Working from home is a dream for many stay-at-home moms looking for extra income, but it can be a nightmare to sift through the scams and low-paying jobs out there. The good news is that there are plenty of decent work-from-home jobs out there if you know where to look. Palfish is a great option for moms looking to balance family with work.
If you want to jump to the Palfish reviews section and find out what teachers really think about this job, click here.
What is Palfish?
There are a lot of similar positions like this, which is why it's important to have a Palfish review to know how it's different from the other companies.
Palfish hires teachers to work with students in other countries to learn English. Unlike most other English teaching programs, Palfish uses the Freetalk app, an interactive app that connects teachers and students.
Type of side gig – Teaching English to Chinese kids and adults
Hires – Native speakers from North America, Australia and Europe
Schedule – Peak slots are 7 - 9 pm BJT but it's open 24/7
Pay – Kid's Course teachers: $22/hour plus bonuses; regular Free Talk teachers set their own rates and Palfish takes a cut, monthly payment via Payoneer
How does Palfish work?
Palfish is unique in several ways, but the most important is that you will be teaching your lessons through a mobile device.
While actual lessons are 1-on-1, Palfish offers a promotional tool that you won’t find with any other company: you can stream lessons to an unlimited amount of people. You won't be paid for these streaming sessions, but it's a great way to show off your skills and hopefully entice more students.
Unlike most other English teaching jobs, Palfish accepts non-native teachers.
Classes are available at any time of day, and you can expect to teach individuals anywhere from the age of 3 to adults. You will need to work a minimum of 10 hours a week to fulfill the requirements of this position.
How much can you make with Palfish?
Palfish is unique because they allow you to set your rate as a teacher. Your Palfish salary is dependent on how many hours you work and your hourly rate.
Most teachers charge between $10 and $18, but some choose to charge up to $20. What’s nice about the Palfish pay scale is that there are no surprises and you make what you think you’re worth, not what a company has already decided.
Palfish pays through a Chinese bank account or Payoneer.
Palfish teaching qualifications
To be a Palfish teacher, you have to have a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate. They prefer that you have previous teaching experience, but it is not a hard requirement.
Palfish has a separate kids-only program that requires you to be a native English speaker.
How do I apply for Palfish?
The Palfish application can be filled out right from the mobile app.
Once you install the app, you enter your phone number for a verification code. Once you enter the verification code, you will proceed to the application process, where you will upload a picture, choose your gender, and create a username and password. You then fill out your profile and create an intro video.
When you fill out your profile on the Palfish teacher application, it needs to have your name, nationality, college or colleges you have attended or are currently attending, previous teaching experience if applicable, and a summary of what you can do for your students.
This section needs to have a word count over 100. After that you will record a video that is more than 30 seconds, demonstrating your English proficiency and talking about your specialty. This is also a way to check your technical specifications so make sure that your video and audio are top quality.
Finally, you will go to the “My Wallet” tab and enter your payment information. Remember that Palfish only pays through Chinese bank card and Payoneer, so if you're living in North America, you should create a Payoneer account before you get to this stage.
Unfortunately, completing all these steps is not a guarantee that you will get the job; it's only the application process.
Once you've finished, Palfish will review your info and contact you with their decision. They do stress on the Palfish website not to contact them about the application and that if their decision is final, so there is no need to reapply if you are not considered for this position.
The great thing about Palfish’s platform is that it doesn’t have the strict technical requirements that working from your laptop has. All you need is a mobile device that runs either the iOS or Android operating system.
Some reports are that the programs won’t work if your device is too old, but that's a rare occurrence and Palfish will let you know quickly if there are any issues with your device.
Before you apply to any new company, it's important to find out what current employees really think of the job, if you even can!
To make that easier for you, we interviewed 9 Palfish teachers to find out how they really feel about the company, what they like, what they dislike, and how Palfish can improve.
Also, some of them offering mentoring services and can help you get hired with Palfish. Check out their stories below.
"For anyone thinking about applying, first check your time zone against Beijing. See if you can handle being awake and alert during their peak times.
I would then say, if you love working with kids and have a strong grasp of the English language, then go for it."
Hello! My name is Ashley and I’m a 32-year-old SAHM living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have a wonderful family. My husband and I have three sons ages 13, 8, and 7.
I have been with Palfish since April 2019, so I’m beginning my 5th month. It doesn't sound like much to shake a stick at; however, in that time I have racked up 425 teaching hours, which I’m pretty proud of as that translates to 850 classes taught. *flexes muscles*
On a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate my experience an 8. I look at this as two parts: the teaching experience with the students and then the company administration themselves.
Working with the kids is the most soul quenching thing I have ever done, aside from having my own children, of course. I have never loved something more. It's unlike anything.
I have cried because of these kids (happy tears of pride). I save their artwork and I remember all the little things I learn about them. They remember me, too!
