Teaching When I Want, Where I Want: VIPKID
What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an online teaching academy designed to teach Chinese-speaking students living in China how to speak English. VIPKID teachers are hired all throughout the world to teach students how to speak English fluently as they progress through the VIPKID program. As a VIPKID teacher, you teach prepared slides with teaching tips, provide feedback to the student and families, and provide an overall positive learning experience. No, you neither need an ESL certification nor teaching experience to be VIPKID staff. Although, both are definitely going to make you look like a rock star!
How much will I get paid?
You can negotiate your rate per class. The interview staff takes into consideration the following: your performance on your mock class, teaching experience, and overall professionalism. Based on your qualifications and your performance during the mock class, you could get paid up to $22/hour. Let me point out that VIPKID receives 5 gold stars and a HUGE pat on the back for providing financial incentives for quick and simple ways to put a little extra cash in your wallet. VIPKID is also an all-star at providing you with tons of support and opportunities for professional growth.
The real classes you’ll be teaching are 25 minutes long, so they don’t pay per hour. They pay per class. Expect pay between $6-$9 per class. Don’t let this turn you away: as mentioned before, there are participation incentives, short notice incentives, and other bonuses that turn the $6-$9/class into $8-$11/class. If you want to think of it as hourly… multiply those numbers by 2.
What does the interview process for VIPKID look like?
Okay. Hang in there and be patient. It can take a little effort and a little time (no more than a few days/up to a week) for everything to be processed and finalized. It’s all mostly simple and easy for you to execute, though!
First, you fill out the application and any supporting documents to make your application pop out (degree, TESL certification, teaching background, etc.).
Then, you’ll go through the interview process once everything has been processed. You set up the time and date that works best for you. The interview is approximately 5 minutes with a VIPKID Human Resource staff member. He/she talks with you about your background, teaching experience, and reasons why you want to teach with VIPKID. Immediately following the brief intro into who you are, you’ll teach a 10 minute mock lesson with that same staff member who pretends to be a 5 year old student. Heads up: it’s kind of awkward. But, it’s totally fine! Don’t sweat the lesson because they give you the materials to look over and practice with ahead of time! The interviewer will tell you if you passed or not. You’ll discuss base pay if you did pass, and that’s the end of that interview!
After your interviewer has scored you, you’ll get a rubric with your scores via email within the next couple of days. Look over the notes and feedback; it helped me make some changes right off the bat! You’ll also receive your base pay.
Then comes the contract. This contract is only valid and official after you’ve done all the required teacher training and acquisition of knowledge of the ins and outs of the VIPKID teaching style. I found this portion of the process to be the most time consuming, but it was rather useful. I didn’t have any experience teaching ESL, so I was grateful for most of the training videos and readings assigned to me.
As part of the training, you’ll be teaching more mock classes depending on which levels you’ll want to be certified in. Mock classes are very similar to the one you did in your interview, only it’s with a real VIPKID teacher coach. I found this to be very helpful. At the end of your mock lesson (you’re provided with the lesson in advance, too) your teacher coach will give you feedback on your overall performance and some tips on how to improve. This was a beneficial step in the hiring process; I left feeling more prepared to teach real kids in China how to speak my language.
And finally, you’re done! Welcome to being an official VIPKID teacher! Join the VIPKID teacher Facebook page. It’s a great resource.
Once I’m hired, what should I expect?
Easy, smooth sailing from here. You open up available time slots you want to teach. Then you wait… and wait… and wait… until you get bookings! Some people get lucky and get a butt load of bookings. Others (like me) wait for almost two months before their first booking. I signed up at a crappy time of the year. I signed up during the Chinese New Year festivities, so everyone was busy and celebrating and not booking VIPKID classes. But after the holiday was over, I got some bookings.
Get ready, ’cause here they come!
Have some killer internet connection. I plug my laptop into an Ethernet cable to enhance the connection. Works like a charm. It’s also possible for you to teach out of your car while traveling. Hotspots are worth looking into if you’re going that route.
