Beginner's Guide to Teaching with Cambly
Why I Chose Cambly:
About six weeks ago, I made the decision to add a second company to my roster. The online ESL world is complicated, so I recommend always doing your research and figuring out what is best for you. There are so many companies with different requirements that it can be overwhelming. For months I would bounce back and forth between whether I wanted to increase stress and pressure when I was, quite frankly, happy with VIPKid. Did I really want to go through the hiring process again just to have a 'back up' company? It's a lot to think about, so my biggest piece of advice is to listen to your heart. There are many teachers who recommend having as many companies available to you as possible and there are also teachers who choose to stick with one company and love it.
For me, I wanted to start filling in some morning slots that would no longer get booked since the time change. I also wanted the ability to teach classes in the late afternoon if I felt up to it. Most online ESL companies are based in China and therefore have the same peak hours, so despite doing research into all of these companies, it didn't make sense for me to add another China-based company on. I would most likely have to close down whole days with VIPKid to work for another company (losing my incentives) and my peak hours weren't the issue! I wanted teaching opportunities outside of that window.
Cambly was always in the back of my mind because it is an international company. Their students are all over the globe, so your schedule can be opened 24 hours a day. Not only was this perfect for my scheduling situation, but I was pumped about the possibility of getting to meet people from different countries and backgrounds (So far I have met students from Japan, South Korea, Taiwain, Hong Kong, Dubai, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia). As I started to talk to teachers on the platform, my excitement grew. The curriculum is conversation-based and very flexible. You are given a lot more reign over how and what you teach. I have had classes where we follow the slides perfectly, classes where we used the lesson has a launch-pad for a discussion, and I have also had classes where I ditched the curriculum altogether and read a book with the student.
Many people refer to Cambly as a 'side gig' to their side gig. Cambly pays significantly less than other online ESL companies ($10/hr for adults) ($12/hr for kids), but the lack of feedback or prep combined with the flexibility of scheduling makes it an incredible company to add onto your roster.
Can I Be a Cambly Tutor?
Cambly is one of the most lenient platforms out there when it comes to hiring credentials. Unlike most platforms, they do not require a Bachelor's Degree or a TEFL/TESOL Certificate! How incredible is that? Cambly obviously sees the benefit of people from all backgrounds regardless of education.
This being said, the more credentials you do have, the more you will stand out against other tutors on the platform. If you do have a TEFL/TESOL/Bachelor's Degree, feel free to stick it on your profile to give you an edge!
They accept tutors from loads of different countries. They have tutors from the US, the UK, Australia, and other countries as well (as long as your English is well-developed). In your profile, you will select an icon showing what your accent is as some people wanting to learn English prefer a specific accent.
Finally, you need a good quality webcam, stable internet, and a clean, quiet, and professional background for teaching. Cambly works best on Chrome, so you can teach comfortably from a Chromebook which is a fantastic bonus.
Cambly Hiring Process
The Cambly hiring process is an absolute breeze. I did it all in one evening when I was feeling productive. Unlike most online ESL companies that require a multi-step (multiple week) process, Cambly is very straight-forward. On the regular Cambly platform, all you need to do is upload an introduction video and fill in a profile. That's it! No interview, no mock-class... tell me you aren't tempted! Cambly Kids is a bit more rigorous requiring a profile video, written profile, AND a 5 minute recording of you teaching a lesson. If you already teach online, however, the 5 minute recording is very easy and you aren't doing it in front of a live human, so I still found it leagues easier (and less stressful) than my hiring process with VIPKid.
You have to apply for regular Cambly before you are able to apply for Cambly Kids, however once you are hired with both, you have the flexibility to open your schedule strictly for Cambly Kids if that is what you would prefer.
Cambly scheduling looks quite a bit different than your regular online ESL platform. There are actually 3 ways in which you can obtain bookings through Cambly which makes it the ultimate king of flexibility.
The first way is reservations. This is the closest to the VIPKid booking system. You open slots when you want to teach, students book them. Woo! Easy as pie. One thing I really enjoy about the Cambly platform is that you have to personally accept every single reservation that comes in. This makes you feel completely in control over your schedule. Also, when you are opening your schedule, you are able to choose whether you are opening up your slots for regulars, kids, adults, or all. I have personally had absolutely no issues with filling ALL of my reservations with Cambly Kids, but I know that it is more difficult to build a regular Cambly base with adults which is why the next option is great.