Today I showed up to class with my trusty star prop that has paint chipping. So I covered it in foil star stickers to spruce it up. One of my regulars FELL OVER when he saw it. He knew right away it was different. Ha!
Now when it comes to the business side of things and communication with admin, etc. that is where the 8 comes in. The 8 may be a touch generous. There are 5 admins for 3,000 teachers. Go back and read those figures again.
So when you have a question, it’s not likely to be addressed in a timely manner. Sometimes, it is and I'm thankful each time. But for the most part they are like a grain of sand at the beach. And that is rough for all involved.
Getting hired was not difficult. I have seen some people that have had to jump through more hoops than I did, but it was pretty straight forward.
You just need to show proof of your TESOL or TEFL certification, pass a quiz on the FAQs, and fill out basic information on the app itself. You will also need to pass an "interview" of sorts, which is essentially a demo class.
They want to see you use TPR (total physical response), AR filters, props, and energy. It’s an empty classroom where you "teach" the trial lesson as if a 7-year-old student with zero base English was there.
The absolute best aspects of working for Palfish are the kids and the pay. I hate to say they are of equal value to me, but… Let's just say both are amazing in their own right.
The worst part of the job, for me, is the hours. The hours you work with Chinese children will depend entirely on your time zone, though. I am Pacific Standard so that means I am 15 hours behind them. My daily working schedule is consistently 2 am until 7 am with few other classes sprinkled about, plus my evenings.
One thing that surprised me about Palfish is the company does lives on Facebook where you can physically see the courseware developers, the staff, the headquarters, the admins, and the illustrators! You can also converse with them during the lives. Just incredible!
One thing they could improve? Hands down, they could improve the availability of their admins to teachers.
The kids are anywhere from 2 to about 15. They are bouncy balls of adorable! Some are sleepy, grumpy, hungry, like anyone could be at any given time. They are precious and try their best 90% of the time.
As for the classes, some are monotonous, but you have to remember you’re teaching a foreign language and sometimes there is only so much creativity.
But what I love is that, even in those monotonous classes, we’re given the freedom to add content. We can add personal photographs, worksheets, anything we deem appropriate and educationally sound.
Some lessons are so cute and so fun. The developers overall have done a wonderful job. The new slides are bright and colorful.
One thing people might not know about Palfish is that they need to not sit back and wait for everything to be handed to them. Once hired, dig in. Dig in with both hands. Both feet, even. You need to join the groups within the app.
Read, read, read. Study the FAQs. Prepare yourself. Learn the ins and outs. Do the work to get familiar. No one is going to come along and make sure you’re doing what’s needed. You have to hit the ground running and with the understanding that YOU are in the drivers seat. Not your mentor, not your admin.
For anyone who’s thinking about working with Palfish, I would say first check your time zone against Beijing. See if you can handle being awake and alert during their peak times.
I would then say, if you love working with kids and have a strong grasp of the English language, then go for it.
My best tip is to check out YouTube channels related to Palfish. Get to know people who do this every day and listen to what they have to say. See if it interests you!
"The absolute best aspect of working for Palfish is the flexibility. You have hands-down the most wiggle-room in terms of cancellations and closing slots. You don’t have to contact any external party, you have the app = you have the power."
Hey! Astrella here, aka Teacher Ella from Palfish!
Some of you might have seen my YouTube channel or seen my website, Path to Palfish, which aims to help new aspiring teachers get hired. I’m just a recent college graduate who LOVES her current job and lifestyle.
Getting out of college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I was gonna go. The only thing I knew was that I love to travel. The challenge was finding a job that was gonna give me the freedom and funding to do all that. This is where Palfish came in handy for me.
I’ve been with Palfish since March of this year, so that would be 5 months now.
On a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate them an 8. I love love love its flexibility and I love the actual job - teaching and working with kids is so much fun! The only thing I have to complain about is consistency.
Yes, you have regulars, but you still don’t really know how many classes you will get each week. Sometimes you have 6 trials handed to you, sometimes you have none, so it’s hard to anticipate how many bookings you will have.
It was so easy to get hired! Unlike many other companies (*cough cough* V**Kid) that require you to go out and buy a million things BEFORE even getting hired, such as headphones, a uniform, fast internet, etc., Palfish literally just requires you to have an appropriate background and a few props for the trials. PLUS they reimburse you $15 for your props after you get hired! Cool, right?
If you want some tips on the demo you'll need to complete as part of the interview, check out my video!
The absolute best aspect of working for Palfish is the flexibility. You have hands-down the most wiggle-room in terms of cancellations and closing slots. You don’t have to contact any external party, you have the app = you have the power.
Close any unbooked slot any time you want. Cancel any class before 24 hours without penalty. If you wanted to close within 24 hours, just do it through the app and you will only have to pay a small fee. No need to wait for approval from admins or anyone behind the scenes.
The worst part of the job is waking up at 2 am. Depending where you are in the world, you might have to work unconventional hours. For me, in western Canada, 2 am is 5 pm in China, so you do what you gotta do right?
