Online ESL Companies Not Based In China

With the new Chinese regulations on online tutoring, many online teachers have been left scrambling to find new online jobs. At the moment, it’s pretty risky to apply to another China-based company, so what are the alternatives? I’m going to give you a list of some online ESL companies not based in China. Some of the companies offer courses in more than just English, so there’s potential to teach multiple subjects if you have the qualifications.

Not all Chinese Companies were taken out by the new changes. VIPKID is still going strong and has set up a global platform with students from around the world.

Online ESL Companies and brief requirements descriptions

I know a lot of teachers are in a scramble to find new positions, so I’m just going to give some brief descriptions. The companies’ websites will provide any other information you need.

  1. Preply (No certification or teaching experience required, teach various subjects)
  2. Cambly (No degree, certifications, or experience required)
  3. Outschool (No formal teaching credentials needed, teach various subjects, create your own lessons)
  4. italki (Professional teachers and community tutors)
  5. Latinhire (Degree or ESL Certification, teach various subjects)
  6. Skylearn-Skytod (Degree and ESL certification required)
  7. Verbling (Currently not taking applications)
  8. Live English (Native English speakers, Degree or equivalent experience, ESL certification advantageous)
  9. (Submit the teacher inquiry form to be contacted by a recruiter)
  10. Justlearn (No specific requirements, teach any language)
  11. Native Camp (Ability to speak English at an intermediate level)
  12. The Really Great English Teacher Company (See individual job postings for requirements)
  13. Englishunt (US Citizen, BA in any subject or substitute teaching certification, experience; teacher certification required for video programs burpt bot for phone programs)
  14. Skooli (Must have a bachelor’s degree in related field, or government issued teaching license, or specialized instructor qualification)

If you found this list of online ESL companies not based in China helpful or applied and got the job, let me know in the comments or send me a message.

China Regulations: Online TEFL Companies Shutdown, Downsize

China Regulations Surprise

The announcement came as a shock to myself and other teachers. It happened without warning. I was preparing for the next day’s lessons at about 11:00 pm on August 4th when I saw a popup on my screen. I leaned in to read the message. It said that the GOGOKID curriculum offered to Chinese students was being suspended as of August 5th. How nice. I rushed back home from my mom’s house to prepare for my classes and get to bed only to be laid off. See, things like this are why you should never put all your eggs in one basket. I’m thankful that I have other means of generating income, but my heart goes out to my fellow teachers whose sole income source was any of the companies affected by the new China regulations.

Online ESL Companies Not Based In China

What are the “China Regulations”?

In a sweeping overhaul of its education technology sector, China took down its booming online TEFL industry. The country cracked down on all online companies offering for-profit tutoring of subjects taught in the public school curriculum. The Chinese government said that education technology companies had been hijacked by capital and that they should start operating like non-profits. The new regulations have brought the Chinese online TEFL industry to a screeching halt. The growth of the ed-tech sector is no longer being encouraged.

Teach English to students from over 100 countries.

What to expect

Well, a lot of damage has already been done. In an effort to restructure, Magic Ears and Palfish downsized their staff and at the moment, are allowing students to complete the lessons that they purchased. Palfish also reduced teachers’ pay from an hourly base pay of 50 RMB (approx. $15.50), not including bonuses, to 40 RMB (approx. $12.40). Other companies like GOGOKID have completely shut down. It’s expected that the remaining education companies will follow suit unless they can exploit some kind of loophole. We can only wait and hope those companies give students and teachers a heads up should they decide to close shop. In the meantime, teachers with no other income streams should start searching for companies that are not based in China, such as Cambly or Outschool.

What about the children?

I’m sure many of the children are overjoyed at not having to learn English. However, there are many that are absolutely devastated. Videos of some GOGOKID students crying uncontrollably circulated within TEFL teacher groups. The sudden cancellation of all classes and the inability to log into their accounts came as a surprise to them, too. We were not given the opportunity to say “Goodbye” to our kiddos. Now, teachers and students are trying to search for each other on WeChat. Some teachers and students have successfully reunited. Others are still working on it.

Maybe the online TEFL industry will be resurrected in the future. Only time will tell.

