Zebra English Review: The Best Online ESL Company
As of recently, I’ve branched out to another online English teaching company. Here is a review of Zebra English, an online ESL company that TRULY cares about its teachers and offers an excellent work environment.
What Is Zebra English?
Zebra English is an online English teaching platform that caters to Chinese students between the ages of 3 and 7.
This company actually started as a language app for kids, similar to Duolingo. At first, they focused solely on teaching through AI.
In 2019, Zebra English rolled out live classes with native English speaking teachers. Students are now able to supplement their app learning with live instruction from us.
These live classes focus strongly on pronunciation and dialogue, which is what sets it apart from other online English teaching programs.
Zebra English Requirements
There are five requirements to becoming a Zebra English teacher:
1. You must be a native English speaker.
2. You must have the legal right to work in the US or Canada. Yes, even California residents are able to apply!
3. You must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher (in any subject).
4. You must have teaching experience (coaching, nannying, etc).
5. You must have a teaching certificate or license of some sort. This could include a TESOL, TEFL, or teaching license.
Note: The VIPKID TESOL does NOT work for this company. You can use the VIPKID TEFL certificate from the Ministry of Education in China, but you’ll need to pay $79 in order to use it for another company besides VIPKID.
If you don’t have a teaching certificate or license, I highly recommend getting yours from Premier TEFL (it’s cheaper than the $79 you’d pay with VIPKID).
I received my certificate from this company and have nothing but great things to say. It’s cheap, easy, and internationally accredited (which is very important and what many other cheap TEFL certifications lack).
Zebra English Hiring Process
The Zebra English hiring process is similar to other companies, however, I found it much more straightforward. I was able to complete the entire process within one week and start teaching right away.
Here is an outline of what you can expect for the hiring process:
2. Introduction Video
3. Demo Lesson 1
4. Demo Lesson 2
5. Teacher Briefing & Sign Contract
This is what you’ll need to know about the Zebra English hiring process:
The application is easy to complete. You’ll need to fill out your basic information and meet the standard requirements to continue through the process.
Note: It is best to continue through the hiring process with a referring teacher. Since this company is looking for a different teaching style than many of the other ESL companies, you’ll want to know exactly how to teach your demo lessons.
If you don’t have a referring teacher, feel free to use my link: Teach With Zebra English. I’d be happy to walk you through the steps.
2. Intro Video
Next, you’ll be asked to submit an introduction video, also known as the “mini-demo”.
For this step of the hiring process, Zebra English is looking for a 1-minute self-introduction followed by a 4-minute mini demo lesson (Sports)**.
In your introduction video, include your name, where you’re from, your educational background, and your experience with children. For this part of your video, you’ll be speaking to Zebra English employees. Be articulate, but there’s no need to speak to them like they are children.
For the sports demo, you’ll need to use a LOT of TPR, speak slowly, ask questions, and refrain from ping-pong repetition. And remember, you WILL be pretending to teach children for this part.
This is a good time to reach out to your referring teacher for more tips and guidance.
**Note: They are currently transitioning from a 1-minute intro video to a 5-minute intro video. If you get a prompt to complete the 1-minute intro video, check your email for instructions on the 5-minute demo and do that instead.
The demo lessons are the next steps in the Zebra English hiring process and will ultimately decide if you’re hired with Zebra English or not.
Other companies give applicants many tries to complete mock classes or demo lessons, but Zebra English does not. You’ll have two attempts (demo 1 and demo 2) to pass this stage, but if you don’t pass, you won’t be able to continue with the hiring process.
For demo lesson 1 and demo lesson 2, you’ll be teaching the exact same lesson (a 20-minute lesson). If you don’t pass the demo process after demo lesson 1 (most teachers don’t pass at this stage), you’ll be instructed to sign up for demo lesson 2.
Again, this is where a referring teacher will be extremely helpful. There are a LOT of misleading Youtube videos and examples out there, so you’ll want to make sure you’re following the right instructions.
After you pass the demo lessons stage, you’ll be asked to sign up for a teacher briefing. Before I did this, I wasn’t sure what this meant or if I needed to prepare for it.
The teacher briefing is just an overview of Zebra English, what they expect, and how to book classes. So, there’s no reason to be worried or feel the need to prepare for anything.
An Important Note About The Hiring Process
There are only a select few teachers that conduct demo lessons and teacher briefings. If you cannot find a slot to book for your demo lesson or teacher briefing, keep checking periodically throughout the day.
