Want to travel the world while still making money on the road? Are you a stay-at-home parent looking to make an income in between chasing those toddlers around? Already have a great job, but looking for a side hustle a few hours a week? Have you ever wanted to teach ESL to youngsters, but can’t commit to a one or two year contract abroad? Well, then teaching online just might be the perfect job for you! And, I’m about to throw a WHOLE LOT of information at you, so I hope you’re ready to hear it!
What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an online ESL company that offers one-on-one, 25 minute English lessons based on the standard American curriculum, to children ages 4 to 12 in China. The job itself allows for complete flexibility with your own schedule and permits you to work anywhere in the world where you have reliable Internet connection. An added bonus is teaching in your jammies and saying good-bye to your dreaded morning commute!
VIPKID is arguably the most established online teaching company and a leader in the industry. It’s been around for over 5 years now and has over 60,000 teachers currently employed and over 500,000 students signed up. The company is very well-managed and organized and allows for a lot of opportunity to grow. In 2018, Forbes named it the number one company for remote work.
The online teaching industry is becoming big, with new companies popping up almost every month it seems. So, if you’re looking to get your foot in the door, now is the time! Want to get started? Click here to apply or keep reading to learn everything you need to know about teaching English online with VIPKID.
Before we get into anything further, let’s make sure you meet VIPKID’s list of requirements in order to apply.
First, you need to have a bachelor’s degree, which can be in ANY discipline. So, if you have a bachelor’s degree in astrology, with a minor in underwater basket weaving, that’s totally fine! Next, you need to be a native English speaker from either Canada or the United States. Unfortunately, VIPKID doesn’t give any leeway on this one. And of course, you will need a computer or laptop, a webcam, a good quality set of headphones (preferably noise cancelling), and access to the Internet (this one’s a no brainer!). The company looks for applicants with teaching, mentorship, tutoring, coaching, or some sort of childcare experience. If you have a TEFL or a teaching certificate, this MIGHT help with your application, but is by no means required.
So, to summarize, you will need to:
- Be a native English speaker from either Canada or the United States
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline
- Have experience working with children (preferably something relating to education)
- Have access to the Internet, a computer or laptop, a webcam, and headphones
Pay + Incentives
Let’s talk about the salary and the incentives that VIPKID offers (I know you’re itching to know)! VIPKID pays a base fee between $7 to $9 USD per 25 minute class. So, for each hour taught, the base pay ranges anywhere between $14 to $18 USD.
On top of your base pay, you get $1 USD for showing up on time and completing the class. This is known as the participation incentive. Then, you get an additional incentive, the finished classes incentive, depending on how many classes you end up teaching during the month. If you teach between 30 to 45 classes in one month (15 to 22.5 hours a month), you will get an additional $0.50 USD per class. If you teach over 45 classes in a single month (more than 22.5 hours), this changes to $1 USD per class. Most teachers teach more than 45 classes in a single month (22.5 hours is pretty easy to do!), so they will receive not only the participation incentive, but the maximum amount of the finished classes incentive as well.
If you’re completely lost right now (don’t worry, I get it!), this is how the math works out. I’ll use my actual pay as an example.
Base Pay + Participation Incentive + Finished Classes Incentive = Amount Per 25 Minute Class
$8.50 USD + $1.00 USD + $1.00 USD = $10.50 USD
I make $10.50 USD per class, or $21 USD every hour. I always teach well over 45 classes a month, so I benefit from the maximum amount of the finished classes incentive. With the crazy exchange rate right now, this works out to $27 CAD per hour.
But, wait, there’s more! If you open up any classes as short notice (within a 24 hour period of the class being taught) you get an extra $2 USD if it is booked. This happens for me a lot now with the peak time bookings. Generally, I make an additional $4 USD per hour with this incentive. Now, if you teach a trial class (meaning that the student has not officially signed up with VIPKID yet) and the student converts to a regular student, you will get $5 USD just for helping to make that happen for the company.
With a short notice booking, your pay per class will look like this.
Base Pay + Participation Incentive + Finished Classes Incentive + Short Notice Incentive = Amount Per 25 Minute Class
So, the company offers A LOT of incentives (and even if it all sounds a little confusing right now, it will all make sense once you start teaching!). They also do regular weekly and monthly challenges that put extra money in your pocket, just for opening up time slots, even if they don’t end up getting booked! These additional challenge incentives are sent to your e-mail in the VIPKID weekly update.
