VIPKid Teacher Tags

Teacher tags are meant to help parents find teachers who will meet their expectations.

When a new teacher completes the hiring and mock class certification process, VIPKid adds up to five teacher tags to our profile. These tags are all positive, and they are meant to help parents find teachers who are a good fit for their child. In addition, you can select some tags of your own, making the total tags available six! When a parent leaves you five-apple feedback, they will see your self-selected tags and be given the option to endorse one or more of them.

How do I know what my teacher tags are?

In the teacher portal, click on “My Info” and then “tags.” You will see your tags in each of three categories: Teaching Skills, Strengths, and Personality.

What tags are available?

VIPKid has posted the list of potential teacher tags in the Support Center. Check it out here! In the meantime, you can also review the below list of possible teacher tags assembled by Ed Nace (and reprinted with permission.) VIPKid recently updated their teacher tags, so some of these may no longer be available, but this gives some good insight – especially into those related to personality.

Ed’s list includes two types of tags. One is related to your academic expertise in the classroom, and the other is related to your personality. He lists an English translation of the tag, the actual Chinese characters/words, and then a basic explanation of the words since translations are not always true to the intention of the word. In case you aren’t familiar with Ed Nace (and why this list is awesome!) Ed and his family lived in China for eight years, and he is a veteran ESL teacher. He’s written some amazing books that help de-mystify Chinese culture, parent feedback, and teaching techniques. He’s saved me many times with his books. You can learn more at https://ednace.com/.

List and translations courtesy of Ed Nace. Learn more at ednace.com.

How many tags do I get?

Each teacher may have up to six tags assigned. If you have fewer than that, I do suggest adding more. Having a full set of tags will give the parents a more comprehensive view of your personality.

Should I change my teacher tags?

If you already have the maximum number, my answer is “probably not.” (This is my own personal opinion.) “But Amelia, you said in your Booking Boosters post that changing my tags could help me get bookings!” Yes, that is true; however, I suggest using it as a last resort if you have exhausted all other ideas and still aren’t getting bookings.

The reason I personally have chosen not to change my tags is that we may not have the same interpretation of our style as a Chinese parent would. For example, I think I am very detail-oriented. But compared to people in China, is that still true?

Years ago, I was very active in Toastmasters International. I participated in my local, area, and regional clubs and activities. I consistently got high scores in vocal variety, emotion, and intonation. I (and my Toastmasters peers) considered this one of my strong suits! However, I had the opportunity to speak in several Toastmasters meetings in the Philippines and in India. While they were very welcoming and provided positive feedback overall, vocal variety was my weakest area! Their perspectives and mine were simply not aligned because we were evaluating based on a different set of cultural norms.

Teacher tags are meant to help parents find teachers who will meet their expectations. If we accidentally mis-categorize ourselves since we are describing ourselves through an American lens, we are setting the parents up for potential disappointment. And disappointment could possibly lead to less than five apples. Because of that, I have chosen to leave my tags as applied by VIPKid and the parents. My only change was to add a tag in the area of “strengths” where I didn’t have any. That were visible. I chose to add the two that were already endorsed by parents. That way, when parents view my tags, they’ll see that other parents agree, and hopefully their expectations will be aligned.

I hope you found this helpful! Have you asked about your teacher tags? Were you surprised by them? Let me know in the comments!

The Prop Report

I thought I would begin sharing my product reviews about what does (or doesn’t) work well in my classroom.

I don’t love to shop. I am not especially good at it, and I don’t like it when I order something that isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

That said, I do enjoy having fun (and practical) things in my classroom!

From this foundation, the Prop Report was born. Occasionally, I thought I would begin sharing my product reviews about what does (or doesn’t) work well in my classroom.

But first- a few disclaimers.

  1. If I provide a link to a product, it will be a labeled affiliate link. (hopefully. If I can figure out how to do it!) My goal is not to get rich quick, but if you do happen to use my link to get a great product, I will get a small payout. Yay!
  2. I am not turning this into a product blog. Most of what I write about will be teaching. When I do throw in a product, I will label it clearly so you can skip over it if you’re not into those posts!
  3. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SPEND MONEY TO BE A GOOD ONLINE TEACHER! I use cute props and backgrounds and rewards because they make me happy. But there are plenty of prop minimalists who do amazing things in their classrooms. I don’t ever want one of my recommendations to be perceived as “necessary.” It’s not.