Every company has its ups and downs but I love my students, I love teaching, so it’s been an overall super fun experience for me.
One thing they could improve is the communication between the admins and the teachers. They only have 6 admins and thousands of teachers with ongoing issues, and it takes too long to get a response.
My students are the best. Most of them are aged 5 to 7 and all of them are so smart! I’m constantly impressed by their level of engagement. When I was that age, I would have been too intimidated to try anything like this.
All lessons are made for you - YAY! Most of them have fun songs and games, but there are older lessons that have yet to be updated that are a bit monotonous. Oh well, you just have to push through them, they’re only 25 minutes each. It goes by super quick.
One thing people might not know about Palfish is that it’s perfect for travel. No computer, no Ethernet connection, with 293842093 mbps required. Literally, all you need is a phone (or an iPad) and strong Wi-Fi.
For anyone who’s thinking about working with Palfish, check out my YouTube videos for tips on the interview and as long as you can speak English, you’ll be fine!
And if you sign up with my referral code, I'll give you access to my free mentor program!
"One thing that surprised me about Palfish was how quickly I was able to get a full schedule and start making enough money to sustain my quality of life."
My name is Melissa, and I am from a poor family that grew up on welfare and lived in subsidized housing from HUD. I went to college to get my associate’s degree paid through scholarships and then I used another scholarship to study intensive courses for Chinese in Taiwan.
About a year after being in Taiwan I got my TEFL certificate from Bridge TEFL and I began teaching in Taiwan in 2010.
I have been with Palfish for 6 months. I joined January of 2019.
I’d say my experience is about a 9. I have not had any major issues, and the one time I got clocked late by the system due to a glitch, I was able to appeal and get the late taken off my record.
When the company had a system crash in April, they handled it super well. They removed all automatic records from teachers and paid us for all of the classes we missed due to the crash, even though that meant they lost a lot of money.
The Palfish hiring process is pretty fast, but they’re getting stricter with the standards for the interview. I feel it’s very important now to have a good recruiter who will walk you through everything and make sure you’re well prepared for the demo lesson. You only get one shot.
For me, the best aspect is being able to create a schedule around caring for my children. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I’m unable to keep a regular job as we have no one to help us care for the kids. So, being able to work from home and make a schedule that works for me is the most important thing for my family.
The worst part of the job is probably the learning curve. The app itself is complex and takes a while to understand and use to its fullest extent.
One thing that surprised me about Palfish was how quickly I was able to get a full schedule and start making enough money to sustain my quality of life.
One thing they could improve? I feel when teachers have an issue and need to contact higher-ups it can be difficult at times. So I do think they need more admin staff.
For the official kids course, the students can vary in age from 2 to 14, but younger and older are not excluded. And for the free top portion you can teach literally any age from 0 to 99. Like anywhere else in the world, there are students who are good and those who misbehave.
When it comes to Palfish, the official kids course has set, planned, interactive lessons and you are to follow the slides, but you can also add extra material when you feel it’s needed. For the Free Talk side, you need to create all of your own material.
One thing people might not know about Palfish is that you do not need a degree! You only need to get a 120 hour TEFL or TESOL certificate.
My advice to someone who’s thinking about working with Palfish is to find yourself a good recruiter. It’s very important to have somebody walking you through the process because it is a huge learning curve there is a lot to take in and prepare in order to understand the app and be ready for classes.
As soon as you pass the demo for the official kids course or you are verified for Free Talk, you can be booked for anything that is open on your schedule. Missing classes will get you fined.
"My advice for anyone who’s thinking about working with Palfish is to interact as much as possible, and DO take your work home with you. You do need to be very active and present on the app to get results."
I’m Paul, from Dublin, Ireland. I’m 32 years old, currently living in Thailand, where I work remotely as an online teacher. Passionate about sport, music and comedy!
I started working with Palfish in August of 2018, so it’s been about a year now.
I’d say they’re an 8 out of 10. It’s so awesome to feel part of this growing movement and community, but I honestly expected to be earning considerably more money through it by now.
The hiring process was smooth and quick; I was confirmed and hired 48 hours after my interview, if my memory serves. The interview was a mock demo lesson, which was absolutely fine and pressure-free.
The absolute best aspect of working for Palfish is the freedom to work on the move from anywhere in the world!
The worst part of the job is the extent to which you need to compete with other teachers for students. I’m currently ranked as one of the best teachers on Palfish, yet I still need to hustle to ensure I get enough daily minutes.
Find out more about my story with Palfish here:
Also, tying in with that: the undercutting culture which prevails on Free Talk. I’ve lost so many students to teachers who charge ridiculously low rates for their Free Talks.
That being said, working for Palfish has been a fulfilling and culturally enriching experience overall.
One thing they could improve? I think students shouldn’t be allowed to text teachers beyond a certain point (say 2 weeks) if they’re not calling for classes, because at that point, they’re simply wasting your time.
