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.