If money was not an issue I am sure we would all be sipping piña coladas on a tropical island somewhere instead of going to work. Unfortunately that is not the case for me, or the majority of people. The next best thing to not having to work, is getting a job that works for you. For me that means a job that lets me work when and where I want, while paying me a livable wage. For you, that may mean a part time gig to help ends meet, or to line your travel fund account. With VipKid you can earn $18-$22/hour working from anywhere life takes you (as long as there is wifi)!
What is VIPKid?
VipKid is the worlds largest online English as a Second Language program for children. Launched in 2013 by former English tutor Cindy Mi the company has expanded to reach over 200,000 students and over 30,000 teachers from the United States and Canada. The program aims to provide middle-class families in (mostly) China a full English Immersion experience at an affordable price, from their home. VIPKid was listed as #5 in the Forbes list of Top Companies Offering Remote Jobs in 2017 , and recently launched a similar learning program for English speaking children learning Mandarin.
Where do the teachers step in? Part of the full English immersion program includes one-on-one tutoring sessions. These are twenty-five minuet sessions where a teacher is connected to a student to compliment the students at home learning material with a chance to use their skills learned in real time, as well as a way to see that speaking to a native speaker does not have to be scary! Teachers are people with North American accents from the United States or Canada, they are all ages, and come from various learning backgrounds. They all are (unofficially) required to have some degree of humor.
How The Program Works
What do I actually do?:
The role of the teacher in VIPKid is to provide a full English Immersion experience to children from the comfort of their home. Full immersion means that they are fully engaged in learning the target language. They hear, see, and speak that language. It means that languages outside of English are never spoken in class. This forces language learners to adapt and learn quickly (and also means that you do not need to speak Chinese). As a VIPKid teacher you are an essential part of the full immersion process. You provide what a book, video, or even a Chinese teacher can not.
Teachers provide one-on-one tutoring sessions. These are 25 lessons using material that is provided by VIPKid. The lessons are a compliment to prep work that the kids are doing at home which includes textbook lessons , and videos. Your role is not only to correct their mistakes but also to become a gateway to a foreign land. As a language learner I can attest that your first time speaking with a native can be scary and intimidating. You can give your students confidence in themselves just by showing them that they are understood, and help them navigate the mind-field of confusion that is learning English.
There are some requirements that you HAVE TO HAVE to become a VIPKid teacher. First, you must be from North America. You can live anywhere in the world but you must have been born in the United States or Canada and have a North American accent. (Sorry ESL teachers from around the world but I do not make the rules).Second, you must have a four year degree (in any discipline), and must be able to pass a background check. If these do not apply to you DO NOT BOTHER APPLYING. VIPKid is not lenient so you should look into other ESL companies to work for. As this is an immersion program you do not need to know a word in Chinese.
Other factors that will help you to get hired with VIPKid? Of course any sort of teaching experience, or experience working with children. Anything counts! I put tutoring at my University, and babysitting down as experience. TEFL certifications are certainly a plus but not required. Finally, the un-written requirements to become a VIPKid teacher are that you have to be outgoing and willing to laugh at yourself. Basically, for the kids to have a good time in class you have to be (at least look like you are) having a good time too!
To teach with VIPKid you need to have a basic setup. That means a computer with Wifi and headphones. Here is what my setup looks like and how you can nab even the basic supplies for under $300.
Computer – This is your life when teaching online. I use a 6 year old Macbook air and love it. If you can not invest in a mac right now there are many teachers who teach off chrome-books and love it! Plus side, even top rated chrome-books can come with a price tag under $200.
Headphones – Next on the list of must haves for VIPKid is a set of headphones with a microphone. Some teachers teach with apple earbuds. (I do not suggest this because I have seen many teachers be held accountable for sound issues due to these headsets). I picked up a pair of noise canceling headphones with a mute button (trust me it’s important). This headset also has a flexible microphone which comes in handy when positioning it so that students get a full view of your mouth movements. I love my Microsoft Lifechat Lx-3000 Headset . I have taught with them for a year, and they are under $25.
