Are you looking for a job that you can do remotely from anywhere in the world? Are you looking for a steady income every month whilst you travel? Do you enjoy teaching English to children? I feel I’ve finally found the holy grail of teaching English online by being a VIPKID Teacher and want to tell you how you can make a lot of easy travel money teaching English online too.
How to make tons of easy travel money as a VIPKID teacher
Being a VIPKID teacher means I can teach English online from anywhere in the world. I have flexible hours, motivated students and make around $2,000 a month, every month. I can take a week off when I want or change my hours every week. I’ve been teaching English for 6 years and this is the best English teaching job I’ve ever had.
I started working as a VIPKID Teacher last October. I thought it would be a temporary job until I found ‘permanent’ work in France. The year came and went, and nothing else offered the same salary, flexibility, or opportunity as to what I’m doing now.
What is a typical VIPKID lesson?
A typical VIPKID lesson consists of a 25 minute intensive one-on-one session with a student aged 5-12. Usually, the student has completed pre-class work to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary and topic in the class. Your job is to develop the students speaking skills and help them practice what they’ve been learning. The students are highly motivated! They’ll keep you on your toes too with their quick wit and personalities.
Here’s a snapshot of the VIPKID platform. The VIPKID teacher has a video feed, VIPKID students have a video feed and in the middle there is a PowerPoint…
What is the VIPKID curriculum like?
The VIPKID Curriculum is based on U.S. Common Core standards and a flipped classroom approach. Since the curriculum is designed in the Head Office, a VIPKID teacher needs to take a look at the material 24-48 hours before teaching students, to prepare relevant props and familiarize themselves with activities.
The classes are divided by 5 student levels:
One: Students are learning the alphabet and simple greetings
Two: Students are learning phonics sounds and how to talk about colors, numbers, family members, and developing other foundation level English skills
Three: Students are reading short texts independently and beginning to use ‘free talking’ skills
Four: Students are able to hold conversations, read texts, and are at a lower intermediate level
Five: Students are able to read Grade 3 texts, connect topics and think critically
These lessons are mixed throughout the day. The lessons consist of 25 intensive teaching minutes, therefore, it can be difficult to adjust from teaching a Level 1 student to a Level 4 student in the 5 minutes between classes. Teachers must be always ready to adjust to a variety of student levels, skills, and abilities.
What is a typical VIPKID salary?
The salary is based on factors including the interview, demo class and your experience. When you schedule an interview, you will also be asked to teach a short 10 minute lesson (demo class) taken from the curriculum to demonstrate your teaching ability. This will form your ‘base pay’.
Base pay ranges between 7.5 USD per class to 9 USD per class. Since a class is only 25 minutes, this means the base pay range is between 15-17 USD per hour. On top of the ‘base’ salary, teachers are also offered incentives for the classes they complete. If you show up on time and do your job, you will get an extra dollar for every class taught, bringing your base pay up to 17-19 USD an hour.
Finally, you are also offered an incentive for the number of classes completed per month. If you teach at least 45 classes (just 22.5 hours) a month, you are guaranteed another one dollar per class, which brings the total per hour up to 19-21 dollars. I have personally never been paid less than $20/hour with a starting base pay of $8 per class taught. I have since received a raise when starting my third contract, bringing my pay up to $21/hour.
What’s especially relevant in pay is cancellations. If a student cancels within 24 hours you are still paid for that class. Sometimes I log in, see a student cancellation, and get paid to have a cup of coffee downstairs and relax. Sometimes I get paid to sleep in. As a result, life is good with cancellation pay!
Is the pay good compared to other online English teaching jobs?
Yes. While there are other jobs that have cropped up recently offering similar promises, pay, and a similar system, don’t be fooled. They’re copycat companies that have sprung up overnight after seeing the success that companies like VIPKID are having.
Curious, I interviewed with one and was unimpressed by the lack of organization within the company and the lack of a developed curriculum for students. In an effort to make up for lost time getting started, many companies are offering a sub-par platform or curriculum and trying to cash in on the English online learning craze. These companies stand a much higher chance of folding without warning leaving you stranded without pay or a job.
If you’re going to do online learning, stick with the company that spent two years preparing for an expansion to make sure that they had the framework and the product to support their student base. I don’t say that as an employee, but as someone who takes the education of my students seriously.
Related Reading: How to Teach English Online – The Ultimate Guide
From teaching English in the classroom to teaching English online
I was skeptical about how effective VIPKID online lessons would be. I’m a classroom teacher. I started teaching English in South Korea with Alice Teacake when we met 6 years ago. I went on to teach English to adults in Saudi Arabia and Hungary. If you want to know how to get a great English teaching classroom job, make sure you check out Teacake’s Guide To Teaching English Abroad.
The idea of teaching online was very uncomfortable for me because I had an inherent bias against the effectiveness of this kind of education. I’ve since changed my tune.
Teaching VIPKID English online works
Educators run the VIPKID Head Office in Beijing and they understand student needs, educational research and what works. They developed their own platform and curriculum based on a flipped classroom approach and American Common Core standards. I’ve also seen the results from my students. In a year I’ve watched students go from learning the alphabet to telling me about their families and their lives.
What would my VIPKID schedule be like?
