VIPKID: Is it a scam? Is it too good to be true?

You’ve heard about this VIPKID teaching online, and it probably is popping up on your ads. If you’re like me, you are skeptical.

Many of my friends lately have been scammed with “work at home” jobs that in the end, cost them more money than they earned. They will call it a “failed business venture” or “more work than it was worth.” With these stories in mind, I assumed that VIPKID was aiming for that same audience- people who wanted an easy job that they could do whenever they wanted, and make a disproportionately high income.

So I tip-toed into the job, not announcing it publicly until I had dispelled all my fears and concerns. I have worked as an online teacher for 1.5 years now, and can honestly explain the positive and negative aspects of this field.

Is it a scam?

The short answer is no. It is not a “get rich” scheme. There are no promises of wealth or advancement. It is also not a pyramid scheme. There is no “down line” or “building a team.” There is no initial “investment” or start up fee.

In short, you are an independent contractor, like a tutor. You do not work for VIPKID, you are a contractor that they hire for a six-month contract. Your contract is renewed every six months.

These were my biggest concerns. I did not want to spend a dime on this job until I knew it would actually make me money. So all through the interview and training process, I chose not to invest any money into gear or teaching materials. I didn’t want to be someone who dropped a lot of money on the front end, only for it to not pan out.

Is it too good to be true?

This answer is more complicated.

1. You have to do the work… or you won’t get paid.

This is not a source of “passive income.” You have to do the work to get paid. You are paid by how many classes you teach. If you don’t teach, you won’t get paid. This job is not for the lazy or unmotivated people, looking for an easy income. It requires you to teach during very early hours, and exert a lot of energy.

2. You have to plan ahead for taxes… or you’ll regret it on Tax Day.

This is something that may easily be forgotten, especially if you’ve never worked for yourself as an independent contractor. There is no one taking taxes out of your paycheck. You need to do this on your own. It may make you feel like you are making less, because you see your income before taxes are taken out. It’s up to you to do your own research about taxes and plan accordingly.

3. You get control of your schedule… mostly.

This is one of the best parts of online teaching. You can choose your availability. You open the time slots you’d like to teach, and close the ones you don’t want to teach. If you’ve been working a regular teaching or office “nine to five” style job, it feels like an immense amount of freedom.

But of course, there are some caveats.

  • It is run on Beijing time, resulting in available times that are not normal working hours in the US. The “prime hours” range between 3-9am, depending on your time zone.
  • Once you open your schedule and a Chinese parent books a class with you during that time, there are consequences if you cancel the class. Too many cancellations, and your contract will not be renewed.
  • Not every time slot that you open will be booked, especially in the first few months of teaching. You have to build up your client base.
  • Your schedule is at the whim of Chinese culture. Meaning, during seasons of holidays in China, your schedule will not be full because families are traveling and celebrating.

4. You get paid well… for an online job.

It is true that you will make around $20-25/hour. That is not exaggerated. There is some variation based on your base pay, how much you teach, and if you get bonuses. But generally, teachers are happy with their pay.

However, if you are looking to match your salary that you’ve been making at a contract public school teaching job, or office job, you will probably be disappointed. It is possible to make $40k in a year with online teaching, however, it is very difficult. You can find people who do it on YouTube. It requires a complete commitment to the job, working very unusual hours. And there is no benefit package, insurance, pension, or retirement.

What’s the summary?

Basically, online is a fantastic gig, if you know what you’re getting into. Go into with lots of research, eyes wide open, and low expectations. Consider it a hobby at first, and you’ll be happy with the outcome. If you expect it to replace your income immediately, you’ll be disappointed.

I hope this is helpful to you! It has been the perfect fit for me and my family. I’d love to help you get started if you’re interested. I went into it with no advice or support, and I wish I had met someone who was willing to answer questions. All the best!

-Laura

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Is being a pastor’s wife like… a job?

I was recently asked this question by a friend who is not a church attender. She was wondering what my role is as the pastor’s wife. In her experience, watching the church from afar, pastor’s wives didn’t work and were part of the church staff.  She assumed that pastors and their wives were hired as a couple, a “two for one” employment.