I only teach adults on Palfish; their ages range from 18 to 60 years old, I’d estimate.
They are great: endlessly curious and interested in learning about the European mindset and lifestyle, and very funny too. The Chinese sense of humor is very quick and underrated!
Free Talk classes are the opposite of monotonous: enjoyable and unpredictable!
As you’ll see on my Palfish vlogs on YouTube, I’ve labeled them ‘podcasts’ because when you get a really deep and stimulating conversation going, that’s how it feels - like being on the Joe Rogan podcast!
Often, I’m the one learning: my students teach me fascinating things about their vocations in science, literature, art, etc.
One thing makes Palfish different from all the other online ESL platforms out there is the relaxed and fun atmosphere!
My advice for anyone who’s thinking about working with Palfish is to interact as much as possible, and DO take your work home with you. You do need to be very active and present on the app to get results.
"One thing people might not know about Palfish is that you can teach from your phone! You can also teach from a tablet. You can go anywhere as long as you have a printed background logo."
My name is Lee Ann. I currently live in Gyeongju, South Korea. I have lived here for 9 years. I married my husband about 3 ½ years after I came here and was actually planning to leave until he came into the picture.
So I have been working here as an English teacher the entire time. I worked for an academy and an afterschool company before starting with Palfish and a daycare center. I left the daycare center after a year so that I could work from home and have a more flexible schedule. Palfish was an easy transition.
I have been with the company for about a year and a half. Since last November, I have been a mentor teacher and work closely with admin to help train new teachers.
I would rate my experience about an 8. No company is perfect but, for the most part, I am very satisfied with my job. I get to teach some amazing children and I have also met some wonderful people. A few of them, I hope to meet some time in the near future.
The hiring process has certainly changed since I was hired, but I would say that it isn’t too difficult to get hired. Make sure that you have a certificate (TEFL or TESOL).
Then, I recommend finding someone that you think could help you with the onboarding process. I am more than happy to help anyone, but I may live on the other side of the world, so I usually answer questions during the day.
You need to do a teaching demo, and there are a lot of great videos on YouTube currently. I recommend watching and reading as much as you can about the demo interview before you sign up for that.
First and foremost, you need to create a Palfish account, and you can do that using your current telephone number. In order to be hired, you will need to record an audio introduction as well as do a sound test, which is usually reading a storybook.
Also, you need to upload something to verify your nationality because we only accept teachers from the United States, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. You also need to upload your teaching certificate for verification.
One of the final steps before preparing for your demo is to create a Payoneer account. This is how we get paid. It is similar to PayPal, but the fees are less. Payoneer is not connected to Palfish, but you will need to upload your information to Palfish (e-mail address) for payment.
After you have done all of this, you’re ready to apply to the Official Kids Course, or you can just do Free Talk. I’m not a Free Talk teacher, though. I have been with the Official Kids Course the entire time I have been on Palfish. Your teaching demo will be automated, so you will teach an empty classroom, but I think that it is pretty easy to get hired with Palfish.
I think that there are so many great things about working for this company! I love my students. We share a lot of our lives and we get to exchange our cultures. I learn so much about them and their families.
I also really love my co-workers, especially my fellow mentors and teachers in my mentor groups. We have groups and chat privileges on the app, so you have advice or a place to talk right at your fingertips.
I am not a huge fan of writing a report after every class, but it’s necessary to mark students’ progress and to just let parents know how their child is doing. I also would like to see their cancellation policies revamped. I will say that if a teacher has an emergency, though, that admin are very understanding of what is going on.
Working for Palfish is my dream job. I think most of us wonder if we will ever find or work our dream job, and I found it! It was an unexpected surprise to be honest. Working for Palfish is fun and it is really exciting.
Most students are amazing. They are eager to learn, and the majority of them are very curious about our culture and how things are different or the same.
I have 4 pets, so most of my students ask me on a regular basis about my pets and want to interact with them. I think that many students spend so much time in the classroom studying that Palfish is a chance for them to have fun and learn at the same time, and it’s a joy to provide that to my students.
We sing. We dance. We have a really great time together. Sometimes, I come across the occasional student who isn’t into it, but one of my strengths in the classroom is the extreme patience that I do have with students.
Sometimes, they have just woken from a nap. That is understandable, but we can still have a great time in spite of feeling sleepy or cranky, and they are usually laughing and having fun by the end of class.
Classes are planned out based on curriculum from Pearson. They coincide with the Big English series. I would say that classes are what you make them. What you bring to class that is different and unique that can go along with the lesson is really what makes classes fun. Some teachers use a lot of cool props. I am a teacher that encourages speaking, so we have a lot of interesting conversations based on the topics presented in the courseware.
One thing people might not know about Palfish is that you can teach from your phone! You can also teach from a tablet. You can go anywhere as long as you have a printed background logo.
