Update: yoli has been acquired by Yodo1, ceasing operations as a teaching platform as of June 1, 2020.
For other online teaching opportunities, check out this post.
As a traveler, I meet lots of people who are interested in online English teaching jobs. It’s how I earn a good portion of my income and, as with everything, it has its pros and cons. But more on that in a future post.
A while back, I covered whether or not teaching English online is worth it by reviewing a couple of different platforms. Today I’m going to talk more extensively about
Yoli Chat, one of the easiest ways to start teaching English online.
Here’s all you need:
- An articulate native English accent. You must be from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand, and speak clearly.
- A smartphone. You’ll have to download WeChat and get familiar with China’s largest messaging app.
What is Yoli Chat?
Yoli Chat is a program within the WeChat app where students (primarily Chinese) can take on-demand classes with native English speakers.
It also works the other way around: English speakers can use it to learn Mandarin. However, this post will focus on Yoli within the context of Work and Travel, as a way to earn money from anywhere.
How Does Yoli Work?
- Students who have bought a subscription open the yoli program on WeChat and click their start class button.
- This sends a push notification to yoli teachers around the world, letting them know that a student is waiting.
- There is a 5-minute window in which a teacher can claim this student and start a class.
- During the class, the teacher and student exchange voice and text messages
- The teacher guides the student through speaking assignments and provides feedback.
- A reminder is sent 5 minutes and 30 seconds before the class is about to end. The teacher gives final remarks and the class closes automatically after 22 minutes.
What to Expect
If you’re interested in what Yoli has to offer but want a better idea of what to expect you, here’s a simple but fairly comprehension breakdown.
Before You Apply
In addition to being a native speaker and having a smartphone, the Yoli Chat website specifies that a teacher must be:
- Engaging. You can engage students at many different levels of English.
- Compassionate. You correct students without making them feel bad.
- Down-to-earth. You’re ready to converse on any topic in a way that others can relate.
- Well-spoken. You explain things in ways that are easy for students to understand.
- Passionate about cultural sharing. As a Yoli teacher, you’ll be part of a global community of teachers and learners.
- Always striving to be better. You’ll get constant feedback on your classes, so be prepared to make continuous improvement.
While it’s not difficult to get started with Yoli, it does take a bit of time.
When applying, you’ll be asked to submit a video, answer a few questions, and go through some material to help you understand the Yoli approach to teaching English.
The application process can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on your pace.
- WeChat: Download WeChat on your phone, log in, and set your unique ID.
- Yoli Profile: Make a profile on yolichat.com and get PayPal if you don’t have it already.
- Video: Submit an application video.
- Questions: If your application is accepted, share a few things about yourself. For example:
- Why you want to be a Yoli teacher
- How you found out about Yoli (Flo told you, of course!)
- If you teach on other platforms (like these ones)
- Training material: Watch a few videos about Yoli and study the documents.
- Quiz: Answer questions to test your knowledge of the training material.
- Demo: Teach a demo class. A member of Yoli’s American staff will mimic a poor English learner.
- Join: After receiving feedback and passing the demo, you can join the platform and will be added to a few groups such as the Teacher’s Lounge.
- Unpaid trial: Teach 12 unpaid classes.
- Teach and earn: .After the robationary period, you’ll be a full-fledged Yoli teacher and required to take at least one lesson a month. You’ll get paid on the first of every month. Note that PayPal will deduct a transaction fee.
What is teaching a yoli class like?
You’ll probably feel a bit nervous when you kick off your first class, especially if you don’t have much teaching experience.
As an experienced teacher, I still needed time to adjust to the teaching style and platform. However, the platform is very easy to use. Each class comes with a simple structure and prompts to send the student.
I find that the real work of a class is in timing and feedback.
Once you’ve gotten into a nice back-and-forth with your student, you’ll also need to give actionable feedback—both throughout and at the end of class. You’ll also need to keep an eye on the time. Besides wrapping up the topic (so the student can have some closure), you’ll need to leave room for your closing remarks.
The end-of-class feedback is especially important and something you’ll have to put thought into as the class progresses. After the class closes, you’ll need to submit a quick evaluation and leave some comments for the student.