TEFL Scams: 10 Red Flags You Should Look For

It’s sad that there are people out there who take advantage of others who are simply looking for an online teaching position. For this reason, it’s important to know the red flags associated with TEFL scams so you don’t fall victim to online predators pretending to be recruiters. These red flags can apply to any online job as well as jobs abroad. However, I’m going to focus on online TEFL jobs for the time being.

Here is a short list of things to look out for during your search for online TEFL positions.

Online TEFL Scams

  • The company has no website.

    If an online company has no website, that’s a bad sign. Just simply forget about that company and start looking into other companies. Do note that the websites for some foreign companies may be a little tricky to find online, especially if the companies are new or if there are other companies with a similar name. Use quotations around the search term to narrow down your search and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. To narrow it down, even more, try searching the company’s name followed by ‘login’ or ‘teacher portal’.
  • There’s no online information about the company

    .. If you can’t find a digital footprint for the company, it’s probably a scam.
  • The email address isn’t professional.

    You wouldn’t be wrong to expect an online company with a website to have a matching, professional email address. For example, when emailing a member of the staff at GOGOKID, you can expect an email that ends with A corporate company that uses a Gmail account is a bit suspicious.
  • The job posting or website is written in poor English.

    An English language company that can’t practice what it preaches is pretty fishy don’t you think? A typo here or there is normal. Nobody’s perfect. However, if the advert, website, or teaching platform contains broken English and nonsensical sentences, the owners shouldn’t be offering English lessons. They should be enrolling in them.
  • You can’t find any company reviews.

    If doing a simple Google search for reviews of the company turn up no results, be wary. First, try searching for company reviews using job sites such as Simply Hired, Indeed, or Glassdoor. If you still can’t find anything, they probably have something to hide and you should move on to another potential employer. If you do find reviews, read through ALL of them. Some companies try to bury the real reviews under a large number of glowing, overly doting, fake reviews. Use your instincts and better judgment to help you decide whether or not the reviews are too good to be true.
  • The company has a ton of negative reviews.

    If a company has a lot of negative reviews and low ratings, pay attention. Read the reviews. If multiple former and current workers are giving warnings to stay away and giving details of bad company practices, you should avoid the company.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee for the position.

    It’s safe to assume you’re applying to the job because you want to be paid, not because you want to pay the company. Right? You shouldn’t have to pay anyone for a job position.
  • You give up control of your device.

    So the company seems legit and you’ve made it to the interview stage. At some point in the interview, you’re asked to give the interviewer remote access to your computer. Why would the interviewer need access to your computer? Don’t do it! Even if the company is a legit company, don’t do it. I know of an instance where a teacher allowed a tech support member remote access to her computer after a classroom tech issue. The technician didn’t solve the issue but succeeded in deleting several important non-teaching related files from her computer. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • You’re expected to work for free.

    If a company asks you to teach students’ first lessons without payment, they are trying to scam you. You could end up never making a dime. Such a company will often assign you only first-time students for the duration of your time with the company. That defeats the purpose of having the job unless you don’t mind volunteering.
  • The company levies heavy monetary penalties.

    Penalties for mishaps like being late or missing a class are normal for online TEFL companies. A legitimate company might fine you around a dollar or so for being late or deduct 100% of a lesson’s pay for missing a class. However, a scam company has lots of unreasonable penalties that are almost impossible to avoid. Penalties for things like sneezing or your lighting not being considered bright enough should not result in hefty fines. If that’s the case, you should not waste your time with them. You will end up working for free most of the time.

Don’t let TEFL Scams Discourage You

Don’t let TEFL scams deter you from finding the right teaching position. Now that you know the red flags to watch for, you can feel more confident in your job search. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit my Become A TEFL Teacher page for some legitimate companies to which you can apply.

Top 4 Benefits of Teaching Online English Lessons

Online English teachers are in high demand, especially nowadays. China has the greatest demand and their online institutions are willing to pay well.

Online teaching is fun and rewarding. There are several great benefits to teaching English online, but here are the top 4 in my opinion.