All class bookings are made according to the Beijing time zone. The classes take place from 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM Beijing time. This can be a bit of a pain if you’re living in a North American time zone while teaching and are not a morning person (as you will be working overnight or early in the morning). Also, if you’re looking for a job to do in the afternoon in a North American time zone, there are physically no teaching slots available during those hours, as the students are sound asleep!
There are peak times according to the students’ school schedules. On weeknights, the peak times are when the kids are home from their regular day schools, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. On weekends, you can expect a major increase in bookings, with students signing up for classes at any point during the day.
Personally, this works well for me in my current situation. I had been living abroad for over two years up until just a few weeks ago, teaching English in Korea and Taiwan. When I was living there, I was on the Beijing schedule, so it was very easy to manage my VIPKID teaching hours with my regular day school hours. I’m back home in Toronto now, visiting my family for a month. I’m hardly a morning person, so I’ve had to insert an extra bold coffee IV drip into my arm every day from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM (only joking). But, I’m finished by 10:00 AM, then have the rest of my days free to do whatever, which involves catching up on a lot of sleep!
If you don’t mind sacrificing a few morning or weekends, or want to take this job with you while you’re travelling through Europe or Asia (as these hours work well with the Beijing time zone), it’s a pretty sweet gig that offers absolute flexibility with a schedule that you create for yourself! So, yes, the hours themselves are limited to Beijing time, but, you can choose however many teaching slots you want to open, from 27 a day to zero (if you’re in need of a little break!). Other companies out there require that you put in a certain amount of hours every week. But, with VIPKID there is NO minimum requirement.
Well, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty… the job itself. As mentioned above, each class is 25 minutes. The classes start every half hour, at the start of the hour and at the 30 minute mark. The 5 minutes between the end of a class and the start of the next class serve as a buffer if there are any technical errors and to allow you to prepare for your next class. These 5 minutes are also the time when most teachers will complete the student feedback form, which is mandatory, and must be completed within 12 hours of completing the class. It’s a simple form where you provide a few comments about how your student did in your classroom. This is also where you can identify to the parents what their child should be practicing and looking to improve upon. Each feedback form takes about a minute or two to complete, depending how detailed you would like to be with your comments.
Lesson Planning + Props
There is absolutely no prep work or lesson planning involved. However, I strongly advise you review the slides of the lesson beforehand, or you might find yourself fumbling your way through the class. This becomes easier over time, as you will end up teaching the same lesson over a hundred times to different students. VIPKID provides you with all of the teaching materials. You will be given lesson slides, which come with tips on how to teach them at the top.
You can be as creative as you wish with the given lesson. Most teachers use props (and a lot of them!) while teaching. This can be anything from flashcards to puppets. Personally, I’m pretty minimal with my props. Right now, I have a set of ABC flashcards, a mini whiteboard (which I grabbed from the dollar store), and a reward system (which I’ll tell you about in a second, because it’s super important for your interview). I know some teachers who have any prop you can think of under the sun, including handmade, laminated flashcards, small animal figurines, and a whole set of plastic vegetables. While this can create an amazing teaching experience for the students, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make it work. Be creative, find things around the house, and pick up a few staple props (like a mini whiteboard) from the dollar store.
I mentioned a reward system. This is really important for your interview and might be the things that makes or breaks it. A reward system is an additional way to praise the student for their efforts or achievements during a lesson. They can be super simple or incredibly creative and complex – it’s totally up to you! VIPKID has its own reward system already built into each lesson, 5 stars, which can be rewarded to the student at any point during the lesson. But, you should have your own reward system, which can be hung on the wall behind you or easy to grab while you’re teaching.
There are tons of different ideas out there, from building cupcakes or snowmen, to adding teeth to a face on a whiteboard. The one that I personally use is the ice cream reward. I have a large picture of an ice cream cone taped to the wall behind me where I teach, visible to the student. I printed from Google and cut out 10 large ice cream scoops. After the student has completed a task, or overcome something that they had found challenging (like pronunciation errors), I will add a scoop of ice cream to the ice cream cone. It’s simple, doesn’t cost a single penny, and the students really seem to enjoy it! Some even make some weird slurping and licking sounds while I add a scoop (… teaching can be strange at times).
So even if it’s not super refined, you definitely should introduce your own reward system to your interviewer. It will show that you are prepared and creative (as this is one of the things they REALLY look for).
