How to Teach English from Anywhere You Have Internet

Teachers, educators, lend me your ears! Are you tired? Burned out? Ready to leave your 7 am to midnight lifestyle of grading papers, lesson planning, and crying into your ice cream while binging FRIENDS? Don’t worry, compadre. I’ve got the hook-up. 

Look, I get it. You are a teacher because you’re passionate about kids. You are passionate about learning and about investing in the lives of the future. None of us become teachers for the money. But goddamnit, a little extra cash wouldn’t hurt, ammaright? 

As teachers, we have the unique ability to take our skillset into just about any country in the world. News flash – pretty much everyone on planet earth wants to learn English, and it can be a pretty sweet way to merge your passions with an international lifestyle. Personally, I’ve taught English in six countries spanning five continents and it’s an awesome gig!

But there is a DOWNSIDE to teaching overseas….

Sure, I was able to travel and teach English BUT most places weren’t able to pay me other than providing room and board. (Keep in mind that I was working with mostly non-profit organizations with religious affiliations.) The thing is, the programs and companies that are most likely to really PAY you will require you to sign a contract anywhere from 6 MONTHS to OVER A YEAR. And for my spontaneous ass, that’s just not worth it. Cause that’s the dream of a travel lifestyle isn’t it – to go where you want when you want.

The good news is, there is a better option! Cue the numerous programs and start ups in China practically begging native English speakers with university degrees to apply with their companies. Why is there so much demand for English in China? I’m glad you asked.

In China, a lot of your life is defined by your level of English – for example which secondary school you will go to, your university, and even your job. For this reason, parents are desperate to get their children signed up for private English classes, and lately a business called VIPKID has been on the forefront of this sector.

So what is VIPKID exactly?

VIPKID is an online platforms that connects Chinese grade-school students with one-on-one English teachers for 25 minute lessons.

Wait, 25 minutes? Are you shitting me?

Nope, that’s right. 25 minutes. And depending on your previous experience as an English teacher, you will be paid anywhere from $9-$11 per 25 minutes.Which (as I’m sure you can surmise) comes out to around $20 an hour.

Okay, well Nat, I’m sure I will be spending more time lesson planning and all that, right?

Actually NO. The minimum extent of your preparation will be loading the lesson slides onto the platform about one minute before each class. You teach the slides (with yes, a few props you will probably buy), be enthusiastic, engage with the student, write a little feedback to their parent, and BAM. You’re done.

my teaching space in Bilbao, Spain

What will my schedule look like?

To put it simply, your schedule will look however you damn well want it to look. After you are hired and have access to your teaching portal, you are in control of just about every aspect of your new job. You will have a “Bookings” screen where you can open or close any and all time slots to your heart’s desire. The only requirement really is that you teach a few classes a month. Aside from that, your schedule and availability are completely up to you.

This is a screen shot of the my availability for the week of February 18-24th. Open slots appear in blue. This means that students’ parents can book any of my blue slots. Once booked, the slot will turn green and the student’s name will appear. Notice that I’ve closed Sunday because I always give myself that day off. My schedule, my choice. If I’m traveling or just want a break, I don’t open slots on those days either.

What are the requirements?

Good question. I’ve got a good answer. The requirements are this: a four year degree/diploma (does NOT have to be in education), some teaching or tutoring experience, high speed internet, and a laptop. That’s it my dears.

So what’s the downside?

Like any business, VIPKID is not in any way a perfect company to work for. One of the biggest complaints with the job is that once a class has been scheduled, it’s pretty much impossible to cancel it without getting negative marks on your profile. Even if you have an emergency (and you can prove it with doctor’s notes and the like) or even if you cancel a week ahead of time, your profile will show that you “missed” that class. This can be a problem when you have several classes on the same day. For example, if I have 5 classes scheduled for Thursday and on Thursday I have a family emergency ALL FIVE of those classes are counted as missed classes. Which is a bit ridiculous as you are only allowed 6 missed classes in a six month period.

However, more and more VIPKID teachers are speaking out about this issue and many are hopeful that the rules regarding canceled classes will be rectified.

The only other thing that’s really annoying about VIPKID is the interview process. Not to toot my own horn, but in the US, I taught at the only public school district on the Forbes 500 list of best companies to work for. And let me tell you, the interview process at VIPKID was a HELL of a lot more difficult than it was at Cherry Creek Schools. There’s the application, uploading a demo class pretending to teach a student, and then two rounds of teaching demo classes with a mentor teacher from VIPKID. I’ll be honest. It pissed me off.

BUT I have to say that in retrospect, I am grateful for the extensive interview process because at the end of the day, online teaching is a whole different animal than running my own classroom. I got a lot of great feedback, and by the end of the process, I felt much more ready to teach these particular students on this particular platform. It’s really the only feedback you get from anyone for the rest of your time with the company, so take your lumps and then sit back and enjoy working in your pajamas.

So how can I apply?

I’ve got more good news – the initial application is the easiest part. So if you’re looking for an easy first step, the first is the easiest at VIPKID. Click the button below for my personal invite to sign up. And guess what? If you use the code NATAL0210 in the referral box, I will PERSONALLY be in touch with you to be your PERSONAL COACH throughout the interview process and will give you all the support you need to get you to your first class! See you soon!

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may still have about VIPKID to see if it’s right for you!