Shortly after the end of my TEFL certification course, I was able to secure a full-time job online and within a couple of months, I traveled to SE Asia for the first time. I lived in Thailand, Vietnam, and visited Cambodia all while teaching English online. From there, I traveled to London for what I planned to be a two-month stay but instead turned into where I would live during the COVID-19 outbreak.

I arrived in London at the beginning of March; just thirteen days before the UK was on lockdown. Initially, we were advised to only leave our homes to shop for necessities, participate in one form of outdoor exercise a day, seek medical care, or travel to work if absolutely necessary. Three months later, the government eased restrictions, allowing primary schools to open, groups of up to six to meet, and those who cannot work from home to return to work.

I do my best to avoid crowded public spaces, but it can be difficult to do living in the center of London. With restrictions slowly being eased and permission from the government to gather in small groups, parks, and other public outdoor spaces tend to get crowded, especially on the weekends. 

Teaching in London during COVID-19

In the parks and other outdoor public spaces, there are signs with “COVID-19 Information” asking people to 1) keep your distance  2) avoid touching your face  3) cough into a tissue  4) wash your hands  5) stay at home if you have symptoms and 6) stay away from busy areas

A selection of cafes and pubs in London are now offering take-away food and drinks. Many of which are located near some of the nicest parks in the city. This is a really nice option to have as the weather warms up and more people want to spend time outside in the sun with a cold drink. Most people are obeying the social distancing rules but not many people are wearing a mask in these public spaces.


(The London Eye,  prior to COVID-19)

With so many changes happening in the world around us, I’m very grateful for the one thing that I can always rely on, my job as an online ESL Teacher. 

There are so many great opportunities that come with teaching online: the freedom to travel, a flexible schedule, interaction with international students, but most of all, a job that’s reliable, even during this time of uncertainty. 

I currently teach online for GoGoKid and have taught for VIPKid in the past. Luckily, the pandemic has not kept my students and I apart. I’ve been able to fill my open time slots and maintain a pretty consistent schedule since the start of the pandemic. 

Having a bit more free time these days, I took the opportunity to apply to other recommended online ESL companies and was recently hired by Whales English. They offer online English classes to students in China, ages 3-18. Compared to GoGoKid and VIPKid where teachers are one to one with the students, Whales English groups two students together for the duration of the course. I’m really enjoying my experience with their platform so far, especially the reliability that comes with their fixed schedule. They provide really useful training for new teachers and their curriculum is a bit more sophisticated than other online teaching companies. Teachers at Whales English choose their own hours which then become their fixed schedule for the year. I really enjoy the stability that comes with this model and the opportunity it gives teachers to build connections with their students over time. All companies mentioned offer two types of classes, trial and core classes. 

If you’re looking for less of a commitment and even more flexibility with your schedule, GoGoKid or VIPKid would be the perfect fit. As a freelance teacher, it’s pretty common to work for more than one ESL company. Before you accept a position and sign a contract with different companies, make sure to check whether they require a minimum amount of hours per week and be careful not to open the same time slots on each platform. In my case, I work a full-time schedule with GoGoKid and just accepted a job with Whales English. GoGoKid does not require a minimum amount of hours a week, but Whales English does. Now that I will be teaching for both companies, I need to adjust my hours with GoGoKid and make sure that I’m not opening any time slots that are at the time of my set hours with Whales English. All classes with GoGoKid are 25-minutes long. However, Whales English classes can be either 25 or 50-minutes long. 

If you’re wondering what the GoGoKid platform looks like, here is a slide from a Level 2 class with a 7-year-old student. Above the slide, there is a toolbar for the teacher to use during the lesson. It includes a pencil to draw, text box, eraser, and whiteboard. Students can also draw or click on the slides. 

The goal of this slide is to introduce the phrase “dress up” and have the student read the sentence. Instead of asking the student to just read the sentence, I prefer to first ask them to describe the picture to me. This is a great way to activate the students’ prior knowledge and see what they already know before they even read the sentence. We also want to encourage students to use what they do know to answer what they don’t know. If the content seems too easy for the student, a great way to extend it is to ask them questions. I may ask them about what they like to dress up as for Halloween, that way we are still using the target phrase “dress up.” We can assess the student’s vocabulary by asking if they know what holiday people dress up as vampires for, to elicit the word Halloween. This is also a great opportunity to get to know our students and make the lesson more engaging. We can ask them personal questions about the topic and discuss what they like to do on Halloween or if Halloween is their favorite holiday, 

The slide below is from a K2 Level class with a 4-year-old student. When you click the slide, an animation is triggered and this sentence appears. The goal here is to introduce the sentence pattern to the student. I first asked my student what he sees in the picture to activate prior knowledge and practice his speaking skills. Although our goal is to say the sentence on the slide, we may also extend the material and ask questions to help young students start to grow their critical thinking skills. Depending on the student’s level, a good way to extend this slide is to ask the student questions about the character’s eyes. You can also try to ask the student how many eyes they have and practice saying “I have two eyes.” 

For GoGoKid and Whales English, there are two types of classes: Trial classes and Core classes. Trial classes are for first-time students who are interested in possibly signing up for classes. Since Trial classes are the students’ first impression of the company, it’s imperative for the teacher to be well prepared for the lesson. Your goal is to give the student a 5-star experience and leave them wanting to take more lessons with the company. I find that Whales English provides very helpful training and resources for new teachers to succeed with their Trial Classes. Your trial student may become one of your regular students if the parent decides to book you again. Another reason why you want to try your best to leave a good impression on the students and their parents is because you can receive a bonus for each trial student that signs up. If a trial student signs up for the platform after taking your class, you will receive an extra $5 per student. 

Below is a sample slide from a Whales English trial class with a 9-year-old student. The lesson is 50-minutes long and divided into 6 parts: pre-learning, phonics/HFW (high-frequency words), vocabulary, reading, oral writing, and a reward slide. It’s really important to be well-prepared for the lesson, have a positive attitude, and deliver the lesson effectively within the allotted time. Keep in mind, the trial class is the very first course students take at Whales English. Trial classes are a great way for prospective students to experience what the curriculum of Whales English is like. There are four different levels of trial classes available to prospective students. The picture below is taken from a Trial B class. This slide is the final page of a short story we read about children at a water camp. The goal is to guide students to answer the questions on each slide and then apply the knowledge they just learned about objects that can float or sink. There are typically two students in the classroom at a time, but in this instance, only one student was assigned. 

If you’d like to learn more about teaching online for VIPKid, GoGoKid, or Whales English, please feel free to contact me.  I would be happy to be your referral if you decide to apply for either of these platforms. These companies enjoy recruiting prospective teachers that have been referred by current teachers. I assist all of my referrals with the application and interview process and can answer any questions you may have throughout the process. Teaching online with either of these companies is a great opportunity for TEFL-certified teachers. I’ve been able to live and travel throughout Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and now England thanks to my online teaching gigs. For those looking for a way to work from home or a chance to travel while teaching online, I highly recommend you apply for one (or all!) of these online ESL companies. 

You can apply right now using the links below. Good luck and Happy Teaching! 

VIPKid referral code:

GoGoKid referral code:

Whales English referral code:

Written by: Christine Jacob