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Whales English: A Company Overview + 11 Employee Interviews

Teach

Teacher Jeanette

Finding legitimate work from home jobs is one of the hardest things a stay-at-home mom can do, and that is saying a lot since they already have one of the hardest jobs in the world. 

Whales English is a fantastic online teaching opportunity you might not even know about. Keep reading for the full scoop!

If you want to jump to the Whales English reviews section and find out what teachers truly think about this job, click here.


Let's face it: the Internet is full of online scams and pyramid schemes that promise to make you a millionaire if you can just get 100 other people to sell the same kitsch that they do.

If you sift through all the garbage, you will eventually find a diamond like Whales English, an online platform that pays you to teach English to kids in China. 

WHALES English

Type of side gig – Teaching English to Chinese kids
Hires – Teachers from North America, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand
Schedule – Weekdays, 6 to 10 pm BJT; Weekends, 8 am to 10 pm BJT

Minimum requirements - 8 hours per week
Pay – $18 / hour to start with the possibility of receiving bonuses, monthly payment via Payoneer or bank transfer

What is Whales English?

Whales English, formerly known in the online ESL industry as Sprout English, is an online learning portal with the mission to teach English to non-native speakers. 

It connects students in other countries with teachers from native-speaking English countries through video chat. 

On this platform, teachers give classes to 2 or 3 students at a time, as opposed to having one-on-one interactions.

Whales English job requirements

This is an exciting job online teaching opportunity, but it’s not for everyone, and Whales has set high standards for their job requirements.

Teachers should have a bachelor’s degree or higher, as well as at least one year of experience teaching children. 

Teachers must also have at least one teaching certificate and be a native English speaker from an English speaking country and have a neutral accent. 

Although it is not required, Whales would prefer that the teacher has ESL experience. 

There is a minimum time requirement of at least 8 hours a week, and four of those hours need to be on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Whales prefers teachers who have a set schedule for six months. 

Perhaps the most important requirement of the job is that, unsurprisingly, you must love working with kids. You will primarily be working with Chinese students.

Technical requirements

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, there’s not a lot that you need to get started. 

Whales requires a decent computer, a strong Internet connection, and noise-canceling headphones. You’ll also need a quiet space for your virtual classroom where you’ll be able to connect with English learners without distractions.

Your computer must meet the following standards: 

Operating system: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, MAC OS 10.8x

CPU: Intel Core i3 above CPU

Memory: at least 4GB RAM

The latest version of Flash

Software: Microsoft PowerPoint or Keynote, Adobe Acrobat, Zoom

The interview process

This is a work from home job, but it’s still a job and should be treated like one. 

Think you’re ready to apply to Whales English? Here’s what you need to do.

First, make sure that you have an updated resume along and a cover letter, your teaching certificate, and proof of citizenship. Once you have all the necessary documents, you must create an account on the Whales English site and fill out the form. 

Once your resume is screened and Whales English decides to move forward, there are several steps in the application process. 

The first step is an online video interview, which is comparable to an in-person interview for a typical out-of-the-home job. Once you pass the interview phase, there are a few more rounds of tests. 

You will have to perform a mock class, or demo lesson, where you will be graded on your preparation and teaching skill. 

If you're looking for other online teaching opportunities, you might want to consider Cambly, Golden Voice English, Magic Ears (check out the teacher reviews too) or VIPKid (find the teacher reviews here).


After you succeed in the first mock class, you will be asked to do some self-preparation and conduct a second mock class before you are hired.

From there, it’s simply a matter of signing the contract after Whales English offers you a position. 

Do you need a degree?

While there are plenty of online ESL jobs for which you don’t need a degree, Whales is not one of them. 

The company only hires candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and you will also need at least one 120-hour ESL teaching certificate, be it CELTA, TEFL or TESOL.

How are classes booked?

Once you are logged on to the teacher portal, you can set your hours. To make as much money as possible, you want to be available for as many hours as possible at peak times. 

Students book lessons according to your available hours and you will find your scheduled lessons in your teacher portal.

A class will rarely be canceled due to attendance since you have multiple students, but in the event that your students don’t show up, you need only stay in the portal for 30 minutes to be paid for your 50-minute class. 

Peak hours

Booking in peak hours will ensure you more work and more money. 

Peak hours during the week are Monday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6 to 9 pm Beijing time. 

To make life easy for you, this translates to 6 am to 9 am Eastern and 3 am to 6 am Pacific Time. These are not the only available time slots for you to teach, but they are the spots where you have the highest chance of booking classes. 

Who are the students?

Students are based in China and range in age from 5 to 15 years old. You teach them English, and they teach you about their culture, which is a hidden benefit of the job.

Teaching materials

Lesson content and materials are provided for teachers, but you must be familiar with the material before class starts. 

The material is a common core program that has been built from the bottom up by Whales English’s in-house staff. While materials are provided, it is suggested that teachers bring props and a reward system with them to class time after reviewing the material. 

The Whales English platform is very intuitive and gives you most of the tools that you need. 

When you click on your schedule on the left side of the screen, you will see your local time and Beijing time and right below that is your schedule for the day. On the left of the screen, there are links to all the information you need, including your schedule, necessary files, and payment information. 

Setting your schedule couldn’t be easier with drop-down menus in a separate window. It’s important to remember that, when setting your schedule, you’re opening up slots for Beijing time and not your local time. 

Teaching levels

If you’re ready to teach with Whales, it’s important to know that the company has three different tiers of teaching levels that each come with a different base pay rate. Each level has a different set of requirements.

