VIPkid has been changing the Chinese ESL landscape since 2013 with their comprehensive virtual learning environment (VLE). Working as a contractor on their platform has been a large improvement over working for other, physical training centers in mainland China. They offer self-managed working hours, 65,000 teachers teaching 500,000+ Chinese kids, and a platform designed to make the nitty-gritty of scheduling classes and managing the paperwork as easy as possible for both the teacher and the company.
There are no obstacles to teaching as many classes as a teacher wishes to schedule, between 7:30PM and 8:00AM EST (8:30AM and 9:00PM BJT). As of November 2018, the national government began to regulate online education. As a product of this it was decided that primary school students should stop person to person (P2P) online education at 9:00PM BJT. The most classes I have taught in one sitting were 27 (the most possible), so you are allowed to teach each class available per daytime schedule. In contrast, there is no longer a minimum number of classes that you must teach.
The VIPKid teacher’s portal has a user interface (UI) that is intuitive and partitioned well. Most of my time is spent switching between the “Classrooms” and “Bookings” subcategories under the “Class” dropdown menu. Along with a recent update, the bookings grid will now refresh itself every five minutes, so teachers can keep track of live changes to their schedules. This is especially useful when you have a few short notice classes open. This makes it much less likely for a teacher to miss a class due forgetting to refresh their browser for an updated schedule – yes, this happened more than once. In all, the company constantly updates the platform to support their teachers’ needs.
The students range anywhere between the ages of three and 14, generally. Of course, there are outliers. In my first year of teaching, I had a 42-year-old man enrolled and taking classes in the higher level curriculum. Classes are always one-on-one, but it is not uncommon for a child to have friends listening. I always interact with them when they are responding, as it is better to have two focused students than one student who is watching their friend play in lieu of engaging in the class. As with teaching children anywhere, there will always be a few students who think they know everything, with attitudes reinforced by their parents. There will be students who simply have no interest in class, but are not encouraged or disciplined by their parents which leaves the outcome up to your level of patience. Most students, and their parents, are incredibly pleasant and gracious. You will make friends with your regular students’ parents and enjoy getting a goodbye chorus from the entire family after each class. In general, the students are simply wonderful to interact with.
Working Hours and Pay
Typically, I teach between 40 and 60 hours week, five to six hours each morning and one to four each night. The busiest seasons are Summer and Winter due to student holidays and breaks. In the slower months, when the kids are busy with regular school days, I teach around 85 classes or 42 and a half hours per week. Pay with this company has always averaged out to a minimum of $10 per class. They tend to change their pay-centered promotions every six months to a year, so there is a little flux, but never too much. Recently the pay structure changed to incorporate the total number of classes a teacher has taught, termed “lifetime classes,” within the platform. In theory, newer teachers with fewer classes may be paid a little less than previously, but since I have completed more than 20,000 classes, I see no real change in my earnings. The most I have earned in a single month was just over $6000. This did not come easy and only happened once as a personal challenge I set for myself. Let’s just say, there is a reason this only occurred once.
Support and Conduct
Feedback and support for VIPKid teachers utilizes the Freshdesk ticketing system, which is used by 40,000 international companies, according to their corporate website. When there is a problem or concern, a teacher can submit a help ticket which is then reviewed by VIPKid representatives. A slight issue I often run into with this system, is that responses are categorized by pre-defined selections in a dropdown menu. While this certainly helps streamline tickets to helpdesk team members, it also can be frustratingly limiting when the teacher’s question is not directly covered by a selection in the dropdown menu. You are also not guaranteed to get a response from someone who knows the answer. Often, it is difficult to carry a written conversation with one individual, since each response ticket goes into a pool that is sorted to the helpdesk team.
Native teachers are an industry standard in the Chinese ESL market. However, I have known and heard of teachers from Asian and African countries being hired as teachers. The nature of the platform allows parents to choose their teachers based on their profiles, pictures, and qualifications, so it is not necessarily exclusive with respect to who can be successful. There are teachers from all ages, ethnicities, and English fluencies who are successful.
My advice for anyone interested, is to apply! Try it out. You will know if it is the right fit for you. I have worked with VIPKid for more than four years now and I will be happy to do so for years to come, even if I choose to work fewer hours on a more part-time basis. Having so much autonomy is the greatest benefit offered by this company.
To be successful in your interview, practice delivering a 25-minute class using the mock-class material for prospective teachers found on the VIPKid website. Teaching children is more about maintaining a good energy level throughout the class and engaging them in discussion, games, or vocal drills. Get your class timing right and you will absolutely be successful!
Interested in working in China and want to find out more? Our UK agency ensures that schools are up to top standard and provides an additional layer of protection and reassurance when negotiating issues with your Chinese school. To find out the latest vetted and quality assessed top providers in China check out nooneliterecruitment.com/teach-english-in-china.