Last October I decided to take a leap outside of my comfort zone and apply for an online job with VIPKid that seemed too good to be true. It promised no commute, no start up costs AND I could wear my pajamas to work.
I’d seen a few friends posting about VIPKID on Facebook, but I still felt skeptical about whether this work from home opportunity was everything it claimed to be. Could I really balance being a stay-at-home mom and make money as an online English Second Language (ESL) teacher to students in China?
What Is VIPKid
VIPKid is an international learning experience for children age 4-12 in China. The company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language lessons taught by teachers in the US with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Teachers work as independent contractors and are paid on a per class basis. Classes are 30 minutes long and taught entirely online using video conferencing platform similar to Skype. The average pay is $14-20 per hour.
Why I Decided To Try VIPKid
There were many factors that were attractive about this opportunity for me as a stay at home mom to three young kids. Most importantly, I wanted a source of income that was flexible, and easy to integrate into my sometimes crazy life. I wasn’t looking to go back to work full-time, but I wanted to earn some extra “fun money” and put away some money for a new refrigerator.
The peak hours for teaching in my time zone (PST) are 3:00 am to 7:00am, seven days a week. Perfect because I can teach while my kids sleep, so I don’t have to worry about childcare. I can also open slots from 8:30 pm to midnight on Friday or Saturday if I want to, but the schedule is completely up to me, and there are no booking minimums.
Additionally, I hardly needed anything to get started. The main requirements are a computer with a web cam, strong wi-fi and a headset ($25). Teachers are encouraged to use a lot of props and a colorful, educational background- all of which I already had on hand. I set up a tiny desk in my master closet and plugged in a ring light I’d used for makeup videos in the past.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a lot of energy, I’m super expressive and I’m perfectly happy to be over-the-top and silly if it earns me a laugh. I wanted a fun job, that wouldn’t stress me out and that played to my strengths. I don’t have a teaching degree, but I do consider myself to be a good writer and, I have a strong grasp of grammar and the English language.
The VIPKid Application Process
The application process may have changed a little by now, but it involved submitting my information and experience. You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, be fluent in English and VIPKID prefers you have at least 3 years of teaching experience.
I didn’t have any official teaching experience, but my friend informed me that my time teaching with the preschool and volunteering with Girl Scouts, church groups, coaching, etc.… counted.
Once you submit your experience, you’ll be asked to complete a “Demo Lesson“ with a VIPKID Mentor. This is the interview portion where you prepare for and teach 10 minutes of a VIPKID lesson to a mentor who will pretend to be a Chinese student using the online video platform.
To prepare, I gathered props (toys I borrowed from my kids), created an educational background using a Dollar Store poster, and purchased a $20 headset from Walmart. I also scoured YouTube for sample videos of VIPKID Demo Lessons.
Once you receive notice that you’ve passed, (YAY!) the Certification Process involves 2-3 hours to review material and become familiar with booking classes, teaching different levels, providing feedback, etc. Finally, you’ll sign your 6-month contract and submit information for your background check.
Teaching My First VIPKid Class
I uploaded my 15-second welcome video, updated my fun-yet professional profile picture and information and opened a few time slots each morning… then I waited. It took me just over 30 days to get my first booking. Parents work with VIPKid to select teachers for the kids and book classes.
I was nervous for my first class, but the technology worked perfectly, and the student showed up right on time. Together we worked through the slides in the lesson, practicing different vocabulary and reviewed grammar rules.
I used A LOT of props or TPR (total physical response). TPR combes physical movement with language. So instead of just saying “quiet” I say quiet in a whispered voice and put my finger to my lips or I physically jump every time I say the word, “jump”.
The class flew by and I was left feeling a mixture of exhilaration and awe at how smart my young, Chinese student was. At the end of the lesson, I’m required to write 2-3 sentences of feedback for the student, and then I instantly shift back into mom-mode.
Challenges With VIPKid
The hardest part for me is getting used to waking up super early to teach during the peak hours. I have to train myself to go to bed early, so that I am ready to teach when my alarm went goes at 3:30 am. I am definitely ready for a nap by the afternoon, but that doesn’t always happen with 3 kids and a busy schedule.
As with any new job, there is a learning curve, and it takes some time to get comfortable with this style of teaching, the platform, the booking system and VIPKID policies.
I felt a little overwhelmed in the beginning, but I asked my mentor a lot of questions, signed up for workshops, followed other teachers on Instagram and YouTube and slowly opened slots on my schedule as I became more comfortable.
One of the challenges of working for VIPKid is a limited amount of flexibility for schedule changes or emergencies. VIPKID only gives you handful of cancellations or Teacher No-Shows each contract. This means if you are sick or can’t make a class, you could be penalized and it could potentially keep your contract from being renewed.
What I Love About VIPKid
I would definitely recommend VIPKID to friends who are looking to make some extra money! Once you get hired, you have total flexibility to open your schedule to teach whenever you want to. I Love getting an extra paycheck each month that I can use to pay off debt or do extra fun outings with the kids.
With VIPKid, I spend a couple of minutes looking over the prepared PowerPoint lesson the night before. Then I’m free to let my personality show during class. We sing, draw funny pictures, play games and make faces. I LOVE that I don’t have to spend a ton of time prepping for lessons, and I’ve spent less than $100 on classroom supplies.
I can roll out of bed 14 minutes before my first class, through on a sweatshirt (no bra), and throw my hair in a ponytail. I have zero commute time and I get to wear my slippers to work!
I don’t have to worry about childcare while I work, since I teach classes with VIPKid while my kiddos are sleeping.
Love making connections with the VIPKid students from China! I have about 10 regulars who I see every week. I really feel like we’ve bonded and been able to build a relationship.
Students draw me pictures, play instruments, take me on tours of their houses and introduce me to their grandparents. The majority of students are SO smart, hardworking and a pleasure to teach.
Do you have a side hustle? I would love to hear about other fun and flexible part-time jobs that our Northern Nevada moms are working.
I’m happy to answer any questions about teaching with VIPKid. If you are interested in learning more about the VIPKID job, visit my link or use Referral Code: ALLISO262. (Full disclosure: VIPKid offers a bonus incentive for helping new teachers get hired!)
Allison Anderson lives in Sparks, NV where she and her husband of 15 years are raising 3 kids- Grace, Braxton, and Leif. She considers herself an expert in friend-making and resiliency after 18 coast to coast moves as a military spouse. Allison graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in journalism, but has worked in a slew of positions including public relations for veterinary hospitals, Stroller Strides instructor and online ESL teacher to students in China. To date, motherhood is the best job she’s ever had. She loathes making dinner and vacuuming but encourages splashing during bathtime. She enjoys family camping trips in the RV, cheering for the Buffalo Bills and shopping on Amazon.