PalFish is an app that allows you to chat and earn with kids and adult ESL learners from all over the world from your mobile device.
What Is the History of Palfish and How Does It Work?
Palfish (伴鱼 in simplified Chinese) launched in 2015 to provide easily accessible online English instruction to learners worldwide. It currently has over 10 million active users. The business operates on a unique model. Instead of treating teachers as employees, Palfish acts as a “digital agent” by connecting students and teachers. It sustains its bottom line by taking a 20% cut from teachers' pay, much in the same way that a sports agent takes a fee from the players he or she represents.
Palfish offers two opportunities for teachers to make money. One is the Official Kids Course (teaching kids), and the other is FreeTalk (teaching adults), which will both explained on this page.
Teach On Your Phone
Palfish is different from other ESL providers in that it allows its teachers to use phones, tablets, or other mobile devices to deliver their lessons. Many other platforms that offer English education require that teachers use their laptops.
Obviously, the ability to use your mobile phone allows greater flexibility in terms of where and when you can log on to do your work. The option to use your phone is one of the features of Palfish that teachers review highly.
PalFish Kid also provides an education platform for you to teach Chinese children from the comfort of your own home to help young students achieve their English goals.
Schedule and Hours:
- Minimum 3.5 hours per week commitment.
- The 3.5 hours per week have to be during Beijing peak hours.
- Peak hours are Monday-Sunday 6pm-9pm, and Saturday-Sunday 9am-10pm in Beijing time.
- Teachers are not required to work full shifts, just to ensure 3.5 hours during the peak times.
One-on-one class for age 3~12 children.
What Are the Technical Requirements For a Teaching Job With Palfish?
You don't need any special technology to start teaching on Palfish. All of the activity on the site is accessible via smartphone or tablet, so you don’t even need a laptop to teach.
Official Kids Course Pay
Make up to $22/hour + Bonuses!
Palfish Freetalk Pay
Set your own per-minute rate. Earning uncapped
How to Receive Palfish Pay?
Use Payoneer to get Paid by Palfish
Anyone with a working email and bank account can sign up for Payoneer, and you can use the services for various financial transactions on the web, not just for getting paid by Palfish.
You can get $35 for free by signing up below:
PalFish Official Kids Course Requirements
- Teaching certification (TEFL, TESOL or others)
- Have experience in teaching kids
- Native English speakers from Australia/US/UK/Canada/Ireland/New Zealand with a neutral accent
- Can be online for more than 10 hours per week (between 6-9pm)
If you don't meet these requirements, you can find other online teaching jobs here.
Freetalk is for teachers who prefer to teach adults instead of children. However, you can also do this as well as the Official Kids Course.
Freetalk differs as it is a less guaranteed way to earn income, however it is much more flexible. You set your pay rate, as well as when you wish to make yourself available to be booked by adult learners.
Once you are booked, you will engage in an audio talk on your phone to help an adult learning practice their English. The student will pay your per minute rate, and PalFish will take a 20% cut.
PalFish Freetalk Requirements
To apply, simply download the app and make a profile. Your profile will then have to be approved before you can begin making yourself available to teach.
Don't meet the requirements? Plenty more fish in the sea…
Palfish Official Kids Course Alternative
Palfish Freetalk Alternative
Palfish Application Process
What Are the Different Components of the Palfish Application?
The application for prospective teachers interested in Palfish includes:
- Choose an “avatar” – a unique profile picture that has your face clearly visible.
- Write a 100-word introduction (minimum) that includes important information related to the job like your name, your home country, any college/university education and credentials, previous work experience in the ESL field if any, and what you think you will bring to the table if accepted to the position.
- Record an introduction explaining your English-teaching skills. This video is designed to showcase your English language talents, so make sure you are speaking clearly.
- Visit the “My Wallet” section of the Palfish platform and enter your personal financial information so that the company can pay you for your work.
Palfish will take 2 business days to review all of this information and get back to you about the status of your application.
What Are Some Tips for Acing the Video Introduction?