Take time to organize and create a classroom space. Find a good back drop, ways to brighten up the place, and some interactive and inviting looking props/decor to look professional and make your student feel welcome and interested.
Look at the lessons prior to teaching lessons BEFORE you teach, especially as a new teacher. Scrounge up a small collection of props. Must-haves: stuff animal, visual flashcards of objects/food, magnets, white board, some kind of reward system. VIPKID offers plenty of free resources, so check those out. I printed out some characters and made my own props that way. I also used some free reward systems so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
What does VIPKID offer me in terms of professional growth?
Better question: what doesn’t VIPKID offer me in terms of professional growth? In the VIPKID teacher app, there’s a tab called “Resources”. Within the resources tab, you’ll find “Library” and “Certification”. Both serve your professional needs. The “Library” offers a plethora of topics, workshops, videos, free resources, etc. for you to use at your disposal. The “Certification” is just that: certifications. You can become certified in various levels to teach and can ultimately work to become a VIPKID coach or VIPKID mentor. It’s great.
A look into the app
Why am I a VIPKID teacher?
Well, aside from the joy I experience when I interact with my Chinese students while teaching a lesson through VIPKID, here are a few more reasons why I feel compelled to continue on this ESL online teaching path:
- I travel A LOT. I love the flexibility of the hours I create for myself! VIPKID rocks at providing the teachers autonomy over their own schedules.
- Incentives are shared quite often. These incentives are almost always really fast and simple ways to make some extra cash just from opening a few extra teaching slots here and there.
- No prep time, no problem. Goodness; the hours I spend at lesson planning for my normal teaching job are ridiculous! With VIPKID, all I have to do is review the slides for the lesson I am scheduled to teach. I typically do this the night before or an hour before class begins.
- ESL has always interested me. In college, I wanted to tag on my ESL certification, but I didn’t want to do another full semester just to complete this cert. So I graduated on time but without the ESL certification. This meant that I wasn’t allowed to apply to certified ESL teaching positions like I would have liked to. VIPKID offered me the opportunity to explore this aspiration AND provide me with FREE certification courses!
Sounds good, but what are some VIPKID cons I should consider?
Let’s be honest. Nothing on this planet is all sunshine and rainbows… okay, an exception is really great-tasting coffee and phenomenal views from the summit… But, there are some things I’m not particularly thrilled about when it comes to VIPKID. Here are a few:
- In a handful of lessons/slides, the teacher tips provided to you (a.k.a. directions on how to teach that particular slide) can sometimes be unclear or ambiguous. If you’re a new teacher, this could be incredibly frustrating because you want to do the job right. Upside is you can ALWAYS leave feedback for the creators after EVERY lesson regarding the slides; feedback is seriously taken into consideration, but that doesn’t help you in the moment, now does it?
- You are only provided up to 6 cancellations of booked classes. So, once a class is booked, it’s booked. You neither approve nor deny classes when you have that time slot open. If it’s open, it’s open season. No turning back! If you cancel, it’s fine, but you can’t cancel more than 6 classes per contract. Contracts are either 6 months or 1 year.
- Like I mentioned before, incentives are generously offered to VIPKID teachers. One incentive I don’t enjoy too much are the trial classes. They’re fun but… Teaching them can be a challenge because the flow feels discombobulating at times. Essentially, trial classes are for interested students considering signing up full-time with VIPKID; it’s your job as the trial class teacher to roll with their skill level, exhibit incredible amounts of enthusiasm, and get them hooked and begging for more!
- Although your schedule is totally up to you, there are specific time windows when you’re more likely to get booked. It’s Beijing time. I live in the midwest, so my ideal teaching times when I’m most likely to get classes booked are Monday-Friday between 5 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. EST/5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Beijing time. Saturdays, ideal times are 12 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. EST/12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Beijing time. So consider your ideal time slots based on where you’re living relative to Beijing time.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? You deserve an opportunity to connect with some really awesome kids, make easy money, and be your own boss on when and where you work. Do yourself the pleasure in at least checking it out by clicking here.