How to Work From Home as a Teacher: Working for VIPKID
Some things that sound too good to be true, really are. That's what I thought when I first heard about VIPKID. There was no way that this company could be paying upwards of $22 dollars an hour for teachers to work with students in China, teaching them how to speak and read English.
At first I ignored the job, continuing my search for good telecommute options. Then I heard that a friend applied, was hired, and started working there. She loved the job. She referred another friend who was also hired. Both of them indicated that the interview process was rigorous but that once through that, teaching these young kids was truly the most rewarding job they had ever had.
What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an educational company that connects North American, English-speaking teachers with Chinese students from Beijing and surrounding areas. The platform allows the student and teacher to see each other via a video and to share a mutual power point that contains the pre-scripted lesson for the day.
The students who take lessons from VIPKID have varying levels of English experience and are looking to perfect their speaking skills through practice with a native speaker.
The program is immersive meaning that the teacher is speaking only English and uses TPR (Total Physical Response) to communicate with learners. For example, if a student is just beginning to learn English and you want her to repeat a word, you would say the word, and then put your hand to your ear in order for her to understand that she needs to repeat what she hears.
Students can use the TPR cues to begin to unravel the mysteries of the English language and become fluent speakers.
What Are The Basic Qualifications?
As of publication time, the basic qualifications for teaching at VIPKID are as follows:
- Bachelors Degree or Higher
- An American or Canadian Residency
- One Year Teaching Experience or more
Obviously, if you have a higher education degree and if you have a teaching certificate this can be looked at more favorably. Your degree does not need to be in English or English language or in education in order to apply.
Peak hours vary based on your time zone. For an idea, you can find out how many hours time difference there is between where you live and where Beijing time is. (Use a search engine such a Google and type "What time is it in Beijing?")
Peak hours for most students are during the weekday evenings (after school) and for most waking hours on the weekends. Some teachers work the minimum each week and some teach 10 hours a day. The amount of time you want to commit is up to you. It can truly work as a part time job on weekends or mornings before going to your main line of work!
What Is The Pay Rate?
The pay rate varies based on your experience and your performance during your initial interview. Most teachers make $7 to $9 dollars PER CLASS, which means a minimum of $14 to $18 an hour. There are also monthly bonuses and incentives that are easy to earn, making your base pay rate per hour two or more dollars above your initial rate.
How Do I Apply?
Applying only takes a few moments. When I decided to apply, I told myself that I had nothing more to lose than a few minutes of my time filling out the information.
Think you have what it takes to teach children on the other side of the world?
I've Been Accepted For An Interview, Now What?
Once you've been accepted for an interview, I would suggest a few basic items to give you an edge during the interview process.
PC or Laptop with internet access
This needs to be current machine. Apple or PC work but I have noticed that those who use Macbooks seem to have more tech issues.
Headphones with a microphone
Find a comfortable pair. These will be imperative for use during the classroom and cuts down on background noise.
Bright orange t-shirt
The official colors and uniform are bright orange (safety orange).
Small white board
I found mine at a dollar store in the teacher supply section.
I also found large ABC flashcards in the dollar store. Also found at most teacher supply stores or online.
This isn't a must at first but puppets and other props help to engage the student and keep them interested and learning.
The Interview Process
I won't lie, the interview process is rigorous and you need to bring your "A" game to each step. You'll give a teaching demo based on materials provided as well as talk with the interviewer about your experiences teaching.
If the interviewer feels that you have potential, they will make you a base pay offer (remember that offer is per class).
Then you will move on to the teaching practicums.
The Teaching Practicum
The next step after the initial offer is the teaching practicum. You will be doing one or two 25 minute teaching demos for a practicum evaluator. In part of the interview, the evaluator will pretend to be a student, English-language learner.
This part was the hardest for me. I was needing to sing, to make gestures and be the same teacher that I would be for an 8 year old student, but the person sitting across from me was an adult (and fellow teacher).
Before the practicum you will be given a series of training videos to watch. Whatever you do, watch them all. Take notes. Understand how the job works, the teaching expectations, how to use props and how to give rewards. I was so exhausted by the end of the videos but I'm glad I watched them. They helped me to understand what the job entailed and what I needed to do during the practicum interviews.
Depending on your score during practicum one, you may be asked to do another one or you may be allowed to go ahead and start teaching. A few have not passed the practicum. But for most you either teach a second one, to sharpen your skills or you go ahead and set up your profile and start teaching.
Getting Your First Class
Once you have passed both of your practicums, you are almost ready to set up your schedule and teach your first class. It's important to follow all the guidelines including setting up your profile, banking information, tax information (they will send you a 1099 at the end of the year if you are American) and watch the remaining training videos.
Once your teaching profile is set up, you will be able to go into the schedule and open up your availability for the coming few weeks.
Sometimes teachers get booked right away. Sometimes it takes awhile to build up a full schedule.
Either way, your first few classes will likely be nerve-wracking. But you will quickly find that the students are sweet and fun and full of energy. The time in the classroom flies by and after a few classes under your belt, you'll begin to relax. And that's when you start to realize this could be the most fun job that you've ever had.
My Experience Teaching At VIPKID
I have been teaching at VIPKID since September 2016. I can truly say that the experience has been life-changing and amazing. I really believe that they have found the future of, not just English education, but education in general. Even though the curriculum is pre-written (another plus, no lesson planning), each student is different. As a teacher, working with the student one-on-one, you can adjust the lessons to their level, pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses and truly watch the learning process unfold.
My students are a joy to teach. It's truly a job where you say "Yes, I get to teach this morning."
If you are interested in VIPKID, I encourage you to apply. It may just change your life for the better!
If you have a question, scroll down to the comments section and I'll do my best to answer it.
© 2017 L C David