Once you get into the flow of the classes, they can be quite interesting and enjoyable to teach.
How many classes can you expect?
This depends on your availability. The student lobby tends to be busiest during the morning, lunch hour, and evening (Beijing time, GMT+8), as well as on weekends.
During peak times, other teachers will be around to take classes. The best way to get some for yourself is to have your phone on hand and be ready to grab them immediately.
If you’re available to grab classes on the go for a few solid periods throughout the day, you could get up to four or five. Another approach is to set a time every day when you try to take one class.
How much can you earn from teaching English online with Yoli Chat?
Yoli pays 30 RMB for a 20-minute class, which is roughly US$ 4.50. That converts to an hourly pay of about $13.5, which is less than platforms like DaDaABC and VIP Kid offer native speakers.
However, you need a college degree and additional teaching qualifications to apply to these companies. With Yoli Chat, it’s a simple matter of having the accent, attitude, and approach. Beyond that, all you need to apply is a smartphone.
Of course, because of the nature of the platform, classes are not guaranteed: you have to be available at the right times and grab them before other teachers do.
If you taught one class every weekday, you’d end up with about $100 per month. If you managed to get, say, 4 classes every day, you could technically bring in a good $500. If you grab a class here and there, you might end up with 20 or 30 bucks a month.
What I Like
- Community: I joined Yoli almost two years ago and through it became connected to an international network of teachers with all kinds of interesting things to share. It also got me into things like book clubs and Mandarin study groups.
- Gateway: After getting started with regular Yoli classes, all kinds of other opportunities came up. For example, I did English live streams on Huajiao and am now teaching live classes on HelloTalk. If you are wondering where to start with online English teaching, Yoli might be just the thing for you.
- Yoli Mandarin: When I mentioned that I had started learning Chinese, the Yoli guys generously gave me 5 free trial lessons with Yoli Mandarin. Besides being a convenient way to practice my conversational Chinese, it was interesting to experience the platform from the other side.
What I Don’t Like
- Timing. Because there is no schedule, I struggle with finding time to take classes. And of course, there is no such thing as the perfect time. Sometimes I find that when I’m free for a class, the lobby is silent. Then, as soon as I’m busy, students start popping up,
- Return on investment. If you take 20 minutes out of your Facebook-browsing time to teach a class, that’s a solid investment. But when it comes giving up time that could be spent on more productive work, or quality time with a loved one, it’s often not.
- Pay. Along those lines, another thing I don’t like is how the pay rate has changed. There was a time when Yoli classes were 15 or 25 minutes and paid 27 and 54 RMB, respectively. Those 25-minute classes were quite a steal! Now all classes are 20 minutes long and the pay is 30 RMB.
On that note, Yoli is focusing on funding its growth. With their Kickstarter campaign, Yoli hopes to expand around the globe and give more people the freedom to teach and earn on the go. As the company grows, teachers could count on a steadier flow of students and income.
Do I need a degree to teach English online with Yoli?
No. The only definite requirements are being a native English speaker and having a smartphone.
Do Yoli classes use voice calls or video chat?
No. Classes are conducted in the WeChat app, where you exchange voice and text messages.
How much does a Yoli class pay?
A 20-minute class on Yoli Chat pays 30 RMB, which is roughly US$4.50.
Who takes classes on Yoli chat?
Most students are from China but Yoli is expanding to other countries such as Japan.
Can you learn or teach other languages on Yoli?
Besides English, you can use the Yoli platform to learn Mandarin. (Not easy but lots of fun!)
Teaching English on Yoli Chat is not going to pay the bills or fund a travel lifestyle just yet, but it is a pretty fun and straightforward way to earn a bit of cash on the side. Plus, who knows what it might grow into.
Regardless, once you get the hang of it, you’ll likely find teaching easy and enjoyable—if you can make it work with your schedule.
Last but not least, you can tap into Yoli’s very international network of travelers, adventurers, and other interesting people. And who knows what opportunities that might lead to.
Give it a shot here.
If you apply to be a Yoli teacher, don’t forget to mention that Flo Alcasas referred you.