If you’ve been searching for an online side hustle, you may have read about teaching English lessons at VIPKid. You might be wondering if VIPKid could be a good fit for you, and you probably have questions about what it’s really like to work there. Use my VIPKid teaching review as your guide!
I’ve been working as a VIPKid teacher for over two years, and I’m here to share my story with you. In this VIPKid teacher review, I’ll help you understand what to expect during the application process, what it’s like to teach a class, and how bookings work. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching platform that connects American and Canadian EFL teachers with English learners from around the world. It was created in 2013, and it’s one of the largest and most established EFL teaching platforms around.
Up until the second half of 2021, most VIPKid students were children based in mainland China. In the summer of 2021, the Chinese government made changes to its teaching regulations, and children in mainland China were no longer allowed to take lessons with EFL teachers who did not live in China.
In response to this, VIPKid launched a global teaching platform and created several new courses. Now, children from all over the world can enjoy VIPKid lessons, and classes are also available for adults in mainland China.
In early 2022, children from mainland China were allowed to take VIPKid lessons again. As VIPKid’s student numbers and course offerings continue to increase, there’s no better time to start your VIPKid teaching journey.
Am I eligible to teach at VIPKid?
To become a VIPKid teacher, you’ll need to be a native English speaker. You can live anywhere in the world, but you must have legal authorization to work in the U.S. or Canada.
Unfortunately, due to recent changes in U.S. independent contractor laws in certain states, VIPKid can’t hire new teachers who live in California, New York, or Washington. You must also have the following:
- A North American accent
- A bachelor’s degree in any field
- 2+ years of experience working with children (Babysitting, parenting, homeschooling, tutoring, mentoring, coaching, and classroom teaching all count!)
- A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate (Currently, you can get one by taking a short course at VIPKid after you’re hired, but it’s only valid for teaching at VIPKid).
- A clean background check
- A desktop or laptop computer with at least 4GB of RAM (no iPads, tablets, or Chromebooks!), a reliable internet connection (wired or wireless), a headset with a built-in microphone (no external mics!), and an HD webcam
How do I apply to teach at VIPKid?
To start your VIPKid application, you’ll fill in some basic information. In addition to your contact information, the form will ask you about your degree and your experience working with children.
Double-check everything before you press submit! Make sure that you’ve indicated that you have a completed college degree and at least two years of experience working with children to pass this section.
Once you’ve passed the basic information stage, you’ll move to the demo stage. This involves teaching a five-minute lesson to a pretend student. You can choose to do this with a live interview, or you may want to choose the demo recording option.
Personally, I chose the demo recording option, and it’s what I’d recommend. An introductory video is provided to show you what to do in your demo, and you can enter a practice classroom to rehearse your demo for as long as you want. You can complete the recording at a time that’s convenient for you.
When you’re ready to enter the demo classroom, you can record and re-record your demo for up to two hours. Once you submit your video, it takes around 24-48 hours to get your result. If you pass, you’ll be able to move to the next stage right away. If you don’t pass, VIPKid will give you some feedback, and you’ll have a second chance to record your demo video.
Whether you opt for a live interview or a demo recording, try these tips to ace this stage:
Set up your classroom for success!
You’ll need good lighting, a headset with a high-quality microphone, and a clean, colorful background.
Make sure that there are no shadows on your face. To help with lighting, you may want to purchase a webcam with a built-in ring light.
For backgrounds, I’ve found that it’s easiest to buy a personalized teaching background from Etsy. It’s sent to you as a PDF, and you can have it printed on a banner through Vistaprint.
My banner has saved me a lot of time and money in the long run. It always looks smooth and professional, and you can attach seasonal decorations to it throughout the year.
Ideally, make sure that you display your name (“Teacher” plus your first name) in a place on your teaching background so that it’s easily seen during your class. I use the same background all year, and I add a seasonal sign.
Follow the structure of the introductory video and the teaching tips as closely as possible.
Make sure that you use a reward system! Stickers, toys, soccer balls, flowers, or stuffed animals are all great. Ideally, you’ll want to give the student three rewards during the demo lesson. Hold the reward up to the camera when you give it.
When teaching a new word, always have the student repeat the new word twice. The student can repeat the sentence once.
Use TPR (Total Physical Response).
If you ask the student to circle something, draw a circle in the air to show the student what to do.
If you want the student to click something, bring your mouse up to the camera, and click it so that the student can see what you want him or her to do.
You can cup your ear to “listen” to the pretend student’s answers.
Praise and encourage the student on every slide.
You can do this verbally. For example, use praise words (“Good job,” “Excellent”) when your student gets the correct answer or puts in a lot of effort.
For added encouragement, remember to smile and nod while you’re waiting for the student to answer. This creates a comfortable learning environment for the student.
