The Complete Guide to Teaching Online with Boxfish

by: Emma Searight ESL Authority Emma Searight | Last Updated November 9, 2019

Boxfish Overview

Average Salary
$24/hr
Native Speaker Required?
Yes
TEFL Required?
Yes
Degree Required?
Yes

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The online teaching world is ever-evolving, and Boxfish is at the forefront of this technology transformation. With their innovative teaching app, the Chinese company is “embracing an unprecedented revolution in a digital era.” If this arouses your curiosity about Boxfish, our guide breaks down all the information you’ll need to know about the company, including their teaching requirements, how much they pay, how their platform works, and how to get yourself hired.

About Boxfish

Established in Beijing, Boxfish is an English teaching brand that was created as a mobile-based curriculum used to improve English language skills across Chinese schools. Today, it’s used in over 10,000 schools across the country. 

Their latest platform is the Boxfish Tutor, which hires native English teachers from around the world to teach English online to Chinese students aged 5 to 18. Classes are taught through the Boxfish app on tablets and smartphones. Boxfish believe that their fun and interactive curriculum offers a more efficient learning experience beyond the realms of traditional training which their students seem to embrace.

Government regulations have led to Boxfish becoming stricter on their requirements, but regardless, the pay is pretty competitive. Teachers can control their schedules and there are numerous class types to choose from. 

What Are The Requirements To Teach For Boxfish?

Due to current government regulations and company policies, Boxfish will only hire teachers who meet the following teaching requirements:

  • Native speakers of English from the USA, Canada or the UK
  • Bachelor’s degree or above
  • Relevant ESL certification (TEFL, TESOL, etc) 
  • 1+ year online teaching experience 

While you can take the job on the road and pretty much teach with Boxfish from all over the world, you need to ensure the location you’re at will give you good connectivity to their servers. Southeast Asia and South Africa are just some of the regions with poor connectivity to their servers, so if you’re planning on spending some time in these places, it’s recommended you hold off applying until you’re based elsewhere.

If you don’t meet the credentials or you’re not from the USA, Canada or the UK, fear not. There are plenty of other online teaching companies you can check out who have more relaxed hiring requirements.

Tech Requirements

There are also a few basic tech requirements:

  • Smartphone or tablet with an up-to-date iOS or Android operating system
  • 1GB+ RAM for iOS, 2GB+ RAM for Android
  • Headset or headphones with a microphone
  • Good quality internet – if you’re not sure what your upload and download speeds are, you can run an internet speed test to check here.

How Much Does Boxfish Pay?

How much you earn teaching with Boxfish depends on the type of lesson you teach.

For on-demand review classes, Boxfish advertises a pay rate of $2 for each 5-minute session. So if you complete an hour’s worth of review classes, you’d earn $24.

Their pre-booked classes are 25 minutes in length and pay $11 – this includes $10 for the teaching and an extra $1 for an after-class evaluation. So if you have 2 classes back to back, that’s $22 per hour.

Penalties

Boxfish are notoriously strict. If you fail to show up for a scheduled class, without giving at least 24 hours notice, you’ll be fined $10 – this will be deducted from your monthly payment. If this happens a second time within the same month, Boxfish will deduct $20 from your paycheck and suspend your account.

If a student doesn’t show up to a scheduled class, you have to wait 10 minutes. If they still don’t turn up, you’ll receive 60% of the fee.

When And How Does Boxfish Pay?

Boxfish pay their teachers around the 20th of the following month, via bank transfer. This payment method means you don’t have to worry about any transaction fees (as you would do with companies like PayPal). However, as Boxfish pay in USD, you may get charged a fee for currency conversions if your bank is outside of the US, or lose a small amount of money during the conversion.  

Taxes

Teaching online with Boxfish makes you an independent contractor. This means you’re responsible for submitting and paying your taxes. If you need help with this, there are various resources online, like the IRS website if you’re from the USA and HMRC website if you’re from the UK.

What is the interview process for Boxfish?

The Boxfish hiring process can be broken down into 4 steps:

  1. Apply online
  2. Initial interview via Skype
  3. Demo class
  4. Orientation

Applying To Boxfish

Your first job is to head over to the Boxfish website and click on the signup button – you need to scroll down the English Tutor page to locate this link. This will take you to an online application form, which looks like the following:

Once you’ve submitted the form, you’ll be informed of your interview details via email (usually within 3 days). You’ll need a Skype ID, so if you don’t have one already, we recommend setting one up before applying.

Initial Interview Via Skype

During your interview, expect some pretty generic questions about your educational background, teaching experience, and teaching methods. They may also ask you how you approach and resolve common problems that occur with online teaching, like how you would handle a shy student, and what made you apply to Boxfish. The trick is to be prepared and allow your personality to come across as much as possible.

Demo Class

If you pass the initial interview, you’ll be asked to schedule a demo class. You should receive your Boxfish login ID and password before your demo class, and it’s recommended that you log into your account before the big day arrives. This gives you time to familiarize yourself with the Boxfish online tutoring interface and contact their technical support if you encounter any issues.