I believe freedom is the top benefit of teaching English online. I’ve been told that I’m a control freak. Maybe I am. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I love to be in control of my time. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Simple. I quit my hospital job, a few years back, to enjoy the freedom that I have now.

Teaching English online is a great way to get out of the mundane 9 to 5 lifestyle. I can choose to work full-time hours one week and part-time the next. If I want to work a couple hours in the mornings or a half-hour in the evening, I can. If I choose to take a week or a month off, I just do it. It’s easy to burn out when you teach a lot of classes, so the ability to take long breaks or days off without asking for permission really floats my boat.

Besides the scheduling flexibility, there’s the freedom to work from anywhere. If there’s a reliable internet connection at my place of lodging, I can work. If my phone data connection is strong, I can work. If neither of those is available, there’s the option of using a portable WiFi device. If neither of those is working for me, I don’t sweat it. When traveling, I never schedule lessons until I’ve personally tested the internet connection. If it’s no good, I don’t do any work until I get to a destination that allows it.

It’s illegal to work in a foreign country without a work visa. However, since I work online, I don’t have to worry about getting a work visa.

When I travel internationally, I often catch really great deals and end up spending more than I expected. When that happens, I work a few hours to replace those funds and carry on with my trip.

Yeah, I really love the freedom aspect of this work!

2. “Look, Mom! No pants!”

I wear pajamas or a nightie to almost every class. I usually teach early morning classes, so I sleep until 15 minutes before my first class. I wake up, wash my face, brush my teeth, wrap my hair or throw it in a ponytail, slap on some red lipstick, throw a polo shirt over my top, slide into my slippers, plop down on my chair and get ready to teach. My props are prepared the night before, and if my lesson happens to change overnight, no problem– anything I may need is within arm’s reach.

I could never wake up 15 minutes before my shift and work in my PJ’s at my former job. I’d be awfully late and severely under-dressed.

Comfortable work attire at its finest!

3. Great Pay

Teaching English online can be very lucrative. I work with several China-based companies and can say they pay pretty well. See my posts about PalFish, Magic Ears, and Vipkid to learn about their pay structures. I also teach for a new American company that pays $25/hr, but lessons are sparse for now. With the teaching bonuses, contests, referral bonuses and other incentives offered by these companies, making $4,000 or more is very attainable. Like I said before, I quit my hospital job to do this.

4. Easy to start

Getting started with online English teaching is really easy. Some companies make you go through a somewhat lengthy processsubmitting video intros, attending online orientations and on-board training, performing mock lessons, etc but, most make getting started pretty simple. Getting started with PalFish as a regular teacher took me about 24 hours, while Magic Ears just a few days. The process and time line are different for each company.

Okay, all done! Your turn! Do you teach English online? What do you think the top benefits are?

Teach Online With PalFish

(Update) I do not recommend applying to this job due to recent events in the online industry.

What is PalFish?

PalFish is an online English platform, based in Beijing, China, that gives teachers the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world using a smart device. It makes for a great side hustle or full time job.

When registering to work with PalFish, you’ll need to use your smartphone. Since the platform is app based, you’ll have to download the mobile app. Use my link to sign up and I’ll contact you directly through the app’s messaging feature once I receive notice of your signup. Once you’ve registered, you can download the app to your other iOS or Android devices to have them ready as backup devices. You can simply sign in using your phone number and password when you’re ready to use them. In cases of emergency, you can use your laptop or PC with webcam to teach lessons, but be prepared to experience decreased functionality and funky glitches. Ideally, you’ll want to teach from your phone or tablet because PalFish is optimized to work from a mobile device.

What can I do with PalFish?

The PalFish platform is set up like a social media site. You can follow and be followed by other teachers and students. To promote your self to students, gain followers, or just share some information, you can post moments just like on Facebook.

One of my favorite things about working with PalFish is that it offers different ways to generate income. Freetalk lessons, official courses, live streams, and dubbing children’s books are some ways that you can make money. As a PalFish teacher, you can work as either a regular teacher, an Official Kids Course (OKC) teacher, or both. When you register and are accepted on the platform, you are automatically a regular teacher and can begin teaching adult students right away. If you qualify as an OKC teacher and are accepted, you will be considered an Official Kids Course teacher, but you can still teach adults.

