PalFish Hiring Process: A Step-By-Step Guide

Teaching online has been such a saving grace to me the past few months. I constantly rave about how much fun I have teaching my cute and insanely smart Chinese students.  PalFish is a well-known online teaching company based in China. They make it super easy by allowing you to teach straight from your phone, tablet, or iPad. The hours are flexible and you have the ability to teach from anywhere in the world.

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My PalFish classroom set-up!

What you need to know

  • Job requirements:
    • Have a TEFL, TESOL, or other teaching certification
    • Have experience teaching kids (preferred)
    • Native English speaker with a neutral accent from Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, or Canada
    • PalFish is also open to Filipino English teachers (separate application link)
  • The pay rate for the Official Kids Course ranges depending on your points (bonuses and how many classes you teach. You will get an extra 5 ¥ for being on-time to class. These are the pay rates per class:
    • Level 1: 50 + 5 ¥
    • Level 2: 55 + 5 ¥
    • Level 3: 60 + 5 ¥
    • Level 4: 65 + 5 ¥
    • Level 5: 70 + 5 ¥
    • (Trial classes are set at 50 + 5 ¥, regardless of your level)
  • There are two types of teachers on PalFish:
    • FreeTalk Teacher – you cannot teach Official Kids Course classes as a FreeTalk teacher. ‘FreeTalk’ is conversation based classes where students can call you and you will tutor them. These students are primarily teenagers or adults. You can set your pay rate. You do not have to be a native speaker.
    • PalFish Official Teacher – you can teach both FreeTalk and Official Kids Course classes. The Official Kids Course is the main focus on PalFish. These lessons are already prepared for you and designed for kids.
  • You will need an iOS (iPhone or iPad) or Android (phone or tablet) based device to teach.
  • Peak teaching hours Monday – Friday 6pm – 9pm, and Saturday – Sunday 9am – 9pm in Beijing time.
  • Starting April 27, 2020, new teachers will need to pass a 2-class probationary period to become an OKC teacher officially.

How to apply

Use my referral link / invitation code 79108257 when you sign up and I will be there to help you every step of the way! I will help maximize your chance at landing a job working at PalFish and answer any questions you having during the application process and getting started as a new teacher. I have already helped several people, I’d love to help you too!

When you click the link, it will ask you to enter your country code and phone number. Then you will fill out your user name, country, and invitation code: 79108257 

Next,

  • Download the PalFish teacher’s app from Google Play (Android users) or the App Store (iPhone users)
    • If you already registered before, you can still use the invitation code: 79108257 in your PalFish teacher app. To enter the invitation code after registering:
      1. Find the “Me” tab in the bottom menu
      2. Click the gear icon (settings) on the upper right
      3. Click the “Inviter – Enter invitation code” field to enter the code.

Fill out your application

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This is my profile photo for PalFish. It’s fun and clearly shows my face. A plus is that you can also see my classroom!
  • Photo – make sure it is appealing, fun, and kid-friendly
  • Teaching certificate
  • Education and work experience
  • Text intro
    • This should be at least 100 words
    • Include your name, nationality, university, teaching experience, your interests, and what you can offer
    • Use simple words, as potential students and their parents will be reading this too
    • Emojis! Emojis will make your introduction much more appealing, as people in China really love them.
  • Audio intro
    • This should be at least 30 seconds. Ideally, 40 – 60 seconds
    • Talk slowly and make sure your pronunciation is clear
    • Include your name, experience, interests, and what you can offer (basically a summarized version of the text intro)
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Feel free to use my text intro as an example!

Set up a payment method

PalFish offers payment through Payoneer (similar to PayPal) or you can link your Chinese bank account. Rumors are that PalFish is working on potentially offering a third method – paying directly into your home bank – but it’s not currently available yet.

Interview

The interview is just a short 25-minute demo lesson. You’ll be teaching to an empty classroom, so it’s very relaxed. PalFish will watch the recording of your class shortly after. Make sure to introduce yourself and your classroom. Have props related to the vocabulary words – if you can’t buy or print – draw (be creative)! Remember to use the AR filters and lots of TPR. You got this!