At first, I laughed it off and said something like, “Is ‘electrician’s wife’ or ‘banker’s wife’ a job?”  But we know the answer is more complicated than that.

I have been married to a pastor for 12 years and met hundreds of pastor’s wives. The answer is complicated because there is no mold for being a pastor’s wife. There’s no job description. Each woman defines her own role. There is a big variation.

Some women are “called by God.” This is a phrase used to explain a deep sense of purpose or focus. We believe that God calls women and men. Some women are pastors, whether or not their husbands are in the ministry. Some women marry pastors and “take on” the calling of their husbands. These women often are on staff at the church, sometimes are even paid separately than their husbands. Sometimes they preach. Sometimes they have credentials. Sometimes they are “co-pastors.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are pastor’s wives that are uninvolved in the ministry of their husbands. Perhaps they have their own calling to something else. Perhaps their focus is their family and kids. Perhaps they work an unrelated job. They may not have any responsibility at the church. They may volunteer as a typical church go-er.

Whatever the case, it should not be assumed that if a woman is married to a pastor, they are a “package deal.” I would advise women who are considering marrying a man called into ministry to have open and honest conversations about what their relationship and ministry roles would look like. If you are a part of a church congregation that is getting a new ministry family, please do not assume that the new pastor’s wife will fill the same role as the previous one.

To the pastor’s wives who read this, I want to encourage you! You do not have to fit a mold. You do not have to have a prescribed set of skills. You do not have to be a perfect Christian. You just have to be YOU. And you have to be honest about your role and your expectations with both your husband and your church community.

All the best!

Laura

Language Learning for Littles: Ages 3 and up!

It’s a commonly known fact that young students can pick up a new language more easily than an adult.  But how young is appropriate to start language lessons?

We have been doing an experiment with this for a few months.  My 5 year old has been learning Chinese through Lingobus, one on one language classes.  I also have a 9 year old taking lessons, so I have a comparison between the two ages.

After three months of weekly lessons, I can say with confidence that 5 years old is a great age to start.  She is excited and bold, and has less inhibitions than my older daughter.  But the younger age has its own set of issues too.  Here are some tips to help make the most of your language lessons with young kids!

Before the Lesson
1. Schedule wisely.

Don’t just pick any random time.  Think about your kid and pick times that are good for them.  We were doing evening lessons, but my daughter was getting too tired. She was yawning through the whole lesson!  So we moved them up to the morning time and it has been great!

2. Limit distractions.

Preschoolers are easily distracted.  It’s just a fact of development.  So do everything you can to limit distractions during class.  We keep the table clear, keep siblings away if possible, and don’t have music or TV on.

3. Prepare as much as possible.

If your student is not prepared, she’ll be lost and the lesson will be so much harder for her.  Doing even a few minutes of practice beforehand will make the lesson so much more effective.

 

During the Lesson

1. Sit with them.

Yes, it’s time-consuming and maybe they don’t completely need you.  But it will help.  Some families even have their student sit on the parent’s lap.  But at the very least, be in the room and be available to direct their focus back to the teacher if needed.

2. Prepare them for the technology.

Your student will need to circle and click on the screen during the lesson.  Prepare them for this, and get them comfortable.  The more they can engage in this way, the more the lesson will benefit them.  I use a trackpad (graphic tablet), and my daughter loves it.  It’s not too hard for her.  She loves drawing circles or tracing letters.  It keeps her engaged longer.

 

When it isn’t going well..

1. Be okay with them just listening.

Listening to a new language is the first step of fluency.  So if your young student’s attention span isn’t lasting 25 minutes, let it go.  It is still beneficial for the student to just sit and listen to the teacher, even if participation is weak.

2. Try a toy or prop (Only for some kids!).

Some kids would benefit from holding a prop or toy throughout the lesson.  This may help some, or distract others.  Do whatever is best for your student!

 

Those are my tips!  Do you have a young language learner?  Share your tips in the comments!

-Laura

______________________________

Hello! My name is Laura and I am a mom of 2 Lingobus students, ages 5 and 9. Watch to see how our first classes went and why we chose Lingobus Chinese classes! If you’re interested in trying a free demo class, follow this link to get started

Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom Thanks for watching! -Laura from Minnesota

 

 

 

 

My 9 year old made breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

kayla
She also made a wildflower bouquet for the table!  

