SayABC is a fantastic online ESL company to teach with, particularly if you are new to teaching online. They are a highly popular company within the online teaching community, with a complaint being extremely rare when compared to their competitors.
There are so many pros to teaching with SayABC which I haven’t found as a full package elsewhere. But, like with all online ESL companies, SayABC doesn’t come without its downfalls.
As you may know from other posts within this blog, I highly recommend working alongside several online ESL companies at any given time. Though teaching online can be extremely rewarding in terms of career choice, flexibility and high hourly rate, it can also be challenging. Work can be inconsistent leading to an inconsistent pay packet, your job is never 100% secure even after signing a contract and companies have been known to disappear off the face of the Earth with no communication to teachers.
Some of the links used below I may be affiliated with. This just means that if you apply through one of the companies I teach with, I may earn a referral bonus if you are hired and successfully start teaching with that company.
Top Tip – Diversify your income if you are using teaching online as your main source of income.
I have worked for SayABC for 6+ months now and thoroughly enjoy teaching using their platform and lesson materials. Personally, SayABC is my chosen ‘backup’ company. If I gain a quiet period with my main teaching jobs, Whales English and UUabc, I will pick up hours with SayABC. I only open irregular slots, therefore just teach trial classes rather than their regular lessons known as ‘homerooms’.
For those looking to use SayABC as your main company, here are a few details to help get you started:
- Require applicants to be native English speakers from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
- Must hold a TEFL/TESOL certificate and Degree
- Interactive lesson materials and platform provided
- 40 minute classes up to 4 students per class
- Offer $15 per 40 minute class
- Bonuses: teaching trial classes $8/student signup, Substitute classes $7 and a set of 9 homerooms $4 per class (paid in full after teaching last homeroom)
- Quick hiring process: You can start teaching within 10-14 days of applying if successful
- Short contracts are only 3 months long at a time, offering you even more flexibility
Related Post: Apply and Teach with SayABC (coming soon)
Here are the top pros and cons of teaching with SayABC:
The Pros of Teaching with SayABC
SayABC’s platform is incredibly easy to navigate and use. It has clear headings of where to find your classes, section for your next class and a countdown, parent feedback, self-training modules, your calendar and schedule plus, my favourite feature, access to your pay. The pay tab is broken down clearly and updated regularly. There are sections for each class taught, plus broken down sections for student sign-ups, home-rooms and substitute classes.
For the online classroom itself, the platform offers a number of functions that can be incorporated to engage students further. SayABC offers a dice icon, which when clicked on, brings an interactive dice on the screen. Both the teacher and students have access to it once on the screen and can take turns to roll the dice. It is great for playing games and turn-taking to answer questions.
Another function I quite like is a countdown timer. You can set the time e.g. 10 seconds or 30 seconds, for students to complete an activity within a given time. For example, for more advanced students you may only offer 10 seconds to answer as many questions as possible but for a lower level student, you might provide 30 seconds.
2. Lesson Content
Some online ESL companies though provide all of your lesson materials for you, which is a win for planning time. A lot of the lesson content is so dull and boring to teach. When you’re bored, your students have no hope of finding the class fun and interesting.
This isn’t the case with SayABC! They, along with Uuabc, completely lead the field in terms of offering fun, engaging and interactive lessons for their students. Within SayABC’s classes, each lesson offers
- elements of the slide which moves
- songs and sounds are embedded and accessible from a click of a button
- Opportunity to highlight students and drag their image onto the main screen
- everyone can use the drawing function and each student is given their own colour so teachers can see who is interacting and who needs more guidance
- interactive games with moving parts.
The lessons are top in the industry. They are constantly working on making them even better through updates and offering a range of fun learning activities. No matter what level of class you are teaching, all students have the opportunity to learn through colourful, interactive and exciting activities.
As mentioned above, what I love most about SayABC is that I can 100% control my own schedule. SayABC offers teachers an open calendar which they can select the slots they want to teach. You are able to open slots up to 14 weeks in advance, which is great to be able to plan your hours around other commitments.
For teaching regular classes aka homerooms, it is best to select the same paired slots for 14 weeks. This way, you will be more likely to have all of those slots filled, compared with if you only opened the same paired slots for 2 weeks. Homerooms come in 9 lesson blocks with the same students, hence SayABC is looking for teachers who can teach all 9 lessons.
Homeroom paired days available are (times listed are in BJT):
- Monday and Thursday (6-910pm)
- Tuesday and Friday (6-910pm)
- Wednesday and Saturday (6-910pm)
- Saturday and Sunday (950-1120am / 6-910pm)
For trial classes, you can open and close these slots on a week by week basis very easily (this is what I personally choose to do). However, to increase your chances of trial class bookings, ensure you have opened your slots for the following week prior to the Saturday. This is when the booking team will find teachers for their trial classes.
I actually really love this about SayABC, perhaps even more so than their lesson materials. It can be challenging to find a reputable company which offers such flexibility. However, SayABC does just that. If you don’t have a class booked in your available time slot, you have the option to cancel the slot and you don’t have to wait at your computer. Or alternatively, you can select to be a substitute teacher. You are required to wait at your computer for this, but if you do receive a class, you gain an additional bonus of $7 just for subbing!
4. Earn Bonuses
SayABC is such a fair company in terms of its pay to teachers. All teachers are offered the exact same rate of pay and bonuses. The base rate for a 40 minute class with SayABC is $15. Then teachers can earn extra per class:
Trial classes: per student that signs up, you receive an additional $8. Since SayABC teachers 4 students per class, you have the potential to earn up to $47 for one 40 minute trial class (if all 4 students sign up).
