Whales English Overview
Whales English, also known as Sprout, is an online teaching school based in China.
It is designed for English learners between the ages of 3 to 18 with a registered student population of over 10000 and still expanding.
They have an average of 2 students in a class, and approximately over 4000 different classes with more than 500 native English-speaking teachers from North America and the UK.
Looking for a fun and professional online teaching position with a stable income? Look no further! At Whales English, they believe that teaching should be as enjoyable as it is rewarding, and by putting you in control of your own virtual classroom, they bring this opportunity right into the comfort of your own home.
They are looking for motivated, go-getter individuals with teaching experience under their belts. As an independent contractor, you’ll teach Chinese children under 18 using their curriculum – no lesson planning required!
Whales English Requirements
- BA degree or higher
- Experience teaching children (minimum of 1 year)
- Native English Speaker from the United States, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand
- Desire to engage and inspire young learners
- At least one teaching certificate: state certifications, TESOL, TEFL, etc.
- ESL experience (Preferred)
Whales English Schedule and Peak Hours
Hours: Minimum of 8 hours per week with peak hours on:
EST: 5:00 AM – 9:00 AM
CST: 4:00 AM – 8:00 AM
MST: 3:00 AM – 7:00 AM
PST: 2:00 AM – 6:00 AM
Hawaii: 12:00 AM – 4:00 AM
EST: 8:00 PM – 9:00 AM
CST: 7:00 PM – 8:00 AM
MST: 6:00 PM – 7:00 AM
PST: 5:00 PM – 6:00 AM
Hawaii: 3:00 PM – 4:00 AM
Whales English Pay
How much does Whales English pay teachers?
Earn $18-$27 per 50-minute class, plus performance-based bonuses.
- Contract type: Independent contractor
- Start date: Immediately
- Contract term: 6 months
- Payment details: Teachers are paid through Payoneer on the 15th of every month
Whales English Application Process
Whales English Reviews & Teacher Testimonials
Whales English FAQ
What Documents Do I Need When Applying at Whales English?
When you're getting ready to ace your interview at Whales English, you will want to gather the following documents that you will need to present to the company prior to accepting a position:
· Profile photo
· Relevant certifications such as TEFL, TESOL, teaching licenses, etc.
· 3-minute (max) introduction video on who you are and why you seek to teach with Whales English
· Copy of your passport
What Can I Expect From the ‘Mock Class' Portion of the Application Process and How Can I Prepare?
Even experienced teachers get nervous during mock classes – a frequent requirement among employers to assess a prospective teacher's ability before offering them a position.
The mock class required for candidates applying to Whales English uses a 30-minute one-on-one format. Teachers are assessed based on:
· Preparation (diligent content curation and demonstrated technical ability to navigate relevant software)
· Teaching skill.
Specifically, when assessing teaching skills, the observers of mock classes for Whales English applicants are looking for key signs of a well-developed teaching ability:
· Total Physical Response (TPR). This is a very common and widely incorporated English-teaching technique that focuses heavily on body language and physical cues to maximize engagement during lessons to impart lasting knowledge in young learners.
Check out this explainer on how to best use TPR in your own mock lesson to ace the screening.
· Pace of the lesson. Cover the material too quickly and your students can't follow; teach too slowly and they lose interest. Finding the sweet spot is key to making the most of the time you have in the classroom.
· Reward system. Learners, especially youngsters and beginners, are most rapt with lessons that incorporate some sort of reward system that incentivizes them to keep their attention for the duration of the lesson.
Developing an attractive reward system is even more important for online teaching than in-person teaching because of the different nature of interactions between students and teachers in digital settings.
· Modelling. This is a vaunted classroom management technique that requires the teacher to “model” the activity at hand so that the student can gain greater understanding of what he or she must do to successfully complete the task.
How Does the Internet Community Rate the Company's Performance as an Employer?
Of course, you should always make an effort to research any company that you are considering working for – especially online English teaching companies. Because of the growing popularity of English-language education worldwide and the digital paradigm shift currently underway, more and more startups – of varying quality – are jumping into the world of online ESL work.