Entry Level: This requires a teaching English as a second language certificate, and they would prefer a 120-hour teaching English as a foreign language certificate. Entry-level teachers are paid between 18 and 20 dollars per 50-minute lesson. 

Intermediate Level: This level has the same requirements as entry-level, but they also require a bachelor’s degree. With your degree, you can expect a pay raise to 20 to 25 dollars per 50 minute lesson. 

Expert Level: To reach this level, you have to have a bachelor’s degree or higher along with local teaching experience. You must also be able to teach a class in History, Advanced Reading, Academic Writing, Persuasive Writing, and other subjects. If you can reach this tier, it is worth it with a base pay rate of 30 dollars per 50-minute class. 

Salary

You already know the base pay, but it’s good to know about other opportunities to make money and how you will be paid. 

Payments are made once a month on the 15ththrough either Payoneer or a direct deposit to your bank account. Payments are always made in US dollars. 

If you are to maximize your pay rate, it is important to note that there are pay raises every six months based on performance. 

If you don’t want to wait six months to see your paycheck grow, Whales also offer hourly bonuses for teachers who work during weekend peak hours. You can also earn a bonus if a student signs up after a trial class with you. 

It is important to note that you are considered an independent contractor, so it is up to you to report your income for tax purposes. 

Contact information

Are you ready to teach online? Are you interested in becoming a Whales English teacher?

The best way to contact the company is to sign up with the teacher portal, but if you’re not ready to take that step, you can contact them via email at weteach@whalesenglish.com or reach out on Facebook

Whales English reviews

Ready to find out exactly what it's like to work for Whales?

We spoke to 11 current teachers, who shared what they like and what they dislike about the company, as well as insider information about the hiring process and the curriculum. 

They also offer some useful tips for anyone thinking about applying to work with the company.

For more general advice, don't miss our epic article with insider tips for teaching English online from 90+ teachers.

Whales English

"They take teacher feedback and apply it the best they can and they treat their teachers with fairness and offer opportunities for advancement within the company."

Alex

My name is Alex and I have a 10-month old daughter. I live in the capital region of Canada, near Ottawa, Ontario.  I have worked in various fields over the years, but most are somehow related to education.

I worked for a large college in the capital as a housekeeping supervisor before moving over to my current position as an ESL teacher with Whales English. 

I have been with Whales for just over 2 years.

This may sound biased, but I strongly recommend Whales English, so I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, the company is a 10. I know Whales is not perfect; however, I feel they are working towards being one of the best ESL companies in the industry.

They take teacher feedback and apply it the best they can and they treat their teachers with fairness and offer opportunities for advancement within the company.

Whales has been through a few different names, such as Sprout4Future and Rouchi. Now it’s Whales.  

I began working with the company when they were under the name Sprout4Future and the hiring process has changed somewhat since then. I only had to go through one mock class before being assigned classes.

Now candidates have to go through a resume screening, an interview and mock class. Then you sign the contact, complete self training, do a second (paid) mock class and then launch. 

When teaching regular classes, you have the opportunity to bond with a group of students for up to 6 months and even more if they wish to continue another course with you. I really enjoy creating and building these bonds. That’s my favorite part of this job. 

I live on EST, so I have to wake up very early for class, often at 5:30 am, and when we experience time change in the fall it becomes 4:30 am.  While this is my situation, many other teachers live in other times zones like GMT, which offers a more reasonable start time.  

Overall, I really enjoy it!  As mentioned in the intro, I’m a dad to a 10-month-old and I enjoy having the freedom to work from home with reasonable pay and see my daughter grow.  My wife enjoys the extra help around the house and I honestly love the freedom I have to just be with my family after a short workday of 3 to 4 hours. 

Target students are aged 5 to 12; however, some teachers teach older students in specialized subjects like science, English literature, etc. 

Most classes are held in the evening so some students come to class tired, but most students look forward to their classes every week and put forth effort to prepare and have fun!

There are always instances where you may run into unresponsive, disruptive students, but as most parents know, every child is different and they react differently to learning. It takes some time to find the right teaching technique, and most of the time you can turn a class you may have dreaded at the beginning of the 6 months into a sad goodbye at the end of the semester. 

As parents we naturally want our children to succeed, therefore we help them where we can. This still applies to the online classroom. 

While parents are not able to help their students in a brick-and-mortar school, they can do so when learning English via the Internet. With that said, many parents sit with their children and offer assistance, however many also leave their children to their own devices and to learn on their own.

I enjoy developing a rapport with the parents as well. It helps them know I am more than just a person in a box. I care about their students’ education.  

Whales is always updating their content and actively seeks to provide the best content possible based on the American curriculum.  

Teachers do not have to prepare lesson plans, it is all created for you. While some lessons are very repetitive, I believe that regardless of whether or not the material is boring, it’s really the teacher who can bring it to life. 

Regarding our classes, starting May 10th we revamped our older student classes so we are always looking for good content developers to help us make the best possible material.   

The three most important qualities in an online English teacher are enthusiasm, creativity and patience.

As for important equipment, one program many online teachers love using is ManyCam. This program is a third party application that will allow you to use green screen for virtual backgrounds, among other amazing features!  If you’re not as tech savvy, props are always a great idea to have on standby. 

For anyone thinking about applying, Whales English looks for dedicated teachers who have a passion for teaching. Let them know about any kind of teaching experience you may have; they place a high value on experience and education, so don’t be shy about bragging about yourself. If you do apply, feel free to use my referral link.