Teachers travel and live nomadic lives while teaching. Stay-at-home-moms can teach on vacation if they want. As long as you have a quiet area for teaching, you’re good to go! I can pack up and go on an overnight trip and still teach my students.
Another difference is that teachers aren’t just given classes after the first week or so. Other companies take care of classes for you, but with Palfish, students choose their teachers, so it is important to be unique.
Some advice I would give to prospective teachers is to do your research. Watch a lot of videos. Read articles. Find someone who works for Palfish and ask them a lot of questions.
That is one of my roles as a mentor, actually. I’m here to help anyone with the process. Make sure that it is the right fit for you. If you live in the United States or Canada in the opposite time zone from China, make sure that you’re willing to wake up around 3:30 am to teach. You can be finished by 9 am.
"I think what sets Palfish apart from other companies is the way it's designed like a social media app. People can go in and look at your profile, look at pictures and stories that you posted, and select you as a teacher from what you've posted."
My name is Tara. I'm 40 years old and I'm from Melbourne Australia. I have been teaching for 20 years in Japan and Australia and also in Indonesia. I have been teaching online for almost 1 year now. I live in Indonesia with my husband and my two children, aged 2 and 4.
I have been with Palfish for 10 months; I joined in October 2018.
I would honestly give the company an 8 or 9 out of 10. I do think that they are a rapidly expanding company and I feel that many of the newer teachers do not get the attention or answers to the questions that they need. That would be my biggest concern.
My other concern is that I know that many people don't get as many classes as they would like. That’s why I would give them an 8 or 9 out of 10 and not a perfect score.
When I joined I think it was relatively easy to get hired, but I think as time goes by it is getting harder and harder and they are being more selective with who they let into that program. You do not need a degree, but you need a TEFL/TESOL teaching certificate.
I love the flexibility of it and I love the way that students can choose you to be their teacher. The worst part is the fines and penalties for canceling or missing classes.
Overall, I think it’s fun. I like the classes, I like the curriculum, and I like the way that Palfish has a community with other teachers, so you can talk and discuss problems. You don't feel like you're alone when you work for Palfish.
One thing they could improve is the way they help new teachers, and they could rethink some of the penalties and fines.
I have a range of students, but most are under 5 years old. I do have some naughty and some very good students. I have some students that catch on quickly and other students that just don't get it, so I feel like I have a real mix of everything.
I really like the new curriculum. I think it's repetitive enough that the students can learn all of the vocabulary and sentence structures that they need to, but it also introduces new ideas and new aspects into the unit.
However, there are a few lessons that are a bit out there, a bit thin, and even when you try and drag it out, you're finished at the 15-minute mark and you’re left with 10 minutes to kill.
I think what sets Palfish apart from other companies is the way it's designed like a social media app. People can go in and look at your profile, look at pictures and stories that you posted, and select you as a teacher from what you've posted. I think that's one thing that makes Palfish very special.
If you want to start at Palfish, I think the first few weeks everyone is very excited because they are given a lot of classes, and after that they’re given nothing. I think if you want to be successful at Palfish, you have to really think long-term and you have to really work at it.
A lot of people complain, but really as a freelancer you have to market yourself to potential clients.
"The absolute best aspect of teaching English online for Palfish is the simple fact that I can be at my home, open my iPad Pro, click into my lesson and start teaching. When the lesson finishes, I fill out my feedback report and then get paid. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not."
My name is Camden. I grew up in a small town called Hampton, in the state of Virginia. Thankfully, my parents supported me with my diverse and creative endeavors. I also had a big brother to look up to.
From age 5 until the age of 19, everything in my life revolved around eating, sleeping and swimming. I was a very competitive swimmer at the Junior Olympic and state level, which propelled me to move out of my home state and take a 12-hour drive to the sunshine state of Florida.
I didn’t grow up with a lot of cultural diversity, so when I moved to the campus at Indian River Community College in Florida, I was flooded with so many new experiences.
Such as the warm climate year around, beautiful beaches along the coast, and a large multicultural environment. Thanks to a wonderful professor during my freshman year, I discovered that I want to study to become a teacher.
I worked a lot of different jobs, such as lifeguarding at the college swimming pool, substitute teaching throughout dozens and dozens of schools, but I didn’t discover my true calling in this life until 2009 when I took my first TEFL certification course in Costa Rica.
After doing six months in Costa Rica, I came back to Orlando, Florida to continue my elementary education major at the University of Central Florida. It was not an easy adjustment, and all I could think about was saving my money and getting out to go teach English abroad in a new and exciting country.
However it was a rocky road and things did not go as planned.
I taught English as a second language for Berlitz in Orlando, Florida. It was just enough money to survive as a student attempting to finish their bachelor’s degree. However, in the summer of 2012, the school closed on a 24-hour notice and I did not know what I was going to do.
Not only was it a very rough time, but I ended up sleeping in my car for about 6 months, trying my best to finish my college degree so I could go on and live my dream as an English teacher abroad.
