The Ultimate Guide to teaching English online with Palfish

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The Ultimate Guide to teaching English online with Palfish


Teaching English online with Palfish is something I’ve been doing since the start of 2020 and I am by no means an expert. What I have found out is that every company is different and there are also a lot of tips and tricks that nobody really tells you. I wanted to create a guide to help people who are thinking of teaching online as it’s a really good way to get some extra cash and make some money while working from home. 

If you are interested in signing up, I will leave my invite code in this post and can also help you with the sign up process so feel free to message me on Instagram, Twitter or through my Facebook page and I’ll be able to help you out!

If you’re interested in teaching with Palfish, download the app and if I’ve helped you in any way, please use my invite code which is 67860497.

I teach online with the company Palfish and I signed up to get my TEFL certificate with The TEFL academy, which is popular in the UK but the purpose of this guide, I thought it best to start at the beginning. 


What is a TEFL/TESOL/ TESL? 

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, so essentially an English language teacher. Anyone can apply to get a TEFL certificate but there are restrictions when it comes to who or where you can teach. Some companies ask for a certain teaching certificate or one that has a certain amount of hours on it. This means how many hours of teacher training you received to get that certificate. TESL means Teaching English as a Second Language, again means teaching English to non-native speakers, it’s used more in English speaking countries such as Australia, UK, Canada and the US as it’s aimed at people who are already in those countries who want to learn English. TESOL means, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and again, it means very similar things but as it is a newer course, you may encounter some difficulty when applying for teaching jobs as some people want to hear that you have a TEFL specifically.

Want to sign up to learn with the TEFL course I did? It’s currently 60% off until Tuesday 14th April 2020! Click here to sign up.

What hours should I look for in a TEFL course?

A lot of places, both online and schools around the world will only accept your application if you have a TEFL that is 120 hours or longer. This is because they want to ensure they have the best teachers. My course was 168 hours and included both online training and a weekend of in person teaching.

The Ultimate Guide to teaching English online with Palfish

How to get a TEFL certificate so I can teach English online?

I did my TEFL certificate with The TEFL academy, I took a 168 hour course where I studied online and also took a weekend of teaching training classes. I loved my course and cannot recommend it enough, I actually extended it as I went abroad for four months and had a gap but it was really easy to do. If you are really focused and can dedicate a lot of time to it I’d say you could probably complete the 168 hour course in two months. There were three assignments that I had to complete as part of my course and they can take up to two weeks to get back as they are assessed to see if you can pass the course. You also have to complete assignment 1 before you can move on to assignment 2 etc so this does slow the process down. The TEFL academy is a really known website to do your course with and I feel equipped to teach English both online and in a school abroad now. There are always different offers running and there are also a lot of TEFL courses out there, but be warned with a TEFL course, you really do get what you pay for. I know people who have done a free course and at the end felt like they haven’t actually learnt anything. If in doubt, always look for reviews online, check if you’ll get a certificate number at the end and also check how many hours are on the certificate. I know a lot of schools in Asia will not accept a teacher if their TEFL certificate is under a certain amount of hours. My one from The TEFL academy is 168 hours so I am yet to find somewhere that doesn’t accept it.


Want to book on to the TEFL course I did?

As mentioned above I studied with The TEFL academy and loved my course. If you want to sign up to this course, have a look here

The Ultimate Guide to teaching English online with Palfish-2

What is Palfish?

Palfish is an online learning app which allows children and adults in China to learn English through a virtual classroom on a one-to-one. It allows you to teach English online if you are a native English speaker from UK, US or Australia. It works as a social media app in a similar way to facebook in that you can upload moments, interact with other teachers and students and also do live teachings. (I will go into all this in more detail, don’t panic!) There are two main ways to teach with Palfish, one is the Official Kids Course and this is the one I use to make money. You have to pass an interview to teach the Official Kids Course but you don’t for the other option which is Freetalk. The Freetalk option which is more of a phone call instead of a set lesson and you can choose your rate for this as well as choose what you want to talk about.


What do I need to start teaching English online with Palfish?

