Earning Full-Time Income From Home: Your Questions Answered

All About Teaching ESL From Home: How You Can Do it, Too

All I can say is…wow! Last week I shared a blog post that was really uncomfortable to put out there. I shared about all the ways I’m currently earning a full-time income from home. I guess I didn’t need to worry – the response to that post was huge! I got SO many questions about teaching ESL from home online that I found myself sharing the same responses again and again. Then, I realized there was certainly enough interest that I should follow up with all the details about this work opportunity right here on the blog.

As it turns out, there are lots of other men and women, just like myself, who are looking for ways to earn income from home. Whether it’s the stay at home mom who is torn about returning to the job force, a teacher who needs a summer income, a retiree who is looking for play money, or those like me who are entrepreneurial and want to find unique ways of making a living from home. Not only did all of your e-mails and texts encourage me in sharing that original post -but I realized that so many of us are in the same boat. We’re not alone! I’m so glad my experience has provided hope to others.

I hope this follow up post continues to encourage you and lead you to something that might help you with your goals.How I make an extra $500 per month in my spare time. Rebate sites like Ibotta and Ebates pay off.| Five Marigolds

The Back Story

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I had some immediate financial goals and wanted to be able to do it from home, just like my other blogging and freelance work. I remembered a friend who has been teaching ESL from home for nearly a year and reached out to her to see if she thought I could do it, too.  As a result, I’m now teaching online from home, during hours I choose, and earning around $2,500 per month. It’s been a huge blessing to our family.
When I was looking into this opportunity,  I did a ton of research to get all the information I could, and today I plan to share it here – all in one place – for those of you who are interested. Additionally, I’m happy to help you 1:1 to get you through the hiring process, just like my friend did for me, and give you any support you need along the way.


To be eligible to teach through one of these companies you need to have a four year degree and one year of experience with teaching (this does not need to be a formal classroom teaching job).  What they are looking for isn’t strictly a formal teaching job (which I do not have) but they are looking for proof that you are a strong communicator and have experience working with children. You also need to have high speed internet, a computer that has a web cam, and headphones with a microphone. For this company, you need to be an American native.


The company I’m with ranges in pay from around $16-22 per hour.  Your pay rate will be based on your experience and interview performance. Additionally, as part of those numbers, everyone earns $1 per class completed and an additional $1 per class if you teach more than 45 classes per month.
To break this down:
Base pay: $7-9 per 25 minute lesson
+ Bonus Pay: $1 per completed lesson
+ Bonus Pay: $0.50 per class when you teach 30 classes per month, OR $1 per lesson when you teach 45 lessons per month
When you work for these companies you are considered an independent contractor, which means you aren’t guaranteed hours or benefits, and taxes aren’t taken out of your paycheck.

The Interview Process

When you interview with the company, you will submit your relevant experience (which I can help you with!), submit a short demo video, and then you have to teach two mock classes.
The interview process for me took about 1.5 weeks. To be honest, at the time I felt it was a little cumbersome, but in retrospect, I can see now that it is part of the process to prepare you so you are ready to hit the ground running once you are hired.
The mock lessons that you teach are worth a large part of the rubric that determines your rate of pay.  You can have 15 years of teaching experience and a Masters degree in Education, and start at a lower pay than someone who only has 1 year of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree, but who did phenomenally well on their mock lesson.  It’s very important to be prepared for these mock lessons, and they will send you links to plenty of videos to help you prepare. I’m debating creating my own video as well…more to come on that.

What It Entails

Regardless of which company you work for, you will be working online and teaching children in China via web cam through the company’s portal.
The curriculum is prepared for you; you simply teach it in an encouraging environment. There is a huge importance placed on the ability to speak English, and the demand for learning American English from a native teacher is strong.Teaching ESL From Home: Getting Started with VIPKid
Based on your experience and interview performance, you will be assigned levels that you are accredited to teach through the company based on the child’s age and current skill level. It’s possible you could be teaching children as young as 2 or 3 years old! It’s really amazing and inspiring how young these children are picking up English language!
With VIPKid, initially, you will likely teach “trials.” The company I’m with offers free classes – a try-before-you-buy – approach to prospective students. Smart, right? In this class you are teaching a student who is likely brand new to the online learning process. Those trial classes are assigned to you by the company, but, over time, the goal is that you will connect with students and have “regulars” – students who continue to book with you week after week.How I Earn a Full-Time Income from Home

dO I have to know any chinese?

No, you do not need to know any Chinese! This is an immersion class, so there should not be any Chinese spoken during the lesson. This is where TPR is very important: using Total Physical Response, you help the child understand what you are trying to tell him or ask him in English. For example, if you want the child to repeat, you might point  to your mouth while you say a word. When you are ready for the child to speak, you might cup your ear expectantly for a response.