Palfish does offer some ways you can make your video stand out from the crowd, as well as things best left unsaid that you shouldn't include:
- Don't come off as arrogant. It's understandable to want to “wow” potential students with your depth of knowledge and expertise, but if you lay it on too thick, you risk appearing overly “cocky.”
- Slow down in the recording. Keep in mind that your students will be learning English as a second language (ESL) – many of them beginning from scratch. Talk slowly and annunciate every word so that potential students (or their parents) watching your introduction can grasp the message you are trying to convey – namely, that you are the right instructor for the job.
- Try to look at your introduction video from the perspective of a Palfish student – do you seem knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic? Are you relatable? Is the vocabulary and terminology that you use in the video appropriate for even beginners?
Palfish Basics – Video Tutorials
Fast On-boarding Process
Another advantage of Palfish is the fast on-boarding process compared to other online teaching applications.
You can be booked as soon as your application is processed. So please note to have an idea of your availability before applying. Here is a series of video tutorials from a Palfish mentor to help:
Palfish Basics – Your First Bookings
Palfish Basics – Send Welcome Messages and Follow-Ups to Trial Students
Palfish Schedule Functions Tutorial
How Long Do You Need To Stay in the Classroom?
Palfish Trial Placement
What else can you do on Palfish?
PalFish has something very different from other platforms, the live streaming feature.
It allows teacher to broadcast to large group of audiences instead of one-on-one or small group (2~6 students) teaching.
It gives teachers the chance to build up reputation and publicity quickly and dramatically increase your earnings with no limit to the number of participants theoretically.
PalFish has a Moments feature which is similar to Facebook or Instagram.
Teachers can post pictures, radios or videos to build up your own brand to get followers. It helps to expose yourself to parents and students.
For some new teachers, the process is longer than others to get bookings because nobody knows them. PalFish gives the features to do this, it's a lot better than other companies!
Freetalk vs Official Kids Course
There are two main areas to Palfish: Freetalk (Palfish Adults) and the Official Kids Course.
Freetalk works similarly to other companies like Cambly where people can call you if you go online. You set your rate and trial rate and can also pre-book Freetalk lessons in advance.
When you first sign up for Palfish, you will only have access to Freetalk.
For higher income potential, you can then apply to the Official Kids Course.
The OKC is available for kids from the ages of 2-12. Kids are given free trials and if they decide to keep learning with Palfish, they buy a package with over 60 lessons. OKC is a lot more scheduled than Freetalk and there is a lot of room for growth.
What is a good pay rate for Palfish Freetalk Teachers?
It's up to you. Palfish allows its teachers to set their own rates. Typical rates for teachers on the platform range from $10-$18 per hour, but the rate ultimately depends on you. The sky is the limit.
While setting your own price might seem liberating (and it is) compared to other platforms that have fixed rates, there are significant downsides to this arrangement. You are competing against other teachers on the site for business, so if you set your price too high, you are unlikely to gain as many students as you would be if you set your rate more in accordance with the mainstream on the site.
As you can imagine, determining the ideal rate you should set can be a hassle. To complicate matters further, you can also set a discount rate for previous students who want to continue learning from you, for example, after you've increased your rate.
As a result of teachers on the platform “bottoming out” the rate by charging basement-level prices and squeezing the profits of everyone by lowering the market rate for work on the site, the company has now set a minimum rate of 1.5 rmb/minute (23 cents/minute).
All issues aside, though, being able to set your own price puts you in the driver's seat in terms of your ultimate take-home pay. Teachers can change their rate twice per year.
Palfish Reviews – What do current and former teachers have to say?
Palfish has a 3.4/5-star rating on Glassdoor out of 172 votes, a popular job review site that allows current and former employees to discuss the respective pros and cons of work at a company. Glassdoor commits to not censoring the content of its users' posts in any way, so you can be fairly confident that you are getting a broad picture of work life at the company without worrying about public relations tricks.
Generally, the teachers cite support from the staff, the flexibility of work hours, and the incentive structure regarding pay as the top reasons why they approve of the company's stewardship as an employer.
Here is a PROS and Cons review from a teacher:
And here is a teacher talking about the benefits of teaching on Freetalk:
Where Do Palfish Students Come From?
