Discrimination in the gig economy: the experiences of black online English teachers

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the rapidly expanding market for online English learning and tutoring. It focuses on the experiences of Black American online English teachers employed on a variety of popular online teaching platforms (e.g. Cambly, italki, PalFish, VIPKid etc.). Specifically, the article considers how specific affordances of online English teaching platforms (e.g. customer ratings and algorithms) function to disadvantage non-White teachers. In order to address these issues, the article brings together two relevant but distinct literatures: scholarship on language ideologies and scholarship on algorithms and the gig economy. The data analyzed include: Semi-structured interviews with Black online English teachers; the websites of popular teaching platforms; and posts in public Reddit threads focused on online English teaching. The findings demonstrate how Black teachers experience the intersection of customer-based ratings and algorithms within the burgeoning online English teaching industry. The article concludes by advocating for scholars to more systematically engage with and study online tutoring platforms’ use of rating and algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage and Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 2021


  • algorithmic bias
  • gig economy
  • Native speakerism
  • online English teaching
  • raciolinguistic ideologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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