Becoming a part of the large online ESL teaching community is by far one of the best things I have ever done to support my family. I was looking for something that I could do to support my family financially, while staying at home to care for my newborn. Unfortunately, the majority of online or work from home jobs in America always said "not hiring in the following states..." and ALWAYS said New York State. Luckily, one of my friends pointed me in the direction of VIPKID. They require a Bachelor's Degree, so I met the requirements. I was waiting on my official transcripts, so I couldn't start working, even though I had passed the interview. I started researching other companies. I figured VIPKID couldn't be the only company out there that does this. I began to look, and applied and was hired almost every large company. I stuck with my two favorite companies- VIPKID and Palfish- for months until I decided to stick with just one. Here, I'll give you the pros and cons of both companies, and why I chose one over the other.
1. HUGE company, probably the biggest ESL company in China
2. Teachers are assigned to you, and you have regular students.
3. You can choose the levels of the students you want to teach. For example, if you don't want to teach early levels, you don't get certified to teach them.
4. There are many on-going trainings to improve teacher quality.
1. I experienced many technical issues with them, and they weren't always willing to accept responsibility for tech issues of their own, and would penalize the teachers (even with screenshots and internet testing proof).
2. You have limited control over your bookings, although you can submit a ticket to the help desk and ask for more bookings if you are not getting the classes you want (it doesn't always work, but it can).
3. There are a lot of language barriers to communicating with the VIPKID team, and you never know who you are talking to.
4. The songs you sing in class are... well... Horrible.
This could be a pro or a con: You sign a contract. You decide: pro or con. ;)
1. In the event of technical errors, Palfish has a history of taking accountability.
2. Each new teacher is assigned a mentor to guide them through the process of being a new teacher.
3. You have control over your bookings. There are many things you can do to market yourself to both parents and the sales team.
4. Every teacher has a personal "admin." This is their point of contact in the office in China. When you talk to someone, you know exactly who you are talking to.
5. You can have open communication with the Palfish team and parents.
6. Since you do not have to certify for every level, you are open to teach every student (making you available to many more students).
7. The curriculum provided for you is AMAZING! It's fun, and the songs are catchy and fun, too!
8. You will have direct communication with a personal mentor, and there are training mentors who regularly give training. If you want training personalized to you, or have a question for a mentor, a mentor is almost always available within minutes or hours to answer a question.
1. Palfish is a smaller company, although they are growing very quickly.
2. You cannot teach on a computer (unless it's an emergency).
What did I decide?
After a few months of working for both companies, I chose to work exclusively with Palfish. Both are good companies, but the issue I had with VIPKID was with their bookings. I had ample bookings, but I had to open up every working hour to get them. For me, that was overnight, all night. However, I wouldn't be booked solid for consecutive hours, and there would be short breaks in between classes. There were very few days working with VIPKID in which I would get more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep. With Palfish, I am able to be booked solid from 5pm BJT to 10 pm BJT (the hours I want), and never have to work overnight hours if I don't want to (and... I don't.)
I am in full control of my schedule, and the classes I want to teach.
I LOVE the communication with the Palfish team. This is unheard of in the other companies. I also love that your "contract," which isn't even a contract, is very easy to navigate and to read. Instead of having a big boring legal contract, there is an FAQ within the app.
Palfish has so many fun games to play with the kids, and the songs are fun.
Because Palfish has better mobile capabilities (kids can take classes on their iPad or cell phones), I see so much room for growth here. I have taught children in car rides, shopping malls, restaurants. This makes the whole process of hiring an ESL teacher so much easier for parents, and I can see Palfish REALLY taking off even more than they are already! They continue to find ways to grow. As a matter of fact, students are actually funneled in from a reading app in China, which Palfish owns....it is the #1 Kids educational app in China!
Palfish is more affordable for parents, yet... I make a bigger paycheck here.
I quit VIPKID for these reasons. I miss my students there, but I do love everything about Palfish. I'm sure there is someone out there with a completely different viewpoint of Palfish VS VIPKID, but this is mine. As soon as I decided to go 100% in with Palfish, I was hired to be a mentor as well. Now, I enjoy training and helping new teachers everyday!
If you worked for either company, I would love to hear your feedback! And to make this clear- I am NOT bashing VIPKID. I have several teacher friends who work for VIPKID, and I respect them. They are simply different schools, and I have absolutely no reason to speak negatively about one of them.
Jillian Shanahan is an online job coach, mentor, and teacher.