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.
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 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-10pm Beijing Time (BJT) and at weekends, 8am-10pm BJT. Whales do ask that teachers provide at least 8 set hours per week and to sign a contract for a minimum of 6 months. This is due to the fact students sign up for 25-week blocks of lessons and prefer to have the same teacher and time slot throughout.
You must be a native English speaker. Priority is given to applications from America, Canada and the UK, but applicants are considered who are from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Whales prefer applicants to hold a BA degree or above, however, do consider applicants without depending upon their resume and experience. A TEFL is a requirement 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 canceling 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
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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 11-43 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 between 5-7pm BJT, you receive an extra $2/hour and if you teach 7-9pm BJT, you will receive an additional $12/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.
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.
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Your interview comprises of standard questions to go over your experience and qualifications. The interviewer has the opportunity to get to know you more, put you at ease taking you through what the next steps are. They also like to know why you want to teach with Whales and how you heard about them.
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 list the points they will be looking for in your demo lesson:
- Reward System
- Zoom Annotations
- Error Correction
- Teaching Script
You are required to use Zoom for the demo lesson. 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. During my demo, I made a couple of errors such as forgetting to remove annotations before moving onto the next slide and 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.
The demo lesson lasts no longer than 15 minutes and is with a member of staff pretending to be your student.
Note: The lesson materials are sent in an email via a google drive link. Please ensure to download the correct file depending upon which computer/laptop you have. If you are a PC user, please download and use Powerpoint. If you are a Mac user, please download and use Keynote. If you download the wrong format for your computer, it will not work properly.
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. Your email will also include links to complete the next stage in your application: Trial class training.
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.
Added bonus, you will be paid $15 for completing your Trial class once you have taught your first full month with Whales.
Once you complete the Trial training session, you will be asked to send details via email in order to complete your online teaching profile and receive Trial class bookings. Again, they may request some of the same details such as a profile picture, education documents, passport, confirmation of your teaching availability and a 2-3 minute introductory video.
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-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 simply respond to the email that sent them to you to confirm.
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.