Summer is here, and with that comes hours of free time for my kiddos!  One way I have tried to beat the boredom, is expecting my kids to cook WITH me for most meals.  I hate the entitled attitude of kids just waiting for dinner to just appear on the table.  So to fight that, I have included my kids in the cooking.  It teaches patience, hard work, and appreciation.  Well, that’s the goal at least!

So yesterday, I thought about challenging Kayla, my 9 year old, to cook all three meals.  I assured her that I’d help her, and that we’d cook things she liked.  And she was actually really excited about it!

So here’s what we did, followed by some lessons I learned from the experience. 

BREAKFAST: French Toast

We love breakfast food. French toast is one of our favorites.  She was excited about making and serving it to us.  She mixed the almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs with a whisk.  I taught her how to get the skillet hot, but not too hot.  I showed her how to melt some butter carefully.  And she did very well with dipping the bread, setting it on the hot skillet, flipping it, and serving it with syrup!  Well done!

LUNCH: Pizza roll-ups

For lunch, we made simple pizza roll ups. Notethat these are not the packaged “pizza rolls” that you pop in the oven and it’s done.  It’s a little more involved.  For this recipe, she did all the work:

  • Preheat oven
  • Open crescent roll package
  • Unroll crescents, lay pepperonis and cheese stick on it.
  • Roll up and lay on baking sheet
  • Melt butter, brush on crescents
  • Sprinkle with oregano, garlic powder, and parsley flakes.
  • Bake, and serve with pizza sauce for dipping

She had fun assembling these. They are a lunch favorite in our house, so she was proud of making something that everyone enjoys!

DINNER: Lasagna

Yes, I know, we picked a pretty involved dish for dinner.  But we wanted to do something that she really enjoyed eating.  She did all the measuring, mixing the cheese mixture, and layering the meal, noodles, and cheese.  She involved her sister and friend, and they all took turns putting a layer of the lasagna into the dish.  The only thing she really needed help with was putting it into the over, because it was really heavy.

Things I learned from this experience:
-I have to let go of fear.  Ovens and stoves are hot.  Knives are sharp.  There is always a possibility that she will hurt herself.  It’s a risk we HAVE to take, or no learning will happen!

-I have to let go of perfection.  I’m really not a perfectionist, but I do have my own ways of doing things.  When you let someone else cook in your kitchen, things will be different than normal, and that’s okay!

-I have to let go of cleanliness… for a short while. My kitchen was a disaster.  We couldn’t keep up with all the dishes, they were everywhere.  But I kept telling myself that it was worth it.

-I have to let go of my own preferences.  I probably would not have chosen these meals, especially all in one day.  They are all pretty unhealthy and heavy.  But again, the pros outweighed the cons, and I let her choose.

Happy cooking!

-Laura

VIPKID and online teaching: hobby, side hustle, or full time job?

I have been an online teacher for a year and a half now, and it started for me on a whim, as a hobby.  I loved the new challenge, the variety of students and lessons, and the new format.  As I got more students, and a reliable schedule full of regular kids, I realized that this was becoming a solid side hustle for me.  I was still teaching full time, and just adding a few more classes in the mornings.  Then, I made the brave jump and decided to make this my sole income source.  I opened up my schedule and it filled.  I was never full time (my max was about 5 hours per day, not 7 or 8), but it was matching my full-time income at the daycare that I had worked at previously.

Along with the jump to focusing solely on VIPKID, came a mindset shift for me.  I became much more invested in the company, and the lifestyle of a VIPKID teacher. I began following YouTubers and Instagrammers, and started my own channel and profile.  I helped more teachers get hired.  I watched workshops and got every certification that I could possibly get.  I added Gogokid to diversify.  I was fully immersed in this online teacher life.

Now, I’m 1.5 years into this, and it is the first week of summer here in Minnesota.  My kids are home from school, our schedule is changing. I’ve decided to back off of my teaching schedule and slow my involvement in the online community.  I need to focus on my family more for the summer.  And that is the beauty of this job: it can be whatever you need it to be.  Thanks to my husband’s seasonal income, I can make my job more of a side hustle hobby rather than a solid source of family income.

