In 2019, I started teaching ESL to kids in China through a company called VIPKid. Immediately, I couldn’t keep up with bookings — parents loved me and I was so busy! Everything was going great, and then in classic Courtney fashion I overloaded my schedule. My poor time management did not mesh well with the companies cancellation policy: no more than six cancelations or no shows within a six month contract period (oh, and it was maxed at two-per-day, so if you missed eight classes in one day, it counts as two). VIPKid terminated my contract under this policy.
I was bitter. And right when I was about to apply to a different company, I logged into the VIPKid teacher classroom to get my certificates — that’s where a saw the new, cool orange button.
When I was terminated, the rehiring process went like this: Apply to work at VIPKid again but with a different email address. In other words, make a new account and hope that regular students find their way back to you. This definitely deterred me from applying again because I didn’t want to start over completely. I worked hard to complete several leveled certifications and professional development webinars through the company. I had taught over 500 classes, and I had 150 reviews from parents — all 5 apples! So, the thought of having to start from scratch again was very disheartening for me.
When I logged in to check on my ESL certificates, I saw a button at the top that said “restoration of the contract.” I clicked it, and to my surprise, I discovered that VIPKid had a new program that allows terminated teachers to reapply using their same account! This means no starting over and that I got to keep ALL of my previous work and contract (I am paid $8 per class/16-per-hour base pay which is hire than the average starting rate of $7.50 per class/15-per-hour base pay). I even have all my rostered regulars from before and the ability to send them ecards and let them know I’m back.
I jumped on reapplying , and within four days, I will be able to open slots for classes again (let’s hope it goes as well as before!). If you are in the same boat, here is a breakdown of how the restoration of contract process works.
Step 1: Submit a short demo video
You do not have to go through the entire application and mock class process again, but the company has to know you still understand how to teach. VIPKid gives you the “my friends and I” slides to demo; they will also accept your custom lesson. Personally, I am not a fan of the “my friends and I” slides, so I made my own demo and taught verb conjugation of “sing.” I even sang a little! #dontjudgeme
If your demo does not pass, you can submit a new demo immediatly.
My demo was a little over four minutes, and it passed on the first try. If you’ve worked at VIPKid before, you know the company has high standards for technology, lighting, etc. Here are my tips:
- Make sure your lighting is bright and does not create and shadows are weird reflections.
- Record your demo with your educational background.
- Make sure your headset mic is clear — I used Apple AirPods Pro, and I didn’t have any problems.
- Upload the video as a high quality .mp4 file.
- Use props and TPR.
- A reward is up to you, but this is a 3-4 minute demo — I did not use a reward system.
Protip: Recording from your iPhone? Save your video as a file and create an iCloud link to the file. Email the link to yourself, and download from your computer. It’s much more efficient!
Feel free to check out my demo video that passed on the first try.
Step 2: Upload a TEFL certificate (don’t worry if you don’t have one yet)
The Chinese Ministry of Education recently upped standards for online language-learning platforms. You are required to have some kind of teaching certificate. I obtained both the basic and advanced ESL certificates through VIPKid, and while these are certainly helpful as parents and learning partners browse my experience, they are no longer sufficient to work at any English language-learning company in China.
VIPKid will offer you the chance to obtain a TEFL certificate through the company, and you are able to do this as part of your contract restoration. In other words, you do not need to be a current contractor with VIPKid to earn the certificate. I took me hours and hours, but I appreciated that it was so in-depth and taught me a lot. While ESL certificates teach us about the theory and concepts regarding non-native speakers of English, the TEFL certificate includes a lot more pedagogical training. My favorite part of the TEFL certification was learning about the Chinese culture and how parents in China view education and teachers.
Once you complete the TEFL certificate, you do not need to do anything else. You do not need to upload a picture of it; VIPKid automatically processes it because you completed it through their system. Sidenote: VIPKid also accepts TEFOL and Celta certificates.
Step 3: Review and sign your contract; welcome back!
Once you have completed steps 1 and 2 and it all processes, VIPKid will send you your contract. Read through it and sign it, and your contract will process the next day. Remember that VIPKid operates on Beijing time, so 12 noon here is midnight there. A lot of computer generated resets and processing take place during the date for us, and that’s pretty sweet!
You should be able to open slots once your contract processes. Happy teaching!
Do you want to be an ESL teacher? Click here to apply!