*UPDATED JULY 19, 2019*
A lot of us agree, we like working with other people. We enjoy a work community and not sitting at our computers all day. But, we also love traveling. Staying in one place to work can be fun and challenging but I for one like to break the routine up from time to time. Seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new food. That’s where VIPKID comes into play. I’ve been working for them over 2 years now and they’ve funded countless trips and weekend getaways.
- A Bachelor’s degree or higher (in any subject)
- Eligibility to work in the U.S. or Canada (native or with appropriate visas)
- At least 1 year of teaching experience (coaching, tutoring, mentoring, etc)
- A stable internet connection
- Teaching credentials preferred but not required
- Willingness to work on Beijing time zone (GMT +8)
VIPKID is an online teaching platform focused on teaching English to children in China. While they’re a bit strict in their requirements and the application process is lengthy, once you’re in, you’re rewarded with a non-committal job that lets you create your own schedule and work as little or as much as you’d like.
With an average salary of $8- $12 each 25-minute class, I’ve had months that I’ve made $2000 USD, months that I’ve made $0 and just about every number in between.
Typically, while working full-time, like I did in Vietnam and in Korea, I worked part-time with VIPKID. I taught nights sometimes, usually when we were planning a trip and I wanted some extra cash. In between these big gigs, I open more hours and teach more consecutively. As long as you have a laptop and a steady internet connection, your classroom goes where you do!
This job won't hinder your travel itinerary: set your own schedule on a daily basis
If you meet the basic requirements, the first step to landing a job with VIPKID is to fill out the basic application. The form is quick and asks you to upload relevant documents and answer some basic questions. In the question about work experience, focus on teaching experience. Whether that be what you’re currently doing or not, use the space wisely. Highlight all teaching, coaching, mentoring and/or babysitting experience you have. The more, the better! This application will be scanned to ensure you meet the basic requirements. Once you pass this portion, you’ll be asked to schedule an interview.
Want to work remotely but not sure if teaching is for you? Learn how to build your own online brand and start your own business!
The process can feel tedious but stick it out
For the interview, you’ll have three options. You can either schedule an interview, record a demo of you teaching or take advantage of the newest option: the smart demo.
With option 1, the interview will start with basic questions about teaching experience and qualifications. After a quick chat, you'll teach a demo lesson. You’ll be provided with a mini lesson (10 minutes) and asked to “teach” it to the interviewer as if they're a child.
For option 2, you can choose to record yourself "teaching a student" and send it to VIPKID for review. For me, this option is a bit awkward since you have to pretend to be talking to someone for 10 minutes. You'll need to imagine their responses and behavior.
Option 3 is new and seems to be the best bet, in my opinion. You can do the smart demo through your phone or tablet after you download the app. You have to answer 5 questions about teaching. You'll have 90 seconds to answer each question and most are multiple choice. The 6th question is for you to record a demo. You'll get randomized slide and you have max 2 minutes and 30 seconds to teach only that 1 slide. You'll need to imagine the student's responses but unlike option 2, you only have to do it for 1 slide, not multiple ones. If you're not satisfied with your first recording, you can rerecord it. Just keep in mind if you exit the app before you've sent in the demo, you might get a different slide when you open it back up!
The VIPKID platform looks like Skype and Powerpoint had a baby. You’ll see yourself, your student, the lesson (like a Powerpoint), a chat box and some additional options. You and your student can draw on the slides and in some cases move items around. Take advantage of because it makes it much more entertaining for the student. For the interview, it can be a little daunting to teach the letter “Pp” to a 45-year old man from Arizona but keep a light attitude, use your imagination and you’ll get through it with some laughs.
The interviewer is looking for someone who is friendly, energetic and positive. You’ll want to speak slowly and use appropriate vocabulary. The use of TPR (body language) is key. As a VIPKID teacher, TPR will be your best friend and many times the only way to convey your message to your student. So, go ahead and get comfortable with it now.
