One Mom’s VIPKid Experience. Is It For You?
Have you ever thought about clicking on that ad telling you to sign up today to teach English online? The flexible schedule, no lesson planning, and paycheck are tempting, right? Too much so for me; I bought in and tried it out, assuming it would be perfect for an elementary teacher turned stay-at-home mom.
The whole experience with VIPKid, an online classroom that teaches English to elementary-age students in China, was serious business, starting right away with the multi-step application process. These steps looked quick and easy, but in real life they were tough to get through.
The “mock class” portion was by far the toughest; it required you to teach a lesson to a VIPKid representative who was grading you. The first time through, I failed it. Pretty embarrassing considering I had a teaching degree. The company didn’t leave me hanging though, they offered VIPKid-specific tutoring which taught exactly what they were looking for in their future teachers. I took the class and passed the second time. The specific teaching points and style they were looking for would have been really difficult to figure out without extra help.
Soon after passing the application process, I received my contract and was ready to start teaching. This step came with hiccups too; just because I was ready to teach didn’t mean I had students to teach. I had to sign up for time slots, and hope that a parent in China would pick me as their child’s teacher based on my short bio and photo. Later I learned that it’s really tough to get consistent bookings in the first several months because parents want more VIPKid-specific experience for their child, which makes sense.
The teaching gigs did eventually show up though and gave me enough of a taste to realize that it wasn’t my dream job after all. Here are a few reasons why, and points for you to consider if you want to try it out for yourself.
Things to know before signing up for VIPKid:
- The “no lesson planning” claim is only partly true. While the lesson is provided, it is bare bones. I had to prepare for 30 to 45 minutes before each 25-minute class by printing out visuals or writing myself specific notes to help make the lesson easier to understand and/or more entertaining.
- You have to set up a classroom in your home, complete with reward charts, bulletin boards, whiteboards, etc. The teachers who get the most bookings have highly decorated mini classrooms.
- Some kids don’t want to be there, and they’ll ignore you while you’re teaching. It makes things a little awkward because it’s a one-on-one class, but you have to stick it out to get paid.
- The classes run on Beijing time, which in Iowa means our morning is their night and vice versa. So, the peak teaching times to book students are 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. CST on weekdays and 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekends.
If that didn’t scare you away, try it out for yourself at www.vipkid.com. Good luck!
About the Author
Deciding what you want to be when you grow up is a tough question, just ask Stephanie Lovelace, because she still hasn’t decided. First, she got a degree in journalism and was a newspaper reporter and public relations specialist, then went to college again and became an elementary teacher, now she stays home, homeschools three kids, and is a freelance writer. What’s stayed steady: her supportive husband, love of pets (current counts at three dogs and four cats), and being an Iowa girl.
Follow along with her current gig, on Instagram at @stephs_at_home.