China has a rapidly expanding economy and an endless demand for high-quality English instruction. The majority of Palfish students are learners in China, typically concentrated in the larger urban areas like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
That said, the platform is open to anyone who wants to improve their English skills. There are students from around the world who learn with Palfish.
How much can you earn teaching for Palfish?
On the Official Kid's Course, you earn 50 RMB per 25 minute class (with a 5 rmb bonus if you are not late. This works out at about 8 dollars per class; 16 dollars an hour (50 minutes technically). Also note that exchange rates will of course fluctuate.
This rate increases by 5 RMB per level; you begin at Level 1, and get promoted a level (Level 2, Level 3 to Level 5) as you reach the targets set by Palfish admin (punctuality, consecutive classes with no absences, etc.) You also get points by simply teaching as well!
PalFish Official Kids Course vs Freetalk – What Pays More?
Making a strong observational guesstimate, 90% of the most active and successful Palfish teachers are 90% working on the Official Kids Course; without doubt, it is initially the far more profitable avenue, compared with the Freetalk avenue.
That said, good money can still be made from the Freetalk avenue.
So, how much can you earn from Freetalk?
Well, as much as you like! (Within reason)
Until recently, a Freetalk Palfish Tutor could set his/her rate anywhere from .5 to 5 RMB per minute.
Happily, charging such a ridiculously low rate has now been stopped by the Palfish admin; from now on, the lowest rate is 1.5 rmb / minute.
That works out at a cushty 13.44 USD per hour. Not bad to begin with, right?
Well, unfortunately there's no such thing as a free lunch as we all know, and as you are being hosted by an app, the app takes a cut of your earnings.
PalFish take a cut of 20%.
So, if you're set at 2.2 rmb/minute, 20% of 2.2 = 0.44.
2.2 – 0.44 = 1.76
Your call earnings will therefore be 1.76 rmb per minute.
If you're at 3 rmb/minute, your call earnings will arrive in your Wallet at a rate of 2.4 rmb/minute.
Deciding Your Rate
With the current minimum rate being set to 1.5 rmb, some good advice would be to keep it at that for the first 2-3 months, and gradually move it up to 2.0 rmb thereafter.
At that rate, you're bringing in roughly 100rmb per hour call – a nice amount; just 10-15 lower than 2 Kid's Classes, but you may find adult classes much more enjoyable. So it is up to you about whether you prefer to teach adults or kids, rather than think which pays more.
Now, as for max earnings…
Because I know your eyes are still bulging and your jaw is still on the floor after reading that you can earn 5 rmb/minute (44 dollars an hour) on Palfish Freetalk.
But unfortunately, the simple truth that NOBODY with their rate set to 5 rmb is receiving calls. NOBODY.
So, at a rate of 2rmb – 2.5 rmb, you can aim to earn in and around the 1,000 dollar mark just from Freetalk.
This can of course be combined with the Kid's Classes, in which case you could get to 3,000 + dollars a month.
What are some secrets to succeed at Palfish Freetalk?
- Be energetic and positive – highlight your passions
- Show interest in Chinese culture, geography and language
- Make Packages
Let's outline the keys to building your Palfish profile in order to gain traction and ultimately become a successful tutor on the platform.
1. Be energetic and positive – highlight your passions and interests
Once you press the ‘Start Tutoring' button on your Palfish homepage, you are immediately made available to receive calls from Palfish students.
And that's great! But gradually and ultimately, you naturally want to attract students who share your interests and life passions, because this is much more conducive to building deep and flowing conversations; almost like a ‘Palfish Podcast'…
…yes that's correct: when the chemistry and dynamic is nicely synchronized between you and your student, you can seamlessly enter that ‘podcast' dimension, where you take the conversation in differing directions, from history to sociology, somehow making neat segways into sport, music and popular culture.
The feeling you get from these podcast conversations is really special; and when the call is over and you're subsequently presented with a student with whom you have little in common, you realize just how wonderful it is to engage in those deep and meaningful ‘Palfish Podcast calls'…
…to the extent that you can often forget that this is technically ‘work'!