I will try to keep a list of companies that I have an affiliation with. So far, it’s just:

  • Amazon.com

(but do you really need more than that!?!)

I hope you find this helpful. If you have questions about any of the products that I talk about, or if you have questions about other products that I might like to try, please let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching! (and shopping!!)

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Using WeChat

I only give my ID to regular students. I trust them, and I trust their parents.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is one form of Chinese social media. According to Intern China,WeChat is the biggest social media platform in China with over 963 million users each month. In my experience, it is used as a cross between Facebook messenger and Twitter.

  • Moments: People on WeChat have “Moments” that are publicly posted. They can be pictures, written updates, or videos that are less than 15 seconds.
  • Chats: People on WeChat can send private messages, or chats, to others in their address books.
  • Other Features: It can also be used to follow businesses, identify people nearby, place calls, or even send money. I don’t personally use it for these features, but they are available.

How do you download WeChat?

WeChat is available in the app store for iPhones or in the Google Play store for Android.

How do you use WeChat?

  1. Once you have downloaded the app, open it and click “sign up.”
  2. Select a name. (Some teachers suggest not to use your last name.)
  3. Choose what region you live in.
  4. Type your phone number into the field.
  5. Set a password, and click “sign up.”

How do you find and add contacts?

If you are interested in communicating with your students and their parents, there are two ways that most people let parents know they are on WeChat.

  • Feedback: I have a signature that I copy and paste when I send feedback to my regulars or send feedback to a learning partner.
  • Screenshot: We know not all parents read our feedback, so another option is to hold your QR code up during class. Please note, VIPKid discourages the use of WeChat, so I prefer not using class time to do this.

If you are interested in communicating with other teachers, I would recommend finding other WeChat users in the Facebook group VIPKid: Using Chinese Social Media.

How do you add a contact in WeChat?

There are two ways you can add a contact.

  • Username/Phone Number: From the contacts screen, click the plus sign in the upper right hand corner. Then type in the user’s WeChat ID in the search bar at the top. Please note, this may not be the teacher’s name as it’s displayed! For example, mine is AmeliaBarker (with no space) but it’s displayed as “Amelia Barker.”
  • QR Code: From the contacts screen, click the plus sign in the corner. Then choose “Scan QR Code. Scan and then add!

How can you use WeChat to grow your business?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really tried to use it this way, so I’d love to hear your ideas! Normally, because I’m communicating with existing students, there is less opportunity for this.  However, here are two examples that I recently posted that could result in additional business.

Trial Classes: Maybe your regular students are sharing VIPKid with their friends. I recently posted that I was certified in the new Trial 3.0 Plus classes, so they could recommend me to their friends!

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Supplementary Classes: If you have new or unique certifications for supplementary classes, let your students know! Maybe that will be the encouragement they need to try them out!

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How can you use WeChat to enrich your relationships with your students or their families?

This is where I personally find the most value in WeChat. I only give my ID to regular students. I trust them, and I trust their parents. I have one student who is a very mature 11-year old that I have also added. (She was my very first student.) I have used WeChat to:

  • Send additional praise or homework for a student.
  • Remind parents to have their student bring their UA homework to class.
  • Ask a student or their parents if they are coming to a student no-show. (Even if they say no, you still have to stay until the fireman marks the class as finished.)
  • See more about the student’s interests to help choose rewards.
  • Find ice breaker questions. (Do you have a cat? — yes because I saw its picture!)
  • Share custom rewards or pictures (My favorite!) Check out an example of what I did this last week in this blog post!

I hope you found this overview helpful. If you have suggestions, tips or questions, let me know in the comments. If you would like to see all of the content I’ve posted on WeChat, you can check it out on Pinterest.

ESL Extension

Extension is not just a way to kill time. You want to … expand their vocabulary, grammar, or other English skills.

No one has ever accused me of being short-winded. In writing or speaking, I ALWAYS say too much. As such, it was no surprise that most of my VIPKid classes easily hit the 25 minute mark. In fact, my struggle is usually completing them by about 27 minutes in order to reset my classroom.

Imagine my surprise when one day I met Alina. Her English skills were on par for a level 2 student, but she was so well prepared for the lesson, that she was able to fly through each slide perfectly, with literally NO CORRECTIONS needed! She was not comfortable with free talk, so I had to be very intentional about what I asked her, or she would just freeze.