I ended up losing it all and had to move back at home with my parents in Virginia from 2014 to 2015. I continued to work as a substitute teacher in the local school districts, saved my money, and when the next summer came, I contacted the same school in Costa Rica where I completed my first TEFL certification course in 2009. They were excited to hear back from me and an ESL teaching position was available at the school in August 2015.
A lot had changed in Costa Rica during those 6 years. The cost of living went up, yet the teaching salary did not. I had to sell my MacBook and GoPro to get money because I was planning to move to Nicaragua and try something new with my life.
I moved to a very remote island called Little Corn Island off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. I ended up growing organic food and taking care of hundreds of fruit trees at an eco-resort on the small island.
It was a wonderful experience which prepared me for what was to come, but after 5 months I realized that I didn’t want to be there for the rest of my life, and I started to search every day online to find a job teaching English. The resort gave me a free place to stay, all food was taken care of and it was on an incredibly gorgeous island, but I was only making $400 each month. So I saved literally all of my money to find a way out.
One miraculous day, on a Google search, I came upon an online teaching opportunity. In the middle of April 2016, I found Palfish. It was so new at the time and not a lot of people were doing it, but I didn’t need a laptop; I could do the teaching on my iPhone. I followed the instructions and completed my teacher profile.
When I received my first call, I couldn’t believe it. When I started talking to the student, I saw how much money I had made from the lesson and it was one of those moments in your life where are you are just like “Did I really make money talking on my phone?” I didn’t fully believe it until I received my first paycheck online.
One week later I bought a plane ticket to fly to Boulder, Colorado, where a one-of-a-kind couple invited me to stay at their home until I got my feet on solid ground.
Over the next month, my teaching hours really picked up on Palfish and I started to realize the potential of teaching English online, traveling and living my dream. One of the main issues was the time zone difference, so many of my students kept encouraging me to move out to Asia.
I didn’t have enough money to buy a plane ticket to Hong Kong and I didn’t know what I was going to do. So then I reached out to a few people on Messenger for some extra money and to my surprise they fully supported me. Finally, I had enough money to buy a 1-way plane ticket to Hong Kong from Colorado.
My dad always told me, the answer is always “no” until you ask. If I had not had the confidence in myself to reach out to some people who I barely even knew, then I would not be writing this right now. Sounds simple, but you truly never know what can happen until you ask a question.
I have been teaching online with Palfish since April 2016 and currently still teach online every day.
I would definitely rate my teaching experience with Palfish at a 10! I really don’t know what I would be doing right now if I had not found Palfish in April 2016. It has completely transformed my life in so many ways and still does to this day. Everything I dreamed about since taking that first TEFL certification course in Costa Rica is happening now in my everyday life.
I even created a YouTube channel with videos for prospective teachers. You can check that out here. I also have a Facebook page. And below is my best video with tips on how to get started with Palish.
It was not difficult to get hired. I met the basic requirement of having my TEFL certificate, and I was also a native English speaker from the USA. But don’t be discouraged because they also accept non-native English speakers!
The absolute best aspect of teaching English online for Palfish is the simple fact that I can be at my home, open my iPad Pro, click into my lesson and start teaching. When the lesson finishes, I fill out my feedback report and then get paid. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.
And I must add that it’s amazing I am not on a set of contracted hours. As long as I teach a minimum of 10 hours per week, then I can open and close my schedule to my choosing. That’s what makes Palfish so unique!
I really can’t say that anything is bad about my job. I may have to sit down a lot during the day and at times some lessons can feel repetitive if you’re teaching the same lesson to different students, but then again that’s why there’s the challenge for you as an instructor to continue to be open to new teaching strategies.
Have a lot of creativity and use your imagination as well as bring real life props to the lesson, which makes it very exciting and fun for not only the student but for you, the teacher.
What really surprises me about Palfish (in a good way) is that I can also do live streams for free or monetize them to the student audience. In addition to doing live streams, teachers can also create seminars where 6 students can join the lesson at one time, which is incredibly fun.
Palfish is actually always improving and updating the application and lesson materials. They are always asking teachers for feedback on how they can improve.
I teach a diverse range of students, ages 4 to 14 years old for the official kids course, but when you do Free Talk lessons, ages are even more diverse, from 4 to even 60 years old. I have had some adult students and even grandfathers who wanted to improve their English.
The classes are already prepared for you. The course material and lesson slides are ready to go. You just need to go into the classroom and be ready to instruct the student.
As I mentioned above, a lot of people think that it’s only for native English speakers but that’s not true. You can teach English online for Palfish as a non-native English speaker.
If you’re thinking about starting on Palfish, the opportunity is now. There’s no other way to put it. A lot of people waste their time and never take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t be one of those people. You need to get started now.