On Glassdoor, a premium resource for getting feedback from employees (both positive and negative), Whales English currently has a 3.5/5-star rating. The company's score on Indeed, another great web resource for potential employees, has a 2.8/5-star rating.
In general, the positive feedback revolves around the supportive nature of the staff and the comparably enjoyable teaching experience relative to other online English instruction providers. The negative feedback tends to focus on the platform itself and associated technical challenges.
How Does Payoneer Work (the Service That Whales English Uses to Pay Teachers)?
Payoneer is a simple, user-friendly digital payment service that is often touted as an alternative to Paypal, which provides similar financial services to customers.
The payments that Whales English makes to teachers via Payoneer are secure and usually show up in the recipient's bank account within 1-3 business days of payment from the company.
All you need to sign up is a working email address and a bank account – the rest is a breeze. As an added benefit, when you create your account you'll be able to use it for various financial transactions, not just accepting payment for your teaching work from Whales English.
Another bonus is you can get $35 for free once you receive your first $1000 in pay, but only if you sign up through this link here.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Earnings from Whales English?
Your tax liability depends on the jurisdiction that you reside in. Whales English does not automatically deduct taxes from your take-home pay, but that doesn't mean you're out of the woods in terms of your responsibility to Uncle Sam (or the local tax collector in your country).
Legally, when you teach for Whales English you are acting as a contractor, not as an employee. Therefore, working out your tax responsibility is incumbent upon you as the contractor.
Top Tips for Getting Started with Whales English as a Newly Hired Teacher?
So you’ve signed your contract as a new ESL teacher with Whales English, but now what?
Unless you've used a teachers referral link when applying to Whales English, quite often you have no one to ask those newly hired questions to:
- When should I expect to receive bookings?
- What are the different bonuses and how do I earn them?
- How do I gain bookings?
- Who do I contact for support with lessons and my schedule?
It can be overwhelming and isolating figuring it all out on your own.
But fear not, you are not the first and certainly won't be the last to feel this way. I've been teaching with Whales English since January 2019 and had the same questions you have when I first started.
Now, over a year since signing my first contract, I have:
- Taught 5 different courses and 7 different levels (e.g. prek, G1)
- Been part of the training team and supported 100s of teachers along with writing training material
- Helped numerous teachers through their application process and successfully offered a contract.
Being an experienced Whales English teacher that started exactly where you are now, I hope to support you with the next steps after signing your contract.
Here are your top tips for getting started with Whales English as a newly hired ESL teacher.
*Please note, this post refers to teachers who have been offered a regular teaching contract only with Whales English.
During Onboarding with Whales English
Once you have signed your contract you are usually asked to send in copies of your degree and TEFL certificates plus a photo of yourself for your teaching profile.
Whales English also asks for you to confirm your availability and as per your contract, you need to provide a minimum of 8 peak hours per week. Peak hours are 7-9pm BJT every day and 9am-12pm BJT on weekends.
There are additional hours available to teach during the week, but peak hours are the busiest and hence the requirement, plus, the most likely to be booked.
Now, you have completed the admin side of being hired by Whales English, comes the training part.
Whales English offers numerous courses and lesson types, each one requiring you to have completed training before you are signed off to teach them.
Every regular teacher begins with teaching trial classes with a pay rate of $18 per hour. Once hired, you will be sent a link via email which gives you access to a Google Docs file where you can work through the trial training material. Usually this includes:
- Access to view each trial lesson
- Training PPTs to provide you with an overview of each level, how to teach, a breakdown of the slides, and important criteria
- Full lessons to watch of current teachers teaching each trial lesson with live students
After finishing your self-training, there will be a quiz to complete, and you will be invited to a live training session with a trainer. This is so that you can practice the skills you have learnt before teaching live students.
You are now ready to receive trial class bookings and begin your teaching career with Whales English.
At this point, you will receive a TC (teacher consultant) who will support you with any class issues you have. For trial bookings, the system will actually assign these classes for you so it is a case of how many students are booking trial classes as to how full your schedule will be each week.
