Hi, my name is Jonathan, and I have been teaching online since December 2017.
I am currently working at Cambly. Please watch the video above, and if you think you qualify as a teacher (trust me you probably do!), then you can contact me via the form below, take a look at my blog, or fill in the form below. The cool thing about Cambly is that you don’t need a resume, you just need to fill in the application along with a video – once it’s approved you’re good to go!
The Cambly system operates in the Chrome browser, that’s currently the only browser they support, so you need to make sure that your computer is compatible. I’d also recommend running it in incognito mode, as it seems that it’s less buggy and allegedly has better call quality. Other than that, they’re really not too fussy! Personally, I have a two-year-old HP Elitebook 8760w that’s running Windows 7, and this is working well for me. I use the built-in webcam and it works great. For a headset, I use the Sony MDR-XB950. They recommend that you use headsets vs built-in mics and speakers, which is a good suggestion. Personally, I like my headset because it’s insanely comfortable – I had another set that would give me a headache after 2 hours of teaching. I prefer the over-ear style with soft padding. I share the set with my wife and she prefers it too because it can accommodate her massive hairstyles 🙂 Also the mic is in-line so it’s really practical for multipurpose use, like listening to music/podcasts, etc.
In terms of suggestions during the hiring process, don’t overthink it! It’s pretty straightforward. Something that I appreciate about Cambly over other teaching platforms is that the instructions are understandable, actually written by English-speaking people. Literally, all you have to do is fill in some of your information, record a video introducing yourself to the Cambly staff, and creating a profile. For the video, just speak in an understandable manner, enunciate well, and tell them about your experience, your education/certification, and why you want to work there. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. In terms of when you’ll be hired, results may vary. It depends on demand. My wife was hired within 2 days, for me it took a week for them to get back to me, I’ve heard of others having to wait a couple weeks, and some reapplied a month or two later. Usually, though, hiring happens within a few days.
Something to keep in mind is that this platform focuses on adults, not children. Occasionally you’ll run into some teenagers, but I have never spoken to a 5-years old Chinese kid, aside from the odd time that their parents are introducing them when they’re interrupting our conversation. Please keep this in mind as you’re preparing your profile video. Exaggerated TPR is great for young learners, not so much for the doctors, engineers, and PH. D students that you typically encounter on Cambly.
When you’re doing your video, you don’t need to speak in an unnatural way. Cambly has a massive range of learners. Some can’t say more than 5 words in English, but the majority are at the pre-intermediate level and above. Personally, I enjoy this. I find the hyper-TPR to be exhausting after a couple of lessons, I enjoy being able to teach in a more naturally friendly atmosphere.
I would recommend that you think about the type of person you prefer to teach and then focus on them. Adapt your profile to appeal to them. You get a range of people that sign up. Personally, I prefer teaching people that are at least pre-intermediate and I have a bit of a niche with engineers since I’ve worked for 10 years in Canada as a manufacturing engineer. For me it’s worked well to highlight that, especially offering to help them with homework, reviewing various standards that are written in English, or helping them to become more proficient in writing clear emails to their English-speaking peers using technical language. This works for me, you will probably have your own niche that you will want to cater to. You might want to start off the first couple of days by seeing what fish are biting, but I’d recommend specializing in a certain group as soon as you get a feel for what you enjoy. It might be IELTS prep, business English, conversation on _____ topic, whatever makes you happy, just pick something. Keep in mind that different crowds have different dynamics, so some groups will give you more long-term commitments, some want cram-style learning, some want to casually chat when they notice you’re online. Get to know your crowds and how to cater to them.
One cool thing about Cambly is that the lessons they provide, should you choose to use them, are designed to be taught with zero prep. It’s super easy to teach once you have a basic feel for them since most of them follow a very similar style. Again, that’s if you choose to use them. If you want, you could create your own lesson plans from scratch, but in my opinion, it’s only worth it if you want to get some practice for yourself. For myself, I use some of the lessons, and then some online references and tools that are generally found in the top 3 hits from Google. Cambly is extremely flexible for different teaching styles and tastes. This is why I highly recommend it to anyone that is trying to get some experience in teaching ESL. You basically do what you want and get to discover your own preferences as a teacher.
That said, this might not be appealing to everyone. Some people like the strict cover-the-slides approach that many teaching companies enforce. For myself, though, I feel like I’m better able to learn how to be a good teacher if I can experiment a bit on my own. But again, if just going through lessons is more your style, you can still do that.Cambly has a “Just Starting”, beginner, and intermediate course available in its resource library that you can use. Or don’t use it. Whatever makes you happy.
Information and Requirements for Cambly
To teach at Cambly, you need to be a native English speaker. That’s about it! No BA, no TEFL/TESOL/ABCDXYZ certs. To be fair, though, these are things that can help later to get more talk time, as certain students search for various qualifications that they feel are important. Except for the ABCDXYZ cert. That’s not a real certification and students might question your credibility if you advertise it.
There is a hiring process that includes submitting an introduction video. This is how they can verify your accent, and ensure that you can speak actual proper English. They don’t care about neutral accents. Cambly is full of Brits, Irish, New Zealanders, SA’s, you name it. Actually, there are several of the subscribing learners that seek out non-neutral accents to help them become more adept at understanding different variations of English. You can re-record as many times as you like so there’s really not a lot of pressure. Just be friendly, smile, and use whatever level of enthusiasm comes naturally to you.
One of the really cool things about Cambly is that it’s pretty well one of the most flexible jobs on Earth. You can sign up as a tutor, work whatever schedule you want (unlike a lot of the companies that focus on China), let your account hibernate if you don’t want to teach for a while, come back…. Literally, no commitment.
For myself, I actually got hired on in September 2016. I didn’t teach a single minute until over a year later when one job that I was relying on turned out to be not as reliable as I thought it’d be. So after a little bit of an “Oh, crap, what do I do now” reaction, my wife reminded me that I was already hired at Cambly. I literally signed on and started working. Compare that to most companies that want 6-month commitments, have minimum weekly hour requirements, not to mention significantly more consuming hiring processes.
This is an ideal option for people that want to travel the world without being tied to any sort of schedule (although regular schedules definitely help you get more regular students), or for people that want an instant plan B. Personally I like this job because I can work while my two little girls are taking their afternoon nap – I get to spend waaay more time with my family!
Definitely, the pay isn’t as lucrative as some of the other companies out there, but the flexibility this job offers really makes it worthwhile. In terms of internet speeds, they recommend a minimum of 2 Mbps up/download speeds, although they’ll let you teach with as little as 1 Mbps. To put that into perspective, a lot of other companies require 10 Mbps. That means that if you’re traveling and aren’t sure about what kind of internet you’ll have access to, it’s way more likely that it won’t be an issue with Cambly.
In all, Cambly is by no means a lucrative career option (see my blog to see how much of the $0.17/minute I actually make!), but it definitely caters to a few groups that could really benefit from signing up. Because your account can hibernate for however long you need it to, and due to the fact that the schedule is wide-open flexible, this is as solid a Plan B that you will ever find for people that want to travel the world or live as an expat and still have some job security. And depending on where you live, the pay might be totally fine! For example, where I live in Ecuador, the average school teacher makes $5/hour, which is comparatively pretty high-paying here. Most people make $2-$3/hour. $0.17/minute can still go a long way.
Ultimately though my recommendation to anyone that’s wanting to live abroad or travel is to sign up and try working a few hours before you’re halfway around the world. This way you can test out your equipment and make sure everything is working. Try working enough to get a feel for it – you might hate it, you might love it, you might not even care because it lets you do what you want with the abundance of hours that you’re not working!