Thursday, April 30, 2020

Getting Hired with VIPKid in 2020

Do you want to make $22 an hour while at home?  I know I did, so I started looking into teaching English online.  I have a four year degree, an American accent, and a TESOL certificate, so I was set to apply for VIPKid.  One of the best things about teaching English is you don't need to speak the language of your students -- you learn how to teach even if you know nothing of the student's language -- even if the student speaks very little English, you can still successfully teach them.

If you don't have a TESOL, you can take the class for free once you get hired by VIPKid or go ahead and get your certificate from somewhere like International Open Academy so you can use your same certification to teach English elsewhere.

What hours can you work?   All your students will be in China, so you will be teaching on a schedule that alligns with THEIR time zones.  Current teaching hours in the main US time zones are:

Eastern: 8:30 PM - 10:00 AM
Central:  7:30 PM - 9:00 AM
Mountain 6:30 PM - 8:00 AM
Pacific. 5:30 PM - 7:00 AM

But you don't have to live in the USA to teach.  If you are living overseas for any reason you can still teach as long as you have an American accent.  You don't even have to speak English as your first language as long as you are fluent and have that USA accent.

When applying for VIPKid, remember that ALL your experience working with kids counts -- not just classroom? So if you taught Sunday School, VBS, coached T-Ball, etc. COUNT IT. Currently they will not hire you if you have less than 2 years of working with children, so if you are on the 2 year cusp, don't choose the option that has 2 years at the higher end, you will automatically not get hired. Choose the option where two years is the minimum.

Once you get past this part of the application, start looking at the materials for your demo and mock class.  You will want to prepare, but you won't need to over prepare.  Be sure and take the classes on how to get ready for this.  If you don't, you will likely fail because there are certain gestures they expect every teacher to use.  Remember, some children don't speak much English and to say, "Can you repeat?" would sometimes be met with a blank stare.  So there are certain gestures for "listen" and "Can you say" so the teacher doesn't need to tell the student what to do, but the student will know by just watching you.

You will need a headset with microphone that goes in front of your face.  You will not get hired if you don't have this.  Remember the student needs to hear you clearly without any background noise.  Also, sometimes the student is shy and will speak softly, and you will need to turn up the volume on your headset to know if your student is saying "at" or "on" -- sometimes they speak more softly so it is more difficult for you to tell if they are using English correctly.  Kids are kids no matter where they live.

I thought I would have to have orange shirts.  You don't.  A plain t-shirt works just fine as your teaching uniform.  Bright colors are great, but as long as you have a shirt without a logo on it, you are set.

 Don't overthink your background and props. Sure, fun background with lots of colors are exciting, but you don't want to overwhelm your student visually. The younger the student, the more color you will need. VIPKid students range in age from 3 years to 12 years. It's often best if you choose an age group you prefer working with and make your background work for those years. A plain wall in a bright color is great. Or a photography backdrop.  Some of these are fun and quite inexpensive on Amazon.  Choose a theme for your classroom.  Maybe a solar system theme for younger children? Or an underwater theme for older children?  I was caught up in the whole "It should be educational", but you will mainly be adding the educational elements yourself.

Don't go overboard on props.  I thought I needed a magnetic whiteboard behind me as well as a hand held one, but the whiteboard I use most is one with a handle.   This is my most used prop -- and it's considered educational.  Of course, you will need dry erase markers.  Another prop I use often is dry erase blocks.  These are great for phonics where you will want the student to practice sounds ending in a certain letter combo, such as "at" and on the other block you can have letters ready, such as c, h, b, and p.  I keep the sides of the blocks free or letters so I don't rub them off.  Most other props you will have around your house or can easily find a coloring page.  I use my old Cabbage Patch Kids as a prop for "he, boy, his" and "she, girl, hers".  I printed off a simple coloring page of a kite and added it to a wooden skewer.  If you are focusing on lower levels, you will also need a puppet that opens its mouth.  The mouth opening is important or it just seems like a toy.  You will want something quick to put on and take off.

Once you get hired, you will need to do a short video and a few photos of yourself.  These you want to market to the student, not the parents.  The students want class to be fun.  So show (rather than tell) what you plan to do to make class entertaining.  Examples might be your puppet introducing itself,  if you plan on singing and playing a guitar, whatever you want to do to attract your student.  This video should be 30 seconds or less and leave a lasting impression.  Have a pet?  Introduce it.  Film this in your classroom area and as you plan your video think about commercials that appeal to children in the age range you want to target as your main students.  You don't want to tell what you are going to do or teach in this video.  Be fun, energetic, and memorable.

As I write this, bookings are down a little, but don't let that stop you from applying.  China has just come off Covid-19 lockdown.  Students are more interested in going to the park than sitting at home in front of a screen, but their parents will still want them learning.  The United States is under lockdown right now, so that means more people are home who want to teach.  YOU CAN STILL GET BOOKINGS!  So apply, and then be ready come fall when everyone's new normal resumes!  By then you should have regular students and start adding new ones to your schedule.

Also, there are multiple certifications once you get hired.  Use the slower time to get more certifications!

I'd love to answer any questions you have and help you get hired.  Feel free to contact me through my Facebook page or on twitter.  I would love to see you apply, get hired, and you be successful!


  1. Thanks for the cool info, Jenn. Any chance of getting a life update from you? I think your last one was in 2017. Anyway, hope you're doing great! I moved up north (can't remember if I told you) last year.

    1. Life has been busy. You're right, I do need to do a life update. I kind of quit blogging after a place I was making some decent money with quit their blogging program. Thinking of getting back into it, though.