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How to get Hired as an Online English Teacher with VIPKID

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VIPKID is the perfect side hustle for anyone trying to cushion their travel fund or it's even possible to work for them full-time and take your work abroad with you.

Staying in a new country 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 having a remote job comes into play. Before and during the pandemic, I worked with VIPKID for 3 years and they funded countless trips and weekend getaways.

The Changes to VIPKID

2021 Pause

In 2021, VIPKID saw some huge changes and was forced to pretty much shutdown due to changing regulations in China. The new regulations prevented teachers who did not have working rights in China from teaching Chinese students online, which was pretty much their entire teaching pool.

The company worked on expanding to new countries to create a global student force and I know, while I no longer taught for them, they never completely died but still bottom out. I let my contract with them run out in 2021 and while I continued to receive emails asking me to join back up, I ignored them.

2023 Update

A few months ago, in 2023, I got an email from them asking me to sign up again. These emails had pretty much run dry so it did catch my attention - although I'm perfectly happy working in digital marketing and have no interest in teaching anymore. The email talked about their recent changes and that they were "back in action."

It mentioned students worldwide but much of the focus was actually on teaching English to Chinese adults.

I can't be positive if this invitation was only sent to previous teachers or if they're on the look for new ones, too, but my going to the VIPKID website, it looks like they're accepting applications.

I'll leave the rest of this article as it was originally published in 2019 but I did think it was fair to update it with the last few years of changes. It's also important for you to note that the exact payments might now be a little different.

What is VIPKID?

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

VIPKID requirements and how to apply infographic
Click here to go ahead and apply!

What are the requirements to get hired?

  • 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 experience with children (teaching, coaching, tutoring, mentoring, etc)
  • A stable internet connection
  • Teaching credentials (i.e. TEFL certificate) preferred but not required
  • Willingness to work on Beijing time zone (GMT +8)

If you do not meet these requirements but are still hoping to teach English online, check out these 11 legitimate online teaching platforms, all with a variety of requirements, scheduling and teaching styles.

5 Steps to Apply to VIPKID

Step 1: Fill out the basic application.

The form is quick and asks you to upload relevant documents and answer some basic questions. The process can feel tedious but stick it out.

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!

Step 2: Prep for the Interview

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.

Option 1: Schedule an Interview

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. 

Option 2: Record a Demo

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. I'd suggest sticking with Option 1 or 3.

Option 3: Smart Demo

This 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!

Screenshot of VIPKID virtual classroom
A peak at the virtual classroom on VIPKID

Tips for the Interview

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 this feature 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.

  1. Be friendly, energetic & positive
  2. Speak Slowly & use appropriate vocabulary
  3. Use TPR (body language)- This one will be your best friend as an English teacher
  4. Review the lesson you'll teach- In Options 1 & 2, you'll recieve your lesson in advance. Practice it multiple times before the interview!
  5. Follow the "Teacher Tips" at the bottom of each slide
  6. Use props- props aren't mandatory but they will show the interviewer you took time to prepare. No need to go overboard though, find stuff around the house that goes along with the lesson.
  7. Make sure your internet connection is strong
  8. Sit in a well-lit area with minimal background noise
  9. Use headphones with a microphone if possible
  10. Shake your nerves off! Review all the materials VIPKID sends you and you'll be good to go!

In Option 3: VIPKID will send you 2 potential lessons. Prep for both and your interviewer will randomly select the one you will teach.

Step 3: Choose which level you'd like to teach

After you pass the first interview, congrats! You can't fail, you're going to be a VIPKID teacher!

But before you start celebrating though, there are 2 more steps.

You’ll first 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 1 (pre-VIPKID): The youngest of them all. You'll be getting them use to online lessons & following basic instructions, like "circle"
  • Level 2/3 (beginners- ABCs, phonics, introductions): You'll use a lot of TPR & props
  • Level 4/5 (intermediate- advanced phonics, open ended questions, independent reading)

Step 4: Schedule your mock lesson

Choose the level you prefer, schedule a time and you’ll receive all materials for your mock class.

The mock class is a full 25-minute lesson where you'll be teaching an interview as if they are a student.

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"
  • Provide positive corrections
  • Cover the objectives for the class

*Side note- if you reschedule your mock class twice in 24-hours your account will be locked. Email VIPKID to unlock it. 

If you pass your mock class, you have two options.

  1. You can go back and be certified for other levels
  2. Go ahead and sign your contract as is

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.

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.

Step 5: Paperwork

You’ll then be asked to sign off on a background check and once that's gone through, you'll sign a 6-months contract.

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A few bonus tips for the highly motivated

1.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.

2. Plan a "reward" for the student

If you've read other articles about VIPKID, I'm sure you've heard of having 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 their idea in my interview and mock class 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.

3. 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.

Will You Apply to VIPKID?

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.

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