Supplement your income via conversational English
Work from the comfort of home or travel and teach by applying to PalFish and Cambly. Once hired you can send others your referral links and earn a commission (see ‘Pay’ section below).
A wealth of companies have entered the online ESL industry, yet many of these offer similar models. Specifically, they expect teachers to follow set schedules which reduces the flexibility of working hours. PalFish and Cambly are unlike other platforms, enabling teachers to arrange their own remote working schedules. Further, both provide opportunity to form conversations and friendships, and learn about different cultures, whilst simultaneously earning income. The majority of classes don’t involve preparation, therefore the platforms are more conducive to a healthy work-life balance.
Format and Background to Classes and Calls
PalFish free talk enables teachers to apply their own pay rate (per call in minutes) and teach from their smartphone. Free talk conversations don’t need to be pre-booked, teachers just switch their status to online. Consequently, calls can occur whenever the teacher and potential student prefer. You are encouraged to be flexible in opening up time slots and signing in to increase bookings. Read more on flexible scheduling in PalFish Free Talk – A specific type of English Teaching. Additionally, you can become an Official Kids Course (OKC) teacher so you agree to a greater level of timetabling. However, the course material is provided so there is little planning involved. Note, students are mainly from China, with the exception of several countries nearby, and are of a wide range of ages.
Cambly is used by English learners globally with prominence given to casual conversation and flexibility, 24/7. Because Cambly is primarily used by adults, the ability to have more meaningful discussions is tempting for prospective teachers. You can log-in at any time to manage your hours and schedule which are based on teacher demand (excepting reservations, see below). Like PalFish free talk, teachers can chat with students whenever they choose, as much or as little as they want. Additionally, for those who prefer to teach children, there is Cambly Kids which is much like the PalFish OKC. Note, students are primarily from the Middle-East yet there are students from Brazil, Colombia, South Korea, China, Japan, Turkey and others.
Ideas and questions for discussion topics
There are many enjoyable subjects you can talk about, dependent on student ability. These could range from small talk to grammar practice and homework assistance to preparing English Qualification Tests. Though the latter may involve some research for basic knowledge on the testing format. Moreover, some students prepare a discussion topic yet others want casual conversation, so being adaptable is important. Certainly, maintaining conversation is fundamental for free talk and in order to stimulate students you could use the following.
- What would you like to practice today? Why do you want to practice speaking English? Where and when do you speak English?
- Chat about travel, food, sport, study and hobbies. Tell me about your favourite meal. Describe the ingredients, how you prepare it and how it tastes.
- Discuss education, employment, family, likes and dislikes. Talk to me about your family. Can you describe each person specifically?
- Talk about your favourite movie, book, TV show. Who are the characters? Why is it your favourite?
- Describe your typical day: what do you do in the morning, afternoon and evening? Talk to me about the activities you enjoy doing at the weekend.
To conclude the class you could offer the student positive, constructive feedback on their learning and words of encouragement. Being attentive and building rapport will likely inspire a student to continue studying with you. Another way of doing this is sending the student a private message after the class. PalFish require you to do this whereas on Cambly it is optional.
Applications on Cambly are straightforward as the only preconditions are being a native English speaker and having a stable internet connection. Because of the casual nature, qualifications aren’t as important in comparison to other online teaching platforms. PalFish have clear requirements – you must be a native English speaker, have a smartphone or tablet and a stable internet connection. Unlike Cambly, you must have a teaching certification like TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. The certification is mandatory for the Official Kids Course program but not for PalFish free talk.
- Make an account on the Desktop version of Cambly or app and complete some personal details.
- Pass an internet connection test.
- Film a short video introducing yourself and upload it for verification (Wait a few days for approval).
If your video is approved then you can login and start teaching. For suggestions on video length and material to include in it, check out Teaching English Online. With a straightforward application process, without an interview, see if Cambly is suitable for you by trying it here. This is a referral link – if you refer someone and they complete 10 priority hours, you’ll also receive $20.
For the OKC teacher the process is slightly more selective, but similar to below, with the addition of a demo class. For free talk teachers the process is very much alike that of Cambly:
- 1- Make an account on the PalFish app and fill in some basic profile info
- 2- Record a 30 second intro voice clip and introduction video
- 3- Submit your application and standby for verification (usually a few days).
Cambly is an attractive option for its flexibility, however, the pay rate is $10.20 per-hour which is less than PalFish. The rate may seem modest but the platform is more conversational with little preparation time. Though Cambly do offer payment assurances for booked priority hours (1 hour blocks where you’re available) even if the student cancels. Further, Cambly has a reservations feature where teachers can acquire advance bookings and increase their hours. PalFish provide OKC teachers an opening pay rate of $16 per-hour but some teachers generate up to $20 per hour. There are bonuses for attendance and signing up students and teachers to the OKC Courses. Free talk teachers are advised to set their rate low initially before increasing this once they are more experienced.
On Cambly there are no fines for absenteeism as teachers log-in and talk with no formal agreement set. However, should a teacher miss many priority hours or reservations, they can be temporarily blocked from further bookings. On PalFish the cancellation procedure differs from OKC teacher to free talk teacher. Free talk teachers select their availability so cancellations aren’t relevant, yet OKC cancellations are treated with greater seriousness. Classes for these teachers are often arranged 6 months in advance and missing more than 6 might result in contract termination. Note, should a student miss a class booked in advance then the teacher would still receive full payment.
Concluding thoughts on these Remote Working roles
Cambly and Palfish are comparable on a range of factors and are very accommodating for remote working. In regards schedules, both are flexible but when comparing Cambly with the PalFish OKC teacher role, the former edges it. However, with salaries PalFish is more lucrative, if you’re an OKC teacher or obtain regular students if only hired for conversational practice. Both have low barriers to entry, particularly Cambly, and if you just work as a PalFish free talk, the requirements are similar. Yet, most PalFish teachers will choose both OKC and free talk roles due to the low starting rate on free talk. Above all, remote working and having the option of teaching style and were the key reasons I joined both platforms.