In the month of January, I made over $1.2k for about 50 hours of work.
I didn’t have to leave the house, wear real pants, put on makeup, or interact with anyone over the age of 12. I could travel without having to “take time off,” and, so far, have been able to work in over half a dozen different countries.
Seems too good to be true, right?
Well, it’s not! It’s completely legitimate and it’s made possible by an innovative online teaching company called PalFish.
I’ve received a lot of questions from family and friends about this company and how they can get started, so I figured a little blog guide was in order!
PalFish is a mobile app that connects language learners (primarily from China) to English speakers from all over the world. There are two main components to this app - FreeTalk (where you’ll likely be working on conversation skills with adult students) and the Official Kids course (where you teach younger learners).
I’ve only taught the Official Kids Course (and, so far, find that to be the best way to make money with PalFish)… so, for this post, I’ll focus on that.
Official Kids Course Requirements
There are a few things you should have sorted before applying to teach the Official Kids Course with PalFish.
For starters… and I feel like this is a given, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway… if you want to start making money teaching kids English online… you should probably actually like working with kids. If you don’t fall into that category, then I suggest you do yourself a favor and pursue other avenues of making money online.
If you DO enjoy working with kids (and teaching), then this is the perfect opportunity for you.
PalFish (and the Chinese government) now also require teachers to have some kind of teaching certificate before being accepted in their Official Kids Course program. This can be in the form of a TESOL, TEFL, or Teacher’s Qualifications Certificate. In my opinion, this recent change is a good thing - ‘cause just because you speak a language doesn’t mean ya know how to teach it.
I received my TEFL certificate in 2015 from a company called Oxford Seminars, but there are loads of other reputable organizations that offer these programs in person and online.
Once you have completed your PalFish profile, you will have to fill out an application for the Official Kids Course. Once this is processed, you’ll have to schedule a demo interview and set your availability. Be aware that the time slots you open may be booked immediately once you are accepted into the program. (I was totally not prepared for this… and woke up to 7 bookings on my first morning in Vienna… the timing wasn’t ideal, but I managed to make it work).
If you want to get bookings consistently, make sure you are available and that your schedule is open during peak times. On weekdays, this is between 7 and 9pm Beijing time, but on weekends the app is pretty busy all day. In some timezones, the peak times are ideal… but in others it means staying up in the middle of the night or waking up extremely early in the morning.
Official Kids Course teachers are required to have a minimum of seven 25 minute time slots open each week during these peak hours.
About the Official Kids Course
Class Structure + Schedule
In the PalFish Official Kids Course, you will teach structured, 25 minute lessons to primarily pre-K and elementary students. Some teachers have said that they have had adults in these classes, but these instances are rare (and I have never had this happen… unless a parent is there with their student). The lesson and teaching guide for these classes are provided for you in a slideshow which you will go through with your student via a video chat.
I typically preview the lessons as soon as they’re scheduled so I can familiarize myself with the material and create any props I feel would be useful ahead of time. This isn’t necessarily a requirement, but it does make you look more prepared and professional. I’ve found using flashcards is a good way to keep students engaged and to give them additional challenges outside of the slideshow material.
Each lesson typically includes a greeting, a song, introduction to vocabulary, learning and applying the new concepts, review, another song, and goodbyes. PalFish’s interactive platform allows students and teachers to click, drag, and draw on the pages. You can also use fun face filters (usually a necessity for early morning classes) to keep your students engaged and to bring the lesson vocabulary to life. I usually add in a couple of little dance breaks for good measure, too… but that’s obviously optional ;)
Meeting and engaging with the students is so much fun and the 25 minute lessons fly by. At the end of my “working” day it hardly feels like I’ve worked at all. I typically finish around 3pm, which gives me the rest of the day for my dog walking job (another incredible side gig) and to work on writing and video projects.
Starting pay for Official Kids Course lessons is 50yuan per lesson (with a 5 yuan bonus for being on time)… So, generally speaking 55yuan or about US$8.15 (if you aren’t late entering the classroom) for a 25 minute lesson.
For each lesson you teach, you also earn points. Earning points allows you to level up to a higher pay rate per lesson in the following month.
In the beginning, most of your lessons will be trial lessons. These lessons are super repetitive, but doing them over and over again gives you a chance to work on your teaching style, techniques, and to familiarize yourself with the app.
Trial students are new to PalFish - they take these lessons to decide whether they want to purchase an Official Kids Course package. The trials also give teachers an opportunity to impress potential new students (and parents) and allow them to assess the students level. If students do purchase a package after taking a trial with you, you will receive an additional 200Yuan, 20 points - (that’s about US$38 for a 25 minute lesson) - and, potentially, a new regular student.