So my plan for the summer is to get up early and teach, but less hours, before my kids wake up.  Then, when they get up, I’ll close my laptop, and choose to disengage from the online community for a few months.  I’ll be less active on social media, I’ll do less workshops, I’ll refer less teachers.  However, it will be there when I am ready to return in the fall.  There is no shortage of students in China needing a teacher!

I’m so grateful for this job that can be “what I need it to be” in this season. I’m so grateful for flexibility.  And I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be with my kids, at home, focusing on them in their childhood years.  I know I’ll never get this time back.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear in the comments where you land on the continuum of online teachers.  Is it a hobby or a full time job or somewhere in between for YOU?

-Laura

__________________________

Hello! My name is Laura and I teach online for VIPKID and Gogokid, teaching English to Chinese students!

 

I make videos here to connect with other teachers and applicants.

GOGOKID referral code: X73CTGPA

VIPKID referral link

VIPKID referral code: 05IOD5

Email: laura.risdall@gmail.com Instagram: vipkidteachermom

VIPKID/Parenting Blog: http://www.laurarisdall.wordpress.com

Feedback Panda Referral: https://www.feedbackpanda.com/?_teacher_ref=1k0QBN

Lingobus Referral: https://www.lingobus.com/?referralCode=PAR49P

Lingobus Chinese Classes: Two month update!

 

Wow, we have been doing Lingobus for two months already!  It has gone by fast!  We are so happy with the progress that both girls have made.  Here is an update of what they’ve learned and how they’re enjoying it!

They have learned:

  • Greetings (hello/goodbye/introductions)
  • Numbers to 10 (counting/adding)
  • Paper/Rock/Scissors Game
  • Family words (mom, dad, sister, brother)
  • Food words (rice, noodles)
  • Sentence frames (I have_____, I eat_____)

Beyond that, they have learned a few other phrases and words from watching Lingobus’ YouTube videos and online books.  Isn’t amazing how much they can learn!  This has been only 8 lessons, with only 25 minutes per lesson! Wow!

I’ve been very impressed with the pacing of the lessons. They don’t go too quickly and frustrate the girls with too much information, but they also don’t go too slowly and bore them.  It’s a great balance.

Also, the way they teach sets the girls up for success.  For example, they learn a word (coin), then a sentence (I have a coin), then a way to change the sentence (I don’t have a coin).  It’s very progressive, so they feel successful before moving on to the next thing.  It all builds on each other slowly and carefully, so they really understand what they’re saying and how to pronounce it perfectly.  They correct them kindly and patiently.

I’ve realized that these lessons require some practice between lessons, in order for my girls to feel really successful.  We need to review during the week, or they forget.  It takes a lot of practice to learn a new language.  One way we are practicing is our flashcard notebook.  Instead of using loose cards that could get lost, we created flashcards in a notebook.  There are online flashcards, which we used to create our paper flashcards.  Both are great ways to practice.  The video above shows how we are practicing.

Overall, I’m really impressed with how much my girls are learning.  Beyond the actual language acquisition, I feel like they are developing other skills too.  They are becoming braver at trying new things.  At first, Kayla was so shy and hesitant.  Every word was whispered.  Now, she is much more confident.  When people asked her to speak, she would refuse.  But now, she likes to show off some of her phrases.  It has been such a fun experience!

As always, if you’re interested in trying this, Lingobus offers a free (no strings attached) demo class.  Head over to Lingobus to give it a try!  I hope your child enjoys it as much as mine has!

-Laura from Minnesota

How the parent can help your Lingobus student BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER your class!

