Super Guide – “How to become an Online English Teacher”




Orange – Required Section / Blue – Optional, but suggested.

  • Who is this guide for?

  • Which company should I work for?

  • Insight into the online English teaching world.

  • How to obtain your TEFL / TESOL / IELTS / CELTA.

  • Applying for “PalFish Official Kids Course” / “PalFish Philippines Course”

  • Passing your PalFish Official Kids Course video interview.

  • Attracting students / PalFish marketing tactics

  • I failed the PalFish application/Interview process… What now?

First off, take a peak at this flow chart below.  This will give you an idea of what to expect.

TEOLEO Super Guide - Flow Chart - How to Teach English Online

TEOLEO Super Guide – Flow Chart – How to Teach English Online

Who is this guide for, exactly?

Well to be honest with you, just about anyone. Prior to teaching on PalFish I had practically zero experience with children, or teaching for that matter. Now, I do natively speak English and my homeland is the United States of America, so that probably has made this process a bit easier. I started teaching on PalFish strictly as a means of survival while traveling Europe, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. To my surprise, I actually have genuinely started to really enjoy my time spent with my students. Here are some factors that might apply to you as they did me: Bad with children, a very quiet person, maybe antisocial, zero experience teaching or interacting with children. If I can do it, surely you can!

The sea of foreign companies hiring native and non-native English speakers.

One question you might have is “Which company should I work for?” Well, over the past few years the online English teaching space has exploded in popularity, and for good reason. There are a plethora of companies out there that will hire every walk of life. However, keep in mind the requirements vary depending on the company – but today in this guide, I will do my best to find you a home where you fit in and meet the criteria.

Today I will begin with my favorite company, you guessed it, PalFish! You might ask “Why do you prefer PalFish?”, and this is a great question. To put it simply, I believe PalFish has truly nailed the whole “modern English teaching app” from start to finish. Of course, no company is perfect, but I believe they do a pretty darn good job. PalFish has two courses that they offer to their students, the “Official Kids Course” (OkC), and their new “Filipino Kids Course” (PkC). Depending on your qualifications & nationality, this will determine which course you will be applying / teaching on. I will go into the requirements for both the OkC and PkC later in this guide, as well as other platforms if you don’t meet the criteria for OkC/PkC,  you fail the interview.

Real insight from a real online English teacher!

You may have heard a thing or two about the “online ESL arena”, and the stigma attached to it. Let me provide some insight from my personal journey working for PalFish. A lot of online English teachers complain about the long hours, the drama within the community, and plenty of technical problems that teachers face. Personally, on PalFish, I have faced very little technical problems, work ideal hours and stay far away from the drama. I believe this is achievable by most – you just have to find a company that values your time. You should also value a balanced work/life schedule, and make that a goal going in.

PalFish Official Kids Course TEFL / TESOL Requirements

To purchase the “150 Hr Master TEFL Course + Certificate number” for $39, click this link. (Please note, I do not use a referral link for this TEFL. Also note, this is the TEFL course I utilized to become a teacher on PalFish.)

Essentially, your TEFL / TESOL certificate MUST have an official certificate number. I have worked with a lot of new teachers and this is the primary reason why they are declined or fail their PalFish interview to become a PalFish official kids course teacher. As Joy said, you only get one chance to pass your interview – I wouldn’t risk failing your interview, so make sure your TEFL / TESOL has a certificate number!

The amount of “hours” your TEFL / TESOL certificate has apparently doesn’t matter, but we went for a more difficult TEFL course to help our odds at getting approved to become a PalFish Official Kids Course Teacher. Personally, I think doing a minimum of 50+ hours for your TEFL / TESOL is a good idea and will help you during this interview, but to each their own.

PalFish TEFL requirements

PalFish TEFL requirements

Here we go, the big one! Passing the TEFL course.

Alright, so we talked briefly talked about TEFL time-frames & what PalFish is requires on your TEFL / TESOL.

Now let us talk about the actual “150 Hour Master TEFL Course” provided by

This is what you’re presented with once you’ve purchased the 150 Hour Master TEFL course. Now I would recommend that you actually complete the material and learn something from this course, as it will help you in your online English teaching career.