Every day there’s hundreds and hundreds of more teachers being hired to teach English online. Nobody knows when that is going to decrease or cease to exist. You can make a great amount of money, and also have the freedom and flexibility that face-to-face jobs cannot offer.
"The best part of Palfish is working with creative and awesome people; it’s just so fun! I love doing the live streams."
Hi! My name is Julie. I’m 54 years old and I have three adult kids, ages 21 to 24. I homeschooled my kids for 12 years. I worked in public and private schools after that for 12 years. I am teaching solely online now.
I have a BA and an MA in sociology. I have a TEFL. I am certified to teach art in Massachusetts, and I was an English major before I switched to sociology in college.
I have been working with Palfish since May of 2019.
On a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate them a 9.
Getting hired was so easy! It was a video interview and no one was in the room. It was recorded.
The best part of Palfish is working with creative and awesome people; it’s just so fun! I love doing the live streams. I have never been corrected or insulted once by anyone here at Palfish.
The worst part of the job for me may be keeping the schedule straight.
One thing that surprised me about Palfish is how fun the platform and the people were. A breath of fresh air.
One thing they could improve? They should do more lives on Facebook with the company and the people who work there. I saw a few they did but I wish they did more.
The students are so cute. They are between 3 and 9 or 10. Everyone is very grateful and nice. I haven’t met anyone mean or insulting. Very joyful!
The classes are planned out. Some are done over and over and are the same ones every time. Sometimes you will get a higher level one. It is what you make of it. There are ways to make the same class fun and interesting.
For anyone thinking about applying, my advice is to just have fun. Don’t take it too seriously or be serious in class. Be on time. Don’t be late and don’t miss class.
"The students I have taught this far have been 5 to 7 years old. They all have been very pleasant to work with and I have enjoyed them. The best is when you get regular students that you can really bond with."
My name is Ashley, and I’m 31 years old. I’m originally from California, and now I live in North Carolina. I have a BA in theatre arts and I am working on my master’s in elementary education. Right I now teach online with Palfish and VIPKid in addition to being a TA at an elementary School.
I have been working for Palfish since the first week of August.
I would rate my experience a 7 out of 10.
The benefits of working with Palfish are that you can teach from a iPad, they book trials for you, you can join messaging groups within the app to seek advice from mentors, and there are a larger variety of ways to connect with students than I have seen with other platforms.
I gave it a 7 because you are not paid in American dollars, you are paid in yuan, which can be kind of tricky. Then it has to be converted to USD through a secondary company that you have to register for when hired.
There is also section of the platform where you can record message for students but it’s in Chinese, which can be confusing. You have to watch YouTube videos for parts of the platform to make sense.
It was not difficult to get hired. The process was fairly quick. I had to upload a video of me pretending to teach a lesson to an imaginary 5-year-old student. The material is provided for you. I got an email that same night saying that I was hired.
I would say the worst part of the job is not being paid USD.
I would say that my overall experience has been quite pleasant. I was glad to get booked as fast as I did. I also do enjoy the overall format of the lessons.
Some areas of the platform could definitely be a bit more user friendly.
The students I have taught this far have been 5 to 7 years old. They all have been very pleasant to work with and I have enjoyed them. The best is when you get regular students that you can really bond with.
The lessons are already planned for you, but there is room to make them your own by adding props and rewards. I personally think they can be quite fun, because you get to incorporate music, features, and mini games into the lessons.
Palfish is the only platform I have seen to seamlessly give the option to combine both Free Talk lessons and children’s lessons. I have seen some where you have to choose one or the other or get a special certification (Like with VIPKid).
I have not seen any other company give the option to live stream lessons, where you choose the topic, and have multiple students, or even other teachers), join in on. Palfish has a few other unique aspects to its platform as well, but those are the biggest ones.
For someone who’s thinking about working with Palfish, I highly recommend watching YouTube videos from mentors to get started. Also, feel free to use my link if you apply!
"My advice for someone who’s thinking about working with Palfish? This is a business. You have to look at it that way. The more work you put into it in the beginning, the more you will be rewarded."
My name is Melissa. I’m originally from Williamsport, PA, but currently live near Harrisburg. I have 3 adult children, 23, 21,and 20 and my boyfriend has 2 children, ages 11 and 13.
I have my TESOL certificate, but no degree at this time. I am considering going back to school at 49 to be able to continue working with Palfish. At this time, no degree is required, but this may change. I want to be ready.
I started with Palfish in December 2018.
I would rate them a 10. Palfish is AWESOME for me. I have had the best time with this company. I, by choice, currently work 7 days a week. This is because I LOVE what I’m doing and love these kiddos. The money is nice, too.
For me getting hired with Palfish wasn’t the hard part, understanding the platform is a different story. I had NO idea what I was doing as it was completely different from the other platform I had worked for. I very quickly learned how to use it and became successful. I also decided no one I came in contact with would struggle as I would help them every step of the way.
