Make Money Teaching English Online With PalFish

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If you’re looking for some great new ways to earn money from home without a bachelor’s degree, online teaching is a fantastic option! As long as you’re a native English speaker with a solid internet connection and mobile device, you can make money teaching English online on your phone with the PalFish app.

PalFish – Diary of an Online EFL Teacher
PalFish twin logo

How to Make Money Teaching English Online

PalFish is a China-based ESL platform that connects young learners (ages 3-12) with native-speaking English teachers from the US, UK, Australia, and NZ. With this company, you’ll earn between $14-$22/hour, with payments being sent out once per month (between the 1st and the 7th) and going through Payoneer. So, if you don’t already have a free Payoneer account, you’ll need to set one up to get paid.

Getting Started on the Platform

Once you’ve gotten your app installed, it’s time to start booking classes! PalFish has two types of lessons that they offer; the free talk course, where you basically just have a conversation with your student and the official kid’s course (OKC,) which has set slides that you teach throughout the span of your session. Since they’re based in Beijing, peak hours are usually early AM EST time, and then more of the days/nights on the weekends. They ask that you open up at least seven slots during their peak hours to continue teaching the official course, but you can open as many as you’d like.

Job Requirements

If you’re a native English speaker with experience in working with children, you’ll be able to teach free talk lessons without any issues. However, in order to teach the OKC, you do need to possess some form of teaching certificate, such as either a TESOL or TEFL. If you don’t have one, don’t panic! You can find them online at (seriously) affordable prices. The International Open Academy often runs 90% off sales on their certs, which means you can earn your TESOL for less than $20! Now, that certificate may not fly if you try and teach at a brick-and-mortar school, but it’s perfectly acceptable for most online learning platforms, including PalFish.

What You’ll Need

Unlike most online ESL platforms, PalFish is operated on a mobile-only basis. So, you’ll need to use your phone, an iPod, or iPad, etc. Obviously, this also means that the app works fine with WiFi, but you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got solid enough internet that your calls won’t be dropping left and right. The company also requires that you wear a blue shirt for teaching. It doesn’t matter what shade of blue, as long as it’s blue and appears professional (t-shirts are fine, just nothing too revealing, etc.). And finally, you’ll need to print out a copy of the PalFish logo and hang it up in the background of your teaching space. Considering you’re going to be teaching off of your mobile, keep in mind that you’ll also want some way of propping your phone up in place, and being able to control its balance as you navigate from slide to slide. This can be accomplished with a small tripod or stand like this one for your phone.

What They Pay

The pay rate works out a bit differently between your official kid’s course lessons and those that are free talk. OKC lessons are 25 minutes long and start out paying $7 per class. You’ll also be able to rack up some bonuses, but that’s your base pay. After you’ve taught so many and gotten positive ratings, you’ll move up a level and your pay will increase. For free talk lessons, you can set your own rate between 1-5 yuan/minute, which works out to be $0.14-$0.70/minute, and PalFish will take a cut of 20%. The money you make from OKC is all yours to keep, and you’ll be able to track your earnings in real time by keeping an eye on your wallet in your account dashboard. Keep in mind that the lower you set your rates, the more bookings you’ll get. Especially when you’re first starting out.

Preparing for Your First Lesson

Once you’ve opened up your schedule, make sure to keep an eye on the platform, as it’s pretty easy to miss notifications about bookings. Try to check your app at least a few times per day, and more if you’re looking for last-minute scheduling. Once you see that a student’s booked a lesson with you, you’ll be able to enter the classroom way ahead of time to take a look around and familiarize yourself with the slides and functions. You can also find a ton of helpful YouTube videos, many of which are specific to each level of trial. For instance, if you see that you’re teaching a level 2 trial (Hello Monkey!) you can search for something along the lines of, “teaching PalFish level 2 trial” and you’ll find videos of other teachers going through the entire class, so you can model yourself off of them if you’re feeling nervous.

Teaching Trials

Each OKC trial lesson is scheduled for a 30-minute block of time, although you only need to teach 25 minutes of each. This gives you enough time to easily make it to back-to-back sessions. There are five levels, with beginners of course starting out on level one. Students are supposed to take an assessment to place them in the correct level for trials, though sometimes parents will take them, so you’ll wind up with a student who should be on level one attempting a level two class. You’ll want to go through every slide within your 25-minute time span. This means you’ll be spending between 1-2 minutes on each. Bring your best TPR (total physical response,) props, and high energy to keep your students engaged. PalFish also offers some great filters and other features you can use to make classes more fun.


In addition to your starting pay rate of $7/25-minute class, there are several ways to earn bonuses to ramp up your income each month. The first is to be on time for every lesson. If you show up at least a minute early to class, you’ll automatically earn a $1 bonus. For not missing any of your classes, you can earn an additional $30, and for each new teacher you refer to the OKC, you’ll score $45.


It’s true that there are plenty of ways to earn bonuses with PalFish, but be careful, because there are also ways for them to subtract earnings from your account. If you show up late to class, you’ll get dinged $1.50. Miss the session altogether? Say goodbye to two classes worth of earnings ($15). And, if you cancel a class on short notice, they’ll remove $7. So, make sure to keep an eye on your schedule, and if you absolutely need to cancel, do so with at least 24 hours of notice.

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Erika Sellmer is a digital content specialist with a passion for remote work and empathic design.

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