Whatever you want it to be like. Teachers are required to input at least 7.5 hours within the ‘peak times’ that students are most likely to take classes. The peak hours run from 18.00-22.00 Beijing Time from Monday to Friday and all day on Saturday and Sunday. This translates into “ungodly early” from Monday to Friday for the United States but all day on the weekends.
From France, the peak times run from 11.00-15.00. From Thailand it translates to 17.00-21.00. It depends where you are in the world, how much you want to work, and whether you care about working on the weekend.
I currently work 15 teaching hours a week. You will input your hours on Sunday night then VIPKID parents will book their lessons on Monday morning. Here is a snapshot of my availability:
Here is an idea of what my schedule looks like once it is full:
Do I get vacation time from VIPKID?
Yes, but it’s unpaid. You are offered two weeks of unpaid time off per 6 month contract. Teachers are also offered more unpaid time off on a case by case basis. Pregnant? You can take time off to have the baby. Moving? No problem. These are just a few of the exceptions to the ‘two week rule’ that I’ve heard of.
Who are VIPKID exactly?
VIPKID is the leading online education company for children in China. It started in 2013. Growth in the last year has been exponential though! In January of 2016 the company had a modest base of 500 teachers and 4,500 active students. The company is now boasting a base of 6,000 teachers and 600,000 students. There is a goal in place to have 1 million students within the next five years so now is the perfect time to become a VIPKID teacher!
Teacake Travels is a big fan of Girl Power and VIPKID is all about that! Cindy Mi, the Chinese born co-founder of the company, reportedly spent her middle school days saving her entire lunch money for English books to teach herself. She recently made the list of Top 40 female Founders Crushing It in 2016 by Tech Magazine. In 2015 alone, VIPKID won the Shengjing Top 21 Global Innovation Award, Tencent’s China’s Most Powerful Education Brand, and Sina’s China’s Most Valuable Online Education Brand and Best Teachers Award.
What are the downsides to VIPKID?
According to VIPKID reviews, these are the most common complaints by current employees.
Communication Can Be Tough
You might be on a completely opposite schedule to the Head Office depending on where you are at the time. If you’re trying to get in contact fast, good luck. Everyone is sleeping. I believe that there will be an expansion of communication wavelengths as the company expands. They seem to be aware of this issue and are working on it.
The Cancellation Policy Is Strict
Life happens, IT problems happen and the company can sometimes not acknowledge this well. I’ve avoided calling in sick at least twice, even when it affected my teaching quality. The cancellation policy realistically only allows you to take off between 3 and 6 days per 6 month contract due to illness or IT problems.
A problem doesn’t count as “IT” unless it happens after the class starts. My internet company cut my line for maintenance without warning last year. I had to use 2 cancellations out of my 6 available cancellations for this. When I got the flu, I didn’t want to risk any more IT issues and taught with a bucket next to me! Head Office is starting to become more lenient about this. Your sickness cancellations are forgiven if you have a doctor’s note. If you can prove IT issues, it’s also forgiven, but it’s much more difficult to prove.
Some Teachers Have Found Work Sporadic
I personally have never had problems building my student base. I’m in a ‘sweet spot’ time zone and I’ve been teaching ESL for years and have a lot of experience. I like to think my teaching quality has something to do with my consistent schedule, but it might be my consistently available hours and dumb luck.
If you want students, make a good video and provide evidence of what makes you a good teacher in your written bio. Be prepared, be energetic, and show that you’re engaged in the lesson and the student’s progress in class.
What VIPKID requirements do I need to meet?
Experience working with kids who are between the ages of 5 and 12 and experience teaching phonics or ESL
You must have a Bachelor’s degree or at minimum an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education
You need to have a working desktop or laptop with high-speed internet that can handle both video and audio
What is the VIPKID teacher recruitment process?
To safeguard the quality of teaching VIPKID has promised, it has 6 steps. The company’s reputation and success depends on keeping a consistently high quality of online English teaching. Therefore, there are several demonstrations to prove that you’ve got what it takes to deliver the curriculum in a fun and engaging way.
Step 1: Apply -> Be careful to highlight your teaching achievements in your resume. This is important because only 6% of applications get past the screening procedure to continue to the interview. There is a rigorous selection process, and this is the first step.
Step 2: Interview -> This is where you answer questions about experience and give a short ‘Demo’ class to show your teaching style. Your interviewer will play the part of a five-year old Level 2 student and determine your base pay.
Step 3: Teaching Suggestions -> View training materials, sample classes and class rubrics to help you get an idea of the curriculum.
Step 4: Mock Classes -> You will complete up to two more practice classes with a Mock Class Mentor. You will be given one or two classes from the curriculum to an experienced teacher who will, again, act the part of a five-year old. They will then give you tips and pointers based on what they’ve seen from their in-class experience.
Step 5: Sign a Contract and Submit Documents -> You will complete and submit a six month contract with some supporting documents that verify your identity. Remember how I said you have to be from a North American background and need a degree? This is where they check that you meet their requirements and are good to go!
Step 6: Start teaching! Students book you when you put in your hours then it’s time to teach!
I want to be a VIPKID teacher. How do I sign up?
Sign up to be a VIPKID online teacher here and it will take you straight to the “Join Us” page. Input your personal details and continue to the application process! Use this link provided as having a recommendation from a current VIPKID teacher increases your likelihood of making it past the screening process! Good luck!
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