The aim is for all of your calls to reach ‘podcast' level.
How to do that? By promoting your lifestyle and interests through PalFish Moments!
What are Moments?
OK, so it's a bit of a clunky word, but that nomenclature aside, Moments are essentially the equivalent of an Instagram Story or Facebook post.
It's your way to show yourself to the Palfish world, gain followers and ultimately attract students.
There are three Moment Features: Pictures (the most popular), Videos, and Audio.
You could use all 3, and essentially reproduce your Instagram lifestyle through pictures and video (albeit in a more PG style; remember students of all ages can see your Moments!),
You could also use the Audio feature to show students your Mandarin Chinese progress – which is a neat transition to the next Key!
2. Show interest in Chinese Culture, Geography and Language
Although Palfish is first and foremost a place for Chinese people to learn and practice English with Westerners (primarily), the App is actually like a commune where East meets West, and there is plenty of enjoyable cross cultural exchange, and cross-fertilization of ideas and philosophies.
This tip ties in with the first: showing genuine interest in Chinese culture, geography, language and even sociology will really endear you to regular and prospective students.
Not only will this attract students to you, but these themes can serve as excellent conversation topics and feed nicely into the podcast length.
“Oh it's Qingming Festival? I've heard this is a festival to pay respects to deceased relatives, please tell me more about this.”
“Oh you're from Outer Mongolia? Mongolia was an ancient Empire, right? Please tell me about this.”
“Wow, you're my first Hong Kong student! How much does the Hong Kong lifestyle and culture differ from the mainland? And how about the differences between Cantonese and Mandarin? When you go to a coffee shop in Hong Kong, which language do you usually speak in? I guess it depends on the particular context?”
You can also talk about food!
And speaking of language: this is the most important element of this key: Learn Mandarin! It is a truly fascinating language, and by the next century, it could well be on a par with English – or who knows, even overtake it! That doesn't seem implausible given the inexorable growth and development of 21st Century China, so beyond your work with Palfish, learning a decent level of Chinese will certainly serve you well.
3. Make Packages
Although you can succeed perfectly well as an ‘off the cuff, spontaneous' Freetalker, you will have more success and land more students if you present yourself as a structured and serious tutor, as well as being a fun and engaging one – you can be both, they are not mutually exclusive attributes!
While most Freetalk students are cool with a laissez-faire approach, others are more goal and structure driven, and appreciate seeing Class Packages on your Tutor Profile.
These can be very simple and basic: Business English Package, accompanied by slides demonstrating what content and material the student will learn through this Course Package.
Also, a Package is a financially mutually beneficial concept for both tutor and student: the student earns a discount through economies of scale, while the tutor gets a lump sum up front; everyone wins.
For example: Let's say you normally make 100 RMB for an hour of Freetalk, then you would offer a Package of say 6-7 hours for the value of 500 RMB, offering a small discount in return for the lump sum up front.
So, there you have it: the Three keys to becoming a successful Palfish Freetalker.
Do you have to speak Chinese to teach on Palfish?'
The answer is: No.
The incredible development of the Chinese education system this century, with its greatly increased emphasis on English, means that more Chinese people than ever can boast a solid command of English from a young age.
Far from needing Chinese, some teachers have reported that their Freetalk students speak Shakespearean English so eloquently that it puts them to shame.
Of course, you do occasionally receive adult students who have barely a word of English, and this can be a bit of an awkward situation, but at that point, even with fluent Mandarin you'd struggle to teach a coherent English class.
You could even go so far as to say that speaking the native language fluently could prove a hindrance to English learning…
…as you'd simply fall back on the native tongue at the slightest sign of confusion, thus negating English development.
So, learning Chinese isn't necessary as a Palfish teacher to help with your actual teaching, but learning it as more of a cultural asset to help you bond with your students could be an option.
What Mandarin Expressions are good to learn for Palfish students?
1. Ni Hao /Wei
OK, not exactly splitting the atom here with this first Mandarin expression am I !
I'm sure it needs no introduction or explanation: it's the standard Chinese greeting, the equivalent of ‘Hey/Hello.' Quirkily enough, when translated into English, it literally means ‘You good?' (Ni = You, Hao = Good)
A nice little way to open your conversations.