To teach on the Official Kids Course, you will need a TEFL certificate and to also pass an interview. The selection process looks like this below and at first all you have to do is download the app and answer the questions about yourself. You’ll then need to upload a picture of your TEFL certificate and some ID and then schedule a time for your interview. If you pass your interview you’re required to answer a quiz which is about Palfish. The answers to the quiz are all in the Palfish FAQ section and handbook. As soon as your certificate is verified and you pass your interview, you’re ready to teach. It might take a few days to get everything sorted especially when they do a big recruitment.


What are the classes like?

In the Official Kids Course, you teach a set lesson in a virtual classroom through a video call system on the Palfish app. You teach from your phone and guide the student through the class which is similar to a powerpoint but interactive. The classes last 25 minutes and you have to finish the class in that time. The classes are broken up into units and modules so it’s very easy to guide a student through and track progress as there are class reviews and even end of unit tests.


What is the money like? 

There are different levels of pay and the two different strands of Palfish work differently too so let me try and explain it. 

The official kids course wage is set and how it is set depends on what level you are at. The level is determined by how many points you have and how you get points is detailed in the screenshot below. For example, in month 1 you start at Level 1, so all your classes are paid 50Y with a 5Y bonus for not being late so 55Y for a 25 minute class. If you teach two 25 minute classes in one hour, you can work out your hourly rate to be 110Y so you transfer that into your currency. For me in the UK, I get 55Y per class, so 110Y per hour = 12.65. It doesn’t seem like a lot but as you go up the levels you start earning more. To move up a level, you need more points. You can get points for arriving on time, referring teachers, selling a course and many other things. You also get paid if you book a class and the student doesn’t turn up, it’s just not the full amount.

Palfish Freetalk is the other way to earn money and you set your rate for this with Palfish taking a %. I don’t do a lot of freetalk as I prefer to teach the OKC (official kids course).

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How do you get paid?

You get paid monthly and will receive the money between the 1st and the 7th. Everything you earn goes into a Palfish wallet on the app which you can check and see your money add up after each lesson. You get paid in Chinese Yuan and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on so you know how much you’re earning. When you sign up to the app you can sign up and create a Payoneer account to get paid in to. You can also link your UK/ European bank account if you prefer but as it’s being changed over from Chinese Yuan, you have to choose which is the best option for you. For me personally, I get paid straight into my UK bank account and haven’t been charged any fees.


What is Palfish Freetalk?

The other way to teach on Palfish is with Palfish freetalk. This is similar to other teaching apps as people can call you as soon as you are “online” and chat to you about anything they want. They can book you in for lessons as long as your schedule is open, but these are lessons that you create. For example, I have a Palfish Freetalk lesson about “Life in the UK”, so adults or teenagers can call me and ask me about life in the UK, they get to practise speaking English and I help them with anything they want to know. If you don’t pass your interview for the OKC, you can still teach on Palfish but only with the Freetalk option!

If you’re interested in teaching with Palfish, download the app and if I’ve helped you in any way, please use my invite code which is 67860497.

How to pass the Palfish interview?

This could be a whole other blog post in itself but basically remember that you have to be over the top! You are trying to teach little children their first English words. There are a few things you can do that will help you pass and I passed my interview for the first time.

Make sure you’re wearing a blue top, the Palfish “uniform” is a blue top and you can actually buy a top with the logo on once you’ve passed your interview if you prefer. 

Create a classroom set up. I actually sit on the floor and use a shelf behind me to keep all my props. To see what I use in my classroom, I’ve done a whole question on my set up below.

Practise your interview! You can actually enter the classroom before the interview and they aren’t watching you so you can click through the slides, have a look at what you’re going to say and practise with your props so you feel prepared. It also means you get to see how you’re doing with the time as sometimes it can take some getting used to, to end in exactly 25 minutes.

Also have a look on Youtube as there are some great live interviews that people have recorded and they will really help you get a sense of what the classroom is like. For my props, classroom and uniform, keep reading!


Why did I choose Palfish to teach English online?

I chose Palfish because it was really easy to get started, there is a lot of support available and when I started there were a lot of classes available. You’re teaching children in China if you’re on the Official Kids Course so as you can imagine, there are a lot of children who want to learn English. I also liked that it was very flexible with hours and the pay is good.

What does my Palfish classroom look like? 