One final area you should ensure is set up correctly when you begin is your email address. Whales English is extremely professional with sending regular communication to teachers via email. Ensuring your email is set up correctly will mean that you don’t miss out on essential updates from the company, your schedule, and even student homework submissions which need marking (for regular classes).
Building Your Online Teaching Schedule
Trial classes are great, but I highly recommend as soon as possible to begin completing your regular class training.
Trial classes are inconsistent as they correlate with student demand. If students aren’t booking trials, then there aren’t as many trial classes to go around teachers. This impacts your bookings and hence your pay.
With regular classes, you teach the same students between 20-30 weeks depending upon the course type. So your schedule and income is more consistent each month. Plus, with increased bookings, leads to a higher chance of achieving the bonuses available to teachers at Whales English.
You can contact your TC (teacher consultant) to sign you up for regular class training. Most teachers begin with Pre K-GKB level training. This is for the lower levelled students who are developing foundational skills in English.
When you complete a course training, this enables your TC to send your profile to prospective students and their parents. Parents are given a choice of three teacher’s to choose from, so ensure your profile stands out from other teachers.
Your introductory video can be extremely influential in whether parents select you or not to teach their kids.
Be sure to dedicate time in producing a professional yet personal introductory video which is eye-catching, engaging, and demonstrates your unique qualities as a teacher.
Here are some tips for your introductory video:
- Prepare in advance so you know what you are going to say
- Don’t make it all about your qualifications and teaching experience. Share something about yourself such as your hobbies and interests, and why you love teaching
- Be sure to demonstrate your teaching style, any of your favourite props or reward systems you like to use in class
- Incorporate various elements to make yours more interesting rather than you sitting talking to the camera. Perhaps record parts of your video in your teaching area but also outside in your garden, or favourite outdoor space.
Remember, it can take time to gain a full schedule as not only do parents need to select you, students also need matching in pairs on their English ability, placing in the correct level, and agreeing to a start date and time.
When you do gain a new booking, be personal and friendly in your class. Get to know your students asking them questions which relate to the lesson material but encouraging students to talk about themselves. For example, if you were teaching about pets, some questions you could ask are:
- Do you have a pet?
- What’s your favourite animal?
- Do you like cats or dogs?
- What can fish do?
- Can you swim?
- If you could have a pet, what animal would you choose?
Of course, adjust your questions depending on your students level and English ability.
Don’t forget to build rapport with parents too. It is highly likely parents will sit and support their children during their lessons. At the end of every class I teach, I always thank parents for their time and support when saying goodbye to my students. Not only does it demonstrate my gratitude for their help and support during lessons, but also shows my acknowledgement of their presence.
This last point can go a long way with retaining your students. Students can disappear from your schedule for all kinds of reasons such as cancelling their course, changing course levels, not getting along with their peers, or, wanting to swap teachers.
Most of these reasons are unavoidable if a parent decides to swap. But, you can help parents stick with you through rapport building and giving your everything in class when teaching. Remember, parents can choose to swap teachers within the first three weeks of a new course, so this is your prime time to show them that they made the right selection in choosing you.
Maintain and Grow Your ESL Bookings
Congratulations! At this point, you should be gradually growing and filling your ESL teaching schedule at Whales English.To increase your chances of being fully booked sooner than later, be sure to use your initiative and request to complete training for additional courses.
There are numerous course types and levels to teach at Whales English, keeping your schedule interesting and less repetitive.
Undertaking training for other courses will also develop your skills and help you grow as a teacher, so I highly recommend completing them for professional development alongside filling your schedule.
Remember, you can always find additional resources and self-training materials within your files section.
When you are in your teaching portal, on the left hand side of your schedule, click files. Here, you can gain access to teaching policies and bonus updates, contacts for each team, but also, access to training documents and videos.
Here, you can learn from recordings of other teachers for each course level and type. Every teacher has their own style and props they use, so you can learn directly from watching these.
At Whales English, teachers are also evaluated on average once a month and, when you begin teaching a new course type. These evaluations offer feedback on your lessons, what you are doing really well, and any tips on how to improve. They really help to ensure lessons delivered are of a consistently high standard and that course objectives are achieved. If teachers are struggling, they are offered additional 121 training and support.
