I have just hit a momentous occasion: I have been teaching with VIPKid for 100 days! It really doesn’t seem that long, but I absolutely love my job and feel like I’ve been doing it forever.
One hundred days. Not necessarily a veteran, but definitely “been there, done that.” I mean, I’m even answering newbies’ questions on the Facebook forums!
Never in a million years did I ever think I would teach elementary aged kids, let alone kids who didn’t speak English! But, it feels so natural. And, I find it an odd correlation that around the same time I got this job, I also got a new calling (“volunteer job” assigned to me) at church. I am now Secretary of the Primary organization (18 month – 12 year old children’s ministry). So apparently, I’m meant to be doing this and working with these young kids in this season of my life.
What is VIPKid?100 days with @thevipkidlife . Learn why @themorrelltale loves it so much! Click To Tweet
VIPKid is an online ESL immersion program. I teach Chinese children ages 3-13 one-on-one online. I don’t have to come up with any content–the entire curriculum is set out by the company’s curriculum specialists. And, they try their best to align it with the Common Core! Each lesson has a powerpoint. Basically, I just guide the student through the lesson. They have an introductory video before the lesson, then some online homework and a workbook to go with the lesson.
Hours are a bit odd because they are in China…halfway around the world. I live in Dallas, so my Beijing students are 13 hours ahead of me. I teach Monday-Friday 5:30-7:30 am and Saturday morning 6:00-9:00 am. Sometimes I teach Friday or Saturday evening anywhere from 8:00 pm – 12:00 am. Of course, there are more available times than this. This is just what I choose to work because it works with our schedule. I do get paid well. For privacy reasons I won’t tell you how much I earn, but I will say this…working 10-15 hours a week gives me little more than half of what I earned a month as a full-time teacher in Utah! But there is no minimum or maximum of hours required.
It is a fantastic company. They really do their research on grammar, culture, and education. The program is very well organized with a fantastic app for teachers to use. The support community is huge. And, the best of the best are chosen to teach. You have to have a 4 year college degree. Teaching experience of any kind is strongly recommended, but not required (as is ESL experience–which I had none). There is an interview and two mock classes you have to do to get hired.
Why do I love VIPKid?
Aside from the professional reasons above, there are many more reasons I love VIPKid. However, there are two main reasons:
- I get to stay home with my children. I have done freelancing the past two years to try to bring in some income since I don’t make money with my blog. However, it took time away from my children and my husband and it was too much work for too little reward. This job allows me to teach when my children are asleep/just getting up in the morning before Justin goes to work. Since, I don’t teach weekday nights (Chinese kids are in school during that time), I get to enjoy the nights with my husband. And, if we don’t have anything planned for the weekend, then I can earn extra money.
- I get to teach. I’ve been yearning to get back into the classroom for a long while now. I haven’t taught for 3 years! However, I didn’t want to leave my children in daycare (nothing against daycare–I just want to see every single milestone). And, if I did put my kids in daycare so I could teach, the vast majority of my paycheck would have to go to daycare–not worth it.
And, of course, there are the Chinese children themselves. It is so fun to get to know students one-on-one. After I quit teaching when Rhys was a year old, I did some tutoring for high school students. You really bond with the kids when it is just the two of you. And, since these kids are Chinese learning a brand new language, sometimes they do or say the most adorable or most hilarious things ever!
What my VIPKid students say and do:
One boy cheered with his arms above his head after he finished his assessment. My camera was turned off, so he didn’t realize I saw him do it.
One students pronounced “hour” as “whore.”
One lesson introduced a few of America’s landmarks and tourist sites. This student didn’t know any (including the Capitol building and Statue of Liberty)….but he immediately recognized the Hollywood sign.
We are able to draw on the slides of the lesson…either with a mouse, or if the student is using a tablet or mobile device, with their finger. One slide had the student fill in the blank. She started writing down the correct word with the correct spelling but then crossed it out saying, “Sorry, it’s very ugly.”
