Friday, March 18, 2016

My New Job: Teaching English Online

About a month back I mentioned that I started making some extra money using the NiceTalk app. Well, the Chinese Winter holiday ended and I stopped getting phone calls from students. I was so bummed! I would be online for several hours and not get a single phone call through this app. Luckily, there is another app that I found that's even better than NiceTalk!

It's called Palfish. And let me tell you why it's way better!

1. I can set my own rates for my students.
You have two rates with this app (with NiceTalk you had one flat rate-$10/hour), your trial rate and then your regular rate. Your trial rate is for the the student's first time talking to you. I set the trial rate lower than the regular rate because I want to attract more students. I set my regular rate high. For students who aren't serious about English or who want to mess with me, I do not give them a discount on my rate so they will not want to call me back again because they will get charged more. I can potentially make more money with Palfish than with NiceTalk because I can set my own rate.

2. I can give my students a discount on my regular rate.
For students that I enjoy talking too or that I know want to keep calling me back, I give them a discount on my regular rate. My regular rate is higher than average to ward off creepy people from calling again or if they do call again they have to pay a lot for wasting my time. Even with the discounted lower rate, I am making about $10-12 an hour. I want to have lots of students wanting to  call me back so I can make more money!

3. I get more calls.
Palfish is a Chinese based app, but it is open to other countries. More students on the app means more calls for the teachers. So far I've had people call from China, England, Egypt, and Turkey. Most of my calls still come from China though. I am able to get about 10 hours a week. This is great considering that China is awake when I am asleep and I'm awake when they are sleeping! I could probably get more if I put in more hours at my night time, when it is their daytime.

4. I have the option to video chat or just have a voice call.
I love, love this option. With NiceTalk, you only have the ability to do video calls. I had to make sure I'm wearing appropriate clothes (not pjs) and make sure my hair is combed, but not with Palfish. I can wake up, grab some coffee and go online. Chinese people are usually to shy to open up the video chat. Out of the 15+ hours I've worked on Palfish, I've only had one student who asked me to do video chat and that was because he was having a hard time with the "th" sound and his tongue placement. We practiced the tongue placement and he returned back to the voice call.

5. I don't get many creepy calls.
Oh my goodness, my last NiceTalk call was the worst one in history. It was very inappropriate and disgusting. I reported the person to NiceTalk and I have not heard back from them (it's been 2 weeks now since the incident). I don't have the option of blocking this person's call in the future and NiceTalk does not verify the phone number used, so the user can create another username and do it to me again. For me, Palfish has been a safer app with less creeps because they verify the phone number and you can't create a bunch of usernames.

6. Palfish responds faster to issues.
If there is an issue, Palfish responds within a day or two. China is ahead of United States by 12-15 hours depending on the time zone you live in, so it may take them a day to respond to questions or problems. But at least they respond. NiceTalk does a terrible job at this!

7. This app is better quality and isn't as buggy.
It loads faster and has less bug issues than NiceTalk. Forget about submitting a bug report to NiceTalk because they won't fix it and they won't respond to it. Palfish is a way nicer app than NiceTalk.

8. You can schedule sessions with students.
If you don't have time to sit and wait for phone calls, you can set up available times that you can talk. If a student schedules a time with you, you must be present to answer the phone call. You can get charged a fee if you are not available. The fee that you will get charged will get deposited into the student's account. And same goes for the student. If the student takes one of your time slots and doesn't call you, they will be charged a small fee and it will be deposited into your account.

9. You don't need a minimum amount to have your money deposited into your paypal account.
This is a nice benefit. NiceTalk has a minimum of $20 in order for you to get your money the following Monday. And since I haven't been getting any calls, I can't get my $2 out that I earned :(.

10. Your messages to your students stay in your inbox. And you have followers.
I love following up with my students. That's what makes a great teacher, right? If you sign out with NiceTalk, all of your messages instantly get deleted. I had built up a great student base, but now it's all gone. Not with Palfish! You can have followers who are interested in you being their teacher. Being able to see the students who have followed me gives me the opportunity to message them when I am not getting many calls.


Here are some Cons:

1. You still have to wait for students to call you.
You can't call students and you can't see when students are online. I like to message them when I am not getting calls to help build more of a relationship so they will want to call me.