Before my own interview, I spent time watching other people’s interviews on YouTube. This will give you an idea to see what PalFish is looking for.

Quiz

This is just a short quiz over the handbook. It’s super easy and you just take it over again until you answer the questions correctly.

Ways To Adjust To Life Abroad

Moving to another country can be tough. The environment, food, air quality, and mannerisms can be different than what you’re used to. This is especially the case when moving from a western to an eastern country and vice versa. After 10 months of living in Vietnam, I am officially adjusted and can’t imagine my life any different. Most of it has been good, but some of it has been really dang hard. I’ve compiled a list of a few things that helped me during my adjustment period while living abroad: 

Try learning the language

Although it’s pretty easy to get by in bigger cities without knowing any of the language, knowing even a little bit can completely change your experience while there. This is especially the case in Vietnam, where a handful of the Vietnamese don’t know much English besides a few simple words or phrases. Knowing the language makes it so much easier to find more local spots and friends. It also never fails to put a smile on someone’s face when I attempt to speak to them in Vietnamese (or even a belly-laugh as they ask “are you trying to speak Vietnamese to me?” when I completely botch what I am trying to say).

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Attend as many events and classes you can

Especially in bigger expat hubs like Ho Chi Minh City, there are always events and classes going on to meet other people. Even just getting out of the house can help with the initial homesickness. There are several things you can go to such as yoga classes, live music, city clean-ups, drag queen shows, and my personal favorite: taco cook-offs! Put yourself out there and make friends both local and foreign. Foreign friends are much needed, but really what’s the point of moving abroad/traveling if not to meet locals, listen to their stories, and get to know their culture? The Vietnamese friends that I have made are some of the most generous, kind-hearted, and fun people I have met. They are always more than happy to tell me about their country and show me all of the good spots to eat and shop.

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Living a balanced life

“Everything is a balance” – isn’t this what people always say? Well, they’re right. For the first few months living abroad my life was consumed with work and that’s all I really had time for. I was constantly exhausted and my depression was creeping in. I was unhealthy mentally and physically, as I didn’t make time for my physical health, social life, and most importantly – “me time”. After evaluating what I really needed, I decided to cut back my working hours and really focus on myself. I noticed such a difference in just a few days after making this adjustment.

Practice self-care

Going along with the above, making time for yourself is so so important! Make sure to fit things into your schedule that refresh you, relieve stress, and bring joy. Every morning before work, I wake up 30 minutes early to meditate, stretch, or journal. All of these things calm my mind and make me feel energized for the rest of the day. Having a healthy lifestyle such as eating well and exercising regularly has a tremendous effect on how someone feels physically and mentally. Other good self-care activities can consist of massages, facials, creating art, reading, and much more. Find what works for you and make sure to incorporate it into your schedule whether it’s daily or weekly. 

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Research research research

I did so much research before moving overseas and I can’t stress enough how much it helped me. Any free time I had I was reading blogs, watching videos, and talking to expats about their experiences and advice. Although culture shock is inevitable, I was able to understand/empathize with the differences that maybe would have caused frustration if otherwise. I understood the currency, knew how to get around, what food to try, and simple Vietnamese phrases that I would need to know.

Give it time

It sounds so simple, but it’s actually pretty difficult to practice patience when things get rough. I’ve been in love with Vietnam since day 1, but the first few months were like a rollercoaster of emotions. I was constantly sick as my body was adjusting to the environment and pollution, exhausted from long working hours, and easily irritated at the smallest of things because I was so worn out mentally and physically. I knew I would never go home that quick, but the thought occasionally popped into my head on how easy it would be back in the States. BUT MAN am I glad that I just gave it time because all of those things have past and now I’ve never been happier.

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Although adjusting to life abroad can be hard, it’s one of the most fun and exciting things! You’re constantly being challenged and exposed to new things. I’d love to hear your stories about your big move overseas!