You’ll have access to the demo class material beforehand through your online account, so you can prepare for the lesson. As is common with many online teaching interview demo classes, the evaluator will act as the student. While this can seem a little awkward, you need to embrace this challenge as it’s an important part of the hiring process.

Here are a few tips to help you nail the demo class:

  • Use props like puppets, a whiteboard, and flashcards
  • Prepare some extra questions to initiate a conversation with the ‘student’ (prepare a mix of beginner to intermediate questions as you may not know the level of your student beforehand)
  • Incorporate TPR (gestures, facial expressions, and movements)
  • Keep the ‘student’ engaged – songs and games can aid engagement
  • SMILE!

Orientation

If you pass the demo class, the last step of the process is orientation, where you’ll be sent a short video and a questionnaire to complete. If they’re happy with your answers, you’ll officially be offered a position as a Boxfish teacher! Congratulations!

What Is it Like To Teach For Boxfish?

Boxfish Teaching Schedule

Boxfish offers classes during the week and at the weekend. The classes run on Beijing time, so you’ll need to make sure you consider this in when you plan your schedule. You can open up your schedule at any time during the following Boxfish hours:

Depending on the type of class you’re teaching (more on these below), you can either log in and be on standby to receive 5-minute review classes or be pre-booked into a 25-minute class.

The pre-booked classes are scheduled through the Boxfish app – you open up available time slots and the system will automatically match these time slots with students who are free at the same time as you. Classes are then added to your schedule and you can download the teaching material for the lessons through the app.

Boxfish Classes

Boxfish offers the following classes:

Review Classes

These consist of 5-minute one-to-one review classes, which are offered through the Boxfish app. The format of these classes is that students go through lessons on their own and then call a standby teacher to review the content with them to make sure they understand it.

The advantage of these classes is that they’re flexible – students call up on demand when they need the content reviewed. Teachers just need to login and be ready to take the calls as needed. This is a great way to make some extra cash if you’ve got some spare time. Each session lasts for just 5 minutes, so you can fit a fair amount of these review classes into your day!

25 Minute Classes

These classes are pre-booked and live. They can either be one-to-one classes or one-to-four classes and are 25 minutes in length. As we mentioned in the scheduling section, the Boxfish system will match your available time slots with students for these classes through the app. All the teaching material you need is provided for these classes.

The one-to-one pre-booked classes are the most popular class type with the Boxfish students, so these are worth signing up for. Priority is given to teachers who are capable of a variety of teaching methods, show good class management and are confident at using TPR, so make sure to show these skills off during your interview!

Boxfish Students

You’ll be teaching Chinese students aged from Kindergarten to Grade 12 (5 – 18 years old). Most of the Boxfish students are at the beginner to immediate level, although you may come across a few advanced learners and the odd adult learner.

Boxfish Teaching Platform

Lessons are taught through the Boxfish app. All the teaching materials are provided and ready to be used in the app. Although you don’t need to create any lessons, you will need to download the materials and go through the content before each class.

If you check out the Boxfish website, you can read up on their teaching methods. This will give you an insight into their methodology and logic behind their learning approach.

Below is a class demonstration from the Boxfish Youtube channel which shows you what a typical lesson would look like through the platform…

Boxfish English Tutor – Class Demonstration

Boxfish reviews

On the whole, teachers seem pretty satisfied working with Boxfish, especially those who use it as a means to earn some extra money on the side. However, no employer is perfect, so there will always be some issues people come across.

The following video, created by Boxfish, features current teachers who sum up what it’s like working for the company…

What it’s like to work at Boxfish

Below are a couple of Boxfish reviews we found on Glassdoor from some current teachers who seem pretty happy with the company:

After reading several reviews, the following seem to be the most common pros and cons of teaching with Boxfish:

Pros

  • You can control your schedule
  • Competitive pay
  • Materials are easy to teach and require little preparation
  • Good app and platform
  • No minimum hours

Cons

  • Communication can be poor at times
  • Evaluations can be time-consuming
  • Pay can sometimes be late
  • Students will sometimes not show up to class

Final Words

Overall, Boxfish seems like a pretty decent company to work for if you’re from the US, Canada or the UK. It doesn’t seem like it would be the most secure full-time job, but if you’re looking for some extra part-time teaching hours, it could be the company for you.

The requirements have certainly gotten stricter, so if you do have a degree, ESL certification and some experience under your belt, it could be worth checking out all your teaching online options before making a decision. There are plenty of other companies out there who will jump on a teacher with all those credentials.

Likewise, if you don’t meet all the requirements, there are also plenty of companies who are more relaxed about these things.

Other helpful Boxfish resources

  • Living in Panama – a blog written by a Boxfish teacher who retired to Panama. Things have changed since she joined Boxfish, but an interesting read all the same.
Emma Searight ESL Authority

Emma Searight

Emma is a writer for ESL Authority and a former teacher. She lives down by the sea in Cornwall, and enjoys surfing, cold water swimming, and going on adventures.

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