Best Lighting for Teaching English Online

There are many kinds of lighting that will give you excellent results as an online English teacher.

Great lighting makes a huge difference to your students. A bright, clear face projects professionalism and cheer. You want a glowing, friendly video stream while speaking to students.

Top Tips for Lighting

Best Lighting for Teaching English Online
  • front lighting is best
  • natural lighting that hits you directly on your face is free and beautiful
  • angling the lighting slightly from below will help rid you of under-eye circles
  • stick to white light

<-This lady should turn around to face the window! It would eliminate the uneven lighting on her face.

Now, I want to be very upfront with you. I have taught online for years and did not buy a professional light – not even a small clamping ring light- until recently.

For years, I simply solved the lighting issue in simple *and free* ways.

Face a Window

Sometimes, the best things in life are free. Just sit facing a window (quite the opposite of the girl in my stock photo!). I guarantee you will look lovely.

Usa a Table Lamp and Camera Software

If there is no window, you can take any table lamp and maneuver it so it shines on your face. If the lighting is too warm, you can cover the lamp with a white cloth (careful not to start a fire!). You can also use camera software to manipulate the color balance on your video so the student sees the correct lighting.

A good camera software program, like Manycam, can do a lot to fix poor lighting.

The bottom line: Don’t spend a lot of money on your setup if you are just starting out. You can get fantastic results with sunshine, a table lamp, and some fiddling with your camera. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Now, if you don’t want to rearrange your setup each time you move, it is best to drop a few sawbucks, ten spots, or Hamiltons and buy yourself a professional ring light.

They weren’t as expensive as you would think. A cool thirty dollars gets you a light you can count on to give you a professional glow wherever you go.

Professional Lighting Set-Ups for Teaching Online

Ring Lights

Consider investing in a small ring light.

This clamping Selfie Ring Light is a worthy $23 investment for travelers. It will save your butt if your hotel room or Airbnb has poor lighting. It might even save your butt while teaching from your car in a real emergency.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, a tiny ring light that clamps to your laptop (or phone if you teach on Palfish) will give your lessons a professional look.

2. A larger ring light on a tripod might work best if you tend to stay in one place. You can get one that hits a mid-range between constant traveling and mostly staying in place. For example, this 10 inch LED Ring Light with tripod folds up and fits in your luggage easily, but it is still large enough to give you a very professional lighting experience.

3. Next, the Neewer ring light with a tripod is a worthy investment if you work from your home office and don’t travel while teaching.

Billed as “The Most Professional Design for Customers to Achieve the Perfect Lighting and Beauty”, the Neewer Ring Light Kit will have you ready for anything. The kit’s crisp, even light will give you a professional look whether uploading courses to a youtube channel, live streaming Palfish classes, or adding content to your website.

Ultimately, you don’t want to look like you are working from your moldy basement or dusty den. Invest in a high-quality, larger tripod light and transform your home into a video studio. Once you treat yourself like a professional, your lessons will reflect it.

Neewer Ring Light Kit:18″/48cm Outer 55W 5500K Dimmable LED Ring Light, Light Stand, Carrying Bag for Camera,Smartphone, YouTube,TikTok, Self-Portrait Shooting, Black, Model:10088612

You can always hemorrhage hundreds of dollars and buy an all-out lighting setup for your home office, too. Bonus points for making your advanced E.S.L students spell hemorrhage, too.

Professional Lighting Panels

You can buy many lighting panel kits, such as the Viltrox 2-Pack LED LightPanel Photography Lighting Kit.

But, remember, you are an online English teacher, not a cam girl or cam boy. Porn studios need impeccable lighting. English classrooms don’t: It is OK if every pore isn’t lit up to perfection; it is OK to have wrinkles; it is OK not to wear makeup (though, personally, find that an orange-tinted lipstick adds a cheerful warmth to my face on video).

It is OK to be human.

You just need to look fresh, professional, and cheerful. Your students aren’t video chatting you for your looks. If they are, then you either have a major problem on your hands or you are in the wrong profession and charging way too little.

That’s it and happy teaching!

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.