Until next time,

Hales

Q and A: Teaching English In Vietnam

I had jokingly typed into Google “how to teach English abroad” and thought it was the most far-fetched thing ever… Until I realized it wasn’t! If you’re even slightly thinking about teaching English, just DO IT! Making the decision to uproot your life and move overseas is scary, but what’s scarier is the regret I knew I would have for the rest of my life if I hadn’t taken the jump.

Here is a list of questions I am frequently asked about teaching English in Vietnam:

What qualifications do I need?

In order to obtain a work permit, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree (in any field) and a TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certificate. Taking a course to get your teaching certificate gives hands-on experience and makes you more attractive to potential employers. Here is the link to my blog post talking about my TEFL course experience. Although you don’t necessarily need a degree to teach English in Vietnam, you will have less job options and possibly a lower pay (you would also risk working here illegally, but that is the case for many expats who live in Vietnam).

What organization did you go through?

There are numerous organizations to choose from, but I chose International TEFL Academy (ITA). They have connections around the world and are highly respected. The first step is to call and get set up with an advisor. Your advisor will help you figure out which TEFL course to enroll in, find a job, and get ready for your big move abroad. Here is the link to ITA’s website (if you call or sign up for a course through ITA, please let them know that I referred you).

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What documents do I need for a work permit?

-Degree in any field (original document)

-TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certificate (original document)

-Background check (within the last 6 months)

-Health check (this can be done in Vietnam)

-Copies of your passport and visa, along with 2 passport photos

**Please note that your degree and background check will need to be notarized and authenticated. US citizens are able to do this at the embassy in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, but some countries are not able to do this in Vietnam. Before you come research your country specific information!

Should I find a job beforehand?

Although most places prefer in-person hires, there are some that will hire you before arriving in Vietnam. That being said, I would still highly recommend waiting until you get to Vietnam before finding a job. This will not only give you more options, but will give you the opportunity to check out the school and leadership before accepting a position.

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What type of school should I work for?

There are quite a few options when it comes to choosing a school in Vietnam. Many English teachers who come to Vietnam work at language centers. Teachers at language centers typically work in the evenings during the week and all day on the weekends (around 20-25 hours a week plus lesson planning time). The hours are like this because most language center students have school or work during the day. The typical class size is around 15-25 students. Another valid option is public schools. Teachers who work at public schools usually work week days between 7 AM – 5 PM (hours vary between these times as some periods you may not have class) and Saturday mornings. The class sizes for public schools are normally about 40 students. I personally work for a private kindergarten where full-time hours are from 8 AM – 5 PM with a 2-hour lunch/nap break from 12 – 2 PM. The ages at most kindergartens range from 18 months – 6 years old.  If you have a degree in education then you are qualified to work at an international school, which has a higher pay.

What are the start-up costs?

Start-up costs include any expenses you may have the first 2-3 months before getting a paycheck. I would recommend bringing around $1,500 – $2,000 USD to be safe. Typical expenses during this time are rent, food, transportation, and toiletries. Keep in mind that many landlords in Vietnam require a 3-month deposit (my roommates and I were able to talk our landlord into a 1-month deposit and lower monthly rent – try to negotiate). Start-up costs also will depend on the area you live and lifestyle. Living closer to the city center and spending money on more Western items will be significantly more expensive than if you lived more locally. For example, a Western meal can be around $10 while a Vietnamese meal can be less than $2.

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How is the pay compared to cost of living?

The pay for an English teacher in Vietnam all depends on the teacher’s qualifications and the school they work for. Native English speakers (citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and South Africa) with a degree and teaching certificate can make roughly $1,200 – $2,000 USD per month. This money goes a long way since Vietnam’s cost of living is so low. Most people spend around $600 – $1,000 USD per month in Vietnam. This allows one to live comfortably, travel often, and even save money. Personally, I am able to finish work at noon, go to a personal trainer twice a week, travel once a month, and have multiple spa days! In America, this would literally be impossible for me to do.

Teaching English allows you to change lives, explore other cultures, and grow as a person. It has truly been an amazing experience so far and I’d love to help others who wish to do the same! If you would like more information about living / teaching abroad, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Until next time,

Hales