In our last article, we covered online jobs that involve teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to students through video-chatting platforms. One of the platforms I mentioned in that article was VIPKid. I explored VIPKid a little bit then, but I feel that a more comprehensive article should be posted afterwards in case people are more interested in joining VIPKid. So without further ado, let’s dive into VIPKid! Is working at VIPKid worth it? What’s it like teaching for VIPKid?
Before we go on, I must disclose that this article will contain affiliate links, meaning if you click on one of them and purchase something using that link, I will make a commission off of that sale. However, I reiterate as always that this will not affect my review as I aim to talk about as many aspects of each product or service I review, whether bad or good.
So let’s go!
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is a platform where paying students (mainly from China) connect with English teachers from both the US and Canada through video chat. It was started in 2013 and since then, it has grown tremendously.
As of November 2018, VIPKid has around 60,000 teachers catering to 500,000 students. That’s a lot of teachers and students! VIPKid is a popular place for online ESL teachers to start working.
How Do I Sign Up?
In order to sign up, you need a bachelor’s degree (in any subject), eligibility to work either in the US or Canada, fluent English skills (duh!) (American English is preferred) and at least one year of teaching experience.
Luckily, “teaching experience” is left quite vague. While professional teachers in iTalki need to show proof of professional teaching experience, this isn’t necessary with VIPKid. As long as you’ve had some kind of experience teaching someone (be it mentoring, coaching, or private tutoring), VIPKid will take you. Experience with children is definitely a must as you will be teaching children online.
You have to fulfill these requirements, as VIPKid will reject you immediately if you write in your application that you don’t meet any of the requirements.
If you have what it takes, however, then the next step for you is to fill out their application.
Below is a screenshot from their website once you create an account with them. The application process is fairly straightforward.
After you fill out your basic information (including things like degree, experience, etc), you will be asked to do a demo lesson.
VIPKid gives applicants two ways to complete their demo lesson.
You can either record a five-minute video of yourself conducting a demo lesson. VIPKid’s YouTube channel has a video
showing an example of a demo lesson. Follow along with what the teacher is doing in the video while recording your own demo lesson.
The other option is doing a live 30-minute demo lesson with a VIPKid representative watching.
Either option works just fine. However, if you’re looking for more immediate feedback, the live demo lesson might be your cup of tea. That being said, applicants who choose the five-minute video option will get feedback and results within 24 hours.
When you are doing your mock lesson, always remember that you’re going to be talking to kids. Be outgoing, entertaining and caring for your students.
Many teachers bring props in order to make their lessons more engaging to students, as we all know how easily distracted and bored kids can be. Props can include items like dry-erase whiteboards, puppets or a reward system for students. It’s up to you! You can go with the tried-and-true whiteboard or you can be creative! This, of course, isn’t a requirement, but it does help!
Try to be timely. Don’t go on any tangents away from the lesson and try to fit everything within your time limit, but also remember that you will be teaching children, so talking too fast is also a big no-no.
So How Does VIPKid Work?
Once you have been accepted as a teacher, you will then be asked to complete a bio about yourself and a 15-second introductory video. These will be used for parents looking for teachers to book, so make sure you are leaving a good impression on them!
Afterwards, you will have to pick the times that you are available. The more time-slots you have open, of course, the more likely you are to get booked.
Parents will choose from a variety of English teachers hosted on VIPKid. It might seem a little hard to stand out from such a big crowd of teachers, but there are ways you can change this.
One thing I like to do is add tags. Parents will serach for teachers using tags (ie “patient”, “entertaining”, etc) to find someone that fits their kids’ learning needs. You can add up to five tags and I definitely recommend adding all five. It can be a total game changer, as you will stand out more as parents narrow their searches.
Each lesson is 25 minutes long. You will receive an editable PowerPoint lesson for each class and go over it with your student through video chat. The kids are well-behaved and the worst possible problems you might have with a kid there are either no-shows or keeping them engaged.
Of course, props are always encouraged in these lessons, especially if you want to keep your students’ attention.
After your lessons, parents will be asked to provide feedback and ratings for the teachers they booked. Originally, teachers weren’t able to see their own feedback/ratings. However, this appears to have changed.
In the case of no-shows (where a student doesn’t come to class), you will usually have to stick around in the classroom interface in order to be compensated. In the case of trial classes, you’re expected to stay at least 15 minutes. In the case of other classes, you will be required to stay for the whole 25 minutes.
How Much Does VIPKid Pay?
VIPKid will pay teachers $7 to $9 for each 25-minute class. If you complete 45 lessons and are on-time to all of your lessons, you will receive an additional $2 bonus for each class you teach.
That means hourly pay can come out to around $20 an hour, assuming you are able to book two 25-minute classes within that hour. Not bad at all!
What About the Time Difference?
Since the students are mainly from China, VIPKid teachers will have to deal with the huge time difference between North America and China. Many have chosen to start teaching as early as 4:30 AM Eastern Standard Time, as it would be 4:30 PM in Beijing Time.
So if you’re more of a night owl, this might be a great gig for you! I deal with insomnia at times so when I can’t sleep at all, sometimes I will fire up my computer and get some early-morning/late-night bookings on VIPKid.
However, there are “rush hours” in VIPKid when bookings and classes are most active. If you can hop on during those times, you can definitely get booked. These “rush hours” usually take place on Friday and Saturday nights, from 9 PM to midnight Eastern Standard Time. So don’t worry, VIPKid isn’t only for night owls!
Pros and Cons?
– The pay is pretty good. If you can get booked for two classes for every hour you work, you can earn up to $20 an hour!
– You don’t need to do any lesson prep, as VIPKid provides the lessons in the form of PowerPoint presentations. VIPKid does offer some teaching materials so teachers can get a look at the lessons they will be covering, but you don’t have to make the lessons yourself.
– The hours can be pretty flexible, as you set your own hours and the parents book lessons based on when you are available. Of course, the more open you are with time the more bookings you will get. But in the end, you decide when you work.
-You can look at feedback left by parents of the students you taught. VIPKid also offers feedback after mock lessons.
– The time difference between the US/Canada and China can be a hassle. You might have to work early morning/late night shifts.
Overall, VIPKid is one of my favorite ways to work-at-home. The work isn’t hard, as the lessons are already laid out for you and you will be teaching students remotely instead of dealing with a noisy classroom. The pay is good and the hours are flexible. Getting booked consistently can be a challenge, but there are ways that you can make yourself more visible to parents so that they are likelier to choose you.
All in all, I definitely recommend working at VIPKid.
If you are interested in signing up, sign up at VIPKid.com!