Please note, these “pre-quizzes” don’t really matter, there are a few final assignments that DO matter, they are: The Grammar Test (the very first sections test), the final exam (Section 10 Exam), Module 8 assignment – “Classroom management situations”, and the final assignment – create a lesson plan. (Again, section 10)

Let’s get started!

There are a total of 10 “sections” & the Grammar Section (I call this section 0) for this 150 hour TEFL course. In each section there is one, or two things that you need to complete in order to meet all of the criteria to take the final exam to obtain your TEFL certificate. Through sections 0 – 10 you need to complete either the tests or the quizzes. Below are the answers to section 0 Grammar test (which does count!) and all of the other quizzes & tests answers.

Visit this link for answers:

You need a minimum cumulative grade of a 60% to pass the TEFL Course.

When it’s all said and done, will average together your Grammar Test score (which should be 100%) and your Lesson Plan Score (which should be near 100%) and your 30 question final TEFL exam score (should be near 100%) for a final grade. If you have a combined score above a 60%, you get your TEFL! If you followed this guide closely, then you should pass no problems!


Below is an example lesson plan that I created. I would recommend you do your own lesson plan, there are plenty of examples to help you understand how to complete it.

Complete your PalFish Application

Nervous about applying? Don’t worry! We explain the entire application process so you know exactly what to expect.

Let’s begin the PalFish application process!

Click this link and you should be presented with the following screen.

PalFish Application Sign up process

PalFish Application Sign up process

Click on “area” and input your country code, then input your phone number.

Depending on your device (Android or iOS), PalFish will either ask you to download an APK file or visit the Apple App store.

Android: Your browser will download an APK file, this is Android PalFish app, it is safe to install on your device.

Apple: If you’re on an Apple device it will direct you to the Apple App Store to download the PalFish Teacher app.

Once the PalFish app is installed, open it, click on “register” and again input your phone number + area code.

After that it will ask for a verification code.


The PalFish verification code should be sent via SMS to the phone number you registered on the previous screen. Input the code once received.

PalFish Verfiy Code Screen

PalFish Verfiy Code Screen

Next up you have the registration screen. Pretty simple, upload a profile picture, answer male or female, throw in a username (don’t worry, this can be changed later), password, and enter the invitation code of 87619320

PalFish registration screen

PalFish registration screen

Below is an example of an “ideal” PalFish profile picture. A blue shirt, a nicely lit photo just barely showing the shoulders, colorful posters in the background, the PalFish logo somewhere in the frame, and a nice little name tag!

Good Example of PalFish profile picture

Good Example of PalFish profile picture

Great! Almost done!

In this first screenshot below on the left you should be presented with the PalFish app home screen.

The first thing you will want to do is click on “Complete Information”.

This is the information that PalFish is requiring you to upload, I will go through each section and break down what they’re asking for.


PalFish required section / Completing your profile

PalFish required section / Completing your profile

“Text Intro”

Below is the official “PalFish Application Guidelines” – I would suggest you read it over carefully and make sure you follow the guidelines accurately, it could mean the difference between you passing, or failing.

/Begin Guidelines/

Thank you for applying to Palfish. This document gives you a guideline on how to complete your application. Please follow the instructions below carefully, since you will only get ONE chance. Good Luck!
Application Checklist:

Choose an avatar
It has to be yourself;
It’s a clear photo that people could recognize who you are;
It’s recommended that you are the only person in the picture;

Write your self-introduction
It needs to be more than 100 words
It needs to include the following information:
Your name;
Your nationality;(None Chinese only)
College that you have attended or attending
Previous experience(Recommended but not necessary)
What you can offer to your students
If you are a Chinese teacher, you need to write the Self-Intro in both Chinese and English

“Audio Intro”

It needs to be longer than 30 seconds;
You need to showcase your English pronunciation and proficiency;
Talk about what’s your specialty;
Make sure the recording is clear;

Nationality and Teaching Certificate

Nationality – Simply select your nationality and upload two pictures of your passport, front and back, clear high res photos.

Teaching Certificate – Upload pictures of your teaching certificate and input your unique TEFL certificate number and any other relevant degrees or teaching certificates.