I can’t narrow down the best aspect of Palfish to just one thing, but I will give you my top 3. I absolutely love these kiddos. I love the flexibility and I love the fact I control my income. I am hired at a rate, but I can work my schedule how I want to increase that rate.
Honestly, for me there really isn’t a worst part of the job. I am EST, so maybe the early mornings some days. But again, I work it 7 days a week by choice, I enjoy it so much.
My experience with Palfish has been a great one. I was with another company and I was not nearly as successful. I control my schedule with Palfish, I control my income.
Yes, it started out a little slow for me, as it depends on when you join. I started around the Chinese New Year.
My students range from 3 years old to 13. I have the absolute best students. They are great, they participate, try their best, but also get distracted and don’t pay attention.
You just have to figure out the best way to bring them back to the classroom and have fun. I have had songs sang for me, pictures drawn and words of kindness and love from them.
The lessons are pre-determined, there are guides for what you need to accomplish for each page, and how you present it is up to you.
You can use flashcards, puppets, and stuffed animals. I have had a lesson in my kitchen before (I have become close with this family) to teach items in a kitchen.
Palfish has a flexible schedule. The students schedule 2 weeks out, and we have access 3 weeks out. You can cancel a class if necessary 24 hours in advance without a monetary loss.
Another cool thing is that they give you bonuses for showing up on time and not cancelling classes. Kinda awesome to get something extra for what you should be doing anyway. Also, we’re able to message our students with encouragement, to share photos or to just say hi. I love this aspect!
My advice for someone who’s thinking about working with Palfish? This is a business. You have to look at it that way. The more work you put into it in the beginning, the more you will be rewarded.
If you're thinking about applying, feel free to use my referral link!
Other online ESL opportunities
It's no secret that there are similar opportunities to Palfish out there.
To better understand if Palfish is the right company for you, it helps to know a little more about your other options. Below we've included a few similar platform to let you know what sets them apart from their competition.
Golden Voice English
Golden Voice has a smaller client base as students are between first and ninth grade. To work for Golden Voice English you pretty much need to be a teacher by trade, they require a bachelor’s degree and prefer that it is in teaching.
They also ask for an ESL teaching certificate and at least 6 months teaching in an ESL environment. Beyond those educational requirements, they stress that you have to have an upbeat and entertaining attitude.
It seems strict, but if you meet their requirements, Golden Voice has plenty of benefits. Unlike other programs, you will continuously work with the same 1 to 6 students, so you get to see them grow in their abilities.
Golden Voice gives you all the tools you need to teach, so you don’t spend any time or money prepping outside of the classroom. Pay is competitive, and with incentives, teachers can make up to $22 per hour.
SayABC is part of the VIPKid family, which is a well-respected company that has been hiring work from home English teachers for years.
The company requires a minimum of an associate’s degree but would prefer a bachelor’s degree. You have to have a teaching certificate, but if you have teaching experience, SayABC will give you a grace period to obtain the certificate while you work for them. Teachers should be from the UK or North America with a neutral accent.
Class sizes range from 1 to 4 students between the ages of 5 and 15. The classes are 40 minutes long, and you work with the same group of kids for 6 months at a time, which is a great benefit because you get to see your students’ growth.
Base pay is $15 per hour but can reach $28 with incentives, which is on the higher end of the spectrum for home English tutoring jobs.
This company is relatively young, but it's quickly becoming a popular employer for work-from-home English tutors. They require a bachelor’s degree, but may bring you on if you can prove that you are working toward a degree with an accredited college.
Certification is preferred but not required, but you do have to be a native English speaker living in North America.
Classes can have anywhere from one to four students as young as five and as old as twelve. Classes last half an hour and you can expect to make anywhere between $8 and $10 per class.
Qkids doesn’t have as many hours available as some other companies, and they require you to work at least 6 hours a week. They have a unique interactive teaching platform that doesn’t require any extra time outside of class.
To work at Gogokid, you are required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and be a native English speaker living in North America. Gogokid doesn’t require a teaching certificate, but their technical requirements are a lot higher than most other companies.
The kids in Gogokid are between 4 and 12 years old, and you will always be working with them on an individual basis. Classes are about 25 minutes long, and pay is between $7 and $10.
Classes are scheduled anywhere between 9 am and 9 pm Beijing time, which is a decent window of opportunity. One of the best benefits of Gogokid is no minimum time requirements, so you can feel free to take a week off without any repercussions.
Why is this a great gig for moms?
There are plenty of reasons why a mom would want to work from home, and all of them are legitimate. This is a great gig for moms because it covers almost all of those reasons. It's a real and reliable job that pays relatively well for a work-from-home position.
You can set your own hours, so you can work around the family’s schedule. With this job, in particular, it's great for moms who are low on capital because it doesn’t require an expensive laptop or any other fancy equipment.
About ready to take the plunge and enter the world of ESL tutoring? Before you do, make sure you read these tips for teaching English online from more than 100 teachers.
Photo credit: Teacher Melissa.