For a long time now, I’ve been keen to publish the best VIPKid review online.
To do that, I had to find somebody suitably qualified to write it. I headed for Upwork and found Timothy, who has taught on VIPKid for well over 1000 hours. As such, you know you’re going to get a detailed and honest review of VIPKid from somebody with bags of experience.
I shall hand over to him straight away.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an online company providing ESL (English as a Second Language) education to children primarily in China, but also in Japan and Korea. Classes are one on one between a teacher and student in video format. VIPKid developed their own platform for this video interaction.
Children and their parents choose from a selection of native-born English speaking teachers, based on their profiles on the platform. The student then schedules a class based on time slots the teacher has made available.
At the scheduled time, both teacher and student log into the classroom and the lesson begins. There are many logistical events that happen in this process. We will look at those in more detail in the rest of this article.
Teachers for VIPKid are located all over the world. Most originated in the United States or Canada. However, due to the online structure, teachers may be located anywhere there is an internet connection. This flexibility allows teachers to travel anywhere in the world and still teach classes.
Is VIPKid legit?
VIPKid is completely legit. It’s a well-established company with a satisfied workforce. This is illustrated by a 4.3 star rating on GlassDoor (at the time of writing).
There are many companies offering teaching opportunities online (I am aware of about 50). So, the issue of legitimacy is a relevant concern. When I was looking at this opportunity myself, I considered about ten different companies.
I researched as much as I could on their individual websites and via the reviews of others. I settled on VIPKid and began the registration process. Although the process went well and I saw no indications of any scam, I slightly held my breath until the first payment showed up in my bank account. After almost two years as an independent contractor, I can assuredly confirm that VIPKid is a legitimate company.
VIPKid Review: Registering with VIPKid
The VIPKid website lists five things necessary to begin teaching.
- Create an account that includes an email address, through which they will be in contact.
- Study educational materials from a site you are directed to, including a lesson plan. (This is in preparation for demonstrating your ability through a “mock” class).
- Study additional material and review other teacher’s videos.
- Perform a “mock” class for a VIPKid trainer/teacher (often referred to as the VIPKid interview).
- Sign a contract and begin teaching.
The Application Process
Sounds simple and quick, right?
Well, in actuality, this process takes about two weeks, IF you stay on top of everything and devote the necessary time to make it move along. In my case, this process took about a month. This was due to uncertainty about the commitment and nervousness at performing the mock class.
Not included in the short list above are several prerequisites for getting through the process. Every teacher must have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and teaching experience. This must be verified through proper documentation that is submitted to VIPKid. Recent Chinese governmental regulations have added a basic ESL certification to the requirements.
A background check is conducted by VIPKid. This requires the submission of a photo of a valid driver’s license and social security number.
As part of signing the contract, potential teachers must complete a W-9 for tax purposes and provide a bank account and routing number. This is because all payments from VIPKid are electronic transfers. No paper checks arriving in the mail with this company!
Creating a Profile on VIPKid
As with any online presence, your VIPKid profile is a key factor in generating business. Each teacher is an independent contractor, so attracting clients (students) is your focus.
Each profile contains a “formal” picture of the teacher, two casual pictures, and an introductory video. In addition to the media content, your profile contains a short bio that includes a written introduction, and details of education and experience.
During the application and interview process, the evaluators assess each teacher’s strengths, personality, and temperament. These are reflected in two single-word adjectives selected in three categories. These words are referred to as “tags.” They help parents select a teacher who will hopefully connect with their child. The three categories are “teaching skills,” “strengths,” and “personality.”
Also listed on the profile are the certifications that the teacher has attained. I will provide more information about certifications in the next part of this VIPKid review.
VIPKid Application Tips
- Be yourself. If during the interview process you portray yourself as something you are not, you may be tagged and assigned to an age and certification level that will make the job miserable.
- Communicate a simple yet creative background. Your background will be evaluated and weighed into the hiring decision.
- Watch YouTube videos – both for guidelines to a good mock class and for help with setting up a “classroom.” One must exercise caution, however, as some are not legitimate. Look for those listed as “official” VIPKid videos.
- After you are hired, research and invest in good lighting. It doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate, just effective.
In the Classroom
This is the heart of VIPKid.
Many people come to VIPKid looking for a way to make money from the comfort of home. However, if they don’t actually like to teach they will quickly get frustrated. Hours of sitting or standing in front of a computer teaching will become a very unfulfilling activity without a genuine desire to teach.
There are seven levels of classes, plus trial classes and eighteen “supplementary” classes.
Again, during the application process, each teacher is “assigned” certification for one to three levels of classes. This is based upon the criteria that also establishes the “tags” in the profile.
Supplementary classes are enhanced classes in the areas of grammar, phonics, conversational English, storytelling, etc. Teachers are invited to apply for these certifications based on established requirements such as experience, positive parent feedback, and number of completed classes. Trial classes are for students interested in VIPKid, who want to see what it would be like.
Certifications are obtained by studying material, taking a test, and in some cases performing a mock class. Beyond the initial certifications, additional certification opportunities are offered to teachers based on experience, number of classes, and parent feedback. In some cases, these opportunities are offered when a teacher makes a request to attempt a particular certification.
The VIPKid Curriculum
All the curriculum is developed and provided by VIPKid. When the teacher and student log into the classroom, a powerpoint interactive lesson automatically uploads.
Each lesson consists of 23-30 slides. Since each lesson is 25 minutes in length, this means the teacher will spend about one minute on each slide.