What are the teacher requirements?

To qualify as a regular teacher you will

  • be a fluent English speaker
  • have some English teaching experience
  • hold an English teaching certificate (TEFL/TESOL/CELTA)
  • be an excellent communicator
  • be fun, creative, and have excellent interpersonal skills

To qualify as an Official Kids Course teacher you will

  • be a Native English speaker with a neutral accent
  • be from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland
  • have experience in teaching children
  • be a licensed teacher or hold a teaching certificate (TEFL/TESOL/CELTA)
  • have at least 10 hours per week of availability between 6-9 p.m. Beijing Time
  • be fun, creative, high energy
  • have a passion for working with children

How much can I make? How does PalFish pay teachers?

As I mentioned before, there are multiple ways to earn with PalFish. Besides the previously mentioned ways of earning, the are also bonuses for inviting teachers and students.

This is your own home-based business. With a little creativity and drive, you can make a great income. As a regular teacher, you set your own rates for calls and lesson packages. As an OKC teacher, you can expect to earn between $15 and $22 per hour for official lessons. The actual amount you receive varies depending on the conversion rate of CNY to your country’s currency. PalFish pays using a tiered structure determined by a monthly credit score. The more classes you teach, the more money you’ll make per hour during the following month. As a new teacher, you will receive a new teacher’s bonus of approximately $15 USD. If a trial student purchases the Official Kids Course after having a trial lesson with you, you’ll earn a bonus of about $15 USD.

PalFish pays through Payoneer and Chinese bank transfer. Open your new account using this Payoneer link and receive $25 once you’ve earned $1000. Payment is held in your PalFish account until the 1st of the month when it is automatically withdrawn to your Payoneer account. The payment should reach your account by the 7th of the month.

What is the time requirement?

As a PalFish teacher, you have the luxury of setting your own schedule. You can work as little or as much as you’d like. There’s no set time requirement for Official Kids Course teachers, but it is recommended that you have at least 10 hours of availability. PalFish offers the ability to take random calls during your free time with just the touch of a button. If a student purchases a lesson package from you, you can coordinate the date and time (in Beijing Time) with your student, or you can open time slots for students to book. If you plan to teach adults and kids, I want to let you know that there’s an option to reserve time slots for kids only. However, there is not an option to reserve for adults only. So, once you open your slots, any time slots you have available for your adult students may be taken. To avoid this, coordinate with your adult students through the chat feature and only open them once they’re ready to book.

What are the technical requirements?

To effectively use the PalFish platform, you will need a compatible smart phone or tablet (Android version 7.0 or higher / iOS version 9.0 or higher). If your device is not compatible, the application will let you know once you’ve signed in. There isn’t a set internet speed requirement, but a fast, stable WiFi connection is important. I’ve found that a speed of at least 30 Mbps upload and download works best for me. If you’re unsure of your internet speed, you can check it here.

Lighting is very important. You will want to have bright lighting so that you are clearly visible in the camera. Shadows are frowned upon, so try to reduce them as much as possible. I use a set of lamps when I’m at home and two small portable LED lamps (bought in Korea) and selfie ring lights when I travel.

A headset with a noise cancelling microphone will help to reduce background noise during your lessons and make it easier for your students to hear your pronunciations clearly. The headphones set that may have come with your smart device can be used, but may cause audio issues for your student when the microphone brushes against your shirt. A Bluetooth headset may work well. I haven’t tried any, but I’ve heard from other teachers that they work fine (I’ll get hip one day 😀 ).

To add the app to your other devices, just head over to your app store, download the PalFish Teacher app for iOS or Android, and sign in using the phone number and password you used when signing up. There’s also a student app, so make sure you choose the one that says ‘teacher’.

You can find more information on the PalFish guidelines page and in the FAQs within the app . If you have any questions once you’re signed up, just shoot me a message through the PalFish app. I’ll be happy to help!

So… Are you ready to join PalFish?