Finally, make sure to join the two Whales English Facebook groups:
These communities are incredibly supportive and offer a huge array of resources for Whales English teachers. Any questions you have regarding Whales English, or specific to students needs, behaviours, and lesson content, you can ask other teachers in these groups for some advice and help.
Updates to policies, documentation, or training opportunities are also shared within the Official Whales English group. So this is a good backup to receive communication updates from Whales English incase you are not receiving them via your email.
The Teacher’s lounge group is more relaxed and unofficial. It only has teacher’s who work for Whales English rather than staff from head office.
Hence, if you’ve had a bit of a frustrating lesson or just need some reassurance, this is the place to ask those related questions.Both groups are wonderful and really make you feel a part of this global community.
As a newly hired ESL teacher with Whales English, it can be daunting getting started. These tips will help you to understand the onboarding process as a new teacher with Whales English, along with gaining bookings to fill your schedule, and how to grow and maintain your bookings.
In summary, remember to:
- Send in the requested documents and complete your trial training
- Record your introductory video
- Complete regular class training
- Build a rapport with students and their parents
- Take onboard and implement feedback from your lesson evaluations
- Join the Whales English communities on Facebook
What Technical Requirements Must Whales English Applicants Meet to Qualify for a Teaching Position?
In addition to the personal credentials you'll need to land work with Whales English (bachelor's degree, 1-year minimum teaching experience, TEFL or TESOL certification), you must also have the technical capacity to log into the site and maintain a video connection throughout the lesson.
Accordingly, Whales English has set a minimum standard for technical thresholds that you must meet to be considered for a position:
· Operating system- Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. MAC OS 10.8x
· CPU- Intel Core i3 above CPU
· Memory-at least 4GB RAM
· Network- Wired DSL Internet Connection – at least 20 Mbps
· Flash Player – the latest version
· Software- Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote, Adobe Acrobat, Zoom
How Can I Test My Internet Connection to Make Sure it Meets Whale English Standards (>20 Mbps)?
Fortunately, the software programs used in Whales English, such as Zoom and Flash Player, are available for free on the web and most computers today run on an acceptable operating system per the guidelines above. Accordingly, what you likely need to be most concerned about in the technical department is the speed of your internet connection – which you can test here.
When Can I Expect My First Pay Increase as a Whales English Teacher?
Once you've got everything hammered out application-wise and you begin teaching, you will likely begin to look forward to boosting your pay rate as a reward for all of your hard work.
Whales English assesses teachers' performance every six months, looking at a number of factors in their analysis. If/when they decide that you've been doing a bang-up job as a member of the team, they will offer pay hikes in bi-annual increments.
Whales English Platform Tools – How To Use Them to Enhance the Student’s Learning Experience?
Whales English is similar to many online ESL companies. They offer teachers a teaching platform as a place to connect and engage with their students. Their teaching platform offers a range of tools to help enhance a student’s learning experience online.
Most companies offer a standard range of tools such as:
- A pen to draw with
- Text box to type
- Shapes and/or different colours
- An eraser to remove all or selected annotations
- A basic reward system such as giving out stars to students.
These tools provide an extra level of interaction between students and their teachers.
But Whales English goes above the basic range of tools by offering three additional features to their platform:
- A buzzer
- Spin the wheel
- Stop clock.
These additional features have aided Whales English teachers, enabling them to be more creative in the classroom, leading to an enhancement in a student’s learning experience.
It is a well-known fact that students are more willing to engage and participate in an online ESL class if they are enjoying their lessons.
And we all know an increase in engagement strongly correlates to progress made throughout a course.
But for teachers who are perhaps new to teaching ESL online, or teaching allround, knowing how to implement these tools effectively in class might seem a bit daunting.
This post will offer tried and tested ideas to help Whales English teachers successfully use these three core tools so that you can enhance your student’s learning experience.
*For legal reasons I unfortunately cannot take pictures and share exact images from the Whales English platform. I do not own the platform nor have any rights to share content from the platform.
1) The Buzzer
Within the Whales English platform, it looks like a button, around the size of a ten pence piece once selected from your toolbar.