“Add Account for salary”- Payoneer – Salary Payment Method

Just as it sounds, you need to create a Payoneer account [Click here to create account] (SIDE NOTE: After you receive $1000 to your Payoneer account, WE BOTH RECEIVE A FREE $25! So make sure you used the link above!) to receive payments from PalFish. Don’t worry, the signup process is very easy and to be honest, so far I have had no problems with them and can only say good things about their banking portal. Payoneer has quick payment transfers, low fees, great all around. If you already have a Chinese bank account, you can link that up too, but chances are low.

General Information
The verification process will take up to 2 business days. Please DON’T message us to rush your application, and you don’t need to inform us that you have completed your application. If you have any questions regarding how to use the App, please read “A Guide to Palfish”. Feel free to message “Palfish Team(T)” if you need assistance, or you still have questions regarding to the application process. We are more than willing to help! You will receive your application result from a message from “Palfish Team(T)”, please pay attention. Unfortunately, reapply is not available. Thank you for your understanding. Please also note that, all the information provided has to be true or Palfish has the right to disqualify you, and refuse to pay the salary. Please also note that you can only change your tuition rate TWICE a month, so please change the price after much consideration. Thank you.

Self-Introduction Example
None-Chinese Teacher
? My name is Jacob, I am 25 years old and have grown up in London, the United Kingdom.
? I graduated from Warwick University (#7 UK, #48 World) and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics.
✈ I am deeply passionate about our world. I have travelled to China, Nepal, Argentina, Thailand, India, Brazil, France, Japan, Holland, Bolivia, Germany, Cambodia, Spain, Turkey, Peru, Greece & Ecuador.
? Photography enthusiast – you can check out some photos from my adventures – all my photos I have taken myself.
? I spent 2 months in China recently and cycled from Guangzhou / 广州市 to Bangkok / 曼谷 Thailand.
? Just completed my Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.
? I have a neutral British accent and my voice is very easy to understand. You can listen to my Podcasts for a sample.
? I am fascinated by China and would love to hear more about your country and culture. I am currently saving money to return to China to explore and take photographs.
? Booking an appointment with me is your best option to guarantee you some teaching time and it also makes my life easier.
? I can offer Conversational classes, IELTS Practice, English for Business, English for Travel, Studying Abroad guidance etc. Just tell me know what you want to know so that I can prepare for you.
? I really look forward to speaking with you!

Editor’s Suggestions
Think of yourself as a student searching for a teacher, what do you want to see from the teacher’s introduction?
You need to be humorous, attractive, and it also needs to contain something like your hobbies
Here are some DO and DON’T
Don’t use some unreasonable GRE level vocabularies. They will scare students away!
Don’t talk in a cocky way. Students are seeking for moderate teachers.
Don’t talk too fast in the recording. Remember there are beginners on this platform.
Do present what you are good at with.
Do use a lot of Emojis! Chinese people love them!!
Do recheck your introduction, and look at it from a student’s perspective.

This is the end of “Application Guideline”.

Add account for Salary – Payoneer – Salary Payment Method

Just as it sounds, you need to create a Payoneer account [Click here to create account] to receive payments from PalFish. (SIDE NOTE: After you receive $1000 to your Payoneer account, WE BOTH RECEIVE A FREE $25! So make sure you used the link above!) Don’t worry, the signup process is very easy and to be honest, so far I have had no problems with them and can only say good things about their banking portal. Payoneer has quick payment transfers, low fees, great all around. If you already have a Chinese bank account, you can link that up too, but chances are low.

“Sound Test”

PalFish sound test

PalFish sound test

You should see this icon “Sound Test” click on it, and then click on the “record” button. You will be asked to read a few words from a kids book. Make sure to wear earphones with a dedicated mic to improve audio quality! Read the words slowly and clearly – This is required to finish your PalFish application.

Next up – your PalFish availability / schedule!

As you can see, I am located in the “Central European Summer Time” zone, obviously this will vary depending on where you’re located. As you probably have guessed, you will want to open your slots during the “hot” times, and definitely on the “double” times. As the key suggests, hot slots are China peak hours, and the double slot you get double points! I would highly suggest that you open as many slots as possible when you first start. When I first started I opened my slots from 8AM local time to 17:30 local time. Simple logic says: the more slots you open, the more classes and students you will obtain.

PalFish Slots / Hours Availability

PalFish Slots / Hours Availability


I want to continue talking about the PalFish schedule section as it’s crucial. One of the bad sides to this whole “teaching English online” thing is that if you’re in America, the popular working hours can be rough on the mental. Depending on your timezone, you may be working the dark early hours of the morning, or potentially very late at night. The west coast of the USA probably has it the roughest,  China peak hours I believe would be around the 1AM-5AM time frame, and the east coast isn’t quite as bad. Now, I believe you can eventually rotate your schedule to push for more comfortable hours, but this is no easy task. None the less, if you’re determined to become an online English teacher you will overcome this challenge.

Pretty much every where else in the world has a pretty comfortable schedule compared to the rough early peak hours of the USA. For example, most parts of the EU will likely be working 8AM to maybe 3-5PM. It really depends on how many hours you want to work. My daily availability is 11AM to about 3:30PM, which perfectly nails China peak hours and leaves me with a super fluffy schedule. I work 4 days a week and my monthly income is about $1600+.

PalFish Auto-Reply, Add account for salary, Tags, Application

Auto Reply – This is pretty simple, just record a 10 second “Hello PalFish student! Sadly, I am unavailable at the moment, please try me again later – thanks!”

Tags – Select a few “tags” to show what you’re interested in, or things that are relevant to you. Self explanatory.

Application – Once you have filled out all of the above information, and the PalFish team has verified and approved it, you can move to part 3, which is what this button does. You request your Official PalFish Kids Course interview through this button.

All that’s left is to pass your PalFish Kids Course official interview.

After you have uploaded all of the required information and have been verified by the PalFish team, you can click on the blue banner on the apps home screen.  Then, you should be presented with a screen to schedule your self video interview. You should be able to access this appointment from the “Appointments” section of the app. The interview is 25 minutes long, which means your video recording should be AT LEAST that. Personally, I would shoot for 25-27 minutes.

Once you complete the video recording it will take a few days for the PalFish team to decide if you passed or not, figures crossed!

Tips and Advice to Pass your PalFish Official Kids Course Interview

Prepping for the interview is critical. Here’s a list of things I highly suggest you do before your interview day.

  1. You should be able to access your interview appointment from the “Appointments” section of the app. Go into the interview room ahead of time and review the slides and become familiarized with them. Understand what they’re asking you to do. They may seem simple, but you don’t want to be caught off-guard.
  2. Time management. Make sure your video recording is at least 25 minutes. Try to spend around a minute per slide as I believe there are 19 slides in the interview material. You will be talking about animals such as dogs, rabbits, monkeys, fish and the like.
  3. USE TPR aka Total Physical Response – this is a big one! This is something the PalFish team will be looking for in your video interview. Communicate with bodily motion. If you want the student to repeat something you’ve said cup your ear with your hand, turn your head so your ear is facing your phone, wait 3-4 seconds. If you want show the student they did a good job give them a thumbs up, or say “GIVE ME HIGH FIVE!” and sort of virtually slap your cellphone. Point to your mouth to indicate you are talking, and they should be listening. Try to talk with your hands, here’s an interesting article that suggests talking with your hands help express your ideas.
  4. A few minutes are allocated at the beginning of the interview to introduce yourself, showcase your props and classroom, and to say hello to your imaginary student. Asking questions like “What’s your name?” & “How old are you?”, “Nice to meet you!” are all great introduction lines. If you can find any of the following stuffed animals, they will help greatly! Dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, monkeys, fish.
    1. Classroom showcase; make sure you have something colorful and “educational-esk” behind you. For example, a poster that has a map on it, or the ABC’s, or animals, you get the point.
  5. Make sure to speak very slowly, and clearly. Remember, you are teaching to an imaginary student who speaks zero English.  Also, if you have an accent try to neutralize it as much as possible, PalFish has stated they like very neutral American English accents.
  6. Wear a blue tshirt/polo/long sleeve. PalFish loves to see a blue shirt/polo during classes. If you have a shirt that is royal blue, even better!
  7. You will be asked to explain how to “circle something on the screen“. Typically, doing an “air” circle with your finger and slowly saying “Can you circle” will get the point across. You may want to get a piece of paper and draw say, a tree, a flower and a bug. Get a marker and ask the student “Can you circle the tree?” and then you circle the tree on your paper. This is a good way to give the student an example of “how to circle” something. You could do this on the app slide and draw on the screen, same concept.
  8. There is a little “AR” button at the bottom right of each virtual classroom, try to utilize the PalFish Augmented Reality feature. I have come to realize how powerful this tool is, and how under utilized it once was. If you come to a slide and it’s talking about a dog, apply the PalFish Dog AR feature. Point to yourself and say “What animal is this?”. I have noticed the PalFish team is very proud of the AR feature and like to push teachers to use it during trial lessons.
  9. Try to have fun. Definitely have a smile on your face and try to be some what energetic. If you’re having fun, the student will have fun. I am decently introverted, so being “super energetic” is not a strong suit of my to say the least. But during the interview you need to try and showcase what you “could” do if you passed the PalFish Official Kids Course interview!