Webcam- Any internal webcam on your computer is good enough to teach with VIPKid. I taught for a year with only my mac webcam. For teachers looking to up their game or even considering starting a youtube channel, an external webcam is a must. I opted for a the simple to use camera that packs a lot of bang for its buck. The Logitech C920 webcam shoots HD video, and costs under $50.
Basic Props and supplies – Props are key when teaching online. They help you engage students, give you endless opportunities to explain a concept a student is struggling with, or help a shy student connect with you. Some teachers have a small house filled with store bought and handmade props. I started with a few props and have not expanded too much over the past year. The must haves for me are a small dry erase board, alphabet flashcards, and a hand puppet.
What is the pay like:
Pay is broken down into classes and ‘bonuses’. Classes pay $7-10/ per 25 minuet class ($14-$20/per hour). You then receive $1/per class just for showing up on time and finishing the class. You are given an additional $0.50/per class after teaching 30 classes in a month which is bumped up to $1/per class after teaching 45. That works out to $18-22/per hour! On top of this VIPKid offers monthly possibilities at bonuses. Pay is direct deposited into your bank account monthly. Cha ching!
How to Apply
VIPKid has a fairly rigorous application process. The first step of course is to sign up for more information!
The VIPKid application is fairly simple. They do not ask for a resume or list of references. You are asked a list of basic questions and given a space to write a short letter of motivation. There are some keywords that really make a VIPKid application stick out including ESL, teaching, experience with children, and anything that shows you are enthusiastic to start with VIPKid. Even if your teaching resume is not a mile long that is ok! I added tutoring experience at the University level. A huge factor is availability. Even if you are not sure what hours you will want to teach I highly suggest checking that your availability is open. You will not be held to it later but it gives you the highest chance at an interview.
Stage two is your initial interview. This is about a ten to fifteen minuet skype call. The interview consists of a formal interview and a short teaching demonstration. You will be giving your adult interviewee a demonstration of what your class will look like. The teaching material you will be covering is sent to you when you book your interview. There is now an opportunity to do a recorded video interview. During either interview you will be required to show your interest in working for VIPKid as well as your skills as a potential online teacher.
Before your interview I highly suggest becoming familiar with what VIPKid’s teaching methodology is. Two huge things to become familiar with are TPR and Synthetic phonics. TPR is a way of communicating what you want with the students using facial expressions and simple gestures. Synthetic phonics are the way that VIPKid would like you to present letter sounds. Here are two fantastic videos presented by VIPKid teachers that you should look at before your interview. Just like any other job interview, do your homework!
Here is the video that I watched before my VIPKid interview. There are a lot of videos out there but I found hers to be the most helpful. My interviewer also noted that I was the most prepared interviewee she had ever had, so I must have been doing something right!
VIPKid does not require that you purchase anything for the interview. I bought a white board, ABC flashcards, a hand puppet, an orange shirt, and a headset with a microphone (apple earbuds will do but i’m an overachiever). I wanted to show that I was ready to rock and roll! As your base pay is determined in your interview, you should want to rock the process as well. I would suggest getting a ‘classroom’ set up and investing in a few basic items before your interview. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy the big thing is that your space is clutter free (at least on camera). I bought $1 flags to decorate an accent wall and that is what I teach by! For the interview I did buy an orange t-shirt because the company used to require teachers to wear orange. (This is not the case anymore but I still sport orange daily). Dress for the job you want they say, and VIPKid’s color is orange! Showing up to the interview in an orange shirt shows some enthusiasm and that you did a little research.
After passing the interview you will be asked to book two mock classes. These are opportunities for you to work one on one with a current VIPKid teacher. You will be giving them a sample lesson similar to your lesson given at your interview but longer. The purpose of the first mock class is provide you feedback on what you can change and improve on before your second mock class. Your second mock class is an extension of the first but they are watching to see if you improved on the things that were mentioned in your first mock course. So take notes (just kidding they email you after each mock class with notes.)
I have been helping people get hired with VIPKid for a few months now. My tips for passing the interview and mock courses are fairly simple. First make sure that your equipment is set up nicely, everything is working properly and you have decent lighting (Im not talking red light carpet lighting just make sure your face is not too dark.) Watch a lot of youtube videos look up class demos and tips so you get a general feel of what is expected from a VIPKid teacher. Get your timing right! One of the biggest reasons people do not pass the interview process is that they ran out of time to finish the slides. Make sure to use TPR, Synthetic Phonics, and always encourage the ‘students’ to speak in full sentences. Oh make it fun!
The next step is reviewing teaching prep materials, sign your contract and off you go!
The Pros and Cons of Teaching With VIPKid
You make your own schedule: Thats right, you are fully in charge of when you work. There are no minimum hours and the maximum hours are constrained to when VIPKid runs and how much you can work while still giving a great class.
Work from anywhere: As long as there is stable wifi and it is quiet you can take VIPKid with you on the go anywhere. From hotel rooms, to vacation homes, cruises, and even cars VIPKid teachers can make money wherever life takes them.
Pay: $18-$22 and hour to work from home plus the opportunity for bonuses. Pay is directly deposited to your bank account.
Next to no prep work or paperwork: Aside from learning the basic class slides there is next to no prep work. VIPKid provides the powerpoint and the lesson plans so you just have to show up. When you are done with classes you leave a few sentences of feedback for the kids, and viola! No parent teacher conferences, or late nights grading here.
The kids: Really, most of the kids are so sweet. China places a high value on their teachers and they are held with high respect. Many of these kids have strict classes at school and are genuinely excited for their VIPKid course!
The time zone: Classes run from 9:00AM-9:30PM Beijing time, with the hottest hours for class being between. I have always taught 2:00Pm-9:30PM Beijing time without a problem. Many teachers teach earlier as well. Here is a look at what these hours translate to.
No benefits: When you work for VIPKid you are an independent contractor not an employee. That means that there are no benefits and you take care of your own taxes.
My VIPKid Story
While working as an aupair, I was looking for a part time job to fill my free time in the afternoon between lunch and afterschool pickup. The hours that VIPKid needed me to work did not match with the hours I was available. They denied me an interview and I forwent part –time work in favor of café rendez vous, and strolls in the old city center.
Flash forward a year. My aupair life was over and I made the leap to move to Ghent Belgium with my boyfriend. I was broke but on top of the world, living in a beautiful place with my hunky Italian. While Belgium is a magical place to live, for expats finding a job can get complicated. Belgium has two national languages, French and Flemish. What language is spoken depends on where you live in the country. I had moved to Flanders, the Flemish speaking reigion of Belgium…and only know French and English. This made my job prospects very grim. To make matters worse my sister had just gotten engaged…and wanted to get married in 10 months with me as the maid of honor! I HAD to be there to watch her try on her first wedding dress, go to her parties, and of course the wedding! As estatic as I was, I had no idea how I was going to support myself, pay for the costs of immigrating to a new country, and pay for everything that comes along with being a part of the wedding party.
Luckily, I remembered that rejected application with VIPKid and decided to give it a second shot. I passed my initial interview, scheduled my mock courses, spent my last $500 on a trip to my sisters engagement party, and crossed my fingers. While not my finest financial moment, it worked! (I also got to see my sister say yes to her dress!) I was hired while visiting my little sister and started working as soon as I got back.
It has been almost a year since I have started ‘working’ with VIPKid full time and I am still obsessed with this job. Yes there are some downsides, but (most of) the kids are adorable, I get to work from wherever life takes me, and the pay is not too shabby either.
Have any questions about getting hired? Feel free to ask! I love helping people get started with VIPKid!
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