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What are the pros and cons of teaching English online while traveling full-time?

Answered by Meagan Maher, online english tutor

I taught English primarily with VIPKID and occasionally with Cambly. Below are the pros and cons of teaching English online while traveling full-time.

Pros:

Schedule Flexibility Both VIPKID and Cambly allow you to work when it's convenient for you. I tended to binge work and then binge travel. This typically looked like working "a lot" for a couple weeks and then going on vacation for a couple weeks, when I would work very little or not at all. To define "a lot," my high was 73.5 hours in one month, which averages out to less than 17 hours per week. Sometimes I would work 20 hours over the weekend and not at all during the week. Sometimes I'd work five days a week for just two or three hours each day. Sometimes I'd work every day for two weeks straight (not recommended) and then not work at all for the rest of the month. The beauty of schedule flexibility is that you can arrange your work and travel plans however suits you best.

Good Pay + Location Independence Combo VIPKID paid me well. It actually paid more per hour than the nonprofit job I had in San Diego. Not being tied to a certain city meant I could base myself in a location with a lower cost of living, work less, and enjoy life more. To give you some numbers, VIPKID paid around $20/hour. Rent in Bogotá and Chiang Mai was $165-$300/month. After working for two days, my rent and utilities for the month were paid for. Meals typically cost $1-5. I could eat very well on $10/day. So after another two days of work, my food for the month was covered. That left about 26 days to spend however I wanted. Of course, I typically worked more so that I could afford things like international flights (to sightsee and to visit friends and family), scuba diving lessons, smaller trips around Colombia and Thailand, bungee jumping, doctor visits, and presents for friends and family. But even with all of these other expenses, I still had to work relatively little to afford the things that I needed and wanted. Cambly

Easy, Easy, Easy Teaching English online is an easy job. With VIPKID, the kids are cute and generally well-behaved. You don't have to leave your house. You don't even have to wear pants (just don't stand up if you are sans pants). You do need to have a "classroom" (poster) with "props" (some finger puppets and flashcards will do the trick), but you don't need to spend any time preparing (they say you're supposed to, but you don't have to). All of the slides are prepared for you and there are directions at the bottom that explain how to teach each slide. The more you teach, the more familiar you'll become with the slides and the easier it will become to figure out how to teach new slides on the spot. You can do this job while thinking of your grocery list or daydreaming about your next vacation. It's very easy.

Cons:

Boring and Repetitive If super easy is one side of the double-edged sword, this is the other. As someone who likes to feel challenged and like I'm learning and growing in my work, this job got old pretty quickly. If you're cool with routine and not thinking, this might not bother you.

Need Reliable, Stellar WiFi You're teaching English via video chat, so your internet connection has to be consistently great. This can be tricky if you're always on the move.

For VIPKID, Time Zones Cambly doesn't matter; you can log on any time of day because students are all over the world. But VIPKID teachers teach students in China, which means you are teaching according to China's hours. Which is fine if you live on the East Coast of the United States, in Europe, or in Asia. But the West Coast is not so fun. Prime Time teaching hours in China are after school. which translates to 4am in California. No thanks. I did it for a while, but it's definitely not something I'm ok with doing long-term. The other Prime Time option is during the day on Saturday and Sunday in China, which is mostly Friday and Saturday night in California, Prime Time social hours. You can work other hours, but you need to open up your availability weeks in advance in order to get booked, and I prefer planning my schedule just a week or two in advance-or less.

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