We are about two months into our weekly Lingobus Chinese classes!  We are really enjoying the process, and I’m impressed at how quickly my kids are gaining confidence with this new language.
Parents play an important role in this process.  I have been taking notes about how parents can help their students before, during, and after the classes. Hopefully this can help some families get the most out of their Lingobus experience!  Here are my tips:
Before the class:
1. Schedule wisely.
You know your family’s schedule and when a class would best fit into your days.  We chose different times for both of my girls, depending on when they are best ready to learn.  Consider your other activities and also your child’s bedtime.  We scheduled one of our classes too late last week, and Kayla was yawning the whole time.  Put some thought into it and write it on whatever calendar you use to stay organized.  Do your best to never miss a class!
2. Get your technology and gear organized.
You really don’t need much to be successful at this process, just a computer or ipad.  We use my laptop.  We do have headphones, but the girls don’t use them every time.  It’s good to show the kids how to use the mouse and how to write on the screen because many kids aren’t used to using a mouse since so much technology is touch-screen now.
3. Watch the preparatory materials (video/flashcards/online library).
Your level of preparation really makes a difference in how successful the class goes.  Our best classes have been when we took the time to watch the video, read some books, and do the flashcards beforehand.  Our worst classes were the ones where the girls felt unprepared.  It doesn’t take much time at all!  Even 10 minutes helps a lot.
Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 6.26.04 PM.png
Click on the purple “preview” tab and you’ll find the preparatory materials.
During
1. Assist with entering the classroom.
Sometimes students need help getting into the classroom.  This is also a good time to check the lighting and the angle of the camera.  Also, make sure your child can write on the screen.
2. Support during any technology issues.
We have yet to have a single technology problem during our classes.  But if something happens, your child can become worried or anxious.  So stay nearby in case they need help.
3. Don’t speak for your child.
This was hard for me because I found myself wanting to encourage my daughter, but was often just giving her the answers.  Do your best to stay involved, but don’t speak with them.  Let the teacher guide them.  You want them to be taught by a native speaker, so don’t get in the way.  You can always sit next to them and learn too!
After
1. Leave a comment for the teacher.
This is really important to build the teacher/parent relationship.  Tell your teacher what the child enjoyed and what was difficult.  Ask any questions that you don’t understand.  It’s a great way to work together for the success of the child.
2. Read the teacher’s comments.
The teacher will also write feedback for your student.  They will be available on the portal, and they also send it in an email.  Listen to what the teacher wrote, and if they suggested practice, take time to work on those words.
3. Do the follow up practice on the website.
There are so many ways to practice between classes.  You can review your words, read books from the online library, and do flashcards.  We try to get on the website at least a couple times during the week, to keep the words and phrases fresh in our memories.
If you’re considering starting Chinese, or any new language classes, with your kids, please leave me a comment!  I’d love to answer any questions!  It really has become a special part of our week, where we connect around learning this new skill.  Our whole family, even Dad, is interested!  Friends and family have begun asking the kids what they’re learning when we get together.  They are gaining confidence.  It is really fun to watch!  I recommend giving it a try- the first trial class is free!
Laura

Our First Lingobus Classes! {Online Chinese Lessons!}

 

My girls have just started taking Chinese lessons with Lingobus an online program where my kids meet a native Chinese speaker in an “online classroom,” like Skype.  It has been such a fun experience for us!

We were exposed to this program through my job as an online English teacher.  It’s basically the same job that I have, only now my kids are the students and we are learning Chinese.  We heard that there was a no-commitment free trial class that they could take.  We signed up, scheduled our trial class, and really enjoyed the experience.  The teacher totally put my daughter at ease, even though they had a complete language barrier.  Kayla, my daughter, speaks no Chinese, and the teacher spoke no English.  It’s amazing that despite the language barrier, communication flowed!  The teacher used actions, examples, facial expressions, and body language to convey the words and phrases.  It was amazing to watch.

So we signed up!  We decided that it was worth it for our family.  It amounts to about the same as a sports fee in our town, and we wanted our kids to be well-rounded and try sports, music, and language.  Here are some questions I’ve gotten recently about it.  I also answered these in the video above, if you prefer watching to reading.

Why did we choose to do language lessons?

We want our kids to learn a 2nd language. We all have heard of the benefits of being bilingual, but most of us don’t even tip toe into language learning until middle school.  By then, it’s overwhelming and stressful.  I wanted my kids to be comfortable with other languages.  I also watched some powerful Ted Talks about the subject.  I’ll link them below.  There is a lot of research that shows that kids who learn a second language benefit in many ways, positively affecting all of their studies and academics.