Next, you’ll move to the mock class stage. For your mock class, you’ll meet with a VIPKid mentor in a mock classroom for around 30 minutes.
Your mentor will ask you to share a little about your background, and you’ll deliver a 10-minute lesson. Your mock-class mentor will play the role of your student. After you finish giving the lesson, your mentor will offer feedback about your teaching strengths and areas for growth.
In my opinion, mock class preparation is an area where VIPKid really excels! They provide several preparation workshops that you can attend to prepare for your class.
All of the workshops are taught by experienced VIPKid teachers, and they walk you through what you’ll need to do for specific parts of the mock class. You can take as many workshops as you want, and it’s helpful to attend at least two different ones.
If you don’t pass your mock class on the first try, you can schedule as many mock classes as you want until you pass. Most teachers need to try the mock class at least twice, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t make it on your first attempt.
Here are my top tips to help you pass your mock class.
Use several different types of props.
During your mock class, you’ll be evaluated on the types of props that you have. Having props in several different categories will help your overall score.
You’ll want to have paper props (a nametag, pictures related to the lesson content), 3D props (stuffed animals, dolls, balls, toys), and realia (real objects related to the lesson).
Although they’re not required, I’ve also found that it’s really beneficial to use bells, buzzers, and other sound devices in mock and real classes. They make the class more fun, and they’re a great way to keep students focused during the lesson.
I use bells from an old Christmas package, and I purchased a set of buzzers with different sounds from Amazon.
Timers are perfect as motivational tools for students, especially when they’re reading stories or completing matching sections.
You may find a place to use a timer in your mock class, and you’ll definitely use it a lot in your real classes. I use this penguin buzzer, and it’s a hit with my younger students.
Correct your student’s mistakes promptly in a positive way.
Your mock class mentor will intentionally make several mistakes during your lesson. For example, your student might mispronounce a word, and he or she could leave out words in a sentence.
If your mock class mentor is working on a new word and mispronounces it, wait for your student to finish, and say the word correctly. Have the student repeat it.
If your student is saying a sentence and makes a mistake, wait for your student to finish the whole sentence first. Then, say the entire sentence correctly, and have your student repeat it.
Be encouraging and patient throughout your mock class.
Remember to smile a lot, and always give your student multiple chances to get the correct answer. If your student makes a mistake, never say “no,” “nope,” or any other negative words. Just say the word or phrase correctly, smile, and have the student repeat after you.
Once you’ve passed your mock class, it’s time to submit your documents and sign your contract! You’ll need to give your consent for a background check, and you’ll be asked to provide scans of your passport or driver’s license. Scans or photos of your college diploma or transcript will be requested, and you should upload a scan of your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate if you have one.
After you submit all of the requested documents, VIPKid will verify them. This process may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. VIPKid will let you know if they need more information or additional documentation, and they’ll keep you updated on the status of your document check.
When your documents have been verified, you’ll be able to read and sign your contract. Contracts are valid for six months.
Before you start teaching, you’ll need to complete VIPKid’s TESOL course if you don’t have a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate. As a new teacher, you’ll be asked to create a teacher profile.
You will need to upload a profile photo and two additional photos. You’ll need to be visible in all of the photos. For the profile photo, it’s important to look friendly, so make sure to smile! The two additional photos can be photos of you teaching in your classroom or photos from your life.
For example, you may want to upload a photo from a recent trip, a photo with your family, or a photo with a pet. You can change your photos as often as you want, and it can be helpful to update your photos a few times a year.
In addition to your profile photo, your introductory video is one of the most important parts of your teacher profile. Students and their parents view your video to decide if they want to book your class.
You can take special workshops at VIPKid to learn how to craft a compelling video. One of the things I’d recommend is adding Mandarin subtitles to your video. You can use Fiverr and other online services to have this done.
What’s it like to work at VIPKid?
I really enjoy teaching for VIPKid. Having tried other online EFL companies, I can say that VIPKid is the most supportive, positive place I’ve worked. I love the schedule flexibility that they provide, and their professional development workshops have given me a variety of strategies for teaching different types of learners.
The VIPKid teacher portal is user-friendly, and it’s easy to draw on the screen, type in the chatbox, navigate to a new slide, and access the buttons you need to teach class smoothly.
All of the class materials and audio clips are preloaded in the VIPKid teacher portal classroom for you, so you don’t have to worry about loading any other materials or struggling to play songs. The technical work is done for you ahead of time, so all you have to do is focus on teaching!
For new teachers in 2022, the base pay is normally $7 per class. Each class is 25 minutes long, so that works out to $14 per hour.
In addition to the base pay, you’ll receive participation incentives for every class that you start and finish on time. The participation incentive starts at $0.80 per class for your first 20 classes each month. If you teach more than 20 classes in one month, you’ll receive extra money for your participation incentive.