Priority hours. This is a very unique feature and very helpful for building a client base for tutors who are wanting to work primarily with adults. For this, you simply choose an hour that works for you. For this hour, your profile will be highlighted on the Cambly home page and it is your responsibility to pick up every single call that comes to you within that hour. It could be a full 30 minute lesson with an almost-fluent adult or it could be a 5 minute trial with a young speaker with no English knowledge whatsoever. You will be compensated for 10 minutes of your time even if nobody calls you within your priority hour (rare, from my understanding) and you are allowed a 5 minute break within each hour to use as you deem necessary. People can also reserve slots with you during your priority hour! This was NOT the way forward for me. I was very stressed about not being able to look over the material before hand and I had no idea who was going to pop up on my screen. Cambly is very understanding and give you the ability to immediately end a call or block a student if they are being rude or inappropriate, but it always felt risky answering the calls. However, priority hours are a wonderful way to hop on and make some quick money if you have a random gap in your schedule!
Finally, if you have been on the Cambly platform for some time and built up a base of followers, you have the ability to pop on during any hour of the day and simply mark yourself 'available'. If students are following your profile, they'll be notified of your availability and have the opportunity to call you. You can choose to make your profile available to everyone on the platform or just to regulars. This is ultimate flexibility goals for people who don't feel comfortable tying themselves to a schedule.
**Also want to note that there are no minimum or maximum hours with Cambly!
Cambly provides curriculum for you! This means that your responsibility is to simply show up and teach the slides provided. However, Cambly also gives you the flexibility to do what is best for the student. Some students just want 30 minutes of conversation while others prefer to stick to the curriculum. Cambly also gives you the ability to share your screen with the student. Because of this, you can read books, watch videos, explore news articles, or delve deep into literature. Not to be cliche, but the world is your actual oyster.
I have a list of websites tabbed that I use frequently with my students, but Cambly also has a wonderful library full of games and resources that you can pull up and use as well. Do what you feel comfortable with! While the curriculum is obviously important, it is your energy and their interaction with you that ultimately makes them come back again and again.
While their curriculum is far from exciting (there are no animations or interactive games), I have found that it is wonderful for scaffolding. I am always able to use the slides to meet my students where they are at in the English journey whether it is less than, at, or above the level of the lesson provided. Remember that you can always contact Cambly about moving a student to a different level (especially with kids) if you think it would be a better fit for them.
Cambly does not require any secondary rewards, but you can give stars to Cambly Kids students and they always appreciate it. They also do not require feedback, but it is my experience that most parents and students respond positively to a short and informative message after class.
This is my favourite part of Cambly. The community is awesome! I find the Cambly and Cambly Kids Facebook groups to be relatively free of the drama that seems to sneak into other online teaching platform's social media. Everybody that I have talked to has been very helpful in guiding me to navigate the platform.
The student side of the community is (believe it or not) even better. I do not think that I have had one bad student. I made the choice to teach primarily with Cambly Kids as it is what I am most comfortable with, but the adults that I worked with before making this switch were wonderful. I had insightful conversations about life in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey and they were very kind considering I had no idea what I was doing my first week. My young kiddos that I work with on Cambly Kids continue to blow my mind every single day. They range in abilities, but are always excited to learn and ready to share their lives. Being a conversation-based platform, I feel like I get to know my students very quickly. My student notes section fills up quickly with facts about their lives, their families, hobbies, favourite foods, best friends, least favourite TV shows, etc.
I love that I can message the student and their family after class. Parents and students have been outrageously kind and complimentary in their messages. When I tell you that nothing brightens my day like a message from a parent telling me that '___ absolutely loves you. Her imagination runs wild when she is with you. We are so lucky to have you in our lives'. I am being raw and honest. It is so easy to come back to work with those students when you know they are loving the classes as much as you enjoy teaching them. Something about the platform allows you to build real and wholesome connections quickly and authentically and it makes me excited every morning when I get to work with Cambly.
Alright, I think that is all! If you have any specific questions about Cambly, feel free to reach out to me! I will continue to write content about them as I continue my career on their platform, but I think that I covered all of the basics.
If you are interested in teaching with Cambly, please let me know! Nothing would bring me more joy than helping you find contentment and flexibility in your work. Please use this link to sign up and I will guide you through the whole process. https://www.cambly.com/invite/GAZJCZ59?st=071421&sc=4
A. C. Woodruff