. This company also offers the possibility to earn more through bonuses and referral programs.

Create A Website

Creating a website to advertise your course is a great way of recruiting online ESL students. You can use a content management system (CMS) to create and manage your website. 

When it comes to hosting your website you have two options:

  • Using a subdomain for free
  • Paying for your own domain

Using A Subdomain For Free

This option is viable if you do not want to spend extra money on the monthly/yearly hosting fee. You can host your website using a subdomain of a website like WordPress or Wix.  A subdomain is http://<yourname>.wix.com

Firstly, you will be able to create the website with an easy-to-use website builder. Secondly, your website will benefit from a free hosting that is always available. 

Platforms you can use for hosting your website as a subdomain:

Paying For Your Own Domain

This option involves paying for a hosting provider. There are heaps of companies that will provide you with a custom domain and will host all your content for a very small price. The main advantage is that it obviously looks like you have put more effort into it compared to a website that is hosted with wordpress or wix. You can find my recommended hosting that I use for this website on my Recommended Tools page.

I have personally tried many web hosts over the years and I have found that this is the most reliable. The server lag is low and the support chat is monitored 24 hours a day and they are quick to respond. I like using the support chat over calling as it allows me to multitask while I am waiting on them to review the issue for me. 

It hosts a lot of Content Management Systems (CMS) and also has a single-click installer for Word Press and an easy-to-use dashboard. It is my favorite hosting provider and this website is also hosted on their servers.

NOTE: Make your research before choosing a hosting provider to make sure they are located where your students are and have decent technical support.

PRO TIP: If you add a blog to your website and write articles that answer questions on google search better than others you can get organic traffic from Google you can convert to new students.

Payment Methods

When it comes to getting paid as a teacher you have plenty of options available. The most popular payment methods are:



PayPal is one of the most popular online payment services available worldwide. It can be used for both personal and commercial transfers. You can receive money from any PayPal user, a credit card, or a bank transfer. You can transfer money to anyone that has a confirmed PayPal account, a valid credit card, or a savings account.

Three of the most important characteristics PayPal has:

  • Small and Transparent Fees
  • Rapid Transfers
  • Intuitive Interface

The fees applied to your transaction are always listed before you actually confirm it. Depending on the country you are living in the taxes may be different. For the complete table of fees, visit the PayPal FAQ.

Most of the transactions are processed within a few minutes without having to pay any additional fees. If you are planning on transferring money from PayPal into your bank account, you will have to wait up to 3 working days. However, if you need money urgently you can pay the fee for PayPal Instant Transfer. This fee represents $10 or 1% of the total amount (whichever is less).

It is very easy to use PayPal. The interface is very intuitive and the FAQ section contains all the answers you could possibly seek. If you want to learn more about how to use PayPal and see other payment methods you can use I suggest taking a look at the following article.  The nicest thing I like is you can pay to anyone using their email address.

ARTICLE: Accepting Payment: Seven Ways Online Teachers Get Paid 

Bank Transfer

Swift bank transfers are one of the most reliable methods for you to get paid as an online teacher. There are certain advantages compared to online payment handling services:

  • Only Banks Involved
  • Fixed Transfer Duration

The fact that only the two banks that work with transferred funds improves the overall security of the transaction. This way, no other third payment service manages your money, risking them to get hijacked.

Swift bank transfers need 48 hours to complete. 24 hours for your student’s bank and 24 hours for your bank. Having a fixed transfer duration is a great way of tracking payments and making sure there are no issues with your transfers.

While great to know you can do this try and keep it simple for your students but this might be a good solution for older students.

Western Union


Western Union is commonly used for international personal transfers. It can be successfully used in over 200 countries and territories around the world. Transfers can be processed using 40 different currencies, such as:

  • US Dollar (USD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • British Pound (GPB)
  • And more.

This method offers an advanced mobile app that allows you to track your transactions even when you are on the go. This can be done using the MTCN code (the tracking number of the transfer).

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

Recent Posts