In fact, your participation incentive continues to increase as you teach more classes. If you have lots of bookings, you could be making an extra $1-2 per class by the end of the month. Participation incentives restart at the base level each month.
Your VIPKid teacher salary depends on how many bookings you receive. Some teachers make $1,000, $2,000, or more each month, and others make less than $100. It all depends on your bookings. After the changes in 2021, VIPKid bookings declined, but they are slowly increasing, and VIPKid anticipates that bookings will continue to increase throughout 2022 and into 2023.
To improve your VIPKid teacher salary, it’s important to open as many time slots as you can, and you’ll want to become certified to teach as many different courses as possible. Keep in mind that your VIPKid hours and pay could fluctuate throughout the year.
For example, you might find that you make lots of money one month and less money the next month. During my first month at VIPKid, I only had four bookings, and I made around $30. I played around with my opening hours and got certified for as many things as I could, and my pay slowly improved. By my fifth month, I was making around $1,000 per month.
Although VIPKid teacher salaries usually aren’t enough to be a full-time income, VIPKid is a worthwhile side hustle for many teachers.
What are the typical working hours at VIPKid?
Now that VIPKid offers classes around the world, you can technically work whenever you want. However, in order to receive the most bookings, you’ll want to be aware of VIPKid’s peak hours. Currently, VIPKid has peak times and peak-peak times (PPT). These are the times that you’re most likely to be booked.
Peak times are from 5-8 p.m. Beijing time for students in China. For students on the global site, peak times extend until 9 p.m. Beijing time. During peak times, PPT times are the most popular class times. They run from 7-9 p.m. Beijing time. Peak times and PPT times are available every day, including on the weekends.
In addition to peak times and PPT times, teachers have had success with teaching morning classes in Beijing time. In particular, classes from 7-9 a.m. Beijing time are popular. In the past, many teachers made a good salary by teaching from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Beijing time on Fridays and Saturdays.
Although things changed with the global site, now that students from China are returning to the platform, it’s likely that weekend classes and off-peak class hours will become increasingly popular again.
What does a typical class look like?
At VIPKid, your classes will be one-on-one. Except for special classes and levels seven and eight, each class lasts for 25 minutes. All of the teaching materials are provided for you, and you’ll work through a series of slides with your student.
After greeting your student and having a minute or two of conversation about the student’s day, hobbies, or plans, you’ll begin the lesson by teaching new vocabulary words to your student. You’ll help your student learn phrases and questions to ask with the new vocabulary words, and you may read a short story together.
Depending on the student’s level and course unit, you may work on the sounds of certain letters, and the lesson may also have grammar exercises for the student to complete. You’ll close the class by having a few minutes for review and extension.
Generally, older students attend class by themselves, but younger students (ages 3-6) will normally be accompanied by a parent.
In my experience, classes tend to be positive and exciting. The students are usually polite and happy to be in class, and I have never had any behavior problems with any of my students. If you encourage your students and take a genuine interest in their lives, they will often open up to you, and you’ll be able to build rapport.
After class, you’ll submit a feedback report to the student and his or her parents. This needs to be submitted within 12 hours of the class. In the feedback report, you should list several things that the student did well. Additionally, you should list one or two things that the student can practice to improve.
For example, you might want to list two or three words that the student could practice for pronunciation, or you could ask the student to create his or her own sentences with the new vocabulary words from the lesson. Homework is optional at VIPKid, but parents like to receive suggestions to help their children improve.
Although VIPKid doesn’t have an official dress code, it’s important to look presentable for class. You could wear a shirt or hoodie with the VIPKid logo, and you may want to wear a blouse, a sweater, or a long-sleeved shirt in a solid color.
No, not at all. VIPKid is completely flexible, so you can open time slots when it works for you. If you need to take a day, a week, or several months off, it’s no problem!
How do I cancel a class?
If you need to cancel a class that’s been booked, you can cancel it on your bookings page. You’ll be asked to select a reason for cancellation. To avoid a penalty fee, make sure to cancel the booking at least 24 hours in advance. You’re allowed to cancel six classes per contract period.
For most classes, you’ll find the feedback form button on the upper right portion of your classroom page. You can type the feedback into the boxes and submit the form from there.
As of late 2022, if you’re teaching a unit assessment class on the global platform, you’ll submit feedback with a separate form. A link to the form will be provided on the classrooms page.
If you encounter any issues or have any questions, you can contact the VIPKid support team. They’re available through your VIPKid teacher portal. After you submit a ticket, they usually respond within 24 hours.
I hope this guide to becoming a teacher at VIPKid has inspired you to start your application. While the process takes time, it’s definitely worth it, and you’ll have plenty of support along the way. Enjoy each stage of your application, and you’ll be on your way to having a rewarding side hustle in no time!