Since the month of July I have been teaching ESL to kids in China! The great thing is that I currently LIVE in Seattle. It’s all online and I can make it work around my own schedule. I am working a full time job but have a lot of free evenings. So when I want to teach at 6pm in the evening it is 9am in Beijing. During the summer I worked about 10 hours a week during the evenings. And now that school has started I only work Friday or Saturday evenings since the peak hours are pretty early and not great for my current availability. But I fill up my available weekends and get random weekday classes here and there. Peak hours fluctuate during the year depending on holidays as well.
So what do I teach?
Each class is 25 minutes and you can teach up until 28 minutes without being penalized. VIPKID has all of the curriculum planned and ready, but it is a good idea to prepare props. They encourage using a lot of TPR (Total Physical Response). So the more animated and lively you are, the better the class will go.
Everyone who applies is placed to teach a certain age group based on their interview; everyone will have different levels assigned to them. But as you go you can take workshops to be certified for different levels. Although I only started out to be certified for Level 2 and 3, within the first two months I took workshops to be be able to teach every level. VIPKID teachers also have the opportunity to be a sub as well, so they can get paid for certain time slots regardless if they teach or not. The more invested you are the more you will realize as you keep teaching and getting reviews that your opportunities will expand.
Time Slots & $$
While living on the west coast, the hours that students are available in my timezone are 6pm-6am (before daylight savings). Peak hours for almost guaranteed bookings are 4-6am. I don’t NEED the hours so am not doing those early mornings at the moment. I am currently filling up slots between 6pm-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
I currently make a base pay of $7.50 per class (25 minutes). When I finish a class I automatically get another $1 to make that $8.50. If I get a short notice booking (less than 24 hour notice) I get an additional $2 to make that $10.50 per class. As a sub I get $7.50 no matter what and an additional $2 if I teach. All teachers get an additional 50 cents per class if they teach at least 30 classes in a month and an additional $1 per class if they teacher over 45 classes in a month. Soooo all in all, I make about $17-$23 per hour. The pay is sent monthly with NO FEES.
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and some teaching experience. Any sort of TEFL certification will boost your bookings, as well.
To be a VIPKID teacher you go through a three-part interview process. The interview process IS a bit tedious, but once you are done you are set. I do appreciate that they really choose teachers who are dedicated and really want to work.
The first interview is with someone in China and it only lasts 30 minutes. You will do a ten minute “mock class” and make sure to prepare! I did not do well on this part, but somehow I still passed.
I then went on to the second interview and prepared much more. It’s good to have a white board and a few props. The second interview was an hour and with a VIPKID teacher. It was less intimidating and she was really good at telling me what I did well and what I needed to improve on. I felt comfortable doing my mock interview and practiced beforehand because I wanted to make sure I had my timing down.
The third interview was, again, with another VIPKID teacher. I did another mock class and he took notes the whole time. It went well again and I felt pretty comfortable. It is a bit awkward teaching lessons to adults who pretend they are 5 years old. But they have all done it before, so just go with it.
And then YAY, I passed! I then had a few things to check off of the to-do list to become officially ready to teach. But they are really good at having everything organized and laid out for you so that you know exactly what you need to get done.
About a week after my “hire” date I was booked for a few classes and each week I have been increasing my numbers. Just six weeks in and I made enough to book a trip to Hawaii this fall! Wahoo! Love that extra income for fun and playing.
At the moment I have fairly limited availability and I am completely content with just a few classes a week. But the goal will eventually to be able to have a bit of security in this so that I can live anywhere in the world. I love the idea of working remotely and being able to travel.
How to get bookings
- Keep pictures updated. For the “non-professional” picture I have one of me teaching in Korea and one of me hiking with my boyfriend.
- Don’t have a lazy video! I used lots of props and talked about some of my favorite hobbies.
- Make sure to add as much teaching experience in the bio as possible.
- Give detailed feedback!
If you are interested in becoming a VIPKID teacher please contact me and feel free to use my referral code if you are going to apply.
I spent two years (fall 2012-fall 2014) teaching English in South Korea. I could make an entire book about it but am going to keep it short & sweet. Contact me if you have questions.
- Must be from a Native English speaking country such as: U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.
- Bachelor’s degree
- Pass a background check & drug test
- Flexible and “go with the flow” work ethic
Here are some FAQ’s that I have received over the years from friends, family, and those who have interest in teaching abroad:
- What’s the difference between teaching at a private or a public school?
- I spent both years working at a private school. Students will go to the standard public school during the day and then off to their private lessons in the evening. This could be tae-kwon-do, computer classes, English lessons, piano classes, or basically anything that could advance them academically. The pressure to do well in school is very high. Some students would get home as late as midnight (depending on age). I was their designated English teacher for their private lessons. I had small class sizes and the lessons would last 25-45 minutes. At the three schools I was at during this time I had about ZERO prep and never brought work home with me.
- I also taught kindergarten for the first year and that was for kiddos ages 4-7 who would only go to school during the mornings.
- Are there certain degrees you need in order to be qualified?
- No, you just need a Bachelor’s degree. If you have a certification to teach you will have more options and should apply for an international school.
- What agency did you go through?
- Did you know any of the language prior to going to Korea?
