A lot of people wonder how travelers can make money on the go. There are actually tons of posts, like this one, explaining the best ways to find remote work. Now, personally, I’m not a huge fan of doing personal selling type gigs, but I know a lot of people who have made a decent income off of selling beauty items, essential oils, and other products! If you have that salesman charm, go for it! If you’re more like me, continue reading and I’ll explain how I earn money teaching English online.
A little bit about VIPKid:
This video does have a lot of “extras” that you wouldn’t normally see…
I teach English as a second language (ESL) online through a company called VIPKid. The basic premise is that you teach children, aged 5 – 12, English through an online platform. It’s a video taught, one-on-one class that lasts for 25 minutes, sort of like teaching over Skype. The children have varying degrees of English ability, ranging from a LV0 child who speaks ZERO English, to LV4 children, who can read, write, and speak English very well. VIPKid hosts you on their platform and servers because they also have a prepared lesson plan that you are to use depending on the child’s level. This means that you don’t have to do any lesson planning! You do need to go over the slides ahead of time, just to be prepared for your lesson.
If you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far and want to know if you can apply, here is a list of the qualifications that a potential teacher must have:
This, however, is not really a hard list. Their FAQ page has more detailed information, but here is the quick breakdown:
- Be from North America (for the accent) – No, you cannot be from the U.K. or Australia or anywhere else… You can teach from there though.
- Have any Bachelor’s degree (only exception is for those with an associates for early childhood education) – You will need to submit a copy of it once hired.
- Have some experience teaching
- This is not as important… Most of the people who apply have limited teaching experience. Moms count, babysitting experience, anything really should be fine. They just want to know you’re comfortable around kids; it doesn’t have to be formal teaching experience.
- Be available to teach at least 15 half hour classes per week during BEIJING PEAK HOURS which probably means pretty early for you in the U.S.
- Have a good internet connection with audio/video capabilities
- Have a passport – I know confusing, but once you’re hired, you need to provide a copy of it…
I’ve seen a lot of British people or other people from native English speaking countries ask if they can still apply, and the answer is no. Unfortunately, the company boasts giving the American Education to Chinese students, and therefore, they want candidates who “sound like the typical American.” Another note is that my bachelor degrees are in marketing and media arts. They say in a “relevant field” but that’s more of a soft rule, in my opinion. Also, I did not have any prior ESL teaching experience or a current teaching certification, so that was another soft rule.
Should you apply?
If the video is being weird, click here to watch on YouTube.
The process of applying to VIPKid is actually pretty rigorous! Once you visit their site, you’ll be asked to create a login (preferably with a gmail account or something similar). Once you create your account, you’ll submit your résumé or CV. They’ll email you back saying they’re looking over it and you will most likely hear back in a day or two. If they select you, they’ll send you an email link telling you how to schedule your interview! Yay! You log back in with the username you created in order to apply and you will see your application in the first stage. Once you schedule your interview, you’ll be expected to talk a little bit about yourself. They’ll ask you some questions about your experience teaching and ask you about your college degrees. You will then have to do a 10 minute “demo” class where the interviewer will pretend to be a 5 year old with limited English abilities. This part was a little awkward for me, but it’s really not so bad! They’ll grade you on your timing, happiness, and overall abilities to teach.
A good example of what the interview is like:
This will also be similar to what teaching the kids looks like!
Once you pass your interview, they will then ask you to move onto the second step which is accepting your contract. Based on your interview/experience, they will offer you a per class dollar amount between $7-$9 (for a half hour session). There are also bonuses you can earn. You get $1/class simply for showing up for the full time. You earn an extra $0.50/class if you teach at least 30 classes in a month, and an extra $1/class if you teach at least 45 classes in a month. That means you’ll be earning somewhere between $18-22/hour if you earn all of the bonuses! The 6-month contract also has terms outlining your position, cancellations, what is/is not acceptable, taking vacation, and payment info. They pay you once a month through direct deposit. Once you’ve accepted and signed your contract, you will then fill out a little bio page. You upload a few pictures of yourself, a short intro, a 10-15 second video introduction, and personal info. This includes your passport, bank information (for payment), diplomas, etc. The next step is to watch a TON OF TRAINING VIDEOS. You’ll download some example PowerPoints & PDFs, watch a ton of informational videos about the different levels of students, different class sessions, payment information, troubleshooting information, etc. The final step in the application process (finally!) is to schedule your practicum. The practicum session is basically the same thing as the interview, but full time. You will book your practicum for one hour and a teacher will pretend to be a student. Halfway through, you pause, and talk about what’s going well and what you need to improve on. You then finish the lesson and talk some more. You will then get an email saying your next step. For most people, it is to book a second practicum, while a select few may go straight to teaching and even fewer will be told they’re not a good fit and they will be done. If you’re like me, you had to schedule a second practicum. This is basically the exact same thing as the first, they just want you to get additional practice in and make sure you are ready before you begin teaching. Once you have finished that, congratulations! You’re ready to be a VIPKid teacher!
Once you’ve made it this far, you’re ready to begin scheduling your open time to teach! Your same log in will now bring you to the homepage you will become familiar with. There are now MORE training videos to watch (I know, I know) to teach you how to begin scheduling classes and give student feedback, etc. You are expected to fill out a months worth of availability in the schedule area which looks like this:
Once you have your timezone set, the times on the left-hand side are local for you! When you hoover your mouse over the selected time, you can see what time that is in Beijing. Again, this is EARLY for us here in the United States, so that’s something to keep in mind. I figure I can do an hour before work Monday – Friday (hour and a half Friday), an hour on Friday night, and an hour Sunday morning to meet the 15 class requirement. Once your free time has been BOOKED, you can no longer change it. You can also not make any changes until you have at least 15 classes selected. This means I could change my mind and do Saturday night and take of Sunday morning if I wanted, but I must always have 15 classes selected before I can make those changes. While you do have the ability to control your schedule, it is mostly limited to those “peak hours” so be prepared to get up early… Clearly the early evening is more popular for Beijing, which is why my earliest classes fill up first (6am for me is 8pm in Beijing during DST). Now I’m not really willing to get up too much earlier, but if I were, I’m sure I could get more slots filled faster!
Before applying, I just sort of assumed that any time you put during “peak hours” would be filled, but that is not the case. It takes time to build up a rapport with students and parents, so don’t expect to be for sure getting every slot filled! Kind of a bummer for me if my 6:30am classes don’t fill. I guess I could go into work extra early… haha. Also, if students cancel within 24 hours, you get paid for the session. If they cancel outside of 24 hours, you do not. You’ll watch about 8 videos explaining this, so if you’ve made it this far, you already know.
Here’s a short video of an actual class:
You will have to be silly to hold the kids’ attention! Also lag is real and patience is a virtue 🙂
After class is over, you have 12 hours to leave course feedback. This is very important to the parents of the student as well as VIPKid. It let’s the parents know how the student is progressing and it lets VIPKid know if the student is in the correct level. It also gives you a chance to fill out any information related to behavioral problems, tips for future teachers, etc.
If you think you might be interested in applying, click here for my referral link! Please make sure you’ve researched the hours in Beijing and know that this is something you’d be interested in doing before you apply!
CLICK HERE for my update after working for VIPKid for 2 months!
CLICK HERE for my update after working for VIPKid for 4 months!
What do you all think about VIPKid? Does it seem like a neat company to work for? Do you have other remote teaching jobs that you enjoy? Let me know!