Substitute classes: if you are a substitute teacher for last minute cancellation, you will earn an extra $7 for that class.
Homerooms/Regular classes: for these classes, teachers MUST complete all 9 lessons within the set. This is teaching the same students for the 9 class block without having any cancellations, technical difficulties, complaints etc. At the end, you are then given a completion bonus of $4 per class ($4*9 = $36). This works out on average, $19 per 40-minute class.
Every week, SayABC send out weekly ‘newsbites’ to teachers via email. These are great as they keep teachers in the loop of what’s going on, any policy updates, class material alterations and upcoming training. They also provide details related to additional bonuses and extra teaching opportunities throughout student’s holidays (in the Summer and Winter).
On top of this, every week they send a reminder of your schedule and a further email to remind you how classes are booked and when to open slots e.g. trial classes are booked for the following week every Saturday.
The company is great at keeping teachers in the know and updated on what they have planned. Not to mention, unlike other companies, their emails are very well written and make complete sense. Not every online ESL company takes the time and care to ensure their communication with teachers is clear and accurate.
The Cons of Teaching with SayABC
1. Lack of Support
Though SayABC is fantastic at communicating with teachers via their weekly ‘newsbites’, I cannot quite praise the level of in-class support as much. I have found whenever a student has encountered technical difficulties, such as no sound or video, I have had to ‘wing it’ and carry on rather than the issue be rectified.
There is IT support at SayABC, it’s just I haven’t found them to be very fast or responsive. By the time I have gained a response, I am already 30 minutes into the class and they haven’t been able to help anyway.
They do have systems in place, so hopefully, this won’t always be an issue and I am sure other teachers might have a different experience. But for me, I have just found them too slow and not very helpful.
I am experienced enough so that when I do enter a class and the student has technical issues, I can modify my teaching so that they are still involved in some manner. But for individuals new to teaching online, it can be very unsettling if you aren’t gaining a reply from the IT support team.
SayABC has been aware of this and has put in a new support tab within the platform itself. Previously you could ask for IT help in the class and contact would be made via Skype. The new system looks great and is similar to a messaging service. You send the relevant team, aka IT support, a message, and they are able to reply directly to you.
Hopefully, this should help speed up support for teachers in classes and help lessons to run more smoothly.
2. Trial System
Over the last couple of months, SayABC brought out a new way to give trial classes to teachers. It was so that fewer classes were left with just 1 or 2 students and offered students a more realistic trial class with SayABC, ensuring there were 4 students per class.
The way it works is that teachers are booked their time slots given and then have to virtually enter a queue 5 minutes prior to the start of class. Once the class is filled with 4 students, the class will begin. I have never had a class take longer than 2 minutes to begin entering the queue. If a teacher isn’t given a class, they will be paid for the class nevertheless as it was a ‘booked’ time slot.
In theory, this is great. It means fewer teachers are left with no classes and students are given a better idea of what classes will be like with SayABC in the 4-1 format.
However, I never know what trial class I am going to receive until I am IN the class. For a planner like myself, this honestly drives me insane. Previously, I would be able to look at my schedule in advance, check what class I had, whether there were any slide updates and prepare my props accordingly.
Now, I have no clue whether there are any updates until I am teaching the lesson and I don’t know what lesson I am teaching until I am greeting my students. My desk ends up looking like an earthquake has hit with the number of props thrown left right and centre to ensure I have covered every potential class that I might be teaching.
3. Equipment Specifications
Due to SayABC’s professional platform and highly interactive teaching materials, they do require a lot higher specifications than other companies. Not such a plus if you have a very old computer, like I did – though I didn’t mind an excuse to purchase a well overdue update.
If you do not meet their specifications for the internet and computer, you will not be able to teach with the company. Within the interview, they carry out a technical check of your system and will tell you then and there if you pass or fail. Luckily, they are very friendly and will offer you the next stage if you can provide them with proof you can meet their requirements. As an example, my computer did not meet their specifications and I had to send them a screenshot of my husband’s computer specs in order to pass the interview and move on to the mock lesson.
Here are the specifications SayABC requires from their online teachers:
Related Post: Equipment Needed for Online Teaching
The flexible schedule with SayABC is fantastic, especially for online teachers like me who use SayABC as their back up company.
However, if this is your main company and source of income, the flexible scheduling may not be for you.
Class bookings are not a guarantee, even homerooms. In order to ensure you receive bookings, you need to open your schedule for the full 14 weeks in advance. Plus, you have to make sure you are opening paired days and time slots, as listed above. This helps to maximise and increase your potential for bookings.
Unfortunately, no online ESL company can guarantee work. It is very seasonal and dependant upon student demand and the time of year e.g. exam period or holiday season.
Here are some tips to help increase your bookings with SayABC:
Open your schedule in paired days to gain homerooms
Preferably open your schedule 14 weeks in advance, if not this far then as far as you are able to
If you only wish to teach trial classes, ensure to open your time slots for the following week before Saturdays. This is when the bookings team will book trial classes
Be professional, show up on time and try to minimise any IT issues through checking your internet and computer (top tip: ensure to double check when your computer updates are scheduled for so they do not occur 5 minutes before you are due to start teaching – GUILTY!)
Maximise your student’s engagement and learning experience by using a range of props and TPR. SayABC as a company loves for its teachers to use props and demonstrate TPR in all lessons.
If you have any questions regarding SayABC, or would like one-to-one support during your application, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org