2. You only get paid once a month.
Yes, you have to wait once a month to get the money deposited to your paypal account. This is the one advantage that NiceTalk has over Palfish. But on the plus side, there isn't a minimum amount that you have to make in order for it to get deposited like NiceTalk ($20 or more).

3. You can make less starting out.
You want to have more hours of experience

4. You set your rate by Chinese Yuan (CNY).
If you're not familiar with the CNY, then click here for a conversion.

5. The most popular time for people to use Palfish is between 7pm and 11pm in China, which is about 5am and 9 am in America.
If you are an early bird then this is a great way to make some extra money before work.



How to teach your students English, if you've never taught English before:

1. If they're having trouble pronouncing a certain sound, do a quick google search on tongue twisters with that letter or letter combinations. They can practice with you or in front of the mirror at a later time.

2. Have some base questions to start the conversation off with. You want to get your student to practice their spoken English. You can get them talking with some of these questions:
What is your name?
Are you a student or do you have a job?
What city do you live in?
How many people live in your city?
What is your city famous for?
Do you have siblings?
What are your parents like?
What is your degree?
How long have you been speaking English?
Why do you want to speak English?
What are your hobbies or what do you like to do during your free time?
What is grocery shopping like in your country?
What movies or shows do you like to watch?
What is your favorite music?
Do you have a pet?
Do you want a pet? If so, what kind?
What kind of food do you like?
Can you cook?
What is your daily schedule like?

3. After you have them talking, write down or remember some pronunciations that they need to work on. Most Chinese students have trouble with the "th" sound. It always sounds like an s or a z.

4. Encourage your student. They need to hear that they are doing great speaking a certain phrase or letter combination. Find something that they have exceed at during your talk and praise them for it. They will most likely want you to be their teacher again if you are positive towards them.

5. Be patient. They might stutter their way through a sentence, especially if they are beginners. It's hard to think in a new language and their vocabulary might take longer to come out than us native speakers.

6. Be willing to open up about your personal life. Foreigners love to talk to Americans. They want to know what we do in our spare time, what we eat, watch, and how we hang out with our friends. If they ask a personal question don't get easily offended they just want to know more about you and Americans. Also keep in mind that certain countries do not have as many rights as we do in America. They may want to know about your religion or political views or how you vote.

7. If you've never taught English before, set your rate a little lower until you have at least an hour or two teaching experience through the app. You can increase your rate as you gain more experience.

8. Make sure you fill out the introduction part of the app. Before students call you, they want to know a little about you. I put all of the states that I lived in, my interests, my previous and past jobs, my family, and my hobbies. If a student shares a similar interest they are more likely to call you.

9. Speak slow and clear. Try not to use as many contractions. If using puns, slang words or idioms, type them out and explain them. Foreigners have a hard time understanding those because it may not translate well in their native tongue, but still try to explain it. Some students want to learn to understand American humor.

10. With Palfish, you can message students that follow you. If you are not getting many calls reach out to the students are interested in you.  I like to message them "thank you for following me. I hope to talk with you soon!". I will also message them "happy _____", fill in whatever American or Chinese holiday it is. Making the first contact might be the ice breaker that the shy student needs to be able to talk to you.

11. Some students are too shy or ashamed of their spoken English. Speaking a new language takes a lot of confidence. Remember back in speech class and you had to give your first speech to the whole class? If not, I do. I was scared out of my mind. I knew how to speak, but speaking in front of strangers or my peers made me cringe. I kept thinking that they were judging every word I was saying. Foreigners will be harder on themselves about speaking English than you will towards them. Help build up their confidence and reassure them that they are doing a great job. Their hard work will pay off eventually.

12. Know your culture. Students want to know why and how we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Be comfortable enough to share what your family does and how you celebrate the holidays. Also know about America. Know famous landmarks like Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Statue of Liberty, Hollywood and Disney World. Some students are preparing to travel to the United States and they want to know some great places to visit. Share with them your travels and how many states you've visited.

13. Print some of these worksheets to help guide your talk with your student.

14. Be willing to learn about a new culture. You want your student to practice their spoken English. Get them talking by asking them what holidays they celebrate, how do they celebrate birthdays, and if they have any strange customs or sayings in their native tongue. It will be a great culture lesson for you!


Palfish has been a great way for me to earn some extra money. In my opinion, it is way better than NiceTalk. In the last 2 weeks, I've gotten over 20 hours of calls and have made over $180. I enjoy helping others learn English and getting paid to do it!


If you want to sign up, please use my referral!

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