Thanks to Alina, I had to quickly learn the art of extension, and it has become one of my favorite parts of teaching. I teach Alina every other Friday now, and I always look forward to thinking up new ways to extend her knowledge just a little bit more.

The key to effective extension is your goal. It’s not just a way to kill time. You want to either:

  1. Confirm your student’s understanding of a concept
  2. Ensure your student can apply the new information or
  3. Add new information that relates to the content that expands their vocabulary, grammar, or other English skills.

Below are a few of my favorite extension techniques that you can customize for your classes.  These were written with major courses in levels 2-4 in mind, since most of those follow a similar “flow” in the lessons.

Noun Examples

Most lessons begin with the introduction of 1-3 new vocabulary words. There are always several examples in the lesson and several target sentences to learn. You can introduce new and different types of examples to help expand their understanding of the word, and help them use adjectives to articulate their sentences.

For example, if the target word is bus, you could use the below to extend.

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Verb Conjugation

I use this in almost every lesson. I have a few different laminated verb charts that I use, and I almost always go through a cycle of pointing at a pronoun and having the student say the correct word. “I _____. You ______. We _______. They _______. He _______(s). She _______(s). It _______(s.)”

You can then change the sentences slightly. Introduce different toys or characters that “do” the verbs. If Meg is doing it, they must know the right pronoun (she) and the right conjugation. If Mike is doing it, they must say “He” and the right conjugation. If Dino is doing it, they must say “It” and the right conjugation.

Sentence Objects

You can also change the object of the sentence.  If you are trying to teach the verb “point” and the target sentence “He points to a ____.” the possibilities are endless. “Teacher points to a Dino.” “She points to an apple.” “She points to a wardrobe.” (Any prop will likely do!) This can be extension and a review of prior lessons!

Role Reversal

For your more advanced students, you can get them to take on the role of the teacher. Ask them, “What can you point to?” and have them demonstrate, “I can point to a ____.” They also like it if you get answers wrong. If they point to a cat, you can say the sentence, “You point at a dog.” They’ll laugh and say, “No, teacher. I point to a cat.” I would only use this technique if I already had a good relationship with the student and I knew it would not confuse them!

Indefinite Articles

Almost every lesson has the opportunity to extend by teaching and practicing a/an. In all of the examples above, you can demonstrate and explain when to use “a” vs. “an.” Many students pick up on this intuitively but you can always reinforce it or have them explain the rule to you.

High Frequency Words

There are plenty of things you can do with high frequency words, depending on your student’s comfort level.

  • Read them.
  • Read them fast (and time them.)
  • Spell them.
  • Make a sentence with each one.
  • Make a sentence with more than one.
  • Tell a story using the words.

My sweet little Alina is no longer shy. She blew me away last week when I asked her to make up a “telling sentence” and instead she told me a story! You can check it out on You Tube!

Counting, Colors and Size

These are some of the easier ways to extend, and they most likely won’t take up a whole lot of time. But you can always ask some basic questions about the pictures in the lesson.

  • How many elephants do you see?
  • What color is the chair?
  • Which car is the biggest? Which call is the smallest?

I NEVER wait until the end of a lesson to extend. If you remember our objective above, it’s not about filling leftover time, it’s about truly expanding on what your student is learning. Throughout the lesson, I look for opportunities that lend themselves to the examples above. I try to set my pace to approximately one slide per minute. If I check, and we have time, then I will introduce one of these methods into the lesson at the appropriate time. If not, I keep moving.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

If you are new to VIPKid and are looking for a mentor to help you with these (and other) ESL teaching techniques, I’d love to help you!

Happy teaching!

VIPKid – Teaching Vocabulary and Target Sentences

Whether you are completing an express demo lesson, a mock class, or are teaching a class, VIPKid always includes target vocabulary words and target sentences. These will be identified in your lesson (or interview) objectives, and you will find a style of teaching that helps you teach these consistently and easily.  Below are a few of my helpful hints.

Know the objectives.

I know this sounds obvious, but you should always be sure you are familiar with the target word and sentences.  For example, I recently taught a lesson about parts of the face. In each lesson, the student learns two new vocabulary words like eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. The target sentence for each is “I _____ with my _____.”  Simple, right?

Remember that we are teaching children a new language, so misplacing even one word can be detrimental. In the example above, my target sentence was “I taste with my mouth.” At one point, I accidentally said, “I eat with my mouth.” While this is true, to someone trying to learn the word “taste,” this could suddenly confuse them.  So know your vocabulary and your target sentences.