By clicking the apply button below, you agree to be contacted and assisted by me via the PalFish app. If you’re not viewing this site from your phone or tablet, you can download the app to your smart device and enter my referral code: t08lXu (after 8, the letter is lowercase “L”). If you submit the wrong code, you’ll be assigned to someone else and I won’t know you signed up 🙁

Magic Ears: Requirements and FAQs

(Update) I do not recommend applying to this job due to recent events in the online industry.

Kids are so cute, aren’t they? Don’t you just love interacting with them? Would you like to be paid to have fun while teaching 4 -12-year old Chinese kids? If you answered “Yes” to those questions, Magic Ears could be the online ESL company for you.

Too many aspiring online TEFL teachers are heartbroken when they apply to a company only to be rejected before reaching the interview stage. If your resume doesn’t contain key qualifications, it will be rejected. To give yourself the best chance of progressing through the application process and getting the job, I highly encourage you to read through this list of FAQs and responses.

1. Do I Qualify To Be A Candidate?

To qualify to work for Magic Ears, you should be a native speaker from an English-speaking country. You will need to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and a 120-hour ESL certification (Magic Ears offers an accredited 120-hour advanced TESOL course for $20 USD). Teaching experience is not required, but it would be an asset.

**If you are a resident of California, you are not eligible to apply due to the AB5 Bill. Click here for more information.

2. Do I Need To Have Teaching Experience?

No. Teaching experience, although preferred, is not required. Magic Ears provides online training for new teachers.

3. How Much Money Can I Make?

Pay is per class. If you are hired at the Bronze base pay level, you will make $7.50 per lesson plus bonuses. See the image below for the company’s base pay policy and bonus incentives. Your base pay will depend on your qualifications. How much you make per week or month is up to you. You control your schedule. So, the more lessons you teach, the more money you make. You can expect the company to offer periodic monetary incentives to sweeten the pot. You can also bring in referral bonuses with your referral link.

Magic Ears Base Pay Policy

4. When and How Will Magic Ears Pay Me?

As with most Chinese online schools, Magic Ears pays on a monthly basis. Payment is made through Paypal or bank transfer on the 10th of each month.

5. What Does A Magic Ears Teacher Do?

As a Magic Ears teacher, you will deliver 25-minute English lessons to a group of four students. The students’ ages will range from 4 to 12 years old. The lessons are already prepared. So, all you’ll have to do is review the lessons and prepare your props. Once each lesson is completed, you’ll be required to leave class feedback for each student. The feedback needs to be submitted within 18 hours of completing a lesson.

6. Do I Have To Find My Own Students?

No, students are randomly assigned to available teachers by the Magic Ears system. Open those time slots and the students will come!

7. What Kind Of Schedule Will I Have?

Hooray for flexible scheduling! How often you work is up to you. You can work any time you want from 9 PM to 9 AM EDT. The times that have the most demand are Sun – Sat 7 AM – 8:30 AM and Sat – Sun 9 PM – 10 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Although it’s suggested that teachers be available for at least 10 hours, there’s no minimum teaching requirement.

8. What’s The Contract Length?

Contracts are 6-month. Renewal is dependent upon satisfactory work performance.

9. How Do I Apply?

The application process consists of a series of steps taking place over several days. After registering and submitting the application, you’ll need to schedule and perform a demo lesson which can be recorded (you only) or live (performed with another teacher pretending to be your student). The next step will be attending a private online coaching session to get some tips and pointers, and then you’ll perform another short teaching demo. After that, you’ll be assigned a trial lesson. Upon successful completion of the trial lesson, you’ll fill out a background check (3-5 days). If your background check is fine, you’ll be offered a contract. Once your contract is signed and submitted, you’ll be a full-fledged Magic Ears teacher!

Magic Ears says, “Please allow up to 2 business days for processing at each step. Throughout the application process, there are two places where you can find updates on your application’s status:
1. The email with which you applied (check your spam folder).
2. The Teacher Portal (logging into the website).
Once you start the application process on the teacher portal, you can use the “Contact Us” link in your portal to easily reach out to us at any time during the application process.”

If teaching with Magic Ears sounds like a good deal to you, you can sign up by clicking the button below to use my referral link (referral code T200462).