- Not at all. I tried to remember “hello” & “thank you” before I got there but I failed. However, within my first week of living there I could read the language because it is actually SO EASY. I then picked up bits and pieces while living there. You can get by without learning it, but don’t be that person. Just try! Koreans love when the westerners put in that effort.
- Why did you choose that country to teach in?
- I was debating between Korea & Japan. I applied to teach in Japan but didn’t get in. It’s a bit more competitive. I chose Korea because I knew the salary was decent and I needed to pay off student loans. I couldn’t just travel abroad and not make $$. Knowing nothing of the culture and never having been to Asia, I just did it because I felt like it.
- When did you apply and what made you apply?
- I applied around December 2011 knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go before August 2012. If you choose to teach at a private school you can apply any time of the year and only need a month or two notice. If you apply for a public school the best hiring months are August & February.
- Do you have any tips, suggestions, or things that you wish you would have done differently?
- I wish I had worked at a public school. You get earlier hours and more vacation time. However, I was really lucky with the schools I worked at. Teaching at a hagwon (private school) can be a bigger risk.
- I wish I would have budgeted more because I made a lot of money and I spent a lot of money. But I have no regrets and was able to do so much in those two years.
- Is it lonely?
- I lived in the 7th largest city in Korea which still has over 1 million people. I had a lot of expats friends and there were always events going on. I also played ultimate frisbee and my teammates became my “Korean family.” There was no time to be lonely because so much was always going on.
- What is the contract, housing, and salary like?
- Contracts are usually a year and you are paid on a monthly basis; I made about the equivalent of $2,000 USD.
- Housing is always free.
- Some schools give you a pension.
- You get a year end bonus that is the sum of your monthly salary.
- You will have health insurance and the healthcare is super cheap.
- Schools pay for your round trip flight.
- Your visa will be taken care of by the school.
- How did you get TEFL certified and is it required?
- I took a 120 hour class online through Adventure Teaching. It is not required to have the certification if you are working at a private school. However, it is getting more competitive and it is required for public schools. I also just think it’s good to have so that you know a bit about what you are getting yourself into.
Overall, I absolutely LOVED teaching in Korea.
There were definitely hard times: for example, when I got rejected to stay another year at my first school, when I was lied to about having health insurance, when my boss hit on me, when I got paid late every single time during my second year, when i didn’t want to eat raw octopus at a teacher dinner and was called insulting, and when I would go home crying because I felt so bad for some of the kids.
However, I really was treated well, worked at good schools the whole time, DID get paid back for my health care, DID call out my boss who got fired, DID get paid every single penny i earned, had amazing co-teachers who always helped me out, sang karaoke until the morning with those same co-teachers, negotiated my salaries and benefits, made great expat and Korean friends, and lived in an amazing city.
I forced myself not to stay a third year only because life was too easy and I knew it was time to move on after two years.
**I would love to hear your opinion if you have taught abroad or answer any questions if you are interested.
To see pictures of when I was teaching go to my page called Korean kiddos are cute.
A little summary of what was happening. Selfies, yes….Teaching, maybe.
**Photos may be horribly blurry because who knows what kid was taking the pic… Still good memories.
I missed two American Thanksgivings in a row and was a bit mopey.
But, no time to be sad. I have this amazing life abroad and get to hang out with super cute kids. I made them do a little project on what they were all thankful for.
Here’s a bit about what it looked like:
- I’m thankful for my family isn’t sick leave.
- I’m thankful for eating many foods. Because some countrys can’t eat many foods or can’t eat food.
- My country have peace. (no war)
- I can study in good place. because some people can’t study or studying in bad places.
- I can leave (live) in Korea.
- I meet good parents. than I can go
- Parents bring me and two sisters because many familys are busy and don’t go trip not much.
- I can communicate with god. because some people can’t communicate with god, but I can.
- I’m not bad or rude child, because some children are very rude or actions is bad.
- I can study with Roran (Lauren) teacher!!
The above may not be PERFECT English, but still is very cute.
- On the first day of school I was about five minutes early. My co-teacher asked why I was there so early and just instructed me to sit and relax.
- I work 11-6:30 Mon-Fri with lunch breaks.
- I teach about a 11 classes a day. Kindy (ages 5-7) in the mornings and elementary (ages 9-12) in the afternoons. I love the variety. The little kids are adorable and I really like teaching the older kids because they know English fairly well.
- I have two other co-workers from the states.
- Lunch is provided at the school every day. So far I have tried squid, fish, seaweed, and something really spicy that makes my eyes water. Oh, and of course, lots of kimchi.
- The kids are always screaming hello at me and jumping all over me. They won’t stop staring at me and talk about my big alien eyes.
- When being introduced to my classes the kids guessed where I was from. Some of the best answers were Italy, France, Mexico, and China.
- Everyone keeps asking if I have a boyfriend or am married.
- Don’t write your name in red! At least I only wrote my own name so didn’t curse anyone else.
- Heads up seven up and hangman are great ways to pass a few minutes of free time in class.
- The little kids love ABC competitions and screaming.
- Every elementary student has a smart phone. They use it for translating and telling me when class is over.
- For our “culture” project this week the kids are making me Valentine’s Day cards.
- Every kid has a “Konglish” shirt. Everything is spelled incorrectly.
- All of the kids have “English” names. Some of the boys are named Bliss, Mighty, Chrissy, Joy, Beryl, Mirror, and DRAGON.