Whales likes to maintain concrete schedules for a least 6 months. What this means if that you’re looking for a more flexible schedule that you can open and close with ease, this may prove difficult with Whales. They want to provide stability for the students and regularity of teachers for the duration of the course.

Whales English

"One thing we offer that is really terrific is access to professional development. In addition to regular observations and the opportunity to work with a coach or mentor, we offer webinars on a variety of subjects."

Jay

My name is Jay. I’m originally from Long Island, New York. My background is actually in business.

I went to school out in Hawaii for economics, and did grad school in Australia (MBA and MAcc). When I got back to the States and went to work in the financial sector, I hated it. I got into teaching and really never looked back. 

I’ve been teaching for about 15 years now. I’ve taught in the USA, Indonesia, Korea, and also online. Since I started teaching, I went back to school to get my MA in TESOL and my EdS in instructional technology. I just moved to Portugal, where I live and teach online. 

I actually started with Whales when they were a small start-up named Sprout. I started in August of 2015, so it’s been four years now!

On a scale of 0 to 10, I definitely give them a 10. They’re an awesome school. One thing that’s really important to me is a team environment and they do a good job of promoting that. They take everyone’s opinion into consideration. 

Teachers don’t have the same issues with bookings that they may have at other schools. You get to work with your students long-term. 

Plus, you don’t have to look far to find extra opportunities to earn. There are a lot of great ways to pick up additional income outside of teaching (recruiting, writing the curriculum, or doing teacher training). 

Nowadays, the hiring process is more formal. Teachers submit an application and CV for vetting. From there, they’re asked to do an interview and a mock lesson. Teachers begin by teaching trial classes and then move to more full-time bookings. Teachers looking to begin their application process can apply here with my referral code

I think the best part of working for Whales English is the continuity of the classes. We don’t change our bookings from week to week. I have a set schedule. I’ve opened up 20 time slots with them and I have 20 classes. The classes are at the same time each week with the same students. These classes run for 30 weeks. At the end of the 30 weeks, the parents have the opportunity to renew. 

I’ve had some students for four years! It’s amazing to watch them grow. I have one boy who couldn’t read when he started with Whales but he’s such a hard little worker. It’s been really cool to watch him develop into a great, young reader!

If there is a downside, it’s that the schedule is fixed (I know I just said that’s great, right?) There are some companies that allow you to change your availability from week to week. We ask that teachers offer some stability in the hours that they’re available.

That doesn’t mean that they’re not accommodating if emergency situations arise, but your schedule should be fairly stable. For me, I would much rather have the stability and the regular classes each week. 

Overall, I love it. From a professional standpoint, it’s great. It offers me a stable income, a chance to continue to develop as a professional, and the opportunity to work with great students and colleagues.

On a personal level, it really fits my lifestyle. I look after my mother, who is a bit older, and this job enables me to be around for her when she needs me. It also allows me to live and work anywhere in the world—all I need is a fast internet connection!

One thing we offer that is really terrific is access to professional development. In addition to regular observations and the opportunity to work with a coach or mentor, we offer webinars on a variety of subjects. 

I’d love to see that expanded in the future, perhaps with something like “Whales University.” It would be really great for teachers who are serious about professional development to be able to do a variety of courses on an ongoing basis. 

Our kids range from very young learners up to high school students. My students range in age from grade 2nd to 6th grade. They are really good kids. It’s eye-opening to see the type of schedules that they hold down. Many of them study seven days a week, sometimes over 12 hours a day. They’re really committed to their education. 

I teach our Classic English Course, which follows the American Common Core Language Arts Curriculum. The lessons are very demanding for the students, but as I mentioned above, the students are really dedicated. We set high standards for our students, but our students are the type of young people who rise to the occasion. 

All the lessons are prepared for the teachers. Still, teachers are expected to prepare. There’s a text for each lesson, so the teacher needs to read the selection and look through the questions.

We have certain objectives that teachers are expected to help students meet. Great teachers always take time before class to make sure that they build in appropriate scaffolds to ensure that students are properly supported in meeting the learning goals. 

There are so many online English teaching companies out there. I think people think that’s all we do at Whales, and that is definitely not the case.

I think the thing that sets us apart from other schools is how our lessons more closely mirror what students would be doing in a classroom in an American public school. We do more than just provide ESL lessons. In addition to our Class English Classes, we also offer literacy courses, as well as specialized courses in academic writing, history, and science. 

For anyone thinking about applying to Whales, I would say treat it the way you would any professional undertaking. Many people approach online teaching as being something that anyone can do: just so long as you’re a native English speaker and make class fun for the kids. 

We do more than that. 

We’re really focused on delivering the best possible education for our students and that goes beyond just teaching the language. I’d encourage prospective teachers to seek out professional development opportunities and devote adequate time to lesson preparation and materials creation. 

Whales pays generously and really looks after their teachers. I’d encourage teachers to pass that goodwill on to our students by ensuring that the kids get the very best you have to offer. 

Whales English

"The absolute best aspect of working for Whales English is the support they give you... They are always there for you, willing to fix any issues that you might have. Also, they provide lots of training so that you know exactly what they expect you to do."

Enid

My name is Enid, I’m 29 years old and I have a degree in dentistry! Yes, dentistry… 

At the moment I’m getting me master’s degree, which means I have a lot of studying to do. When I thought about going back to university, I knew I had to find a part time job that allowed me to study and travel (my university is in another state), so I decided to become an English teacher. 