When you have shared the buzzer onto the screen, both your students can view it also. You then click the buzzer again, and students have around 10 seconds to race each other and be the first to click the buzzer themselves. This can be done with a mouse or finger via a touch screen.
Whichever of your student presses the buzzer first, has their name displayed onto the buzzer. On their screen, it will say ‘me’ instead.
If no one presses the buzzer within the 10 seconds, it will stop and ask if you want to retry. If so, just follow the above process again for it to work.
Using the buzzer tool can be a great way to enhance your student’s learning experience, particularly for younger learners.
It’s fun seeing their names pop up on the buzzer and racing their peers to see who can click it first.
Here are a few ideas on how you can use the buzzer in your online ESL lessons:
- Using it for questions
When you have a question to ask, perhaps during a review section, you can inform your students that they are going to have a race. Whoever clicks the buzzer first gets to answer the question first.
I usually make this more exciting by adding a reward for answering a question correctly.
You can also use it if you want your students to ask each other questions. Offer them time to think of a question each to ask their peer, and then start the buzzer to see who can ask their question first.
- Pretending to be the Teacher
Students, especially younger learners, thoroughly enjoy any opportunity to be the teacher during the lesson.
What better way to build up excitement in class than to use the buzzer to see who will be the teacher first.
Pretending to be the teacher can apply to so many different tasks such as:
- Giving instructions ‘show me a book, jump three times, run to the door’.
- Reading questions from the lesson material
- Creating their own questions to ask their peer or the teacher.
- Student’s Attention
If you have spent any amount of time working with kids, you will know that they can become easily distracted or lose focus.
A great way to regain their attention is by using the buzzer. As the buzzer only lasts around 10 seconds before it times out, this allows your student enough time to refocus and try to click the buzzer before his peer.
Making it into a game and friendly race between peers can help to motivate distracted students.
2) Spin the Wheel
Exactly as the name suggests, this is a wheel with six sections, each numbered 1-6, and you click to spin the wheel. Whichever number it lands on correlates to whatever rules you have set up in class such as:
- Assigning questions
Encouraging students to ask each other questions by listing different question types: what, when, where, why, and how. Each question is assigned a number such as what – 1, when – 2, and so on.
- Breaking up the lesson material
If you come to a page in your lesson that has a number of picture boxes or a large list of questions, you can use the spin the wheel tool to break the material into smaller sections.
E.g. if you were teaching the weather and had six pictures of different types of weather, you could assign each picture a number. Then, when you have spun the wheel, your students must tell you what the weather is for that picture.
- Assign an action
This works particularly well when teaching younger students. You can assign each number an action for example:
2 – walk
3 – jump.
You can also apply this to other topics such as feelings or even animals:
1 – happy / hop like a rabbit
2 – sad / flap like a bird
3 – angry / stomp like an elephant.
3) Stop Clock
The stop clock offers a countdown for students in class. The stock clock offers both minutes and seconds. You can set it from 1 second to 9 minutes 59 seconds.
Here are some ideas of how you can incorporate the stock clock tool in your Whales English lessons:
- Use for Debates
When teaching older students, it's always a good idea to encourage opportunities for discussions between students. A good way to do this is by offering a discussion question related to the lesson topic and objective.
You can then place the stop clock on the screen and inform students they have x amount of minutes to discuss the question independently.
- Absent Students
If students are away from their computer/iPad for any reason, the stop clock can be used.
Perhaps your student has moved away from their screen to search for a toy they want to show you. You can use the stop clock for them to ‘race the clock' and return to class before the time runs out.
The stop clock is a great way to turn teaching actions into a game.
Firstly, you can set the stop clock for x amount of seconds and students have to carry out the action for that length of time. For example, run on the spot for 10 seconds.
Your students could take it in turns by choosing a number for the amount of seconds they have to carry out that action.
Secondly, you can use it as a ‘beat the clock' game where your students have to complete an instruction within the given time frame.
Such as turn on the light, run to the door, or open a book within 10 seconds.
These 3 tools can really help you to be creative in your online ESL lessons whilst enhancing your students learning experience.