This girl struggles tremendously with pronunciation. She understands all the concepts and vocab, but has a really hard time with the English sounds. Instead of “corn”, she said “turd.”
This boy was learning long /a/ words with an “e” at the end (mace, bake, hate, etc). Instead of “face”, he said, “F**k-ah”.Click To Tweet
I asked a student “What are your eyes for?” She said, “No teacher! There are two eyes!”
I asked a student “How are you today?” He raised his hands above his head and said, “I am amazing!”
Having their child learn English is a big deal in China. Parents are very invested in this opportunity and very proud of their children for participating. I had the opportunity to teach the very first lesson for a student. Her dad had a camera on a tripod set up behind her, recording the entire lesson!
I asked a higher level student to read a slide full of sentences. He said, “Oh, come on”, very much like any junior high boy asked to read.
One girl was very invested in showing me everything in her room that was the same color as the one we were learning.
I once taught a 3 year old. Technically, the ages are 5-12, but many younger and older children slip in. This three year old had a faaaaaaaaaaar larger attention span than my 3 year old!!!!
I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to a student, who would repeat after me. After I read, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, will there be enough room?” She realized it was a question, and answered, “Yes there is.”
The students all get a Dino doll (VIPKid’s yellow dinosaur mascot). This girl held Dino to the camera the entire lesson–so I taught a doll, rather than a girl.
A student pronounced “cap” as “crap”.
Behind a student, his dad was eating breakfast only in boxer shorts.Dads in boxers, moms giving answers, Chinese kids mispronouncing words with hilarious results?… Click To Tweet
One boy kept telling his mom to be quiet when she tried to feed him answers or correct him. (This is actually a huge occurrence–many moms try to immediately correct their child, although sometimes incorrectly, and feed them answers before the kid even has time to think).
One of the rewards I use is putting stickers on my face every time the student answer correctly. A girl told me, “You have too many stickers on your face. I don’t like it. Can you please put them on your hand?” So, I obliged. She then said, “Now you are pretty again.”
There is a series of lessons to help the Chinese kids prepare for the TEOFL exam. We help teach them test taking strategies geared toward that exam–kind of like tutoring for the SAT/ACT. One girl wasn’t very confident. She kept saying, “I can’t do it. I don’t like it. I don’t know it.” As we went through the guided practices, she was getting the answers correct more and more frequently. At the end of the lesson, I told her, “See, you can do it. You just got all these right!” Her face lighting up in confidence was the best thing in the world.
I asked, “What do you do in the summer?” He answered, “I drink orange juice in the summer.”
In the lesson about Britain, we review the feelings worried and scared. There is a picture of a British clown. The slide shows a little girls scared of the clown. My student asked, “Why is she scared of the clown? He’s not scary.”
During the same lesson, I used a Mr. Potato Head as a reward. When he was fully put together, my student exclaimed, “He’s a clown!!”
A 13 year old boy’s voice kept cracking.
One four year old demanded her mom put stickers on her head because I was putting stickers on mine.
One student drew a picture of me and showed it to me every lesson we had.
Before class began, my camera was off, but the student and his mom were visible. The mom was helping prep the student. Mom: “T-a-y-l-e-r. Teacher Tayler.” Student: “Potato”.
During a lesson about furniture in bedrooms, my student showed me her furniture. We were in the middle of transferring apartments, so I was teaching in our old, empty apartment before the internet kicked in at our new one. I showed her the empty apartment to tell her I didn’t have a chair/desk/lamp/bed/wardrobe in my room. She exclaimed, “Oh. My. God!”
During an assessment about activities and leisure, a question asked, “What does your mom do in her free time?” My student answered, “She likes to watch TV during her free time, but she doesn’t have to many free times.” I said, “I’m a mom too. I don’t have much free time either. Moms are too busy for free time.” He laughed a bit, but also had a “oh, poor girl” face.
There are many, many more funny moments I’ve had while teaching. I’ve also had some absolutely brilliant and heart warming moments. I love this job and will continue it for the forseeable future. If you are interested in joining VIPKid, please let me know and I can help you through the hiring process!