2. Ni chi le ma? Wo chi le!
Have you eaten yet? Yes, I've eaten!
The Chinese love their food!
If you thought Westerners were Foodies, check out your Chinese students' Palfish and We Chat feeds….they're full of food pictures!https://digino.org/weird-chinese-food/embed/#?secret=rTUg5BsCaN
In China, just like in many Asian countries, food and dining are such an integral part of the culture that its embedded in the daily language: rather than simply saying ‘Hello' to greet as we do in the West, they commonly ask ‘Have you eaten yet?, just like in Thailand.
The answer, when you've eaten, is…
3.'Wo chi le!'
4.Wo de zhong wen ma ma hu hu
‘My Chinese is only so-so/I only speak a little Chinese.'
Although i've been reliably informed that this expression is somewhat obsolete among native Mandarin speakers, I can attest for its charm, as every time I use it, I manage to get a nice laugh from my student. It's a disarming ice-breaker, and is fun to say!
5. Xie Xie! Zaijian!
We began with a pretty obvious one, and we're going to finish with an even more obvious one: thanks and goodbye!
Xie xie is the standard way of saying thanks in both an informal and formal setting, while ‘Zaijian' is a casual ‘See ya/Goodbye!'
So there you are, the Mandarin kickstarter course you've been waiting for, and the perfect way to bond with your PalFish students!
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What is an example of a Palfish Live Show?
How does Palfish compare to other online teaching jobs? (Palfish vs DaDa)
Palfish differs from other online teaching companies such as DaDa, due to it being performed on a mobile device.
A company such as DaDa involves teaching a set schedule exclusively to young children on a laptop or computer. This is much more reliable pay, but has less flexibility than Palfish.
You can see how a snapshot of how they compare below:
What is Palfish Philippines Course?
How Do ‘Peak Hours' Work?
Teachers working with Palfish are required to complete at least 7 25-minute classes during what the company calls its “peak hours.” The company has designated 7-9 pm on weekdays Beijing time the “peak hours.” This is the time window in why children have typically returned home from school and any recreational activities, so it's the most convenient for the customer base to take their English lessons during this time.
Keep in mind that China is literally on the other side of the world from the United States (13 hours ahead) and several hours ahead of Europe (7 hours ahead of the Western portion of the continent), so you're going to have to log some hours that might be a bit inconvenient.
The good news is that, outside of that time commitment of 7 classes during peak hours, you are true to set your own schedule as you see fit.
What Is Included in the Official Kids Course Curriculum?
As opposed to “free talk” lessons in which you can cover any topic that comes up with an adult student (beneficial because it's highly open-ended and you can tailor the content of the lesson to your students' interests), the Official Kids Course – intended, obviously, for children instead of adults — uses a set curriculum that teachers must follow.
Palfish furnishes its teachers with all of the necessary materials and resources needed, so lesson-planning is minimal. This includes a slideshow that details the step-by-step development of the lesson from start to finish.
Generally speaking, Paflish lessons in the Official Kids Course follow this format:
- Greeting. This is the opportunity to set the tone for the entire lesson by being present and engaged, expressing enthusiasm that can be infectious. Bear in mind that many of your students (especially during peak hours) will have just returned from a long day of studying at school.
- Song. This is particularly beneficial for engaging younger learners who, you will surely find once you begin teaching, enjoy a good English song – of course, one that's relevant to the lesson material.
- Vocab introduction. Some teachers use flashcards or other props to supplement the material provided in the slideshow.
- Learning. This is the “meat” of the lesson, when you drill down on the central concepts. Lots of repetition is useful at this stage.
- Application of new concepts. Ideally, your student can now take the concepts you helped them work through and proficiently apply them to other situations – for example, if your lesson covered the present continuous tense, the goal should be that the student can create his or her own sentences using this tense without too much labored thought.
- Review. At this stage, the goal is to assess how well the student has absorbed the material presented in the previous two stages.
- Another song. You can't go wrong with songs.
- Say goodbye – until next time.