Lessons which offer a range of stimuli including different tools, props, and resources, aid student engagement substantially.
Whales English vs DaDa? How Does Whales Compare to Other Companies?
PROS of working for DaDa and Whales English
- You can work on a flexible schedule from home.
- Teaching children can be fun, exciting and rewarding.
- The hiring process can be quick and simple.
- Both companies offer a good rate of pay for the work required.
- There are opportunities to supplement your wage with bonuses.
CONS of working for DaDa and Whales English
- Pay can vary if your schedule is not fully booked.
- The peak hours may be unsociable for people living outside of Asia.
- Working from home can be difficult for some.
- You may find working with children difficult due to the levels of enthusiasm required.
This is just a brief overview of the pros and cons of working for each company. Now let’s take a more detailed look each company side-by-side, starting with…
With DaDa, you’ll be teaching 1-to-1 classes via an online platform during Beijing peak times. Classes last 30 minutes and your contracted hours will be filled with regular students who you’ll teach each week. The team at DaDa will fill your schedule for you.
You have to commit to at least 4 hours per week but you can also sign up for extra ‘part-time’ hours each week, where you’ll teach trial and interest classes.
With Whales, your class sizes are a little bigger. You’ll be teaching 2 students at once and classes are booked by schools and parents, not by the Whales staff.
Classes are also a little longer – each period lasts 50 minutes. You sign up for a fixed schedule per term and once a student signs up for your classes, you teach them for the full term (24 lessons).
In short, Whales English pays more than DaDa due to bigger class sizes and slightly stricter hiring requirements.
How Does Whales English Scheduling for Classes Work?
Students (or their parents) select the teachers that they want to learn with, as opposed to other sites that simply assign students to teachers at random. This creates a friendlier environment for teacher and student, as the learner intentionally selected the teacher that he or she wants.
Whales English posts all of its teachers' schedules in the teacher portal on the site, which you can access anytime to review your upcoming classes and prepare accordingly.
How Does Whales English Develop Its Curriculum?
How Does Whales English Develop Its Curriculum?
Whales English has developed its highly acclaimed and proven effective teaching curriculum in accordance with the rigorous international standards of the Common Europe Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in Europe and the US-based Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) – more frequently known as just “Common Core.”
Teachers who come on board with Whales English never have to worry about preparing lesson plans – the curriculum is already rock-solid. All you need to do is review the lesson plan before class to familiarize yourself with the content and flow of the lesson and begin teaching.
They are partnered with:
What Is the Resignation Policy for Teachers Working For Whales English?
Whales English requires teachers to offer at least 30 days' written notice before leaving the platform.
How Soon Can I Expect a Reply from Whales English Regarding My Application?
After applying online, you can expect to hear back from the Teacher Recruitment Team within 48 hours – if you are deemed to be a suitable candidate. Unfortunately, Whales English does not reply to teachers who do not meet the company's needs.
How Soon Can I Begin Teaching After Applying to Whales English?
Following the schedule of initial sign-up, the mock class run, and the background check, you can reasonably expect to begin teaching within 10-15 days of the creation of your account on the site.
What Time Zone Is the Schedule Based On?
Whales English bases its business operations out of Beijing. Accordingly, the “peak hours” and schedules are written in Beijing time (GMT+8).
How Does the Trial Class Work? Is It Different From the Mock Class?
Yes. The trial class from Whales English is marketed to prospective students who have not joined Whales English yet but are considering it. Most new teachers, after being accepted into the fold, are assigned a trial class before they begin teaching regular classes.
Teachers who facilitate trial classes are paid the normal base pay plus a “trial conversion bonus” for any students from the class who go on to sign up for a membership to Whales English.
Does Whales English Have Non-Teaching Positions Available?
Yes. The vast majority of employees working for Whales English are employed as ESL instructors, but the company also regularly hires team members in the following capacities:
· content developers
· course evaluators
· teacher trainers
So you can start by applying to teach for Whales English and work your way up.
What is the backstory of Whales English?
Why Teach for Whales English?
Whales English Teacher Community
How to Apply to Whales English
Just click the button below to apply: