Have you wondered about opportunities to make money outside of your current teaching job? With COVID-19, pretty much all teachers now have experience teaching online, so many educators are wondering if there are other venues where they can tutor, coach, or teach online and make a little bit of extra money!
VIPKid is one of the companies many teachers are asking about, so we put together the following FAQ. Learn what it’s like to specifically teach ESL online, how to handle your schedule with a 12 hour time difference (and that’s just on the east coast), and what you need to do to nail your interview.
What exactly is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online ESL teaching program with headquarters in Beijing, China. According to the VIPKid website , “The curriculum uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.”
Teachers accepted to work with VIPKID teach English to students who are based in China and are between the ages of 4-12. All classes are held one-on-one and conducted online through the VIPKid portal. To apply, you need a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. If you do not have a teaching license, you most likely will have to complete a TESOL program—however, VIPKid offers you one and it’s free.
How do you apply for VIPKid jobs?
There are several steps to the VIPKid application process. First, you fill in the online application form. After that, you’ll join a VIPkid recruiter for a 30-minute session to showcase your teaching skills, or you will record a demo lesson on your own time and submit it for evaluation. The curriculum is very structured, therefore, the company needs to see that you can teach their curriculum in the way they designed it—while still employing appropriate ESL and classroom techniques. After the interview, they give you a bunch of videos on the VIPKid technology, standards, and curriculum. Then you’ll prepare for a full-length mock class with a teacher-mentor.
Please Note: If you live and work in the state of California, as part of the Assembly Bill 5 of the California Labor Law was signed into effect in 2020, VIPKid no longer hires residents in CA.
Best advice to nail the mock lesson?
Many teachers say the hardest part about the mock lesson is nailing the timing—not ending too early or too late—and figuring out how to extend a lesson for a student that wasn’t challenged enough. You should be animated, yet talk slowly. Some teachers suggest approaching it like you’re auditioning for Sesame Street. Vary your energy as you work through the slides, so that it’s not consistent and keeps the student engaged.
Many teachers also suggest limiting any “extra talk.” You have to be clear and precise from the start as you only have approximately 25 minutes per class. Feel free to use lots of TPR (total physical response), repetition, and props. And while there are a lot of YouTube videos out there with mock interview examples—be careful and only watch those from the official VIPKid YouTube channel .
What are the technology requirements?
You will need a fast, reliable Internet connection in order to take advantage of VIPKid’s platform. Some teachers who live in remote areas say they use a HotSpot to connect. A good headset can help with sound, although you can also use your computer’s built-in microphone. You will also need a webcam and either a Chrome or Firefox browser.
What does VIPKid pay?
VIPKid pays starts at $7 per class with an incentive based on classes taught. For your first 20 classes, you are paid $.80 per class. From class 21-40, slightly more, etc. You reach a tier based on the number of lifetime classes taught. VIPKid has an option for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly pay, via direct deposit.
Will I need to sign a contract?
Yes, VIPKid asks you to commit to six months of work at a time. At the end of six months, your contract may or may not be renewed depending on feedback from students and parents as well as the number of classes you taught.
What do I do about taxes when working for an international company?
VIPKid treats its employees as independent contractors, so you will receive a 1099 with all of your earnings reported. No taxes are withheld by VIPKid. Depending on your financial situation, this may mean you will need to file quarterly estimated taxes, so make sure to money aside. Teacher Lucy A. suggests, “Keep track of every random possibly business-related expense. Set aside about 30 percent of your gross income from the gig so you can pay the taxes next spring.”
Is VIPKid a multi-level marketing company?
This is a question that comes up a lot in our WeAreTeachers community, as some VIPKid instructors are aggressive about recruiting other teachers. It’s true that teachers who recruit new instructors are paid a one-time referral fee, but there are no continued earnings on that recruit.
Once you’re hired by VIPKid, how do students find you?
There’s a “parent portal” where you write a short introduction bio, upload a few pictures of yourself, and add a brief greeting video. VIPKid has a suggested script for the video, but some people get fancy and edit theirs with music and effects. Not that creative? Don’t worry—it’s only 15 seconds long and doesn’t seem to make a difference!
On your VIPKid profile, parents can rate you and provide feedback that others can see. Parents can also follow particular teachers, which allows them to mark teachers as “favorites” and make it easier to find certain teachers when they’re booking. Parents can book up to two weeks in advance on a rolling basis starting each Monday at noon (Beijing time).
With such a huge time difference, what are the VIPKid hours like?
The hours for VIPKid jobs make it one of the toughest parts. Because of the time difference, many teachers take on an early morning load that starts around 4:30 a.m. including weekends. Teacher Renee H. says, “I’m CST and teach 5-6:30 a.m. M-F and 5-7 a.m. Sunday mornings. Friday and Saturday evenings are also ‘hot’ times. I find it worth my time.”
Some teachers only do it during the summer months to offset their income. You make your schedule, however, and there is no minimum or maximum hourly requirements.
How do you prep for your classes?
Teacher Lynn D. says, “I like it because it’s early in the morning and I have the rest of my day free. The lessons are already made. I don’t have to do much if any prep. Everyone is different though. Some teachers spend a lot of time prepping.”
You’ll be provided with a PowerPoint lesson to work through with each student, depending on their level. You’ll both wear headsets and see each other on camera. You can interact and write on the presentation. You can also add in as many props/rewards as you would like—and many teachers warn that the time goes very fast!
What’s it really like teaching online? What if my student misbehaves?
Behavior issues are very rare. The biggest complaint is the kids can appear distracted, like in any online classroom! Teacher Chey H. says, “I enjoy it. The students are sweet, it’s easy, and it’s flexible.”
So, is VIPKid really worth it?
There was very little negative feedback from the VIPKid teachers we spoke with. The overall consensus was they like being in control of their schedule, the extra money is really nice, and for the most part, it is very low stress. And if you can find regular students to teach, it’s really fulfilling to watch their progress!
What are your thoughts on VIPKid jobs? Have you worked with VIPKid? Come and share your experiences in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.