How Many Hours do I Have to Commit?

You can truly work as many or as few hours as you want with this job. There are absolutely no strings attached.

Many people who teach for this organization are teachers who teach just a few morning classes before they leave for their regular teaching job, and who plan to increase their hours over the summer for additional income.

Some are working full-time hours.  It’s truly up to you.Teaching ESL From Home: Getting Started with VIPKid

Something to be mindful of, however, is that you will be seeking students for whom you are a good fit to rebook you and help you keep your schedule full. Consistency is helpful for this. For example, if you teach mornings one week, evenings the following week, and weekends-only the week after that, you will have a hard time finding regulars to book you.

Teaching ESL From Home: Getting Started with VIPKid

what does your schedule look like?

In my previous post, I mentioned that I earn around $2,500 per month. Many people wanted to know what schedule I keep to earn this amount. To do this, I work an average of 25 hours per week, and because I’m naturally an early bird, I primarily do this in the mornings.

The peak teaching hours – that is, the hours you are most likely to get booked – are from 6-8 a.m. CST. Additionally, in my experience, weekends – both weekends and mornings – tend to book well, too.

Is this a Pyramid Scheme?

Not at all. This is an opportunity to be an independent contractor for a legitimate company. No tricks. No catches. No pyramid schemes.

However, they do offer teachers the opportunity to make a small bonus when they share the opportunity with others and guide them through the process.Teaching ESL From Home: Getting Started with VIPKid

Are there Other, Similar Companies out there?

In the beginning, I’d intended to work for two similar companies teaching ESL from home at the same time, so I could quickly generate income and determine which company would be the best fit for me and provide the best guarantee of income. Because VIPKid has started out so strong for me, I haven’t joined the other company. However, since the goal of this post is to share all the research I did, here are some pros and cons to the two main companies I researched:


  • 1:1 Teaching Environment
  • Larger company = more potential bookings
  • No minimum hours required to teach
  • More hours offered to choose from  = potential for more income (8 p.m. – 9 a.m. CST every day / this shifts by 1 hour during Daylight savings). Even more hours are available in the summer.
  • $16-$22 / hour, including built-in bonuses (for example, base pay could technically be as low as $14, but there is a $1 bonus per class taught, so at two classes per hour, you would technically get $16 / hour)
  • You begin with trials and assigned classes by the company, but over time you build relationships with students who continue to book you.

Magic Ears:

  • 1:4 Teaching Environment
  • More interactive teaching platform
  • There is a commitment of hours you need to be available to teach – I believe it’s 6 hours per week and a commitment of 6 months.
  • Fewer total available hours to teach (5:30 -8:30 a.m + additional 9-10:30 p.m. on weekends)
  • Potential for slightly higher pay: $18-26 / hour
  • Students are assigned to teachers by the company (potentially meaning a more guaranteed schedule?)

How do I apply?

If you’re thinking about applying, I would LOVE for you to use my referral link, and I will  coach you 1:1 through the process. (If you need a referral code, mine is 07TZ2R). VIPKID encourages current teachers to help new teachers with the process by rewarding us with a small bonus each. Click HERE for my teacher referral page,  and definitely let me know if you have any questions during any of the process! And who knows, it could turn out to be one of the best decisions of your life! Or, okay, maybe the next year or two.

If you have any questions about teaching ESL from home, I’d love to help! Please feel free to e-mail me or comment below with your questions.

Teaching ESL From Home: Getting Started with VIPKid

5 thoughts on “Earning Full-Time Income From Home: Your Questions Answered

  1. Kim says:

    I’m definitely going to reach out soon. I started the process but nervous to keep going! Former teacher with 13 years experience!

  2. Melanie says:

    Looking at the VIP Kids application form they ask about teaching experience within a K-12 school setting. I have been a theatre teacher -teaching acting to kids ages 4-12 years old for many years, but that doesn’t fit into their definition of teaching. All of my teaching has been outside of the school will this count as teaching experience and how do I indicate that in the application, or do I just go ahead and do my best in the interview process? Thanks for your advice.

    • fivemarigolds says:

      Hi Melanie, I’m sure the application process has changed a bit since I was hired, but I’d put your experience as a theater teacher there. For example: “Part-time theatrical arts teacher to preschool, elementary and middle school students, grades K-7. Responsibilities include….” Since a teaching certificate is not mandatary as part of the interview process, this tells me they are mostly making sure you have teaching experience for of some kind, which you do! Good luck, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can assist you through the process further!

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