Everyone is looking for that perfect job. The one where working is a pleasure every day. The one that fits into your schedule perfectly, provides the right amount of flexibility and sends you a healthy paycheck at the end of the month.
But as Stephen Hawking once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect”. And whilst I’m sure that he was probably talking about complex-physics-stuff, the point is just as valid here.
Online ESL teaching is great but not all ESL companies are made equal – each comes with their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the Pros and Cons of teaching English online with VIPKID, a company which employs over 40,000 teachers and ranked number one on the Forbes list of the top 100 work from home companies in 2017.
Below you’ll find 3 major pros and cons of working for VIPKID to help you decide whether this company is the right choice for you.
I’m a believer in starting things off on a positive note, so let’s kick things off with a Pro…
PRO #1 – Flexibility
One of the best things about VIPKID is the flexibility they afford their teachers. Many ESL companies require teachers to sign up to a fixed schedule, which can be a pain if you’re travelling whilst working.
VIPKID is fully flexible in the sense that teachers choose the days and hours they want to work. As long as you book your schedule 30 days in advance, you can work whenever you want.
This makes working on the road much more feasible as you can plan ahead for periods where you might not be able to access reliable internet and simply not schedule any classes on those days.
CON #1 – Class Booking System
Unfortunately, all that flexibility comes at a price. With no fixed contracted hours, you’re not guaranteed a steady stream of classes on the days that you do choose to work, which means your schedule won’t always be as full as you might like (and neither will your paycheck).
With VIPKID, the parents choose the teacher and book the classes for the student. This is different than some other ESL companies like DaDa in which the company assigns students to teachers.
This means that, if you want a full schedule, you’ll have to convince the parents to choose you – and that puts you in direct competition with other teachers.
Most people consider this a con as it puts more pressure on teachers to perform and creates a competitive atmosphere that some people don’t like. It also means that whilst some teachers are fully booked weeks ahead, others struggle to fill their slots.
You can maximise your chances of having a full schedule booked by opening up slots far in advance and being available during Beijing peak hours.
PRO #2 – Bonus Structure
Most online ESL companies have some incentives in place to encourage teachers to perform well, but VIPKID has lots – and I mean LOTS.
Here’s a list of all the bonuses you can get your hands on:
- A $1 bonus for finishing and arriving on-time to all classes
- A $0.50 bonus per class you teach in any month where you teach 30-44 classes.
- A $1 bonus per class you teach in any month where you teach 45+ classes
- A $2 bonus for classes that are booked on short-notice (24 hours).
- A $5 bonus if a student signs up after a trial class with you.
We can add these bonuses to the base rate of $7-9 per 25-minute class to work out the maximum earning potential.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that you’d be eligible for every one of these bonuses for every class you teach. But if you did manage to scoop them all, you could potentially earn a whopping $18 for a single 25-minute class! Not bad, right?
Click the image below to discover the best way to receive your online teaching pay:
CON #2 – Cancellation Policy
If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that the cancellation policy is the single biggest issue that VIPKID teachers have with the company. Most complaints that are voiced on Glassdoor reviews or Facebook comments have something to do with this.
VIPKID allows their teachers to have a maximum of 6 cancellations per month. If you exceed this amount, you’re out – they terminate your contract.
Not only that, they also deduct $10 from your pay for any period in which you’re absent without informing VIPKID or giving more than 2 hours’ notice.
This might seem a little harsh, and indeed it is, but it’s worth bearing in mind that VIPKID isn’t alone in having a harsh cancellation policy. Most ESL companies will have policies in place to deter teachers from cancelling classes.
Click the image below to check out the pros and cons of other online teaching companies:
PRO #3 – No Lesson Planning
VIPKID is an interactive platform where all lessons are prepared in advance. The teacher’s only job is to read through the slides with the student and follow the instructions on them.
Of course, the teacher must also bring these slides to life and make the lesson exciting and engaging for the student, but they don’t have to plan the lessons. VIPKID are actually fairly strict when it comes to the courseware too and don’t want teachers to deviate too far from the planned lesson.
A lot of people would consider this a good thing as it reduces planning and preparation time commitments to zero, which is especially great if you’re lazy like me.
Then again, there are also some downsides to this, which brings me to my next point…
CON #3 – The Courseware
There is definitely room for improvement when it comes to the material used on VIPKID. There are frequent spelling and grammatical issues, strange topics, and no overall sense of direction to the material.
Some slides will also contain song lyrics for you to sing with the student but no audio to go with it, which means you’ll have to have pretty good improvisation skills to think of a tune on the spot!
Pro tip: If in doubt, go for the tune to “Frère Jacques” – it works a treat for most songs!
Click the image below to read more tips on music improvisation in your classroom:
One More Thing…
Don’t let any of this dishearten you.
In all honesty, being an online English teacher is great. These are all just minor issues in an otherwise fantastic job.
Plus, if you don’t think VIPKID is the right company for you, keep looking! There are plenty more ESL companies out there.
Nancy Taylor has some great tips on how to pass the VIPKID interview:
It might also be worth mentioning that VIPKID only hires teachers from the US and Canada, so if you’re not from this part of the world, you might have to look elsewhere.
SayABC is a great alternative for teachers from other native English-speaking countries. Click the image below to read all about SayABC: