Laura has been a teacher and adjunct instructor for many years. Working for VIPKID has been a life-changing experience.
What Is VIPKID?
I have now been teaching with VIPKID for about a year and a half. I thought it was time that I reflect on my journey with this company so far.
In case you are unfamiliar with VIPKID, here’s a little background. VIPKID is a Chinese company based in Beijing. They offer English language lessons to Chinese students. They will soon be expanding these lesson offerings into other countries as well.
The platform is entirely online. The company hires native English speakers to give one-on-one lessons to their students. Ages range from preschool to early teens, on average. The lessons are provided via Powerpoint formatting. Each lesson lasts 25 minutes. Pay ranges from 7 to 9 dollars per class plus monthly bonuses. Applicants must have a bachelor’s, but it does not have to be in education. Experience working with or teaching children is a must.
Many teachers wonder if this job is really a good opportunity. Is it really all that it says it is? Is VIPKID a scam?
Here are my pros and cons of teaching with VIPKID.
Pro: No Grading or Lesson Planning
If you are a brick and mortar teacher or traditional, public school teacher then you know just what a big deal this is. VIPKID provides the lessons for you. Once you end your 25-minute lesson and post some feedback to the parents, you are finished! No stacks of papers to grade at night. No extra lesson plans.
VIPKID does provide access to lesson materials at least 24 hours ahead of your scheduled class. I recommend going into the class ahead of time just to review the lesson. Some teachers don’t do this but most do. During my review, I make notes of any props I might want to use (flashcards, real objects, food objects) and note how many slides are in the lesson. I also may note if a particular slide has more or less material. This helps with pacing the lesson so that I can cover the entire lesson and still finish on time.
But all of this review only takes a few minutes out of my evening and still saves so much time as compared to teaching in a regular classroom.
Teaching online is such a fun experience. But as we all know, sometimes technology can be very frustrating. Your computer decides to randomly update. Your headphones that were working just fine suddenly won’t work. You forget to plug in your laptop and it goes dead in the middle of class. Your internet provider decided that 5 a.m. is the perfect time for a planned internet outage. The only problem is you're starting a run of six classes, back-to-back, starting at that same time.
Being dependent on technology can mean that glitches and issues happen. In order to be successful make sure that you have up-to-date and working equipment. Have a backup internet plan. For example, I subscribe to a hotspot through my cell phone provider. I have had my internet go out a few times but I was able to save myself by connecting to my hotspot and teaching my classes.
Pro: Flexible Schedule
As an independent contractor, you set your own schedule each week. Going on vacation? Just don’t open classes for the time you’ll be gone. Or take your classroom with you and teach a fun class on-the-go. Have an early office meeting? Take the morning off.
You can truly work as much or as little as you want. But there is one problem. Once you meet these students, you’ll want to work more. So watch out!
So what happens if you get sick and you already have classes scheduled? Unfortunately, this is a tough one for both VIPKID and the teacher. On the one hand, many Chinese families have very tight schedules. They have a busy academic, sporting, and social life. So not having a teacher for their desired and planned-for class time can be problematic. But the truth is, sometimes life happens. Teachers get sick or have an emergency.
VIPKID has worked to find a balance between the two. Every teacher has six total cancellations per six-month contract. In addition, VIPKID offers soft and medium cancellations. These two categories will allow your cancellations to NOT count toward your total allowed. Events included in these categories: illness, family death, family emergency, natural disaster.
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No company is perfect. But VIPKID has worked to incorporate the needs of both teachers and parents to create a workable balance.
Another great thing about this job for most North American teachers is that the hours allow you to work around other jobs, homeschooling, or just day-to-day life. While the west coast teachers have a bit of a challenge with early morning hours, east coast teachers enjoy a 12 hour time difference from Chinese time. So during daylight savings, 8 p.m. in China is 8 a.m. in the USA. Some teachers teach for a few hours in the morning and then go on to their regular daytime activities or job. It can be a great supplemental income.
On the weekends, students may take morning classes. So teachers can teach evening classes which can be scheduled around regular weekend activities and commitments.
Some teachers make VIPKID their full-time job. Others use it as a side job for supplemental income. The choice is yours! Either is possible.
Okay, so I know said that the hours are a pro. They can also be a con. Teaching every day starting at 3, 4, or 5 a.m. can be draining. Teaching a late-night schedule can mean that you are missing extra hours of sleep. Adjusting to the VIPKID hours can be tough. I recommend that you don’t start out overexerting yourself. Find a consistent schedule that works for you. As a bonus, parents also enjoying seeing a consistent schedule so that they know that on Mondays at 7 p.m., their child can take a class with you each week.
Plan time to sleep. Take a nap. Be good to yourself by eating healthy food and drinking plenty of water. For many teachers, it can take several weeks to several months to adjust to their new early morning or late night schedule.
This is a young company with a great vision for the future. They have investors and growth goals. There are plans to expand into other countries. The VIPKID experiment is a success. Students are learning English more effectively with these one-to-one lessons. It is changing the paradigm of classroom teaching and showing the future of technology and education. The possibilities at this point seem limitless.
Con: Different Interview Process
Many teachers apply and start the interview process. They then get overwhelmed by all the information and everything there is to learn. How do I explain to a student who can’t speak English how to complete a task? What in the world is TPR? Why is this adult pretending to be a kid during my interview?
There is a lot to learn when becoming a VIPKID teacher. It is a different way of teaching and a different way of learning for the student. While it can be overwhelming, take it a step at a time. Learn the techniques. Take the recommended workshops or training. By the time you finish the interview and mock class process, VIPKID’s goal is for you to be ready to jump right in and start teaching students.
A word of caution, there are MANY videos and resources claiming to be a great way to pass the interviews. The truth is that learning one script doesn’t really prepare you for teaching in an actual class with an actual student. Use the techniques taught to you in training: modeling, TPR, target language. But find your own style. There are many different kinds of teachers and there are different kinds of students. There’s a good match for each teaching style.
Pro: The Kids Are Adorable. No, Really.
The one-to-one lessons are a lot of fun. You can play, sing, and laugh as they learn. The environment is positive and friendly. The energy of the kids can energize you as a teacher as well.
The kids come to their lessons with smiles and toys and questions and determination. Even on my busiest days, when I see those cute little faces pop up on the screen at the start of class, I can’t help but smile.
Ready to be a VIPKID Teacher?
Are you ready to take the leap and become a VIPKIDteacher?
I highly recommend taking the first step towards this fantastic job opportunity.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How is a VIPKID teacher paid?
Answer: Teachers are paid via ACH through your bank (the same way many US based companies pay you). Payment can either be once or twice a month based on recent changes.
© 2018 L C David
Kathleen Margaret Schwab on December 05, 2018:
A great review. I am primarily a high school teacher, but I also teach middle school, and I love the younger kids. Thank you for talking about the hours, the interview, and other details. I don't need to have an orange room to teach from like that ad, do I?
Karen Hellier from Georgia on February 09, 2018:
Wow, what a great review. I know someone who works for this company but had no idea what it was all about. Thanks for such great information and I am glad you seem to be happy with your work for this company!