You should also check every day at noon Beijing time (11 pm Central Time). I wasn’t able to book one immediately after I received the invite but found a spot that same day at 11 pm.
The last thing you can do to get your demo lessons and teacher briefing booked is to reach out to your referring teacher. They should be able to offer advice and help you get these steps booked as soon as possible.
Zebra English Teaching Hours
Since Zebra English caters to Chinese students, teachers must be available during Beijing waking hours. Here is a breakdown of the most popular times to teach:
Peak Times (Beijing Time):
Monday – Friday: 6 -7 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm
Peak Peak Times (Beijing Time):
Sunday – Saturday: 7 – 9 pm
Saturday + Sunday: 8:30 – 10:30 am
Total Available Teaching Hours
With Zebra English, you can teach any day from 8:30am – 9pm Beijing Time. This is 12.5 hours per day.
Many applicants might wonder if it’s possible to get bookings outside of the peak and peak-peak time slots and the answer is YES!
I have gotten many bookings already that weren’t during peak hours. Also, the students are quite young, so many do not go to school during the day. This is your opportunity to teach more and more classes.
Pay + Incentives
One of my favorite things about Zebra English is the pay scale. I love their incentives and their willingness to pay their teachers what we deserve.
The Zebra English Pay Scale Breakdown
Base Pay: $8 – 10 per 25 minute class
Your base pay will depend on your experience and your performance during the introduction and demo lessons.
Participation Incentive: $1 per 25 minute class
You’ll automatically receive an extra $1 just for showing up to your classes. Not a bad deal, ay?
Class Quantity Incentive: $0.50 – $1 per 25 minute class
You’ll receive an additional $0.50 per class if you teach 30 to 44 classes per month. If you teach more than 45 classes, you’ll earn $1 extra per class.
How Do We Get Paid?
Zebra English pays teachers once per month via direct deposit. Transfers are made no later than the 10th of each month.
Zebra English Review: The Pros
These are the best things about teaching with this company:
1. The company books the teachers.
Other companies rely on the students’ parents to book the classes. This means that teachers are at the mercy of parents, making it difficult to get bookings as a new teacher.
But with Zebra English, the company books the classes. This means that even as a new teacher, you will get bookings.
2. Starting pay is higher than most companies.
I was offered more with Zebra English as a new teacher than I made as a veteran teacher at another company (I’m sure you can guess which company I’m talking about).
Teachers receive $16 – 24 per hour with Zebra English.
3. You aren’t REALLY teaching, you’re reviewing.
My favorite part of teaching with Zebra English is that I’m not really teaching.
Students learn concepts throughout the week with their Zebra English app. When they get to class, they are simply reviewing the materials they have been studying and using these words in sentences and conversations.
In my opinion, this is much easier than teaching the concepts.
4. They care about quality not quantity.
Although it might be disappointing for some, I think it’s honorable that Zebra English doesn’t hire EVERY SINGLE APPLICANT.
They care about quality not quantity, unlike other companies.
5. No minimum hours
One of the reasons why I didn’t start teaching with another company is because many require minimum hours each week. I want full control of my schedule. If I can’t teach for a week, I don’t want that to negatively impact my contract.
With Zebra English, you are not required to meet minimum hours.
6. 1 – on – 1 teaching
Another reason why I chose Zebra English is that you’re teaching just one student rather than several students at once.
I find it much easier to teach just one student at a time.
Zebra English Review: The Cons
Every company has its negative characteristics. These are the things I don’t like about Zebra English:
1. You’ll need to open your schedule far in advance.
Although you don’t have to meet minimum hours with Zebra English, you’ll get more bookings if you open your schedule far in advance.
Instead of having different students each week, you’ll be having the same students again and again. Zebra English wants their students and teachers to grow long-term relationships, which is why they encourage us to open our schedules far in advance.
2. The students are young.
I do miss my older students and engaging in quality conversation with them. But, you wouldn’t believe how smart and advanced these young learners are!
Zebra English Bookings
Before I wrap up this Zebra English review post, I want to explain how to get bookings and how bookings work.
As I’ve mentioned, the company books classes, not the parents. Here is what you need to know about Zebra English bookings:
1. You’ll start with trial classes.
All teachers start with trial classes. Your goal will be to convert those trial classes into live-class students. When you convert them, they become your regulars.
Note: Trial class conversion rates are MUCH higher than with other companies because these students are already Zebra English students. They are paying for the app already, so many are willing. to pay extra for live classes.
When you first open your schedule, open as many slots as you can, but the most important thing is to open the same slot two weeks in a row.