Repeat each new vocabulary word at least two times.

Before introducing context and sentences, it’s important for the student to hear and repeat the vocabulary word alone two times.  Clearly say the word (with TPR), and have the student repeat it. Do this again before moving onto the target sentence.

Give your student enough time to respond.

Remember, an ESL student might take more time to process and prepare than we do, so be sure you allow time for the student to respond. You can nod encouragingly to be supportive while not speaking to interrupt their thoughts.

Use TPR.

Even if you are using props, TPR is still a very important part of learning new vocabulary. ESL learners benefit by linking action with speech, so do not omit this step! I usually try to vary the TPR to give the student as much visual context as possible, so I might use one motion the first time I said the word and a different motion the second time I said the word.

Use props.

Any time you can use a prop or realia to help reinforce new vocabulary, this is helpful. This could be a printed or digital picture, a gif, a real object, a toy, or something on your whiteboard. You will find the props that suit your classroom style that fit with your students’ preferences! If you use a prop early when teaching a word or a sentence, if a student struggles to remember it later, you can show them the same prop to help trigger their memory.

Adjust to your student.

If a student is struggling to repeat an entire sentence, you might need to break it up into manageable portions. A sentence that my students often struggle with is in the unit about having fun with friends. The sentence is “I swing on the swing.” For some reason, my students often struggle, so when we practice it, we start with “I swing” and once they repeat that, I add “on the swing.” Once they can say both individually, then we combine them.

Be sure to correct errors.

Don’t be afraid to correct errors. Pronunciation, omitted words, and grammar are all very important to students and their parents. Remember, you can correct them in a positive, upbeat way but they are here to learn English, so make sure you aren’t supporting bad habits!

Don’t get bogged down.

Sometimes a student really struggles with a word or a sentence. You have a finite amount of time to complete the lesson, so don’t feel that you have to stay on the slide until they have reached perfection. Teach, correct, and practice, but if they simply aren’t getting it, move on. They will have ample time in upcoming slides and lessons to keep practicing the concept.

I hope this is helpful as you are getting started. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments! If you are just thinking of becoming a VIPKid teacher and would like some help with the interviewing process, feel free to use my referral code.  I would be happy to help you.

 

 

VIPKid and Daylight Saving Time (Spring Forward)

Last fall, I was a shiny, new VIPKid teacher. I was worried about Daylight Saving Time, and didn’t know what to expect. After surviving my first “fall back” shift, I wrote an article about VIPKid and Daylight Savings Time (Fall Back) .

Tomorrow, we are set to “spring forward” and this time, I have a lot less stress about the situation.

So what is changing for me?

As you might know, I only work super-part time. I have a day job that I begin at 8am Central Time each weekday, so my schedule has been 5:00 am – 7:30 am Central Time. This equates to 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm in Bejing. Once we spring forward, if I were to keep the same times open in Bejing time, MY time would be 6:00 am – 8:30 am Central Standard Time, which now overlaps with my day job.

What did I do?

At the risk of sounding a bit anticlimactic, I did nothing. I am keeping 5:00 am – 7:30 am Central Daylight Time open. For my students, that now represents 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm in Bejing. The time is already updated in the VIPKid portal, so as long as you set your clocks with the time change, 5am is really 5am. You don’t have to do the math!

What will happen to my schedule?

My schedule is crazy for the first week after Daylight Saving Time anyway, because it’s spring break week, so I am only working a few days. So my first “frenzy” (when parents book classes two weeks in advance) will happen this weekend.  It’s possible that I will lose a few regular students who prefer that later timeslot; however, many will shift with me.

What did I do to prepare?

  • A few weeks before the time change, I left comments in my feedback advising my regular students that my schedule would be changing. I apologized for the inconvenience and assured them that I still wanted to teach their son/daughter.
  • If those later timeslots did not book in the frenzy, I started closing them. (If this were my primary income, I might not have done this.) My goal in closing them was twofold: a) to get an idea of what students this would impact by watching for priority booking requests and b) to prevent getting any new regulars that I fell in love with that had to have that timeslot!

If you are worried about the time change, please don’t be. Students will come and go, and their schedules change (just like our kids’ schedules change!) This may be a good opportunity to find some new regulars, and if you have flexibility to teach at different times, perhaps you could accommodate some students who need to find a new teacher! And you never know, you might just catch some amazing sunrise snapshots between classes!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, and I would be happy to help.

Happy teaching!

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