Apply and Teach English Online with Whales English
Becoming an online ESL teacher is a fantastic way to earn an income working from home. Whales English is an online ESL company, with students from China who are looking to learn English as a Second Language. Their application process is similar to other online ESL companies, whereby applications are required to submit their application, complete an interview and demo lesson prior to being hired. Read on to find out how you can apply and teach online with Whales English.
**Please note I no longer work with Whales English. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching with this company, the teacher community is extremely supportive. However, I gained everything I could professionally and needed to move on to the next step in my career teaching independently and creating my own lessons. If you wish to apply to Whales English, you can still do so via my referral links within this post. I will not earn a referral bonus for this and cannot track your application. Nor do I have immediate access to the most up-to-date interview process. If you would like more specific support to apply to this company, I highly recommend Tess Wilkinson from Teach with Tess.**
Related Post: Apply to Whales English
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.
The online ESL company Whales English, formerly known as Sprout, was founded in 2013. They provide a platform for Chinese students to learn English with a native English speaker. Lessons are in groups of 1-3 students per class, the majority with two students, and last for 50 minutes. Students book a full course at a time, which lasts for 25 – 30 sessions. They have numerous courses available to students, but the largest two are the English course and Reading course. Courses are graded from PreK level to Grade 5A, following the American K12 system. There are additional courses as well, which focus on other subjects in addition to learning English such as writing, science and social sciences.
Students are aged between 5-15 years and their baseline English levels vary. Lessons are conducted via Zoom, with individual classroom codes provided through an online teaching platform. All teaching materials are provided by the company, but there is an expectation to expand on Powerpoint slides given plus making use of props and your own reward system.
The hours available to teach with Whales are Monday to Friday 6pm-9pm Beijing Time (BJT) and at weekends, 8am-9pm BJT. Whales do ask that teachers provide at least 8 set hours per week, 4 of those during Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Your first contract to sign will be for 6 months. This is due to the fact students sign up for 25-30-week blocks of lessons and prefer to have the same teacher and time slot throughout.
Related Post: Top Tips to Increase Your Bookings with Whales English
You must be a native English speaker from either America, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand.
NOTE: Whales English does not accept any other nationality than the ones specified above.
Whales English requires you to send in a copy of your passport to confirm this information. If you are from any other country, they will not pass you through the initial screening stage.
Whales now require all applicants to hold a BA degree or above. A TEFL is also essential now under new Chinese legislation for online ESL teachers teaching Chinese students. One year minimum of teaching young children is essential and any ESL experience is highly beneficial.
During your application, you will need to provide a copy of your resume, profile photo, teaching certificates, passport and once hired, a 2-3 minute introductory video.
Like most online ESL companies you need to ensure you have a stable internet connection, HD camera and noise-cancelling headset. Here are some of the specifications required in more detail:
- Operating system – windows 7, windows 8, windows 10, MAC OS 10.8x
- CPU – Intel Core i3 above CPU
- Memory at least 4GB RAM
- Network – wired DSL internet connection at least 20MBPS
- Flash Version – the latest
Related Post: Equipment Needed for Online Teaching
Pay takes place around the 15th of the month for the previous months teaching and this is carried out via Payoneer or Bank Transfer. Whales do compensate a percentage of fees that might be encountered through bank charges etc.
Whales also provide a very generous bonus each month as well. Presently, there are two different bonuses teachers can achieve. The first one is a monthly bonus based on the number of hours you teach per week. This ranges from $150 – $450 per month for 13-43 hours per week* (these are not your given hours but your teaching hours).
The second bonus is based on if you teach certain hours each week. Currently, if you teach regular classes between 7-9pm BJT, you receive an extra $5/hour*. A great benefit about Whales, they allow teachers up to 2 IT problems per month, which they will not be penalised for and can still achieve both bonuses.
*Bonuses are subject to change each month and teachers are notified at the beginning of each month what the present bonuses are.
Teachers can expect to earn between $18-26/hour based on your application, experience, interview and demo lesson. Most teachers start on $18-24 per hour, with the potential for pay rises or increases with secondary positions.
Pay Update Dec 2019:
As of 16th December 2019, Whales English has implemented a new pay structure for teachers who begin teaching with Whales English after this date.
As Whales offers a wide range of class levels, they feel teachers should be paid a different rate to reflect the level they are teaching. Rates are based upon not only the level of the class, but also the teacher’s qualifications and mock interview.
Trial Classes will be at a fixed hourly rate of $18 per 50-minute class.
Regular classes range from $18-26 per 50 minutes class.