Note: Sometimes, especially with trials, students won’t show up for the lesson. Just stay in the classroom for the full 25 minutes, and you’ll still be paid and get your points. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Another note: The class will be recorded, and parents can watch the playback (whether the student shows up or not). Some teachers have said they teach the class anyway (even if the student isn’t there)… I, on the other hand, usually use this time to read a book or get some writing done, and make sure I’m not picking my nose or doing anything embarrassing.
Getting more bookings
Once you begin to sell trial packages and start marketing yourself on the app, you will see an increase in booking from Official Kids Course students. These are students who have signed up for PalFish, so, if you’re lucky, you’ll get regulars. In my opinion, it’s a lot more fun to see regular students each week so you can see them grow and progress over time.
Within about a month of following PalFish’s suggestions for getting more bookings (more on that later), I had over a dozen regular students booking classes with me… and this number is consistently growing.
How do i get paid?
PalFish pays teachers once a month via a third party company called Payoneer.
On the first of each month, any money you have made in the previous month is deducted from your PalFish wallet and sent to your Payoneer account. Once this has processed, the money can then be transferred to your bank account, and typically arrives within 3-5 working days.
Typically, you should have your pay no later than the 7th of the month.
Payoneer doesn’t charge a fee to transfer these funds to my US bank account, but my bank does charge you a small fee for receiving them. This charge has never been more than $5.
Click here to sign up and get $25.
Getting Started on Palfish
So you have a teaching certification, enjoy working with kids, and want a flexible source of income? Perfect! - Here’s how to get started!
First things first… Click here to download the app.
You’ll be prompted to enter your phone number and will receive a text message with a verification code.
When setting up your PalFish account, you should also go ahead and set up an account with Payoneer. Doing so ensures that you will be paid on time the month after you begin working.
I started working for PalFish at the end of November, but, since my Payoneer account wasn’t set up properly, I had to wait until the beginning of January to receive payments. (Learn from my mistake, and make sure your account is set up properly ahead of time)!
Set up your profile on PalFish. This is the most important step (for obvious reasons). It’s a bit complicated, as there are a lot of boxes to check, but, if you follow the directions below, you’ll have your profile verified and be able to apply for the Official Kids Course in no time! (Scroll down for some visuals to help you through this process).
First you’ll upload a profile photo and verify your identity using a passport or ID card or some sort. Remember, this is a platform for teaching children, so be sure to upload some fun, kid-friendly photos! At some point in this process, you’ll also have to snap a selfie so your identify can be verified with facial recognition.
Next, upload a photo of your degree and/or teaching qualifications to the verification section of your profile. In order to be verified, teaching qualifications now require a certificate number. If your certificate doesn’t have a number, you’ll have to contact the company you received it from.
Oxford Seminars provided me with my registration number which worked just fine.
PalFish also recommends that you upload photos of your degree and certifications to the photo album on your profile.
Fill in your text intro. Use this section to add important information about you like where you’re from, your teaching experience, teaching style, and anything else you’d like to add.
Remember, this app is for students in China… and Asia in general is all about all things cute. Spice up the text intro section with lots of emojis!
PalFish also requires teachers to record an audio intro. Put on your best teacher voice and let potential students and parents hear more about you. Make sure to speak slowly and clearly so they can also get an idea of what you’ll sound like when teaching a lesson.
Whether or not you plan on teaching FreeTalk lessons, you’ll have to set a rate. I set my rate high (at 3yuan per minute)… so I don’t really get any calls. At the moment, my main focus is the Official Kids Course (because in my opinion the FreeTalk rates are wayyyy too low), but in the future I’d like to try free talk & creating my own lessons on the app.
Apply for the Official Kids Course + Demo Interview
Once your profile info has been verified, you can then apply for the official kids course. You’ll find the link to do this on the homepage of your PalFish account.
When applying, you’ll have to schedule a demo lesson and open at least 7 time slots.
I’d recommend booking an lesson time that will give you a couple days to preview the lesson, prepare props, and set up your classroom. The demo lesson was one of the trial classes that you will teach when you are accepted as an OKC teacher.
There is no student in the classroom, and it’s a bit awkward for that reason (but, in my opinion, it’s better than teaching an adult and pretending like they’re a kid). You go through slides like you would in a normal class, ask questions (pretend like you’re getting answers), give stars, sing songs, and turn the enthusiasm levels to an all time high!
My demo lesson was approved within a day, and, almost immediately, the time slots I had opened up were booked.
For those of you who are visual learners…
All of that can be a bit tricky, so here are some screenshots to help you navigate.
Once you download the app with this link and your profile is set up, you should see me listed as your inviter under your settings.
If not, follow the steps below to enter my code!
For more about my PalFish experience, check out this video about how I got started with the company, the best thing about the app so far, and my resolutions for 2019.
From start to finish, the application process went really quickly. If you check all of your boxes, fill everything out properly, and are already TEFL certified, it’s likely that you can start teaching on PalFish within a couple days.
If any of the information above about getting started is unclear, feel free to comment your questions below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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