My classroom looks quite small and it’s also portable which comes in handy if I need to move rooms. I bought an alphabet poster to make my classroom colourful and use that as part of my background. I sit in the middle of my poster with my shelf to my left which has all my props. I use a little whiteboard during my lessons and also the toy monkey and toy fish. I have extra flashcards to use in case a lesson finishes early and we want to practise some vocabulary and I also have a kids storybook but am yet to use it. Basically keep your classroom tidy, fun and bright. Some people have a few posters up or even use a sheet as a backdrop but it’s up to you. You also have to have the Palfish logo displayed so I just printed one off and stuck it into my classroom.


How does the schedule work?

The schedule can be opened on the app and you can choose who you open it too. Remember as soon as you pass your interview your schedule will be open with whatever time slots you said you could work! You can play around with the schedule and see what time works for you. As Beijing is 7 hours ahead of us, I usually open my schedule for the mornings as this is when I get most students to book me. I also found I got a lot more bookings when I opened my schedule for the same times everyday e.g. 7am-10am every day rather than a day here and there. When you’re in the app and in the schedule tab, you can click on the time slot and apply it to every day. You can also apply to every week or make it so you’re only available for teaching the OKC if you choose.

As you can see from my schedule above, I opened up all my time slots from 9am (UK) to 4pm (UK). I have them opened everyday at the moment and you can tell because it says weekly in the time slot. The sessions that are booked have the orange icon in the bottom right hand side and if they have the blue palfish logo it means that time slot is open to teach the OKC only.

What props / uniform do I use in my English lessons?

Before my interview, I actually ordered some things as I was determined to pass. I read a lot of blog posts and ended up ordering some flashcards that were really useful for me in my interview. These flashcards are still used daily as I teach trials. The top I bought is also linked below and there are a few variations on Palfish tops. The requirements are just blue top but I know people who have bought jumpers and long sleeve tops as they teach a lot and want to be in the right uniform. I also found that I bought my Palfish top and flashcard from people who are actually Palfish teachers themselves, so it’s really nice to be able to support them too.

My flashcards

The Palfish top I bought

What are Palfish Lives / the Palfish reading app?

On the app, you may see a sign for Lives and these are basically live videos, similar to Instagram where you go “Live” and can get paid. You can charge a rate for people to attend your lives or you can sit and do one for free to encourage more viewers and gain more students. Some people go Live and chat about their home, their family or some people read children’s storybooks. I’m not an expert at Lives as I’ve only done a few myself but it also puts you in front of the Palfish team a bit more so might help if bookings are slow. 

The Palfish reading app is a whole other ball game but basically it’s all in Chinese and you go into this app and “read” (record) yourself reading books in English and kids can listen to you. You can also find students this way as a lot of children sign up to the Palfish reading app who haven’t signed up to the Palfish teaching app. You can “follow” and like what students have read and it’s a really good way to market yourself within the reading app as it also links to your teacher profile in the teaching app.


Extras that I wish I knew before I started teaching English online with Palfish?

As soon as you pass you will be added to a few group chats where you can ask questions and start at the same level as a lot of new teachers. I had a mentor group but I think these are changing now. I also joined a Palfish Facebook group which is great for new teachers as you can pick up a lot of tips and tricks that are “unofficial” but extremely useful!

Want to sign up to learn with the TEFL course I did? It’s currently 60% off until Tuesday 14th April 2020! Click here to sign up.

I’m also going to be posting a Palfish FAQ post as there is quite a lot that you can learn about the app as well as the Palfish system. If you’re interested in teaching with Palfish, download the app and if I’ve helped you in any way, please use my invite code which is 67860497.

If you have any questions about your TEFL or teaching online with Palfish, let me know! If you’re interested in learning about other ways to live and work abroad have a look at my work abroad post here.

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest so click on the links to follow me on those platforms!


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The Ultimate Guide to teaching English online with Palfish-2

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Hey, I'm Gabriella

I post once a week covering topics such as solo travel, working and living abroad and also creating Gabriella’s Guides to places I have been. I cover topics under the following categories such as Planning and Packing, The Travel Diary, Travel Inspiration, Photo Diaries, Gabriella’s Guides and Working Abroad.

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