For example, if you open a slot for this Friday at 9pm, open the same slot next week (Friday at 9pm). This is how trial classes are booked.
2. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the best days for bookings.
Open those Friday, Saturday, and Sunday slots as often as possible.
3. Getting a completely full schedule will take time.
BUT, you’ll be able to grow your student base much faster than you would with any other company.
You’ll get classes right away and you’ll be able to start converting trial students into regulars.
4. Opening classes far in advance is the best option.
When you open a teaching slot, you’ll have the option to open that slot for just this week, 4 weeks in a row, 8 weeks in a row, or 12 weeks in a row.
It’s best to open classes as far in advance as possible because this will increase your booking rate.
Note: I couldn’t open very many classes that far in advance because we are full-time travelers, but I still was able to get classes right away.
Zebra English Referral
Having a referring teacher for Zebra English is vital. The teaching style that Zebra English is looking for is much different than other companies.
Having a current Zebra English teacher walk you through the steps will help you get hired and start teaching as quickly as possible.
If you don’t have a referring teacher yet, feel free to use my link: Teach With Zebra English. I’d be happy to help you get hired!
The Wrap-Up: Zebra English Review
To sum up this Zebra English review, this small company has so much potential. They’ve already created a fantastic atmosphere for teachers. I would highly recommend applying and getting your foot in the door as soon as possible.
Hi! Just started teaching with VIPKID and I enjoy teaching online more than I thought that I would. The issue is that I am not getting enough bookings and I want to venture off and teach on other platforms so this article is VERY helpful!
I plan on taking a TESOL course to finally get a certificate. Is International Open Academy internationally accredited?
Yes, this is a problem I’m seeing with SO MANY VIPKID teachers and it’s disheartening. Which is why I checked out Zebra.
And to answer your question, yes! International Open Academy will work!
Thank you so much for this information! I’ve been teaching with VIPKid for over 2 years and I am a NY state certified teaching assistant with 10 years of teaching experience. Would I still need the TEFL certificate or would the TA certification suffice?
Thank you again!
Your teaching license will be perfectly fine, yes! Great question.
I’ve been teaching for VIPKID since August but really struggled with getting enough slots filled. I’ve taught 1st and 2nd grade for 3 years, but switched to online only after the pandemic started. I’ve been applying for jobs on Indeed and got a message from ZebraEnglish today saying they saw my resume and wanted to know if I’d be interested in a job opportunity with them. After reading your blog it sounds much better than VIPKID and more stable. I clicked your link and started filling out the info and I’m on the introduce yourself section. Is there a place where I can put you down as a referring teacher? Thanks so much for your help!
I am currently an online English teacher, and I have a 60 hour TEFL certificate. Do you know if Zebra English requires a 120 hour certificate, or will a 60 hour one suffice?
Thank you in advance!
I believe the 60-hour certificate will work! You might want to reach out to Zebra and ask them if that will suffice. But I’m pretty sure it works.
Thank you Laura! I would like to use you as a referral. I am going to take the TEFL class right now as you recommended. Thank you as always for your blogs and information!
Sounds great! Be sure to send me an email when you are ready to sign up for Zebra and I’ll walk you through the steps!
Hi Laura! Thank you for sharing this! I am getting burnt out on VIPKid because of the hours. I’m on the West Coast with two toddlers under 5. I am going to revamp my schedule to be night hours (lunch time-afternoon BJT). Do you think these times would work with Zebra English?
I get quite a few classes in the evening for ZE because they are small children. Also, evenings on the weekends are a gold mine!
Thank you so much, Laura. I am also interested in Zebra English and was hoping to use you as my referring teacher. Do parents provide feedback? How long is the contract commitment?
Yes, parents provide feedback if they want. The contracts last for 6 months. I hope that helps!
Hi Laura! I followed your link and am in the hiring process. I passed the first two demos and now onto teacher briefing. Is it correct that they are on break until Feb 21? I wanted to confirm that info I read somewhere. Thank you!
Congratulations! Nice work!
They are on holiday from February 8 – 21st this year.
I am also interested in Zebra English and was hoping to use you as my referring teacher. I was going to sign up for VIP Kid but have changed my mind due to your recent blog post. Any info you have on the hiring process would be greatly appreciated. I have forwarded an email to you. Thank you for all of your insights on teaching online!
Hi! Your website is always helpful when navigating this online English teaching world! I already started my application process without reading this – is it possible to add a referral code in after the process is underway? Thanks!
You can add me as your referral if you’re within 3 days of starting your application. Feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take care and talk soon!