I started working part time in an academy for children, and when I thought I had enough experience, and a TEFL certificate, I applied to become an online English teacher.

I have been working with Whales for almost a year.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I would give them a 9. My experience with them has been excellent so far, the only thing I don’t like is that they expect you to have a monthly conversion rate (I only teach trial classes), and if you don’t meet the requirements for more that 3 months, they might not give you classes.

Getting hired was not difficult. They are mainly looking for native English speakers that are energetic and fun, which you should be if you have children of your own! I had an interview and then a demo lesson with representatives from the company. After that I started teaching the very next day.

The absolute best aspect of working for Whales English is the support they give you. You get assigned trial class support and regular class support, which are always there for you, willing to fix any issues that you might have. Also, they provide lots of training so that you know exactly what they expect you to do.

The worst part of the job is having to meet that monthly conversion rate, like I mentioned.

Overall I’m very happy with my experience with Whales. I would recommend it to anyone that’s looking to enter the online ESL teaching world.

The kids ages are between 4 and 14. In general, Chinese students are very respectful and behave very well during the classes. Learning English is very important for their future and Chinese parents know it, so they take the lessons very seriously.

Parents are usually very nice and stay around during the lesson to help their children fix any technical issues that they might have during the session.

Whales provides all the material that you are going to need to use in the lesson, so you only have to review the material. I only teach trial classes, which consists of repeating the same four classes. However, I really like the material so I don’t mind doing the same lesson several times a week. The company does other types of classes which range from literature to science, and of course, general English.

To be a successful online English teacher, you must be energetic, fun and patient.

If you’re thinking about applying, my advice to you is to be energetic, fun, smile a lot, use a lot of gestures and speak slowly and clearly during your interview. If you have any questions, need any help or are planning to apply, you can contact me and I will gladly help you!

Whales English

"They leave you be, they are extremely supportive, flexible (as much as they can be), understanding, and they help with technical issues immediately. This is my favorite company for a reason!"

Bella

My name is Bella and I’m from everywhere! I travel often and was raised in a military family, so we traveled a lot, including after the service was completed. 

I have been a nurse’s aide, a medical transport technician, a radiology receptionist, a suicidal or combative patient watch technician, a daycare worker, an aide at a group home for adults, a private home care nurse aide, and I have worked in hospitals and nursing homes. Long hours and no flexibility! 

I love traveling and the fact I have found something that supports that lifestyle is amazing. I do enjoy my work, so it is important that what I do is not “robotic” and I can be creative within it.

I have been a Whales English teacher for about 3 months, but I am madly in love already!!

I have worked with several ESL companies. I would rate Whales an 8, the highest of any other school I’ve worked for. Their interview process is overwhelming for some, but they also adjust their bonuses each month. Sometimes it’s a $12 per hour bonus and other times its $5. 

Getting hired is complex, but if you just take it one step at a time, it’s completely fine. The two group trainings are easy, they just want you to be attentive. You don’t have to “act,” and if they ask you a question, the answer’s on the screen. It ultimately doesn’t require much participation during any of the steps besides just attending and completing them. 

The absolute best aspect of working for Whales English is the creativity and relaxation! I can add videos, funny pictures, conversational slides, etc. I control the PowerPoint. 

If a class goes by too fast the first time, I add to it, save it, and I am set from that point on with that class. 

Each class is a file that you download and screen share through Zoom. The lessons are so laid back, you’re allowed to drink coffee, you can slow down and just talk with the students, and you don’t have to have a fake smile the entire time. 

You still should be energetic, but these classes are so much better than the robotic requirements of other agencies. 

Also I love the bonuses! They have the fluctuating bonus I mentioned but they also offer bonuses of $150, $200, $250, up to $450 a month for teaching a certain number of classes per week. The first bonus is hit with teaching 13 classes per week. That’s great! There is also a conversion bonus of $5 per student.

There’s also a 6-month lock-in! Yes! It may take a month or two to build up your schedule, you’ll do trial classes (the same three, over and over) with new students, and as you convert them you’ll start a 6-month class with them. 

Say goodbye to slow seasons! You’ll also get conversions from other teachers who maybe left Whales, you’ll get offers to sub classes, and some teachers convert but don’t meet the schedule requirements for those students and you might have just the time slot they need!

As for props, I don’t use them. I have a puppet and such, if I want to. But inserted pictures, GIFs, videos, celebration “slides,” those are all considered props. My work station is clean and professional. I just drop a shower curtain with the alphabet and animals on it on the wall behind me and I’m set! Great for traveling. Go anywhere! Including overseas. 

If I had to pick a negative, I’d say sometimes the prep is a lot! You have to download the PDF file, convert it to a PowerPoint file (through almost any conversion site for free), attach the audio files they provide, attach the video files they provide, and then if you don’t have enough content you need to add to it, too. I enjoy this process but sometimes it’s a lot. Once I have saved all of the classes it will be much more enjoyable and smooth sailing!

The second aspect I dislike is the fluctuation of bonuses. I was hired expecting the $12 bonus, but then they changed it for the next month to $5. That said, I still get the $20 base bay, though some people get offered more, so at least that’s guaranteed.

Overall, working for Whales English isperfect. You’re allowed to have sick time. My support usually rearranges my schedule if I need to be off and sometimes I don’t need to even use my “time,” but you can have vacation time of one 14-day period and two 2-3 day periods. They are so understanding of anything that comes up! 

I truly don’t have any complaints. The hiring process takes about a week; it’s a short list of to-do’s. But after that, they leave you be, they are extremely supportive, flexible (as much as they can be), understanding, and they help with technical issues immediately. This is my favorite company for a reason!!

As for the students, my favorite part about them is they stop and chatter a lot. They’ll cut you off to let you know how they feel about the topic: “I love elephants!” or “I don’t like spiders” or “I have wallpaper just like that!” And twice this week two students let me know their birthdays were coming up; it was so adorable. 

Conversation ability is important, so we get to foster that within lessons and don’t have to race through the content. They’re young, the same age range as with the majority of agencies (5 to 10) but they are smart, fun and funny! 

They tell me I am beautiful, we have laughed at miscommunications, and we truly do have fun. The same students make for cool relationships that both parties look forward to each week.

The classes are PowerPoint presentations. They’re always different! Days of the week, weather, school supplies… You definitely should spice them up! You also have to make sure you create some sort of reward system for the lesson. 

I feel like Whales is not a very well-known company! I believe they only hire when they need to. They’re careful. They are the most supportive I’ve known thus far and they really try to work with you. 

At first I was concerned with the weeks’ worth of to-do’s to get started with them. Interview, demo, submit extra information, sign the contract, attend two trainings, etc. But it was so worth it. Leadership often asks for our input on things and hears us out. 

For anyone thinking about applying, my advice is to give it a go! I love that it’s secure, every 6 months. That’s the best part. Also, download Skype, the WE Teacher app on your phone and get Microsoft Office (for PowerPoint, but once you get hired), otherwise it may be a struggle! 

Whales English

"Whales offers one of the best base rates in the industry and then some bonuses on top of that. So I usually average $25 per 50 minute booked class. Also, company and peer support is really good."

Martin

My name is Martin. I’m originally from the UK but moved to the USA at the age of 22. I worked in the computer industry first (programming and computer graphics). However, I changed to ESL teaching in 2008 due to a lull in work in computer graphics. 

I moved to China to work in ESL and have since taught ESL in brick-and-mortar schools in Vietnam and Mongolia too. I’ve finally settled in Mongolia. This year, I transitioned to online ESL teaching due to low pay in local schools.

 I’ve been with Whales English for just 3 months.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I’d say they’re an 8. The only issue is getting enough hours. I’d like to work 20+ hours but I need 2 days off. So I opened 17 slots but generally only get 10-14 booked.

Getting hired was somewhat tricky for me. I applied 2 times before finally getting hired. The first time I passed the mock class but wasn’t offered a job for reasons nobody could explain. A couple of months later, I was urged to try again by a recruiter and was offered a job after that.

Having shopped around for different online companies, I noticed Whales offered one of the best base rates in the industry and then some bonuses on top of that. So I usually average $25 per 50 minute booked class. Also, company and peer support is really good, so far.

On the negative side, it can take a long time to get as many hours as you’d like. I’d like 17 hours from Whales but never get close to that. 

Also, because I opened those slots, I can’t really close them without resistance. I’d like more flexibility to open and close slots weekly without penalty. I’m referring to trials.  

After three months, I’m seeing bookings for regulars and it looks like I’ll have 8 regular classes by next week. Bookings are dependent on your own marketing skills to some extent, so if you have a poor intro video, you might not get many bookings. 

Luckily, it seems mine is quite good since I’m seeing the start of good bookings. I’m about ⅔ booked between trials and regulars now.

Overall, Whales English is one of my best experiences in the industry. Bookings and bonuses could be better, but considering the base rate is awesome, I can’t complain much. 

One area where they could improve is the class materials. They are a bit dull and poor quality from a visual standpoint. It looks like they were photocopied from old books and the colors are washed out. PPTs with original art would be a big improvement.

I have a really random mix of students. For one lesson I could have a delightful child, the next could have a non-communicative child. However, that’s just standard in all teaching. Generally, the students are quite good, but not always. I teach pre-K and up, so I get  to 15 year olds.

Generally, there’s more than enough material. Occasionally I find it impossible to cover all the slides with sufficient detail. I’d say the material is a bit dated and you have to create fun activities of your own. However, that’s not unusual in the industry and a good teacher should be able to do that on the fly.

One thing people might not know about Whales English is that the base rate is per 50 minute lesson and it’s very good in the industry. Others quote “per hour” which is misleading. That’s also a difference.

For anyone who’s thinking about working with Whales English, my advice to you is to try to find a mentor, not just a recruiter. It really helped me to have a mentor who would do a full mock lesson with me. He/she can give you good tips on how to do a great mock class/interview. Practice your zoom skills and TPR.

Whales English


"Whales has an active Facebook group for teachers where teachers and admin staff answer questions and generally chat. All teachers also have an assistant who can help them out. Whales pays well and is really professional."

Lewis

My name is Lewis and I’m from England. After graduating with a degree in economics, I decided to teach English abroad, first in China and now in Vietnam. I currently live in the beautiful city of Da Nang with my girlfriend.

I have been working with Whales English for 2 months.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I would rate it as an 8. The pay is awesome, but the bookings are not as consistent as I would like.

Getting hired was quite easy. The whole process took around a month, including 2 interviews and 2 rehearsal classes, which are both paid.

The best part of working with Whales English is being able to work from home or while travelling. Also I feel like I don’t need to have props or act like a clown like some of the other online teaching companies.

The worst part is when either myself or my students have technical issues, which is quite a frequent occurrence, sadly.

Overall, the communication is great. Whales has an active Facebook group for teachers where teachers and admin staff answer questions and generally chat. All teachers also have an assistant who can help them out. Whales pays well and is really professional.

The kids are 90% great and 10% not interested in learning. You can practically see their parents standing over them sometimes making sure they are learning! Occasionally you will get students who literally can’t speak a word of English, which can be a challenge.

Parents are involved in the beginning of class usually, but 9 times out of 10 you won’t see them after the camera and mic are set up.

The lessons are made for you and are in PDF and PowerPoint files. They are actually really high quality and include games and stories.

I think, to succeed as an online English teacher, you must be reliable, enthusiastic, and patient.

For anyone interested in Whales English, I would say focus on teaching on Saturday and Sunday evenings (China time) because you get a $12 bonus for each class. Also make sure your lighting is bright!

Whales English

"The regular classes are pretty great, and as you teach the same students over 30 weeks, you really get to know them well and can customize the extras you bring to the curriculum."

Heidi

I’m Heidi. I’m a mother of 2 sons and I teach Sunday school and read stories, dance and sing for a weekly toddler-parent group.

I’m originally from the Seattle area, but I’ve lived abroad for over 20 years, making my home currently in England. I had my 1st TEFL job in Egypt in 1998 and have worked in various educational capacities for 20 years. 

I started with Whales English in October 2018, so I’ve been with them for about 6 months. 

I would rate them a 9 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Getting hired was not difficult at all. I was set up for an interview a few days after I submitted my application and was hired straight away and started the training.

They have pretty good curriculum for you to use and you just need to review it, and maybe add a bit to it, such as pictures, props and videos. Beside this, the training and teacher support is pretty good.

They want you to succeed so they offer plenty of support via training videos, social media contact and chat rooms plus webinars, and they’ve started doing location visits. 

Sometimes cross-cultural communication can be tricky and prone to misunderstandings, whether this be from your students, their parents or the staff in China trying to help you. If you keep this in mind and be patient, it can be resolved quickly.

Overall, I really like working as an online English teacher for Whales. My students are lovely and the support staff are great.

By in large, the children are delightful and eager to learn. The site advertises ages 5 to 12, but sometimes 3- and 4-year-olds show up, or you get an older teenager.  

Like in a physical classroom, the younger children require a bit more energy to keep their focus, so don’t just sit there! Move a lot, use props, sing and have a good reward system. 

For the older students, they’re especially responsive to the screen shares you can add to the curriculum such as Google Earth and YouTube videos that support the lesson.

The parents can be very critical as they want to see measurable progress for the lessons they’re paying for, but then, isn’t that just like all parents everywhere? My students’ parents have be supportive and responsive to the feedback I provide to help their children’s lessons go better.

You are provided with all the coursework you’ll need, but you’ll find both parents and students benefit from you adding little extras to the lessons, personalizing it to your style and strengths. 

The trial classes can be a little monotonous, but as the students are all different, they bring the variety. The regular classes are pretty great, and as you teach the same students over 30 weeks, you really get to know them well and can customize the extras you bring to the curriculum. 

I think the three most important qualities in an online English teacher are being expressive (TPR), helping foster student conversation (STT and peer-to-peer) and having the ability to laugh and improvise.

For this job, you’re going to need a computer with a good processor/graphics card and a good internet connection. The web class takes at least 10 Mbps download and upload speeds. And use a microphone with a headset.

For anyone thinking about applying to Whales English, they ask you to make a commitment, as their courses are 30 weeks.  Be sure to only commit to the hours you can work for the full 30-week courses. If you apply, you're welcome to use my referral link!

They do have opportunities for taking days off and are supportive to help you out finding subs if you’re sick, but plan your time well.  Once you’ve booked classes, you are committing to be there.

Whales English

"I would rate my experience with them a 9 because they pay well, communication is great and bookings are awesome."

Jill

Hello, my name is Jill. I’m from New York but now live in Cuenca, Ecuador.

I’ve been working with Whales English for 2 years.

I would rate my experience with them a 9 because they pay well, communication is great and bookings are awesome.

As for the hiring process, it consisted of an interview and 2 mocks.

The absolute best part of working for Whales English is the pay and being treated well by the company!

On the flip side, I think the application process could be made a little easier.

I have worked for a few Chinese companies! I favor Whales English and truly recommend them.

The kids are between 5 and 15 years old, and I love the parents I’ve met! They have all been very nice.

The lessons are provided. Right now we use Zoom as a platform but Whales English will be launching its own platform very soon.

I believe the three most important qualities in an online English teacher are patience, kindness and persistence.

For anyone thinking about applying, my advice would be to use a reward chart and TPR during the mocks, and remember to have fun!

Whales English

"I worked for several other online platforms in China before ending up at Whales. I get to talk directly with my support staff. You can actually Skype the owners of Whales, which is completely different from many of the Chinese companies."

Glen

My name is Glen. I’m from Australia but I now live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I came here to teach English and to dance. I needed a change in my life.

I have a post-grad degree in the sciences but work was difficult to find in Australia. I also have my own institute called Australians Teach English. We mainly teach in Spain, here in Latin America and sometimes in Australia.

After a few bad experiences with online platforms in China I came to Whales and have thoroughly enjoyed it so far.

I’ve been working with Whales since the start of 2019, more or less.

I would rate them a 9. I worked for several other online platforms in China before ending up at Whales. I get to talk directly with my support staff. You can actually Skype the owners of Whales, which is completely different from many of the Chinese companies that are almost completely faceless and cold.

Getting hired was easy, but I have been teaching online in my own institute and in others for a while now. I know that some other people, even good teachers that work with me, were a little more nervous and found it more difficult.

The best part of Whales is that they actually appreciate and value good teachers. For me, I’m not from North America, so with teaching in China I’m at a disadvantage. 

But I have other skills and they seem to recognzse when teachers have something different to offer. It’s actually what they want. I can talk to my teacher support and I really enjoy that.

The worst part is the early mornings., especially if I’ve been dancing the night before.

Overall,I’ve had a very good experience. It’s actually like a community. In other places it’s quite nasty, but this environment is quite supportive.

I teach kids from 5 years old to 15 years old, but I teach the science and literature curriculums, so generally I don’t have complete beginners.

I make sure I talk to the parents any chance I get. Many aren’t present during classes, but when they are, I talk to them and give them honest feedback. They really appreciate that. With Whales it feels like most of the parents choose the company because they actually want their children to learn, not just because it’s a form of babysitting.

My classes are great, but I get to talk about my favorite things: nature, the environment, animals. I can show my videos and share my passion. If you have a specific interest, talk to the company as it means that your classes will be better and the students love enthusiasm.

Important qualities in an online ESL teacher include being able to adapt. It’s not easy. You have less resources than face-to-face teaching and it can be more tiring. You always have to be thinking ahead. It’s the same with all teaching, but you have less tools to use. 

As for the necessary equipment, I have a menagerie of Australian animal puppets. Even my adult students love them. Perhaps more than the children. But obviously being professional means having adequate equipment.

For anyone thinking about applying to Whales English, my advice is to just do it. Be prepared and professional. Have enthusiasm. Smile lots. Sell yourself and develop tricks that work. But also be patient. If you’re thinking about applying, feel free to use my referral link.

Whales English

"The staff are accessible and responsive, and they have proven on many occasions that they really do value teachers’ opinions and act on our suggestions and feedback. They also provide training opportunities and support if and when it is needed."

Jeanette

My name is Jeanette. I’m from the UK but I live in Ireland. I’ve worked with children for most of my life and have a qualification in Early Childhood Education, plus a First Class BA (hons) in English Lit, History and Creative Writing. I also earned a distinction in my TEFL qualification. 

I taught in a nursery school in England for several years, which also included an after school and summer camp element.

I have also worked as a youth worker, and later, after moving to Ireland, I ran my own art and craft business, providing workshops and classes to children in private venues, schools, libraries, public venues, etc. 

I then went on to become a partner in a farm-based activity center, facilitating school tour groups, pre-school groups, adult groups, special needs groups, private events, public seasonal events, and overnight camps for teenagers.

I’ve been with Whales English since November 2018.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I rate them a 9. There have been some changes lately, including a reduction of certain bonuses, but otherwise the company is great to work for. 

The materials are generally very good and the flexibility and trust given to teachers in the use of Zoom and the expectation that teachers can supplement and adjust lessons to suit their students is really awesome. 

The staff are accessible and responsive, and they have proven on many occasions that they really do value teachers’ opinions and act on our suggestions and feedback. They also provide training opportunities and support if and when it is needed.

I found it quick and easy to get hired, but I did spend a lot of time preparing for the training and demo. They provide a lot of materials for us to go through.

The best part of Whales English is that teachers are treated as part of the team, and valued.

As for the worst part of the job, some recent changes are a bit unsettling.

Overall, working for Whales English is very good. I enjoy it and feel like a professional teacher doing a real teaching job.

The students’ ages are varied. I mostly teach lower levels, and my youngest are a pair of fidgety 4-year-olds. My oldest are 9. Some are attentive and focused, others less so.

The parents are also a mixed bag. I have some that are incredible. They are always there next to their children and are genuinely helpful and supportive but not intrusive. 

The best kind are those who I chat to sometimes in “asides” and who I can trust to trust me and to help if I ask. Others are far too intrusive, and in one class I have two sets of parents who talk over me through most of the class, drilling their children and repeating everything I say. 

And then there’s a third kind: the ones who leave the child at the computer and are nowhere in sight. This is only a real problem in one class. One of my fidgety 4-year-olds really needs someone to sit with her (on her?) and keep her there.

Every class has materials and many have extras such as audio or video links to include. Most classes are fun, but some of the Pre-K Classic English Class material is pretty boring (and excessively American) in my opinion. 

We are given the flexibility to add materials and improvise, so by adding props, videos, etc, most classes can be made more fun.

I love the Reading Courses and the higher level Classic English Courses as they have more to talk around, and are easier to make fun by having material that initiates discussion and critical thinking.

The three most important qualities in an online English teacher are professionalism, reliability and patience.

In terms of equipment for Whales, a good spec computer is necessary as Zoom is heavy on resources. A headset is also a requirement. I have a lot of props, but a few real go-to props that I use very often including a selection of facial expression emoji flashcards, a pair of sock puppets, and print-outs of the main characters in the course materials.

For anyone thinking about working with Whales English, I say that if you aren’t prepared to be professional, it’s not for you. If you think teaching online is about showing up in your pajamas, don’t apply to Whales. Whales looks for real teachers who are professional and work hard.

Whales English

"You’re expected to be professional, come prepared and have a positive attitude. If you have the qualifications and a professional attitude there is no reason you won’t be hired!"

Alana

 My name is Alana. I am both English and American. I have been teaching English online for 6 months, but teaching TEFL abroad for about a year. I am now teaching online to fund my own online business, which I am currently working on while living in India!

I have you been working with Whales English for 6 months.

On a scale of 0 to 10, I rate them a 9. The Whales team is so helpful and friendly. They are easy to contact and we have a laugh at some funny moments with our students. (One of my students thinks he is a superhero and has to be addressed with his superhero name and another thinks he is an alien!) 

The reason I am not giving them a 10 is because sometimes I find the server issues or the Wi-Fi in India stressful and this can make my job difficult; this is more of a downside to teaching online than a fault to Whales though!

Hiring is competitive. Whales is one of the best in the industry, so they hire the best teachers; however, it was straightforward and just like any other interview.

You’re expected to be professional, come prepared and have a positive attitude. If you have the qualifications and a professional attitude there is no reason you won’t be hired! Feel free to use my referral code!

The best part about this job is having the flexibility to work when I want and where I want! The students they enroll are so cute and fun.

I have gotten the chance to really build up my relationships with the kids because I have them for 6 months! So I have have inside jokes with my superhero friend and I have performances from one of my cute ukele players!

On the flip side, the technology can be stressful if you are travelling or living in India, where the infrastructure isn’t great. I get really upset if it doesn’t work because I take the job seriously and I want to give the students the best class they can get. So my advice is to invest in strong W-Fi or a hotspot, which is how I recently solved this problem!

Overall, working for Whales English is fun and rewarding.

One area where they could improve is maybe they could get their own platform instead of Zoom, which I hear they are working on, but to be honest I have only had a problem with Zoom once in 6 months, so it isn’t too urgent for me!

Most of my kids are around 6 to 10 years old. They are adorable and mostly keen to learn. I think having two children in the class propels them to want to be the best! I make sticker charts which they have to complete, so they have a sense of fun and a competition!

Classes vary depending on the syllabus given. My favorite classes are where we read the story together like a bedtime story and answer the questions. Mostly Dr. Seuss or children’s classics. Sometimes the classes have activities for the students, like races or tongue twisters, which can also be fun!

One thing people might not know about Whales is that it allows you to get to know the students because you teach them for a longer time. It has a very personalized approach and they are reliable with paying/training. I can’t really fault them to be honest!

For anyone who’s thinking about working with Whales English, my advice is to come with a positive attitude,be ready to be silly and fun, be professional, and don’t take yourself too seriously - kids want to learn in a comfortable setting!

Whales English


"For anyone interested in applying, the best advice I can give you is don’t become overwhelmed. A lot of teachers have become so overwhelmed that they freak out and they lose focus."

Bree

Hello! My name is Bree and I’m from America. I live in a small country town, which I love. My background is in the food industry. I love to cook! I’ve been blessed to have three beautiful daughters ages 26, 24, and 3 (yikes). 

I’ve been a substitute teacher for the past 5 years for grades K-12 and an online teacher for two years. 

I’ve been with Whales for 15 months. 

I give this gig a 10. Every job has its ups and downs, but I’ve had more ups than downs. My support staff is great and I have built a wonderful rapport with some teachers. 

I really don’t remember a lot from the hiring process. I filled out the application, did the interview  and the demo. The demo was pretty simple and you taught it how you wanted to teach it. 

The best part of Whales English is the little students! I can have a bad day and they just make me burst out in laughter. Their personalities give me a run for my money. 

The worst part of the job is kids not showing emotions. 

Overall, I really enjoy working for Whales. The kids are great and the staff is great also. To me, it’s peaceful. I feel at home and that’s a feeling I never felt from the other schools I’ve taught with.

My youngest group of kids are 3 years old. My oldest has been a 15 year old. I love working with the young kids because you can show them a sticker and they get all giddy. 

The parents are wonderful. They speak whenever class starts and some even sit their children during class. 

Some of the classes are repetitive because you’re teaching the same lesson to different classes. There’s a lesson guide to go by. That makes it easy. A lot of teachers make their own lesson plans. I go by WE’s and add something to it.

No need to make things more complicated for the students if they don’t understand. I try to make my lessons as fun as possible by singing, dancing, and playing games with my students. They seem to like it so far. 

The three most important qualities in an online English teacher is to be relaxed. Don’t let this online teaching get you so riled up that you can’t focus.

Second, have a personality that will win  your students over. For Pete’s sake, don’t be a dry teacher.

Third, having fun with the kids is always a winner. Incorporating these three things will make teaching online so much easier for the students because they will be willing to learn. 

The most important piece of equipment is a computer. The majority of the companies that I’ve searched require you to have a computer. I’ve seen a few that will let you work from your tablet or smartphone. Headphones are also important. These allow you and the student to hear each other clearly and drown out some of the background noise. It’s very distracting when you or your student isn’t wearing headphones and all of a sudden you hear a car horn honking. 

For anyone interested in applying, the best advice I can give you is don’t become overwhelmed. A lot of teachers have become so overwhelmed that they freak out and they lose focus. 


Is this opportunity right for you?

If you like working with kids and you fulfill the company’s requirements, this is probably the perfect online English teaching job for you. 

Finding legitimate work from home jobs is hard enough, much less one that pays up to 30 dollars an hour plus bonuses. 

Most importantly, Whales English has a strong and positive community, which is as rare as a unicorn in the workforce. 

Being a work-from-home English teacher may be the perfect example of having your cake and eating it too. 

Photo credit: Teacher Jeanette's virtual classroom

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