Resume Screening – Mock Class – Contract Signing – Launch
You can become an online ESL teacher with Whales English in as little as 7 days!
Once you have sent in your application, you will receive an email within 48hrs. The initial email will advise if your application has been successful and will invite you to book an appointment through Calendly for your interview. You can apply directly here via my referral link to gain full, personalised support during your application. Simply fill out the form and include your resume and a photo.
Related Post: 10 Top Tips for Passing Your Online ESL Interview
Whales English has recently streamlined its application process, making it faster and more efficient. At this stage…there is no longer an interview! Great news for new teachers. If successful during your resume screening, you move straight onto your Mock Class.
If you have successfully passed your interview, you are again invited by email to book your demo lesson through a Calendly link. This is similar to other online ESL companies, in that they provide you with some of their material and ask you to prepare this. Whales are great because, within that email, they also include a Google Drive link for all supporting materials, FAQs for applicants and Zoom instructions.
The mock material takes applicants through background information on Whales English, the lesson material and some examples of what to do, as well as what is expected e.g. demonstrate effective TPR skills. A fantastic element of this document is that Whales English provides applicants with the lesson evaluation sheet, demonstrating exactly what they are looking for within a potential teacher. This is highly beneficial to any applicant as they can plan their lesson to ensure they cover all key points and can aim for the highest score possible.
You are required to use Zoom for the demo lesson, as presently Whales English uses Zoom as it’s teaching platform. If you have never used Zoom before, do not panic, but I highly recommend practising before your demo lesson. Your use of Zoom does not have to be perfect and recruiters are aware of this and kind during your mock lesson.
During my demo, I made a couple of errors such as forgetting to remove annotations before moving onto the next slide and I completely forgot to share my computer sound. The member of staff isn’t there to be extra critical and can support you during your demo. But, they do want to see that you are prepared and have some experience using the online program. This is key as Whales use Zoom for all of their lessons and teachers are required to be competent in using it. If staff feel you are an excellent teacher, but could potentially do with some support using Zoom, they can set this up for you before you begin teaching with them.
Your lack of Zoom experience will not stop you from getting hired. Your potential as a fantastic ESL teacher is more valuable. Your mock lesson isn’t set up to judge how you use Zoom as many teachers have never come across the program before and Whales are aware of this. The mock lesson is designed to see the skills and passion you have for teaching, as well as the energy and enthusiasm you can bring to your lessons.
The demo lesson lasts no longer than 30 minutes and is with a member of staff pretending to be your student. They will be pretending to be a 6-8-year-old student, so it is helpful to ensure you include
- Error Correction
- Some Zoom annotation
Have you joined our exclusive Facebook group yet?! Filled with teaching tips, live demos, how to’s and resources all in aid of supporting you to become a successful online teacher.
Your mock class is broken down like so:
1-2 minutes Introduction/Ice breaker. You will meet your interviewer and this is where you MUST state the learning objective for your lesson. This is absolutely vital to remember if you want to pass your mock lesson.
10-minute mock class. Ensure to stick to 10 minutes to show great time management. Be prepared, have everything ready in advance such as props and ensure your lesson is appropriate for the level you have set.
1-5minute feedback. Your interviewer will provide on the spot feedback and inform you whether you have passed through to the next stage in your application. You are marked from the evaluation sheet sent to you within the Google Drive link. You must achieve 4 good or satisfactory points, with one being TPR in order to move on to the next stage.
5-10 minutes Q and A. An opportunity for you to ask any questions and for your interviewer to tell you what happens next. At this point, you will either
be successful and will await your contract documents to sign and return
need to rebook your mock class for a second attempt due to scoring only 2 or 3 good/satisfactory points
failed your interview and cannot move forward with your application due to only scoring 1 or no good/satisfactory points.
Please do not panic about your mock lesson. The materials are extremely simple and not used for lessons within Whales English. This is to help support new applicants rather than provide a challenge at the first stage, as new applicants have not received training on how to teach Whales English’ materials.
The lesson materials consist of only a few slides, with each slide containing one picture and two sentences. You can be incredibly creative with how you want to teach the lesson, using additional material and props and what you want your student to focus on aka the learning objective. If you would like support and guidance going through your demo, including suggestions, top tips and ideas, please ensure to apply via my referral link here and send me a confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations! If you have passed your demo lesson, you will now receive an email confirming your contract and requiring you to send your Passport and teaching certificates.
It can take just 7 days from sending in your initial application form with your resume through to signing your contract with the new, speedy application process.