Interview Process + How to Prepare
For the interview, PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. Because there are now SO many people applying to VIPKID, you really need to make yourself stand out from the rest of the applicants! Once you’ve completed the online application, you’ll be asked to set an interview time. Give yourself at least a few days to prepare everything you need. Go through the materials they provide you, watch Youtube videos of different demos, plan a great reward system (you can find these everywhere on Pinterest or Youtube as well), go through the lesson slides more than a few times, and, even though I said before you don’t need a whole lot of props necessarily, you WILL need them for the interview. Your interviewer will ask you some very basic questions about yourself (experience and education) and why you want to work for the company, so prepare your answer for this question at least.
Bonus tip: Wear an orange shirt for your interview. Nope, I’m not joking! VIPKID’s whole brand screams orange and interviewers love when the applicants wear an orange shirt for their teaching demos!
For the teaching demo, the interviewer will be acting like a 5 year old Chinese student, with very little knowledge of English. The key focus during your demo is to constantly use TPR, or Total Physical Response. Use hand gestures and facial expressions to demonstrate what you are teaching, rather than just reading off of the slides. Specifically, demonstrate to the student what you would like them to say by holding your index finger to your chin. Cup your hand to your ear when you are prompting the student to speak. And, you can add any other hand gestures or body movements that you think are relevant to the lesson. Other than that, keep your language very simple, use basic words, and encourage and praise your interviewer as if you were encouraging and praising a real child. I’ll be honest, it feels super weird, uncomfortable, and awkward to teach an adult who is pretending to be a Chinese student. Keep in mind, they see this hundreds and hundreds of times, so don’t feel self-conscious about it (TRY as hard as you can, I know it’s strange!).
What is the Interviewer Looking For?
In particular, they are looking for: constant use of TPR, preparedness (everything I previously mentioned), props (as many as you can that are relevant to the lesson), a clean background with a few, simple teaching-oriented decorations (personally, I have my reward system, a colourful “Teacher Alexa” sign I made, and an ABCs poster – keep it simple, clean and fun), a bubbly and fun personality, simple and clear language, and a positive and an encouraging attitude. And, don’t forget that orange shirt!
After you’ve completed your interview, you should be told within 24 hours if you got the job. Sometimes, you might be even told on the spot! They will tell you what your base pay is based on your experience and your performance with the teaching demo.
Creating Your Teacher Profile
Once you are hired, you will be asked to scan the required documents into their system (bachelor’s degree and any teaching certificates if you have them), set up your payment information, and upload some photos and a brief introductory video of yourself (which the parents will see).
You will also need to write a short paragraph about yourself, which should include your education background, teaching experience if you have any, and your hobbies and interests. You can be as creative and detailed as you like!
After you have completed all of the information on your teaching profile, it is reviewed and approved by VIPKID within 24 hours. Then, you’re ready to start teaching!
After you are hired, it will start slow, I can guarantee that. This is the newbie teacher booking dry spell and it’s totally normal, don’t worry! I experienced this and my friends who teach with the company also experienced this. It takes a bit of time to become established with VIPKID and to get consistent bookings. But, once you get the ball rolling, you’ll begin to see that more parents follow your availability and will look to book YOU specifically to teach their kiddos. For me, it took a few months to see steady bookings. So, how can you establish yourself faster than I did?
How To Establish Yourself
Here’s my advice. As soon as you sign that contract, hustle! This is something I didn’t do and I wish I had right from the beginning. I can’t stress enough how important it is to open up as many time slots as you can. This might mean some early mornings and staying in on weekends. It’s OK – it will get better over time!
VIPKID offers a variety of free courses and workshops. Once you’ve completed one of these, you will get a certification, some of which qualify you to teach specific class types. I highly recommend you do as many as you can, because it increases your chances of being booked faster!
And, while you’re doing all of this BE PATIENT AND CALM. It was only a few months ago that I only had 9 classes booked one week, then all of a sudden, I woke up one morning to 45 bookings made overnight for the following week. I wasn’t expecting it, but this was the major turning point for me with VIPKID.
Alright, what are you waiting for?
Click here to begin your online teaching journey with VIPKID today! Best of luck with the interview!
I really hope that this information was helpful to you! When you use my referral link and complete the recruitment process, I do get a bonus for recruiting you. I am here to send you more helpful information and tips, and, answer ANY questions you have during the application and interview processes!
Best of luck!
The post Everything You Need To Know About Teaching English Online With VIPKID appeared first on A Broader Tale.