The online ESL industry is fast growing, and new companies are springing up every day. However, a lot of companies follow the same model, which requires teachers to set a fixed schedule, thus, losing the flexibility of working from home at a time that suits you.
In this article, we’ll take a look at two companies which aren’t doing this, and are offering real flexibility that aspiring teachers looking to set their own schedule can take advantage of.
The first company, Cambly, is one of the popular ESL companies and is used by English learners across the world, 24-hours a day.
The second, Palfish, is one of the only companies that allows teachers to set their own pay rates and work from their smartphone.
But, are they as good as they sound?
Let’s take a look into what each company has to offer and how they compare.
Pros of Working for Cambly and PalFish
- You can work remotely and travel whenever and wherever you like
- You get a chance to meet people from other cultures and learn more about the world.
- You could earn up to $20 per hour.
- The jobs are flexible and don’t require much time commitment outside of class time.
Cons of Working for Cambly and PalFish
- Teaching can be draining, especially when working with children.
- Working from home can sometimes be challenging and you may feel isolated.
- Depending on your location, you may find the teaching hours unsociable.
- You may experience tech issues and lost pay as a result.
These similarities and differences are quite generic and apply to most online teaching jobs, so let's take a deeper look into what Cambly and Palfish offer.
In relation to other teaching companies, Cambly is one of the easiest platforms to start teaching on. To work for Cambly the only real requirement for teachers is to be a Native English speaker.
Formal teaching qualifications and TEFL certificates are likely to benefit you as a teacher, however, due to the casual style of the Cambly platform, they are not a requirement like they are for many other online teaching companies.
However, in order to teach for Cambly, you are required to pass a connection and tech test each time you log in, so you should try to teach from places with a stable connection and use equipment such as a headset with a microphone.
Palfish, like Cambly, also have a relatively inclusive hiring policy. To teach for the official kid's program teacher are required to:
- Speak English to a Native level and be from the UK, US, CA, NZ, AU or IE.
- Have a mobile phone with a minimum of 3GB RAM, as Palfish work on a smartphone based platform.
Stand-by Time Pay
Cambly’s platform is very flexible, and the log-in and talk style means that teachers don’t receive any standby time pay.
Cambly teachers have the freedom to log-in at any time that suits them, 24-hours a day meaning they can choose their hours based on their own schedules and teacher demand.
At times when teacher demand is very high, Cambly does offer a payment guarantee for teachers that book priority hours.
This means that teachers commit to logging in for the full hour and will receive pay regardless of whether they have a class. The guarantee is usually 15 minutes or 30 minutes, but at these times, it’s likely that teachers will receive consistent calls for the full hour.
Palfish doesn’t offer standby pay unless your slot has been booked in advance. Teachers are encouraged to be flexible and open up slots to improve the chances of them being booked.
However, if a student fails to attend a booked session, then the teacher still receives 100% payment for that time.
For Cambly, there are no fees or penalties for cancellations. This is mainly because most teachers simply log in when they want to teach, and therefore haven’t made any official commitment.
However, it is possible to schedule reservations and book priority hours on Cambly.
In the event that a teacher misses a priority hour or reservation, they could be penalized. In most cases, teachers that cancel reservations and priority hours regularly find themselves banned from booking more for a limited period of time.
Palfish’s cancellation policy varies based on the program which you teach for. Regular teachers open up their own slots and set their own schedule, so they don’t need to worry too much about cancellations.
However, if you work for the kid’s course, then cancellation is treated much more harshly.
Classes for the kid's program are scheduled 6 months in advance, and missing more than 6 classes in this period can result in termination of your contact.
Hiring Process [Cambly vs PalFish]
Cambly has a very simple hiring process. The whole registration process can be completed in a few days and you’re asked to:
- Create an account on their website and fill in some personal details
- Pass an internet test
- Record an introduction video and wait for the team to approve your teacher account.
For regular Palfish teachers, the sign-up process is exactly the same as Cambly. You simply have to:
- Create an account
- Filling in some basic information
- Recording a 30-second introduction video.
- Submit your application and wait a few days for verification
For Kids Course teachers, they will also ask you to take part in a Skype interview and mock class before you are accepted.
Pay [Cambly vs PalFish]
Cambly is a great choice in terms of flexibility, but the added schedule control comes at a price. Camby's pay rates are one of the lowest in the industry. They pay $0.17 per minute, which is equivalent to $10.20 per hour.
This figure assumes that you spend the full hour teaching every time you log in, but it’s you’re more likely to spend some of your time waiting for calls to come in, meaning the realistic pay rate is somewhat less than $10.20 per hour.
PalFish offers its kid's course teachers slightly higher rates than Cambly, and pay around $16 per 50 minutes. There is also room for raises as well, so some teachers earn as much as $20 per 50-minute class.
Kids course teachers also get bonuses such as:
- A $30 student sign up bonus
- A $30 attendance of 200¥
- A $15 Prop bonus
(Please note: all the $ amounts are approximate as they have been converted from RMB)
Regular teachers choose their own rates, so most teachers set lower rates to begin with to gain interest and students, and then raise their rates over time.
Cambly's class bookings vary greatly depending on the time of day you log in.
Cambly is popular in Middle Eastern countries and South America, so call volumes tend to be higher in sociable hours for these countries.
Most new teacher will fill about 50% of their logged in time, to begin with, but the more time you teach on Cambly, the more likely you are to get calls.
You can also try teaching priority hours, which increases the likelihood that you’ll get calls.
Palfish offers a lot of different options for teachers when it comes to class bookings. Teachers can be assigned 4 different class types, which are:
- Free Talk classes
Regular teachers choose their own schedule and rate
- Regular classes
Official Kids Course teachers teach one-to-one with regular students
Teachers can teacher between 1 and 6 children per class and you choose the rate per student
- Live shows
Live shows are webinar classes which are used for marketing and attracting new students.
For official kids course teachers, teachers open up slots and do trials for the first few weeks. Once they have converted trial students, they will fill their schedule with regular students.
Cambly vs PalFish… Final Thoughts!
Cambly and Palfish are very similar in a lot of ways and offer superior levels of flexibility compared to a lot of other teaching companies. In terms of pay, Palfish is a much better option but requires slightly more commitment than Cambly. All in all, both offer a great option if you’re looking for something flexible that you can do on the go.
If you’re interested in applying for either of the companies, you can start your application today below: