Review: Note: 51 Talk is no longer hiring native English teachers. They are allowing their current teachers to teach for other schools as well. This company mainly hires teachers from the Philippines but others are welcome to apply if you have a neutral accent. They are almost always looking for new teachers and as long as you are fluent in English and have the proper accent then you should apply. You must be available for at least 25 hours a month and have a college degree. They teach both one-on-one and group lessons.
Job Overview for 51 Talk
Pay Rate per Hour:
Preschool (age 3-5)
Elementary & Junior (age 5-15)
High School & College Prep (age 15-18)
Job Details for 51 Talk
Bachelor or above
Min Hours Week:
Min Uploading: 3 MB/s
Min Downloading: 3 MB/s
51 Talk Job Requirements
- Bachelor’s degree / Graduate of a 4-year course
- Experience teaching kids / K12 / Early Childhood / Elementary (preferred)
- English teaching certifications such as LET / TEYL / TESOL / TEFL (preferred)
- Must have passion, energy, and enthusiasm in teaching
- Availability to teach at least 33.5 hours per cutoff (each lesson lasts 25 minutes) during the following peak times:
- * 7p.m. – 10p.m. (Mon-Fri)
- * 9a.m. – 10p.m. (Sat-Sun)
CPU / Processor
Dual core processor 1Ghz or above, Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 or AMD equivalent is highly required
At least 2GB of RAM (4 GB is recommended) with 60GB free hard disk space available
A headset with noise-cancelling feature & a high definition webcam
3 Mbps and up wired DSL Internet connection (USB sticks, signal-based & wireless connections are not allowed)
51 Talk Job Description
Note: This is one of the few Chinese companies that teach children all day long. In order to work the daytime(Beijing Hours), You will have to sign-up for at least three night time classes.
Register online and provide all the necessary information
Meet the Requirements
Pass the assessments and complete the training.
Open the required number of lesson slots and start teaching
Home-Based Online English Teacher
We’re looking for experienced and potential teachers who love working with kids. 51Talk teachers love to make learning fun, and they bring excitement and energy to every lesson!
- Teach the English language to Chinese students online and evaluate their performance based on set guidelines
- Prepare and study the teaching materials before the lesson starts
- Conduct one-on-one video lessons with students within the prescribed time
- Provide corrective feedback and ensure that the students understand each lesson
- Create a lesson memo with the necessary feedback about the topics discussed
51 Talk Salary and Compensation
How to Apply to 51 Talk?
School Info of 51 Talk
51Talk is an online English education company based in China and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (COE). Found in 2011.
51 Talk Reviews
Read the post here.
I know you’re all probably tired of reading the constant 51Talk posts that border on spam/shilling, so please forgive the additional post – although I hope that this one is more useful and honest than the others I’ve seen. I’ve recently started working with them and wanted to give a review. This may particularly be of interest to those who are not American/Canadian.
Application Process: I had to have a 15 minute interview and a 20 minute orientation. Why they can’t just do these together I’m not sure. The orientation was pretty useless and could have been sent in an e-mail but it’s just one of the hoops you have to jump through. I found that I had to nudge and remind people to get things done or scheduled, and was often bounced between various staff members. It’s a large company and I’m not totally convinced anyone knows what they’re doing or what anyone else’s job is.
Training: They gave me what was supposed to be a 6 hour “new teacher” training session, but it ended up being about 3 hours – possibly because I was the only teacher in that session. My trainer (Ish) was actually extremely good and a really cool guy. I hadn’t done online teaching before, and although it isn’t rocket science, there are a few things that are different to real life teaching and he did a good job at going through everything. This was followed by an “on board” training session which took about 1 hour. The software and systems were explained – again, not rocket science, but just something you have to get yourself familiar with before you jump in.
Support: Inconsistent in my experience. Sometimes there is a queue to speak to someone, which is fine if you don’t have an urgent query but infuriating if you do. Support is now done mostly via online web chat, but there are also phone numbers if you’re going to be absent or have an emergency. The Thailand support number that was given to me during training must be incorrect because it was just some guy shouting at me who didn’t speak English.
Pay: Apparently this varies. They’re not very open with their pay structure. I personally start on $5 per class (equivalent to $10 per hour) which increases based on additional training and the amount of lessons that I complete. But to give you a more broad idea, this is what I can gather from various Facebook groups; Americans and Canadians start on $15 per hour, other native speakers at $10 per hour, and Filipinos are on somewhat less than that. Don’t take this as gospel though because this is heresy from other teachers. There should be no problem being paid – they’re such a large organisation (apparently listed on the New York Stock Exchange) and have been trading for quite a while.
Software/lesson materials: I have to give them credit, these have been fantastic. You have interactive materials that you and your student see on a shared screen. They’ve always been at the correct level of English for the student and are much better than the books I use in my real life teaching. I’ve always had enough material to go through and it is relevant to the topic at hand.
Overall: The administration and support leave something to be desired, and I recommend hounding and nagging them if you want something done quickly. This quality of administration has been fairly typical of what I’ve encountered teaching in Asia, so set your standards accordingly. The actual teaching is fantastic. It isn’t too hard, the materials are great, and the students I’ve had have been a pleasure (especially the adults, which probably make up around 80% of my bookings). It is also very easy to get the majority of your slots booked in peak hours.
Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer them as honestly as I can. If this is something that you’d be interested in please feel free to sign up through my referral link (I get a commission for this and it may help you get processed more quickly) but obviously don’t feel obligated to if for whatever reason you don’t want to.
Read the post here.
Re-posting. Thank you for your patience!
Hello, everyone! Well, I am now on my last week with 51Talk. I have been with them for a little over a year and am one of the last non-North American “native” speakers in the company. If I may, I would like to talk a little about my experience with them. So bear with me, as this review is going to be long.
Students are generally very good and I never really had a problem having students fill up my schedule (at peak times. The majority of students are kids, so don’t expect too many in the morning, or any in the early afternoon, before 4:30 pm EST). Most had a rudimentary understanding of English, but there were a few cases of students with a “0” level of English. These were not so common. Most of the time, students were respectful (at least to me) and willing to learn or at least talk.
(I was hired at a time when free-trial classes were not necessary. I have never done a free-trial, but I think most new hires need to do them now to build a student base. I stand to be corrected however)
The curriculum offered by 51Talk is actually pretty decent. Some options are not very good, but for the most part, they are easy for new teachers to use. However, if you are looking for a learning institution that gives you free reign over your lessons, this is not for you, as students will actually give you a lower evaluation (more about this later) if you don’t finish the prescribed lesson materials in the allotted time. So, some will argue that teacher are little more than lesson robots, but it’s more fun than that in my experience.
Evaluations (Teacher and Student):
Let’s start with the way the teachers are evaluated. Your fate in the company is left in the hands of the students and their parents. I find this to be a little ridiculous as (from what I have been told) students will book your classes based on the evaluations given by other students or their parents. This is called performance rating. You have been lowered from the lofty heights of Teacher, to that of a percentage. You are deemed either good or bad based on this percentage. I do not agree with this method as the students (or their parents) are, in my experience, the only ones who seem to evaluate the teachers. In my 14 months at 51Talk, I have never been evaluated by QA agent, or supervisor, or head-teacher, or anyone who is actually qualified to evaluate a teacher.
Student evaluations are simple at best. You write down pronunciation improvements, grammar improvements. Give them a mark from B – A+ (though I don’t even know if the student actually sees this) and you tell them where they need to improve. If you have a problem with the student (as in they were rude, inattentive, etc. there is no real forum for you to tell them. Sure you can leave it in their evaluation, but again, I’m not even sure if the student’s read them). Students are evaluated after every class. You will not be paid for that class unless you submit the student’s evaluation.
As I said earlier, I am one of the last remaining non-North American “native” teachers left in the company. Most of them were phased out over the last year and the company stopped hiring them because of “a new direction” the company was taking. This was given to me by a trainer who was doing her TESOL certificate at the same time as me. I don’t know if teachers are actually organized into teams or what, because the only person I have actually spoken with since I was hired was the aforementioned trainer. I have been pretty much on my own since then, but that’s fine with me. Can someone please confirm is such “teams” actually exist for “native” speakers?
When it comes to lesson and tech support, you can expect much uselessness. It really is quicker and less stressful to troubleshoot everything yourself. But you need to deal with the ineffective support personnel as you need to send reports which are proof that you are in the class, or something is wrong that’s not your fault, or the student is trying to blame their bulls*** on you. Trust me, it happens a lot. So, expect many a gray hair to form because of the support personnel; they are overworked, paid just above minimum wage in the Philippines, and their are just too few of them. As of writing, I am still waiting for resolution of a few of my problems.
Tech and Application:
The main application used for classes is called AirClass, or AC for short. This WAS an excellent medium to use as it was stable, used fairly low bandwidth and had the lesson material shared with student on an interactive whiteboard. It WAS excellent, until 51Talk decided to ramp up hiring of teachers, but neglected to invest in extra servers to handle the extra traffic. So, long story short, you’ll be spending many a useless hour, dealing with ineffective support personnel, trying to convince people that don’t care to invest in more servers to not only hand the teacher traffic, but the crazy influx of students that have simply overwhelmed the system.
In the cases of application failure (which happens a lot) teachers are then expected to contact the students through QQ or Skype. Long story short (again), QQ sucks. Trying to communicate through this application is a little bit better than not even bothering to have class at all. And Skype, we all know Skype. Sometimes it’s OK, most of the time it isn’t.
Pay and Incentives:
Let’s start with incentives. The only incentive I know of is if you refer another person to the company, and that person is successfully launched. Other than that, I don’t think their are incentives for “native” speakers. The pay is actually on the OK side. I started off at $14 which is not bad, but after completing my TESOL certification, I was look for a salary commensurate with my experience and the certification. 51Talk was unwilling to negotiate. But, I hear that they pay North Americans very well, so give it a try. They distribute salary through PayPal, so expect to pay lots of fees, especially if you have had a really good month.
Class Booking System:
51Talk is probably one of the most flexible companies that allow you to organize your schedule the way you want to. But beware. If a student books that class and you decide you don’t want to do it, then prepare yourself for what they call “fines”. Let’s say a student books your class but you decide not to do it and you don’t let the support team know, you’ll be fined $3 for that class. A no-noti [sic] absence will be marked on your profile, informing students of your unreliability for the rest of the month, and 1 absence will be marked on your permanent record. If you give 2 hours notice, $2 deduction, with an absent (not no-noti [sic] absence) notched on your permanent record. If you give 3 hours notice or more, you are deducted $1 with an absence marked on your permanent profile. Let’s say you get a cold and you don’t feel like having class, because let’s face it, you’re sick, fully of phlegm, and probably running a fever. You have 8 classes booked for the night and you’re not going to see a doctor because it’s just a cold and you’re not going to waste your time when you could be resting. Let’s say you want to cancel those classes. You can do that! But your account will be locked as you are only allowed 4 absences per month. Oh, you have a doctors certificate? Great! Your account will still be locked until a team of “qualified” individuals reviews your case. That may take as long as three weeks. And because you have signed your independent service agreement, you have agreed not to take classes in another language institution, lest your contract be rescinded and you are left with breach-of-contract fees. So, in short, BE CAREFUL WHEN OPENING CLASSES. DON’T EVER GET SICK.
51Talk has it’s ups and downs. I have enjoyed my time at the company and I have made a lot of money during my stay. The deal breaker was their unwillingness to renegotiate my salary. I feel I am far more deserving of what I am currently getting, especially as my students are very satisfied with my classes. A common theme we are seeing more and more is that most companies will pay you based on geography, rather than skill and experience. But, I digress. The company has good points and bad points. If you are North American, than you probably will get paid very well and have a very rewarding experience. If you aren’t (like me) than you might run into a few problems. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. I mean, they have so many teachers, but not all of them are good, so I have a feeling they are pretty desperate for good teachers right not, as are most language institutions. It is both flexible, and extremely rigid at the same time; you can plot whatever time you want, but once you’re booked, you have to commit or find yourself in a world of hurt. Do I recommend this company, if you are just starting out in the industry, yes. But if you have experienced other companies, maybe not. It’s hard to recommend something that changes based on the needs and wants of different people.
I am very sorry about how long this “review”. I hope that I was able to shed some light on a company that is rightly reviewed both negatively and positively at the same time. If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you, so drop me a line and I’ll do my best to answer them.