Hello thank you for this!! what is your referral code the link was not working on my phone thank you!!!!!
My referral code is LAURA0279
Hi 🙂 thanks for the info! Are we able to use an ipad and our data plan?
No, you cannot use an iPad to teach with Zebra English, unfortunately.
I’ve been with Zebra English for a month now and couldn’t be happier! Hands down, the best ESL company.
Couldn’t agree more! Very personable company and the platform is so fun, isn’t it?
You’ve mentioned a few times that Zebra is wanting a different type of teaching style. Could you elaborate on this? I feel like I have a different teaching style than most VIPKID teachers but I don’t know if it would mesh with Zebra. Thanks in advance – love the blog!
Send me an email and I’d be happy to explain 🙂
Hello Laura I am maria nice to meet you I would like to know if you can help me with the hiring process you can email me at email@example.com thank you!Looking forward hearing from you soon!
Send me an email and we can go from there! I’d be happy to help you through the Zebra English hiring process.
When I click on your link, it says they are not hiring right now. Do you know when they might start hiring again? I have been teaching with VIPKid for over a year now and love teaching the younger students, but my bookings are never consistent. Fully booked for a few weeks, then only half for awhile. It’s very frustrating! I have my masters degree in education, as well as my TEFL. I think that Zebra English sounds like a great company and I would like your help in getting hired.
Yes, unfortunately, they are on a hiring freeze right now, but if you send me an email I’d be happy to let you know when they start hiring again! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would assume with teachers going back to school in September, they will start hiring again soon, but I cannot be sure.
Hi Laura, I was wondering what the equipment requirements are for ZE? I have a google chromebook that works with teaching at my current company Gogo Kid but does not work for teaching on Vipkid. Are you able to teach from a browser or is it only through Windows or Mac? Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use a Chromebook for Zebra English because you’ll be teaching from the app. You’ll need a computer that has the capability of downloading apps.
I hope this helps!
I used the link for your referral. It took me to the application site. Is there somewhere I need to put a code or something??
Right now, Zebra English is on a hiring freeze. But, if you send me an email, I’d be happy to let you know as soon as they start hiring again.
I’m writing this in September 2020. Is this info still current? I am currently making about $21/hr with VIPkid, but I would take a significant cut if I continue after this contract expires, which will be in October. I am wondering what teachers typically make (not necessarily what is advertised) with Zebra English. Thanks!
With Zebra, I currently make a base pay of $8.50 ($21 per hour with both incentives). However, most teachers at Zebra do not teach 45 classes or more each month, so that incentive is usually not included. With that said, you could expect to make around $19 per hour.
The only thing is, Zebra English is on a hiring freeze. They are not currently hiring any new teachers because they have enough teachers at the moment. But, if you send me an email, I’d be happy to let you know when they start to hire again.
I tried your link but it says that the referral link is incorrect.
Any suggestions? Thank you!!
Unfortunately, Zebra English is on a hiring freeze at the moment. I’d be happy to let you know when they start to hire again. You can send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll let you know when they start again.
I started VIPkid a month ago and have very little bookings, despite the fact that I’ve done so many certifications and their TEFL. I recently did the TESOL with International Open Academy and I’m interested in Zebra. I am hoping I can use you as my referring teacher.
Unfortunately, Zebra is on a hiring freeze. But I’d be happy to let you know when they start hiring again. Just send me an email!
Also, I’d be happy to chat with you about VIPKID and why you’re not seeing any bookings. There’s definitely more to it than just getting certifications. Also remember that it takes about 3-4 months to get fully booked with VIPKID. Frustrating but worth the wait!
Hi! I’ve been receiving your emails and reading your blog for a while. Thanks for the scoop on Zebra English. I just applied through your link, so I assume that’s the referral. 🙂
Awesome! Send me an email and we can get you through the process!
Hi Laura! What is the cancellation policy like with Zebra English? VIPKid’s is pretty strict, but I have heard of many other companies being more flexible.
The cancellation policy with Zebra English is very similar to VIPKID’s. You’ll receive 6 cancellations per contract. In addition, you’ll need to pay $2 if you cancel within 24 hours of the class start time and $10 if you cancel within 2 hours of the class start time.
I hope that helps!
Happy Holidays. Hope all is well. I was just wondering if Zebra is hires people who want to teach English and are native English speakers but are from other countries such as The Philippines. Just like what VIPKid did.
Would be great to hear from you via email.
Thank you very much!
Unfortunately, Zebra English will only hire teachers from the US and Canada right now. Sorry about that!