Once you have started with Whales English, you are required to complete training to be able to teach the two different classes, Regular and Trial Classes.
Trial Class Training
You are required to download and practise all four of the trial lessons provided by Whales. I highly recommend for brownie points, you create a suitable reward system and additional materials related to each trial class. There are also a few training videos for you to watch and go through too.
Your trial class is focusing on your proficiency in using Zoom, before they progress you to complete self-training. The trial session lasts approximately one hour with a member of staff. They will choose one lesson for you to teach for around 15 minutes. After which, you will receive immediate feedback and then they will go onto to train you in using Zoom and Trial classes.
Regular Class self-training
At this stage of your application, you are actually hired as a teacher with Whales English. However, if you would like to receive regular classes, whereby you teach the same students for 25 or 30-week blocks, you do need to complete this element.
The regular class training includes several documents and training videos for you to complete in your own time. I highly recommend actually spending time properly going through these. They will help prepare you for how to teach regular classes and showcase some of the regular lesson content. When you have completed your self-training, you are required to book a live training session to go over the important points and offer an opportunity to practice some of the skills learnt with the regular class lesson materials. There is also a quiz you must complete and answer correctly in order to pass this training.
For each course level, there is an associated training session you must complete in order to teach those students. For example, with Whales, after I completed my regular class training for the lower levels, I was able to teach students who were taking the Prek, GKA and GKB courses. Recently, a few of my students have finished their GKB course and were wanting to rebook me for the next level, G1. I was not trained to teach this course so in order to retain these students, I completed self-training and a follow up a live training session.
Related Post: Top Tips to Increase Your Bookings with Whales English
Additionally, each month the teaching quality department evaluates one of your lessons and provides you with detailed feedback. This is unlike other online ESL companies, who don’t really provide much feedback into the teacher’s performance. Whales English helps teachers by informing them of what is working well in their lessons e.g. teaching style or relationship with students and any areas of improvement e.g. time management or use of props.
During your teaching time, there is IT support throughout all of your lessons for issues that may arise due to technology, student absences or even support with behaviour in class. I also love that with Whales, we are provided with our own Coordinator, who looks after our schedule, speaks to parents on our behalf and helps to fill up our schedule with regular students.
There are also support groups via Facebook and Skype, one is teachers only as well and a great, positive community. The other informs you of updates occurring within the company and any secondary work opportunities. Whales appreciate its teachers and like to offer teachers secondary positions who do well in areas such as training, quality, course development of even brand ambassadors.
Why Apply to Whales English
There are 100s of online ESL companies available for teachers to work for so why apply to Whales English?
I have personally taught with 6 online ESL companies now and passed a number of other interviews also, but I have found Whales English quite unique in comparison. Not only for the reasons outlined above regarding:
- Training for each course
- IT support
- Additional bonuses
- Support groups within Facebook and Skype
You also gain a support staff member from the head office, who helps to manage your schedule and promote your profile to parents for potential bookings. This person is a huge asset to your teaching career with Whales. They can help communicate with parents on your behalf, make schedule alterations, cancel classes last minute for emergency leave and help you during class if you are facing difficulties with a student.
On top of the essential and required training mentioned above, Whales English offers extra training sessions every single week. These are unpaid, but provide teachers with further opportunities to learn additional skills, techniques, gain more resources and overall become better teachers. The great thing about these sessions is that, not only are they free and offer fantastic skills for online teachers. But they are led by Whales English teachers NOT staff at head office. Hence, the trainers themselves have experience in teaching online, understand the problems and challenges online teachers face and can offer genuine and used solutions.
Finally, I just want to share my own experience with Whales and the additional opportunities working here has provided me. With past companies I have worked with, they have mentioned I would be offered a secondary position due to my teaching skills and consistently positive feedback from students. However, no secondary role materialised.
With Whales, I was able to inquire after just 5 months of working with the company about a potential secondary position. I had always wanted to get into the training side of ESL teaching and offer the knowledge I have learnt so far in my career. Immediately, I was given a role with a small short-term project, I guess as a trial to see if they liked my training. This was back in June 2019 and since then I have been given more and more projects. I now have a huge responsibility with an ongoing project as I write this and have regular work each month.
In summary, Whales English is a fantastic online ESL company to apply to and teach with.
Everyone’s experience with each ESL company is unique, but I and many other teachers I speak with who teach with Whales English are very happy here. If you are committed to being a good teacher and demonstrate or be willing to learn the skills this company is looking for (e.g. TPR, use of supplementary materials and props, Peer to peer interaction between students), you will find yourself with a fully booked schedule.