Why Chinese?

1. Friends who speak Chinese.

We live in a small town, where there is not much diversity of culture or language.  However, we happen to have several Chinese friends who are here either by adoption or immigration.  It provides a perfect chance to practice with a native speaker, building bonds of friendship.

2. Chinese club here in our city.

Despite our lack of diversity, we have a thriving Chinese club here in our small town.  They meet in the middle and high school, and take an annual trip to China!  I think it would be a fun benefit if my daughter is already exposed to the language, in case she’d ever want to join the club or annual trip.

3. I am learning Chinese, and it’s a family project.

My kids are stuck with a mom who is fascinated by languages.  I have always loved traveling, different cultures, and languages.  In recent years, I’ve become an English teacher to Chinese students, so I have a greater interest in this language.  With both of my girls and myself learning together, we can all benefit each other and learn from each other.  It’s becoming a normal part of our day to practice our new words and phrases with each other.

How did we choose Lingobus?

1. Great teachers, who are highly qualified.

It was important to me that the company have a good reputation.  It’s already a bit foreign, the whole concept of meeting in an online classroom with a teacher across the world, so I wanted to make sure it was reputable and trustworthy.  Lingobus has a high expectation of their teachers, and hundreds of good reviews from parents.  You can read some of their reviews on Facebook here. 

2. Easy to use website.

The website is easy to use and has great features to enhance learning.  Scheduling is simple.  You see a calendar with available times and schedule your class.  Then you can import the appointment directly into your google calendar.  It’s also easy to review a teacher, find materials, and cancel a class if necessary.

3. Included learning materials and resources.

This is not just a Chinese lesson.  There are pre-class materials, and review materials, assessments, and projects.  There are online flashcards, pre-class vocabulary videos, books to read in Chinese, homework assignments every few lessons, downloadable study guides and practice pages, and YouTube videos with extra content.  I’m impressed.  We love doing the pre-class videos especially because it gives my daughters the confidence they need before going into the lesson.  They really set the kids up for success.  It’s hard to fail!  And we’re realizing that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  You can do JUST the classes and still learn a lot, but if you do some of the extras, it’ll be even more beneficial.

Our plan and schedule

We will take one class per week, usually on Mondays.  I schedule conveniently around my baby’s nap schedule so I can help my preschooler during the day.  Then my 9 year old does the class right before bed, after the little ones go to bed. We are finding a good rhythm for our family.  It’s important to think through those details, and make it a routine in your week, so that it does not add stress to the schedule.  I love that we don’t have to drive anywhere or have a teacher come to our house.  It is so convenient to meet online.

So wish us luck and we will keep you updated!  “Zai jian” and “sie sie” (Good bye and thank you) for reading!

If you’re ready to try a free demo lesson and start your Chinese learning journey, you can follow this link to get started!

-Laura from Minnesota, USA

Kids Club Spanish: Online Spanish classes for your kids!

I’ve always wanted my kids to learn a language and be comfortable speaking with people from different cultures.  I remember the shock of being in an immersion-style Spanish class in middle school.  My teacher didn’t speak a WORD of English, and I was super overwhelmed.  Since then, I have learned a lot of Spanish, and have dabbled in learning Chinese!

I wanted my daughter to have the chance to try a language.  So I researched online Spanish classes, and after a bit of looking around, decided on Kids Club Spanish!  Here’s a video with a bit of an introduction to the program, cost information, and some class footage!

 

We’ve taken about 10 classes so far, and love it.  My daughter has grown in confidence so much!  I feel like it is worth the investment.  They also recently added the feature that you can playback any previous classes, and re-learn what was taught!  Here’s how to do that:

 

If you’re interested, just check it out! Go to the website: http://www.kidsclubpanishschool.com  and use the referral code: 338-LARI-6727.   To use the code, write an email with the referral code to hola@kidsclubspanishschool.com when purchasing or leave the code in the description in your child’s profile.

Happy learning!

-Laura

#kidsclubspanishschool #onlineteaching #onlinelanguage #spanish #spanishclasses