The seven levels are each divided into 12 units, with each unit containing 12 lessons. Each unit has two assessments (quizzes) for evaluating a student’s understanding of the material. These assessments are in lessons 6 and 12. Each lesson follows a format of vocabulary, reading, grammar, phonics, and sometimes math.
All classes are recorded, and the playback is available to both parents and teachers.
An important aspect of teaching on VIPKid is connecting with the students. Teachers are encouraged to take one to one and a half minutes to make a personal connection with the students. This often involves asking them about their day and its activities.
Throughout the class, encouragement is necessary and corrections are made. As the student performs well, a reward system is built into the system. It is in the form of an electronically transferred star, with the goal being for the student to attain five stars.
At the end of each lesson, there is a reminder for the student to complete any additional enrichment exercises that may be found online. Most teachers offer a time for questions and then a brief goodbye. If there is remaining time, a blank slide is provided for playing an educational game such as “hangman.”
Each teacher is required to complete a feedback form that conveys to the parent how their child performed during each lesson. Some parents sit next to or near their child during the lesson, while others may wander through periodically or never appear.
In addition to teachers providing feedback, parents are given an opportunity and platform for writing feedback about the teacher. This can be critical for a teacher in attaining additional students, as other parents have access to this feedback.
Getting Paid by VIPKid
For many, the most important information in this VIPKid review will be this part – about getting paid!
During the application process, a per class base pay rate is established for each teacher based on education, certifications, and experience. This current rate is $7-9 per class.
In addition to this base rate, incentives are offered based upon number of classes taught and completed. This is to incentivise teachers to make themselves available for more classes. Since teachers are independent contractors, they determine the number of classes they will teach and when, within the established schedule, of course.
Payment is made every two weeks. There is a one week “lag” between the completion of the two week teaching cycle and the arrival of the funds (your electronic VIPKid paycheck!) This is much like most employment situations.
As independent contractors, it is the responsibility of each teacher to report their income and pay appropriate taxes.
How to Increase Your VIPKid Earnings
Every two contracts, each teacher is evaluated for the possibility of a raise. The raise amount is 50 cents per class. These raises are based on pre-established requirements, such as number of classes completed, positive parent feedback, performance ratings, and consistency in teaching and completing feedback.
Since these requirements are clearly established, raises are completely objective and unbiased.
What is the Average VIPKid Salary?
While it’s impossible to provide a precise average, an educated guess is that the average VIPKid teacher earns in region of $21 per hour once established. With a normal workload, this would work out to $20,000 – $25,000 per year.
Registering With VIPKid From Abroad
As long as one has the necessary documentation available, VIPKid registration can occur anywhere. Keep in mind, however, that all applicants must be native English speakers.
VIPKid Pros and Cons
The following are some pros and cons of teaching through VIPKid:
- Working from the comfort of your own home. A testimonial on the VIPKid website mentions the wonder of teaching in pyjama pants! Not having to leave home and endure a commute to work IS a nice advantage.
- The ability to travel and work from any location with an internet connection. This allows freedom that many other jobs do not afford. You can take your job with you!
- A competitive wage. When one considers the wages offered by many corporations or even public teaching opportunities, VIPKid offers a competitive alternative.
- Tax benefits. As an independent contractor, there can be advantages to filing as a business.
- Flexibility. One can teach as little or as much as wanted. Also, if you want a break, you just don’t schedule classes.
- Support from other teachers via social media sites. VIPKid has even established its own site where teachers may post questions or concerns, and gain input from other teachers.
- The application process. Support from VIPKid is not as strong as it could be.
- Lack of communication. This is an ongoing issue. Many changes are made on a regular basis to the video platform and class curriculum. There are also small policy changes that aren’t well communicated to the teachers. Teachers often find out about the changes when they discover them in class!
- The feedback system. Pay raises, opportunities for certifications and performance ratings are all affected by parent feedback, which is an ongoing concern for teachers. One bad feedback review from a parent can grossly affect one’s average numbers.
- Time differences. Due to the time difference between the United States and China, the peak demand time for classes is very early in the morning. If you are not a morning person or disciplined to get up, VIPKid might not be for you. The absolute best times for teaching are through the night on Friday and Saturday nights. Some teachers marathon it through, teaching 12 hours or more each night to establish a full-time situation.
VIPKid Review: The Final Verdict
Is VIPKid Worth it?
All things considered, VIPKid is a great opportunity for those who have teaching experience, education, and the desire to use it in an online setting.
In an age where teaching in schools is becoming more difficult for many reasons, the attraction of working from home or abroad through an internet connection is great.
For myself, VIPKid has provided a needed supplement to an early retirement. The flexibility allows me to travel and spend time with my children and grandchildren. Everywhere I go, we establish a space from which to teach. Due to the early hours of teaching, my “work” day is concluded at about the time everyone else is ready to go, both at home and abroad.
The final positive for this VIPKid review is the opportunity to connect with some really great children and students from another country and culture. I have found it very fulfilling to learn Chinese culture and traditions from my students, as well as to share my own with them. The acquisition of regular students has afforded me the opportunity to have a lasting impact in their English education.
- For more advice on teaching English online, including information on some other platforms, check out this article.
- This article contains some useful tips for online teaching.
- Need other home working ideas? You’ll find 50 online jobs to choose from here.
Timothy Hawk teaches ESL as an independent contractor for VIPKid and creates written content as a freelance writer. He believes that coffee in all of its forms is “not just a breakfast drink any more!” His favorite pastime is playing with his grandchildren. He retired from prison chaplaincy in New York State and now resides in Johnston, RI.