Online Teaching With VIPKID

In this rapidly developing digital age, I’ve seen a huge influx of ads promoting online work in the hopes that applicants take the bait for a better work-life balance or for the opportunity of being location independent. Well, I’ve taken the bait and now I’m not only a language assistant in Spain, I’m also an ESL teacher for students in Beijing, China!

For the last couple of months, I’ve been researching, applying, and now working with a new and rapidly growing company called VIPKid (pronounced V.I.P. Kid), teaching English to elementary level students. For the past two years, I’ve been teaching English to first, second, and third grade children in Madrid, so transferring into VIPKID’s age group hasn’t been a huge jump. 

About VIPKID

VIPKid is an online English learning company based in Beijing and created by ESL teacher and entrepreneur, Cindy Mi in 2013. Within a few short years, VIPKid has grown from less than 1,000 teachers to over 10,000 teachers and 500,000 + students! (numbers may vary slightly depending on what article you read)

The VIPKid classroom is a “flipped classroom” so student and teacher are connected through the internet in a full immersion lesson by webcam. Each class is 25 minutes long and pre-prepped by VIPKid.

All VIPKid lessons have been carefully crafted and based upon the US Common Core curriculum, which is attractive to many Chinese families. 

The VIPKID Classroom

VIPKid teachers have their own profile and schedule. You choose which hours you’d like to be available and the student and/or family will elect your time slot. Your bookings are either filled with trial students (students trying VIPKid for the first time) or major course students (students who are already signed up with VIPKid). This means you will either have new students each time you teach, or you may be fortunate enough to build a consistent following and have regular students. 

This is an example schedule. I check off which times I would like to be available (these times are based upon the time difference between China and Spain) and students start booking slots. Green = booked, white = teacher available, HOT/orange = popular hours for students

VIPKid lessons are formatted like a PowerPoint presentation and you are able to access the lessons once a student fills one of your slots. Since each class is a prompt 25 minutes, this gives leaves you with about a 1 minute per slide average. 

It’s important to review your class slides beforehand so you can prepare any fun props or materials. TPR, or total physical response is also essential in a VIPKid classroom~especially with the younger students who have never heard a word of English before. This means constant hand gestures and facial expressions are crucial to a successful class! In Spain, I can say a word or two in Spanish if a student has no idea what I’m talking about; but with Chinese students, I can’t say ANYTHING. I can only rely on the slides and gestures if we run into a moment of confusion.

These are some of the props I’ve collected so far to supplement my classes. A whiteboard is very handy along with finger puppets, toy animals, and flash cards. I plan to raid the Dollar Tree when I’m back in the States!

 One really cool feature in the VIPKid classroom is the ability to write on each slide. The students are encouraged to write on the slides if certain activities require them to circle specific words or match pictures with vocabulary. 

As you can see in the picture above, the student is on the top screen and the teacher is on the bottom. During the class, you may give yellow stars (top right corner) to praise your student’s progress. You are also encouraged by VIPKid to have your own reward system in addition to the stars. I use a poster of “the ocean” behind my chair and add paper fish and other sea creatures when my students have done a good job. 

So far, I’ve mostly taught second and third level students, but I did have a couple fourth and fifth level students just last week. Lessons may vary from singing the alphabet and learning phonics to reading short stories and developing students’ critical thinking. Once the school year finishes up here in Madrid, I’ll be able to dedicate consistent hours to VIPKid and hopefully gain some regulars. 

VIPKID Teacher Requirements

*Bachelor’s degree in any field
*Be from North America (Canada or the U.S.)
*Have some teaching experience
*Have a strong internet connection

Applying to VIPKID

After filling out an application form with your teaching experience and education background, VIPKid will email you if they are interested. I received my email in less than 10 minutes!

Next, you will choose a day and a time when you can have your initial interview and 10 minute demonstration class. VIPKid will send you information regarding the demonstration class such as what you will teach and ways to prepare with videos and PowerPoints. If you pass this stage, you are ready for your Mock 1 class, which is a full 25 minute lesson. Like the 10 minute demo, the interviewer will pretend they are a 5 year old student so they can evaluate how you would teach one of VIPKid’s youngest students. 

Most applicants will also complete a Mock 2 class after Mock 1 to reinforce your TPR skills, receive further feedback, and practice one more time before teaching real students. Once you’ve completed these steps and a short quiz on VIPKid standards, you are ready to upload your profile pictures, a short intro video, and start opening your time slots!

If you’re interested in applying for VIPKid, you can use my referral link and start filling out your info through the “sign up” tab. You can also plug in my referral code, 02P6LS on the sign up page. I used the referral link of another VIPKid teacher which gave us each the chance of earning a bonus if I got hired! Using another teacher’s referral link may also increase your chances of getting hired when completing all of VIPKid’s application steps. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more advice or have questions! 

Payment

For a part-time, online teaching position, VIPKid pays very well in my opinion. Depending on your teaching background and demo class performance, you will start with a base price between $7-9 (remember this is per 30 minutes, not a full hour). At the end of the month, VIPKid will add $1 to each completed 25 minute class. VIPKid will also add participation incentives. For example, if you teach 45 classes or more per month, they will add another $1 per completed class. 

If a student signs up for your class less than 24 hours in advance, you will receive an extra $2 for that class. For example, if your base price is normally $8, you will receive $10 if the student signs up as a “short notice.” In addition to these payments, you can recruit other teachers to earn extra cash.  

VIPKID Pros

*Set your own schedule
*Teach from anywhere (with Internet)
*Make decent money
*Work with motivated (and adorable) students
*Have numerous opportunities for bonuses, meet-ups, and other activities
*Improve your teaching skills

VIPKID “Cons”

*Time difference with China
*Extensive application process
*Only teachers from North America are accepted
*Student no-shows = 1/2 the price of a class for the teacher

VIPKid is a great opportunity for anyone looking for extra income, wanting location independence, or wanting to try a new way of teaching. So far, I’ve had a very positive experience with VIPKid and I can’t wait to increase my hours and continue working through the summer! 

Here are some VIPKID articles if you’d like to read more!

South China Morning Post

Bloomberg Technology

Getting Smart

VIPKID Videos

What is VIPKID?

Life of a VIPKID Teacher

Impact of VIPKID Teachers

What it’s like to be a VIPKID Teacher: Grad Student

 

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