Hi. I am an experienced actual teacher and highly respected in my field. I am ESL certified and have many other certifications, as well. I have taught ESL students for fourteen years. I have taught in several different school districts, and have taught elementary as well as secondary students.
I applied to VIPKID because my husband has been unwell and I am staying home to care for him at the moment. My initial interview was good. My first Mock class was good. My second Mock was also good. At least I thought my second class was good. No, I KNOW it was. I am an excellent teacher, and that isn't bragging. That is the result of a sound education and many years of experience.
Now for the problem. I was told I was doing well by the "teacher" evaluating me. One problem I have is that MANY of the "teachers" are not, in fact, teachers. This company seems to want inexperienced people with almost no knowledge of phonics, good teaching practices, or any ESL teaching methods.
After the interview, I was asked what salary I wanted.
I responded, "What is your top salary?"
I was told "Twenty dollars an hour plus incentives." Great!
Naturally, I said, "I would like twenty dollars an hour."
The lady doing the interview said, "I give you twenty dollar because you are experience." Hmmm...this is a person judging me on my ability to teach English?
My first mock class went well. The man pretending to be a child had a heavy beard and mustache and encouraged me to show my mouth while enunciating clearly. I suppose pointing to my mouth and getting closer to the camera to show my mouth wasn't good enough. I couldn't even see his mouth moving. The amazing amount of facial hair prevented that. (It truly was an impressive amount of facial hair. He was definitely committed to having a Grizzly Adams beard.) That alone isn't very effective when teaching any ESL student to be able to say letters and words.
I was emailed my feedback. All of the feedback was very good. The "rubric" scores were perfect. I was told to book the Mock 2 class. At this point, I began to feel....overqualified. I know good teaching practices. Those practices span all cultures and languages. The forced TPR was ridiculous. I watched many Youtube videos of "successful" VIPKID teachers. The strange motions used made little to no sense. Yes, pointing to one's mouth is common. Juggling of the hands up and down with a facial expression showing confusion does not indicate, "what" or "where". It is indicative of someone who does not know what they are doing. Perhaps that is their plan. Hire inexperienced people whose sole experience is that they have a toddler at home, and you can mold them to your desires.
ESL is so very much more than that. One should really have some knowledge of how the native language of the student translates into English. Does the language even have pronouns? What is the verb structure? Does the student know the difference between vowels and consonants? Furthermore, are all of the "teachers" knowledgeable about common ESL terms and teaching methodology? Do they all know what a BIC and a CALP is? If not, teaching ESL should not be an option. Period.
After my Mock 2 class, I received an email claiming that there were more qualified individuals that suited their platform. I was also informed that my account was terminated. I sat with my mouth hanging open. I reflected on the two "classes" that I taught. I was given no feedback for Mock 2. What exactly was not up to their standards? I was energetic, I smiled, I was so encouraging I must have looked like a lunatic. I high fived the camera, I used the frog and lily pad reward system. I do not know any child who would be motivated by a dry erase marker tracing a line from lily pad to lily pad. Giving a smiley face a tooth would not motivate any child I have taught. These children are not self-motivated. They are being forced to learn in this manner. They have parents standing off camera, and they know they had better participate. If that is not the case, you can have students covering the camera, playing, watching television, and doing all of the things a child would normally do. They are not in a classroom environment, and this platform is not a "flipped" classroom.
This method of "teaching" is not authentic. These children are not learning a thing. With these lessons, they will not be able to carry on a conversation in English or understand a person speaking English. Sure, they may be able to remember how to say Panda. Will that help them in the real world? It absolutely will not. Their "lessons" are the worst. I would rather put the huge amount of time into creating engaging, effective lessons. I do not need to jump around and put a fake mustache on to keep children engaged. It is a skill one learns when they are being educated to be a teacher.
That being said, I did do all of those things. They expected it, so I complied. Yet, somehow, I did not pass Mock 2. Why? I do not know. No feedback was given. An abrupt email was sent to me, and even that is not a good business practice. How can a company supposedly devoted to education expect to attract and maintain good, qualified teachers in this manner? I see far too many unqualified "teachers" on Youtube telling what a great job they have with VIPKID.
If you are an actual educator, don't waste your time. Work with children you can see, assess, and modify. You cannot get an authentic read on a child's level of understanding through a webcam.
A child must have a full concept explained THOROUGHLY and practiced at LEAST three times. It usually takes far more than that. Imagine if you were to take a class in Japanese online, and the only thing you really learned was sounds. That would not be valuable or usable. You would not be able to understand the language, you wouldn't be able to write in the language, (especially when there are three different common writing methods,) and you would be wasting your time.
If you have been hired by VIPKIDS, congratulations. Do not, however, think that you are doing any real teaching. There is no gratification while teaching Chinese students in this manner. You cannot have any real rapport, which is essential to teaching. Understand that what you are doing is teaching very little, and very poorly at that.
Remember how the interviewer said I could have "twenty dollar" because I am "experience". That person has no real command of the English language, and they should if they are deciding who is best able to teach these children?
There are no benefits, and having worked with children in an after school care program is not teaching. It is babysitting. Daycare experience is useless, as well. This isn't putting together puzzles or changing diapers. It is supposed to be one of the most important things a human can have. Selling an education short is one of the problems in our society today. Teachers are professionals. You cannot pretend to be a teacher. It is a highly skilled profession. Anyone can get a job babysitting. Not everyone can be a teacher.