Teaching English with VIPKid: A Practical Guide
If you have experience in education, teaching English online can be a fantastic way to work from home and still bring in additional income.
There are lots of online tutoring services now, but one of the largest and most popular is VIPKid. VIPKid is a China-based company that pairs young Chinese students with teachers in the United States and Canada who can work with them on their English. VIPKid also boasts one of the highest pay rates for sites like this.
In this article, we’ll look at working as a VIPKid teacher. We’ll show you how the company operates and guide you through the process of applying. We’ll also look at how they pay and give our final review on if it’s a great place to work.
What Is VIPKid?
VIPKid is a website that provides online English language classes to students in China. The company is based in Beijing, though the majority of its teachers are based in the United States. They offer part-time remote jobs teaching English as a second language (ESL).
The company was founded in 2013 by four ESL professionals: Jessie Chen, Forest Huo, Victor Zhang, and Cindy Mi. VIPKid quickly grew to be one of the largest online learning providers and has received funding from Chinese mega-company Tencent to grow its business.
VIPKid teachers work with younger students, only up to 8 years old. Instead of rigid lesson plans, the company encourages teachers to foster creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity in the students.
Each class is a one-on-one session, done in full-immersion, so teachers don’t need to be proficient in another language to work with VIPKid. Content courses are based on the U.S. Common Core, which helps students not only learn English but helps them understand more about traditions and culture in the home of their American teachers.
How VIPKid Works
VIPKid works by connecting students with qualified teachers via their digital platform.
Approved teachers — more on the approval process in the next section — get to choose their own hours and can sign up for open time slots to book a class. Each session is a 25-minute English class, and there is no minimum number of classes that a teacher must lead.
The shortness of the sessions can be great for some teachers, who can keep things fresh and not deal with bored students. Some teachers have said that the time can be limiting, however, and some wish they had more time to make progress with students during the session.
While teachers do get to set their own schedules, you should remember that the vast majority of the open sessions will take place after school in Beijing time, which is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 16 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. That means that many of the preferred time slots for students will take place in the very early morning or late at night — a 4 p.m. appointment in Beijing time will be 3 a.m. on the East Coast or midnight on the West Coast.
Some students in China will prefer mornings before school, which are more manageable for people on the East Coast of the United States.
Classes are 25 minutes and full immersion, and they take place via video conference. Teachers are paid between $14 and $22 hourly, which works out to around $7-$11 per 25-minute session. We’ll go into more detail on payment and contracts later in the article.
Signing Up and Getting Approved
The hiring process to become a new teacher with VIPKid involves a few steps. While you don’t need extensive teaching experience to work with VIPKid, they do prefer that you have some teaching experience, and it will make the interview process considerably easier.
They also require you to have a bachelor’s degree, though it can be in any field, not necessarily in education or English.
Once you’ve created an account, the application process involves four steps. The first is to provide them with some basic info about yourself, which should only take a few minutes. They ask for your name, contact information, education, and teaching experience. They also ask if you’ve ever taught before in a K-12 classroom in the United States or Canada, though they have a note below that your answer will not affect your application status.
Once you’ve passed the initial screening, it’s time for the bulk of the interview process. VIPKid first has applicants watch a 30-minute demo lesson to get a feel for what these classes are like and learn the structure of a class.
Then it’s time for the certification process. This lasts 2-3 hours and has you complete two mock classes. Each class runs for a half-hour with two staff members who pretend to be students. They will ask you questions and work through some basic English language skills. (They prep you ahead of time with a basic lesson plan to work through.) One class will be with a hiring agent who will pretend to have stronger English skills, and one will be with someone acting as if they can barely speak the language.
Pass that, and it’s time to complete the application process. You will need to provide them with your bank account information to get paid, along with proof of your diploma to verify your education. Then it’s time to sign your contract. VIPKid has teachers sign six-month contracts as independent contractors, in which you commit to working for them at an agreed-upon rate (ranging from $14 to $22 hourly, which we’ll cover more in the next section). There are no minimum weekly hour requirements — the contract just has you agree to a rate for a set period.
Once all that is done, you’ll get access to the VIPKid teacher portal, which lets you claim slots, get online teaching resources, and more.
Technical and Equipment Requirements
To work with VIPKid, you also need the proper equipment. This includes a computer, as well as an HD camera, which can be external or built into the computer. They ask that you have a headset with a microphone to communicate clearly, and a current version of either the Chrome or Firefox browser.
You will also need a strong internet connection with at least 20 mbps speed, as well as the latest version of Flash. Most newer laptops or desktop computers will have all of that built in, minus the headset.
Payment and Support
Teaching with VIPKid can be a great way to make extra money, but it will be difficult to make it work as a full-time job. That isn’t because of the rate — which is very competitive — but because there just aren’t enough slots with enough time for you to rack up hours. Students will want to work with an English tutor either mornings or early evenings in China, and there are only so many slots available per day.
The rate that VIPKid assigns you is based on teaching experience, education level, and experience with the company. Most new teachers will start out on the lower end — $14 an hour, or $7 per session. Once you get some experience, that rate can be re-negotiated every six months and go up to $22 per hour, or $11 per session.
Payment is issued via direct deposit to the bank account you provide them. If you have questions or concerns, they have a support section through their online teacher portal, which you can get access to once you join VIPKid. Not started yet but have questions? You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.