If you choose option 1 or 2, VIPKID will send you the demo lesson in advance. They want to see that you’re familiar with the materials and it isn’t your first time ever seeing it. At the bottom of the slides, there are “Teacher Tips.” Although they are called “tips,” I’d recommend you follow them as best you can. While prepping, see if there is anything you have laying around to be used as props. Props aren’t mandatory but show the interviewer that you took some time preparing.
In the newest application process, they will send you 2 potential lessons. Prep for both and your interviewer will randomly select the one you will teach.
Ready to go? Apply today!
Lastly, make sure your internet connection is strong and you’re sitting in a well-lit area with minimal background noise. If you have headphones with a microphone, even better! If you’re feeling nervous, fear not. VIPKID will send you all the materials necessary and even some examples of great demo classes.
If you chose to record your demo class instead, you’ll record yourself “teaching” the same 10-minute lesson. Only this time you won’t have a “student” to interact with, you’ll have to use your imagination. If possible, I’d opt to schedule an interview or do the smart demo.
After you pass the first interview, congrats! You can't fail, you're going to be a VIPKID teacher!
But before you start celebrating, there is one more step. You’ll then be asked to do a mock class. Side note- if you reschedule your mock class twice in 24-hours your account will be locked. Email VIPKID to unlock it.
Before you can schedule a mock class, you’ll be guided to a certification center. Here, you can choose which level you’d like to teach once you’re officially hired. You can choose between Level 2/3 (beginners- ABCs, phonics, introductions, loads of TPR) or Level 4/5 (intermediate- advanced phonics, open ended questions, independent reading).
Choose the level you prefer, schedule a time and you’ll receive all materials for your mock class. This will be a full 25-minute lesson. Along with all of the same tips from the demo class, the interviewer will also be looking for someone who can adjust to the level of the “student,” provides positive corrections and covers the objectives for the class.
If you pass your mock class, you have two options. You can either go back and be certified for the other level or move on to paperwork and your contract. If you choose to become certified for other levels, that means you have double the chances of students booking your class. You can always become certified at another time though. You’ll then be asked to sign off on a background check and sign a 6-months contract.
If you did not pass your mock class, don’t worry, you’re not out. You’ll be redirected to the support center. They will help you figure out why you didn’t pass, how to improve your lesson for next time and familiarize yourself with VIPKID’s teaching standards. You can continue to try until you do pass.
And a few more tips for the highly motivated
You don't need to have a classroom like you see in my pictures. I’ve set this up at home to make things a bit more fun but have not always had a setup like this, especially while traveling. Any bright, clean background will suffice.
If you’re on the road, I’d suggest using a sarong for a backdrop. I also keep a roll of tape, a headset with mic, a small fold-up lamp, hand-made ABC flashcards, a stuffed animal and a small dry erase board in my bookbag for when I’m on the go. It all takes up minimal space but allows me to create a classroom wherever I am in the world.
You also might see somewhere the mention of a “reward” for the student. Throughout the class you can give the student up to 5-stars to say “Good Job!” through the platform. VIPKID will also always provide you with a rewards system at the beginning of each lesson. This is just a bonus incentive for the student to keep them motivated. You can use this one or make your own. In the demo and mock classes, I used theirs but now I have a variety I rotate between.
If you want to be creative with minimal resources, try drawing something step by step for the child. Higher level kids like to guess what you're drawing, like a slow game of pictionary.
Final note, be bright, bubbly and even a bit over the top. The ideal teacher can get a 3-year old to pay attention to them, make a 6-year old laugh while learning and challenge a 10-year old to think for themselves. Your teaching style will vary from child to child but I’d recommend going all in for the demo and mock classes.
VIPKID is an online teaching platform focused on teaching English to children in China. Make sure you reach the requirements before applying. The application is divided into 3 parts: written application, interview + 10-minute demo class, 25-minute mock class. Once hired, the you are given the freedom to make your own schedule on a daily basis. There are no minimum or maximum work hours each month.
Or want to know more before you get going? Check out Part 2 to understand what the lifestyle is like as a VIPKID teacher.