Check Computer Specs For Online ESL Teaching6 min read
One of the first things you will need to make sure of if you want to teach English online, other than having an online TEFL certification, is that your computer meets the minimum requirements that most companies have. Let’s take a look at the various things you need to check to make sure your hardware is up to par before you start applying to companies.
What exactly should I check on my computer?
There are actually a few things you are going to need to check out and not all of them are on your computer. For your computer you are going to want to check that you have these things:
- You need to make sure that your processor meets the standards of the company you are going to apply to. This will usually be an i5 or i7 at a minimum.
- You need to make sure that your computer has sufficient RAM. For most companies, this will be a minimum of 6 to 8 GB (gigabytes). The more RAM your computer has the better.
- Depending on the company, you may also be required to have a minimum amount of hard drive space available for downloading their teaching platform. Computers built nowadays generally come with 250GB or more of hard drive space with most new computers being equipped with 500GB or 1TB (terabyte) hard drives. You shouldn’t have to worry about this requirement.
- You will need to ensure you are using an up to date operating system. Most of the companies I’ve looked at require at the very least Windows 8 or Mac OS 10.12.
- Finally, some companies may ask that you use a certain internet browser, usually Google Chrome, if they have run a web-based courseware. You will need to make sure you have the correct browser and that you are keeping it up to date.
Some of the non-computer related items that you are going to need to check before you apply to teach online are:
- You should have a proper over the ear headset. This means you will want to spend a little bit of money and ensure you have a headset that is both comfortable and quality. You can check out this guide for a more complete list of the best headsets.
- Most companies are going to ask that you use an HD webcam. For most people, the webcam built into the laptop will be fine but if you find yourself needing an external webcam then make sure it is HD capable.
- You should check that your internet speed is where it needs to be. Each company will have different requirements for being hired but the average that I have come across after looking at dozens of companies is 10mbps download speed and 10mbps upload speed with a ping of 100 or less. You can check your internet speed here. Make sure to set the server to test against for the country you are going to be teaching in (probably China).
For this article, we will only be looking at the items specific to your computer. If you need to check your headset, your webcam, or your internet speed you can use the guides linked to above.
How do I check computer specs?
Checking Your Processor
In order to check your processor to make sure it is what you need you will have to go into your computer’s system settings. The easiest way to do this is to right click on the Windows button as shown below.
You will then click the settings button which will open the following window. From here you can check all of your computers specs and see things such as your operating system as well as processor and more.
Make sure that your processor meets the minimum requirements set forth by the company you are applying to. However, if it does not that may not be the end of the world. I currently use a laptop computer that runs on an i3 processor and I have been able to successfully teach online for the past two years. This is going to change though and I am in the process of obtaining a new computer with better specs.
Checking Your RAM
From the same screen discussed above, you will want to look at the section that says installed memory. Here you will be able to see how much RAM your computer has.
As I previously mentioned, most companies are going to have a minimum requirement of 6GB. However, you can’t go wrong if your computer has more. The more RAM your computer has the more programs you will be able to run before you start having performance issues.
Checking Your Hard Drive
You will easily be able to see how much hard drive space you have remaining by opening up your file explorer. Listed in the options will be C: drive. Below the file icon, you will see exactly how much space you have on your computer and how much of that has been used. It will look exactly like the picture below:
Checking Your Computer’s Operating System
On the same screen you accessed earlier to check your computer’s RAM and processor, you will be able to see the current operating system your computer is running on. If you have bought a computer recently you should be using Windows 10 or the most recent version of the Mac OS.
If it has been a few years since you purchased your computer you may still be running an older operating system such as Windows 8 or an older version of Mac OS. You may consider updating your operating system if this is the case. However, if you don’t wish to update you should be fine with an older operating system.
Checking That You Have the Correct Browser
Lastly, as mentioned above, you may find that some companies require you to use a certain browser when teaching for them. In my experience, this has always been Google Chrome. I have yet to see a company that asks for anything else.
This is most likely due to the fact that Chrome is the most widely used internet browser in the world with over 50% of people using it. This means it is easier for companies to develop new programs that interact best with Chrome and, by making sure their teachers are all using chrome, have few issues.
To make sure you are using the most recent version of Chrome you will need to open your browser and check in the top right-hand corner where the options menu is. You will see three dots on top of one another just like the picture below:
If a new update has been released to Chrome it will show a green icon in the place of the dots. You will need to then click on the icon and choose to install the new update.
What are some final thoughts?
Assuming that you have checked all of the above items and that they met the standards of the company you are looking to apply to, your computer should be good to go as far as online teaching is concerned. If, however, your current computer is lacking in one or more areas you may want to consider purchasing a new computer. This can be a great investment that can easily pay for itself in the first month of working online depending on how many hours you work. You can look through this guide for the best laptop and desktop computers for online ESL teachers.
I want to help you find an awesome job in the ESL industry and then excel at it. I’m a TESOL certified teacher with over two years of experience working both online and offline. I have worked with students ranging from young learners to advanced level university speakers and have worked in recruiting and hiring, teacher training, and content creation. I’ve seen the good and bad of the ESL industry and I’m here to tell you about it.