COMPARISON LIST OF MANY ONLINE ESL COMPANY OPTIONS BELOW!
Specifically hello to all the people currently in job limbo due to the pandemic and who are now searching for some real online work.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, an ability to teach, and like working with children, teaching English online may be the perfect fit for you! Hundreds of Thousands of Teachers are already online. It’s 2020 so the major platforms have been around for several years, but you are not too late. There are also more students than ever (currently many Chinese students are still confined to their homes and not back in school).
In this post I will walk you through the basic process, talk about several company options, and give you a foundation of support to begin your online teaching journey.
It all may seem daunting at first, but I promise diving in head first is the best way to forget nerves and get more comfortable.
There are so many companies from which to choose. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the main ones I hear about. I do not teach for them all and I only have accounts for 3, so for the most part I am trying to present unbiased facts (though I do have some bias).
I currently teach for VIPKid and have since early 2019, though they caught my eye in mid 2017 when a classmate from University started working with them while traveling the world. I was more than qualified at the time, but I hesitated and thought too much about it. I figured I wasn’t qualified (I was) and it all looked very complicated (it’s not). In 2017 I did make the leap into online teaching with Cambly which at the time was mostly conversations with adults, and it’s global so you can teach any hours you want. Teaching adults and teaching children is vastly different, and although I enjoyed the conversations I had, I prefer younger students (especially in the early mornings so my brain doesn’t have to work as hard).
(non-exhaustive list. Once you start searching them, you’ll get more adds. Just be sure to do your own research on requirements, hourly minimums, payments)
VIPKid base $14-18/hr + bonuses [I average $22/hr!] no minimum hours! Many available hours to set up your schedule. (Curriculum based, the biggest company, huge support community, ranked #3 best remote work in 2020 on Flexjobs) North Americans only [use my referral code!: AMY000939]
Zebra English $16-24/hr guaranteed hours (very new platform, curriculum, I haven’t joined yet but it seems very similar to VIPKid with less teachers and more interactive slides) North Americans only.
MagicEars $20-26/hr 3 class/ wk minimum (curriculum, four students per class)
QKids $16/hr +bonuses up to $20/hr 6hrs/wk minimum. North Americans only. (curriculum, 1-4 students per class)
Palfish (Free Talk $10-18/hr and Curriculum $25+/hr, phone app only) Set your own rate! no minimum hours! You don’t need to be a native speaker. [use my referral code!: 58310931]
Landi English $10-21/hr 12 hr/wk minimum (curriculum) “Neutral” accent required.
Cambly $10.20/hr Free Talk $12/hr Cambly Kids (new Cambly Kids with curriculum lessons) You don’t need to be a native speaker.
DaDa $15-21/hr (but, I can’t actually find solid numbers anywhere? Odd.) (curriculum) British or American English.
GoGoKid $14-25/hr (curriculum) No location requirement.
SayABC $17/hr [actually $14/ 40 minute class + incentives] (curriculum, 4 students per class) No location requirement.
Education First [EF] $13/hr + bonuses up to $20/hr US only
iTalki $. set your own rate. (huge community of language learners, not just English! Any language, any schedule. [I think I’m going to start learning another language here!]
iTutorGroup pay varies DRASTICALLY. If you are from the US or a Native speaker, it’s good $8-10/25 min class or ~$16.50/ 45 min class for US only. Otherwise I’ve seen people from elsewhere offered $1.50/hr! 5 peak hrs / wk minimum
*** TeachAway is another great resource to compare ESL companies. ***
At the end of the day, most of these companies are very similar (in the hiring process, the classrooms, and the contracts). It is up to you to find the best fit for your life.
If you use my VIPKid, Cambly, or Palfish links, PLEASE reach out to me. I cannot help you unless I have your contact info. I don’t want anyone to have to navigate alone!
Beyond speaking English, having a degree, and having a TEFL/TESOL, there are some other things that are either requirements for most online classroom or simply help make your life 100 times easier. Here’s my tips (bias for VIPKid):
The Bare Necessities:
- headphones with microphone. They prefer not earbuds. I have these.
- external webcam. Though honestly at the moment I have more issues with mine lagging, so I just use my internal. This isn’t a real requirement, especially now with the upgraded filters on my platform. I have this.
- props!!! This part can be daunting, but just a few basic props can go a long way. #1 is a whiteboard. I have a few. They can be used for anything. I also printed out a few characters. Everything else I’ve accumulated by just grabbing items around the house. Doable even if you are a traveling teacher (yes, I know several teachers that travel full time with VIPKid, it’s completely possible).
- Red lipstick. Obviously this isn’t a requirement, but I think it helps me not look like I rolled out of bed 5 minutes before class at 4am and it helps especially to teach phonetics and those tricky sounds like /th/ and /l/ with the contrast of your tongue/teeth/lips.
- A nice background. Don’t spend a lot of money here. I got my background from cards and art pieces I already owned then bought some party decorations for a few bucks. It looks simple, fun, clean, and professional. Don’t have too much going on behind you that could be distracting. If you don’t have a specific location, just have a sign with your name.
- Reliable internet! This is the BIGGEST thing and sometimes the most challenging. Have a backup. If you can, use an ethernet cable.
- (speaking of backups, many teachers use an iPad as a backup teaching device.)
- A smile. Though not a requirement, having a kind, fun, enjoyable energy in class will help you gain more bookings. If you are a stick in the mud, kids (and parents) won’t like you. This is especially important while correcting a student; some are easily upset/frustrated.
- Patience! These are young children learning a foreign language. Support, correct, be forgiving, and remember the expectations. (I have seen teachers upset that students are in a level too difficult for them, while they are actually fitting the criteria perfectly. Being too serious about it makes for grumpy teachers. I caught myself do it once with a distracted kid who was probably just doing her school homework in retrospect).
- An alarm, or FIVE. Do not rely on the app alarms. It is random. Set your personal alarm and set a different one too. Too many teachers get caught sleeping through classes. These hours can be tough, but I enjoy them because it leaves your full day open. Since we set our own schedules, the amount of sleep deprivation is up to you.
I will make another post with more tips for new teachers.
I hope this is helpful in your journey into online teaching!
PS, keep in mind it takes a little while to start gaining students and in this turmoil students have varying schedules. Many are due to return to school shortly and may change their schedules.
Please ask me any questions you may have. I am happy to help guide you through this process.