I stumbled upon VIPKID in summer 2017 when I was looking for a way to save up money for travel. I’d been a classroom teacher before, but I dreamed of a life where I could travel more often. A friend suggested VIPKID and I applied, thinking I’d work through the summer, save up some money, and go on an adventure or two.
But I ended up finding so much more. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I loved working for VIPKID! I loved having a job that was totally flexible and location independent. Working from home in my pajamas was a major plus and the pay was impressive considering I didn’t have to commute or do any outside lesson planning. And the best part was my creative, driven, sweet students.
I’d found a job that I genuinely loved that would allow me to work remotely and travel, which was the ultimate dream for me. In this VIPKID review, I’ll talk about how VIPKID works and what you need to know to get started.
Being an English Tutor with VIPKID
Online ESL jobs are some of the most popular ways for expats and other travelers to live a location-independent lifestyle. To teach ESL online through VIPKID is an incredibly flexible, rewarding lifestyle. Through this VIPKID job review, I’ll share why I love being an ESL tutor so much.
VIPKID review: what is it?
VIPKID is an online English teaching platform.
VIPKID review: pros
Working for VIPKID has some pretty amazing perks.
VIPKID review: cons
If you’re teaching from the USA, chances are your work schedule will start very early. Classes are held at times that are best for the students in China. Since China is about 12 hours different from the USA, this means that most teachers work late nights or early mornings.
VIPKID review: day-to-day life
Day-to-day life as an online ESL tutor is fun and stress-free! I can see my lessons in the Teacher Portal the night before and I make sure I have a few additional props available. When it’s time for class, I simply open up my computer and teach right there in the
My students are adorable and I love getting to share my language with them while they teach me about their culture. After each class, I leave feedback for the student. After all my classes for the day are completed, I’m free to spend the rest of my day exploring or working on my blog.
VIPKID review: the technical aspect
VIPKID requires that applicants are native English speakers with eligibility to work in the USA or Canada. Teachers also must have a Bachelor’s degree. You must have at least one year of teaching, tutoring, or mentoring experience with children and you must have consistent access to a high-speed internet connection.
One of my favorite parts about VIPKID is that I don’t have to do any lesson planning! When I was a traditional classroom teacher, I spent so much of my evenings and weekends working on Lesson Plans. Now, all my lesson planning is done for me. No grading papers, no creating power points, it’s all there in the platform. The only part I’m responsible for is finding a few relevant props to supplement the lessons. You can find a list of the props I use while traveling here!
Finally, VIPKID teachers are, legally, independent contractors. Each contract length is six months long.
What it’s like to teach English online to Chinese students
One of the best things about homebased online teaching jobs are the people you get to meet – in this case, the students. Because of online ESL teaching jobs like VIPKID, I get to meet wonderful Chinese students that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
I love teaching my Chinese students. One of my favorite parts of the job is that I get to know so many students and families from the other side of the world. While they’re learning English, I’m learning about their culture and day to day life.
Most of my students do VIPKID in addition to their regular school work, so they already have a little bit of background with English. Since they complete VIPKID classes in their home on the weekends and after school, I get to see their families, their pets, their toys, and just a real glimpse into what their life is like. Because of that, the connections you can make to your students are so strong, even when they’re far away.
When you open up your schedule, parents can book the classes you make available. Usually, you’ll have several parents book
VIPKID students are age 4-12 and they range in ability levels. Some students are just learning the basics and others can speak almost fluently.
It’s possible to make a solid living on VIPKID but it’s definitely easier to stretch that money farther in less expensive countries. If you’re interested in traveling to more expensive countries, consider house sitting as a way to save money on accommodation. As a house sitter, you take care of someone’s home and pets while they’re away. They get free pet care and you get a free place to stay.
This is awesome for people who teach ESL online because the internet in a private home is usually far better than the internet you find in hotels and hostels. As a house sitter, I’ve been able to travel longer in more expensive parts of the world because I saved so much money on accommodation.
VIPKID Interview Tips
Is VIPKID legit? As legit as any other ESL
The application process for VIPKID can be long but it’s worth it in the end. First, you’ll fill out a written application online
- Bachelor’s degree
- Native English speaker
- Eligibility to work in USA or Canada
- A year or more of experience teaching
This teaching experience doesn’t have to be teaching in a traditional classroom. This can include tutoring, mentoring, coaching, and other experience working with children in an educational setting.
Applying to teach ESL online
Second, you’ll be invited to complete an interview. You can choose a live interview with a VIPKID employee in China or a recorded interview. In both options, you’ll tell a little about yourself then teach a demo class that’s provided. The interview lasts about 15 minutes.
Third, you’ll move on to the certification center. This is where you get certified to teach students. You’ll receive two different “mock” lessons to practice. When you’re ready, you’ll schedule a time to practice teaching the mock lesson with a Mock Class Mentor Teacher. You must pass the mock class to begin teaching students. You can attempt the mock class as many times as you need to pass. For many people, it takes a few tries so don’t get discouraged.
After you pass the mock class, you’ll upload your documents and sign your contract. You’ll submit information for a background check and photos of your relevant degrees and certifications.
If you don’t have a TEFL certification or a teaching license, you’ll need to complete the in house 10 hour TEFL training before you can begin teaching. You’ll work on this while your paperwork is being processed.
Once all the paperwork is completed, you’ll be able to start teaching. You’ll see a big calendar screen with available class times and you can choose when you’d like to open classes. Parents will book you and you’ll be on your way.
VIPKID interview tips
For first-time online TEFL teachers, it can be difficult to get used to the online English class set up. Many people say they feel like they’re teaching in a box, but don’t worry, that feeling goes away with time. During your interview and mock classes make sure you:
- Have good lighting, a good internet connection, and headphones with microphone (this prevents an echo)
- Hang a background or something academic on the wall behind you, like the ABC song
- Use at least three props – I recommend ABC cards, a stuffed animal, and a wipe board to get started
- Use lots of TPR – This means you use gestures to demonstrate what you want the student to do. When you want them to speak, for example, you might cup your hand to your ear and point to them to demonstrate that you’re listening for their response. This works well with very new English language learners who might not understand all the verbal classroom commands.
Finally, pay close attention to timing.
Need help with the hiring process?
Again, the hiring process with VIPKID involves many steps but it’s definitely worth it in the end. I’ve written a detailed post about the entire VIPKID application process on my blog which you can read here. Also, If you’re interested in
Could an online ESL teaching job be right for you?
Online ESL jobs like VIPKID are amazing for people who want to travel, people who want to work from home, or people who just want a fun and flexible source of side income. VIPKID can be used as a full source of income or as a supplement to your existing job if you want to make a gradual transition to remote work.
For me, VIPKID was the perfect fit because it allowed me to have lots of flexibility in my work life while still doing what I love. And it might be the perfect fit for you too.
Bio: Nicola Rae is an online English teacher, house sitter, and travel blogger. She’s known for getting lost in new cities, befriending big lizards, and eating impressive quantities of guacamole. Read more about VIPKID and long-term travel on her blog www.seenicwander.com