Online teacher waving at classroom of virtual students while teaching online. Pens, markers, whiteboard and other school supplies in background.

Teaching Online 101: From Remote Interview to Virtual Classroom

Hi, I’m Katie, an online English teacher, and I work-from-home while teaching online. I currently teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to children worldwide.

This is the story of how I started working from home as an online ESL teacher. 

In the spring of 2019, I packed my bags and moved to Prague, Czech Republic, to teach English at a bilingual preschool. Working at the preschool was hectic, stressful, and, worst of all: didn’t pay enough. With visa fees, rent, a burning desire to travel, and general living expenses, I wasn’t making ends meet. Two months in, I felt completely burnt out. That is when I discovered PalFish, an online English teaching platform. 

PalFish has three separate programs for teaching online: Freetalk, Official Course, and Philippines Course. My experience is primarily with the Official Course. So in this article, I will be talking about my experience teaching online with the Official Course. 

The Basics of Working Online as an English Teacher

What exactly is online English Teaching? 

Teaching English online is, well, just as it sounds! Details vary from platform to platform, but in general, it is a program in which an individual teaches English as a Second Language to one or more students via a video connection. 

Who should teach English online as an ESL Teacher? 

  • Anyone fluent in English or that is a native English speaker.
  • People who are looking to escape the 9-5 workday.
  • People who love kids and are passionate about teaching them.
  • Travelers and perpetual nomads!

What are the Pros of being an online ESL Teacher? 

  • Flexibility.
  • Being your own boss
  • Ample opportunity to earn money.
  • Freedom to travel
  • Opportunity to meet people from different cultures

What are the Cons of teaching English online? 

  • It can get lonely working from home.
  • It requires the ability to budget time and money.
  • You might have to work strange hours.

A Day in the Life of an Online English Teacher

Who are you teaching online?

  • Students between the ages of 3 and 12 years old
  • All of the classes will be one-on-one.

Teaching Hours for Virtual ESL Teachers

You must teach at least 3.5 hours per week. Peak hours are Monday through Friday 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Beijing Time and weekends 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Beijing Time. Each class is 25 minutes. 

What time are you teaching online?

Any time you want! But seriously, you are in charge of your schedule. There are advantages to opening your schedule at certain times, though. You will have much more luck with bookings if your schedule is open during Beijing’s peak hours. For those of us in North America, that means very early mornings. 

Booking Virtual Teaching Sessions

The unique thing about PalFish is that it functions similarly to a social media platform. One way that you can attract students is by posting “moments” on your feed. These moments can be anything you want, as long as they are child friendly.

If you thrive on social media and self-promotion, you will love this! It also gives you an awesome opportunity to interact with your students outside of the classroom. Sometimes, you make great connections with your students. And sometimes the 25 minutes you spend with them teaching online just doesn’t feel like enough! But this helps.

If social media and self-promotion is not your thing, then PalFish may not be the platform for you. 

Traveling while teaching online

If you love to travel, then teaching online is an excellent employment option for you. You can take your job with you wherever you go, as long as you have a good WiFi connection, a quiet, well-lit space, and a smartphone or tablet. 

How much can I earn as an online English teacher?

Ah, the moment you have been waiting for… the money! So, the PalFish Official Course runs on a point system. How much you make each month depends on how many points you earned the month prior. How do you earn points? By teaching classes! 

Here is a breakdown of the PalFish point system: 

  • Teach one class: receive 4 points 
  • Teach during a double points slot: receive 8 points
  • No lateness for the whole month: receive 20 points 
  • No absences for the whole month: receive 20 points
  • Sell a package following a trial: receive 40 points
  • Refer a teacher: receive 10 points
  • Invite an official course student: receive 20 points

You begin at level 1 at the start of each month. The level you reach by the end of the month will decide your salary for the following month. 

  • 0 points: level 1 and 55 RMB per class
  • 300 points: level 2 and 60 RMB per official class
  • 700 points: level 3 and 65 RMB per official class
  • 1100 points: level 4 and 70 RMB per official class
  • 1500 points: level 5 and 75 RMB per official class

So, at the very least, you will make $16 per hour as a PalFish Official Course Teacher.

Getting hired as an Online English Teacher

Technological requirements  

  • You must have either a phone or tablet that is running Android Operating System or iOs. You cannot use a desktop or laptop to teach with PalFish. 
  • You will also need a strong cellular or WiFi connection.

Credential requirements

  • You will need to have a 120-hour TEFL or TESOL certificate or a teacher’s certificate. 
  • Teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree are helpful, but not required. 

Classroom requirements 

  • You will need to wear a professional blue top.
  • You must have the PalFish logo somewhere behind you.
  • Good lighting is a must!

English Teacher Interview Process at PalFish

My interview process with PalFish was super easy, and in my experience, they have a quick turnaround. First, you will need to download the PalFish app and create an account. From here, you will fill in some necessary information. If you pass this step, you book a time for your demo lesson. This demo lesson is your interview and the most important step of the process.

It should be noted that there is not an interviewer in the classroom with you. This is a demo lesson, so you pretend to teach a child, and a PalFish employee later reviews it. You will be permitted to enter the classroom before the time of your demo to prepare for your lesson.

Once you receive the results of your demo lesson, you will be required to take a quiz. To prepare for this, you will be sent a link to the Official Handbook and Training Materials. You should read through this carefully so that you can successfully pass the quiz.

After this, your teaching certificate will be verified and… VOILA! You are a PalFish Official Course Teacher. 

Your Journey as an Online English Teacher

Thanks for reading about my experience as an online English teacher. I hope you found what you’re looking for and feel more prepared about your decision to start teaching online. Good luck with your students and be sure to enjoy your journey!

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