Getting Started as an Official PalFish Kids Course Teacher – Profile Setup, Attract Students, Get Paid!

Here are some tips and tricks that I have come up so you can attract more students on your online English teaching platform.

Public Profile

Many of these teaching online English platforms have a profile area of sorts, this area is very important. You should not cut corners as this will hurt your reputation on the platform. Having plenty of nice pictures, audio intros, video intros, text intros, etc, will improve your odds. Take the time out of your day to buff these things out, the students and parents will appreciate the effort.

Quality teaching and Student Review

To put this simply, be the very best teacher that you can be. Now, what does that entail? Well, this will vary depending on your platform, but some shared quality teaching characteristics I can think of are as follow: Speaking very slowly and clearly for your student, using TPR to help bridge the language barrier, grading your students homework to the best of your ability. For example… leaving a voice message, or a nice text message saying “Great job on your homework! Keep it up!” is a good trait to obtain and keep. Positive reinforcement is proven to be a great way to keep a student actively learning.

Gaining Exposure through free sessions / free live streams

Again, this will vary platform to platform, but sacrificing some of your free time to do a “free” session or live stream of sorts will help you gain followers / exposure on your English teaching platform of choice.

Building Relationships & Having Fun

Initially your relationship with your new students might be very foreign. It is important to joyfully (& truthfully) interact with your students to try and really build a relationship with them. If you are putting on a face and not truly happy teaching your student I believe kids pick up on that, which is not good. I am not saying by any means you have to be this super energetic teacher who’s bouncing off the walls, that’s not what I’m trying to say… You should honestly try to have fun, like actually have fun. Put on a funny hat, mimic the student, if they get loud YOU GET LOUD, if you ask what the animal the tiger is, ROAR at them, because why not! Remember, you’re teaching a child! This is probably one of the most important tips I can teach to new online English teachers. I can almost assure you that if you have fun, the student will have fun, and there’s a very good chance you will have this student as a permanent student.

Be a good strict teacher!

What I mean to say is this… if you follow the above advice, and combine it with the next tip I am about to say, you will flourish as an online English teacher.

Be a fun teacher, but also be a strict teacher. I don’t mean to use the word ‘strict’ negatively though! Make the kid laugh, correct him on his pronunciation error. Act like a robot, inform the student how to correctly spell the word robot. Put on a red clown nose, but make sure they understand what the color red is. Ask them a serious question and make sure they say the answer 100% correct, GIMME HIGH FIIIIIVE!!!! Do you see where I’m going with this? This is how you can attract more students, and how you can retain first time students on your online English teaching platform of choice.

Hopefully you enjoyed this guide, I will be writing these on a regular basis to help all those who are interested in becoming an online English teacher.

STEP 5 – I failed the interview or don’t meet the criteria, what now?

If you failed the PalFish interview, or are not of one of these nationalties: US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Filapino, please visit our NNES Super list, there are plenty of companys hiring English teachers, best of luck!


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Written by Jake
A relatively new teacher to the online English teaching platform PalFish! I love the idea of creating a helpful website for inspiring virtual English teachers. I'm hoping this eventually turns into a lovely, resourceful, centralized location for all things "teaching English online" - Teo.Today!
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  1. I love all your posts. You have done really good job!

    • Hey thanks @aaronwak – sorry for the late response, I didn’t see this comment 🙂

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