The Complete Guide to Teaching Online with Cafetalk
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Working from the comfort of your own home is becoming more and more popular and online teaching is one of the most common types of work people are turning to. It’s a great way to earn some money on your own terms without having to step outside of your house!
Cafetalk is currently hiring home-based tutors to teach a variety of subjects, including English, to online students around the world. Their mission is to ‘spice up the life’ of their students by providing online lessons from tutors around the world.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, keep reading! Here we delve deeper into Cafetalk, including how to get hired, what their pay is like and what working at Cafetalk would look like for you.
Cafetalk is an online teaching platform that connects tutors and students from around the world, providing inspiring and fun one-to-one lessons on a variety of subjects via Skype. From language lessons like Japanese to instruction in music, Cafetalk offers a full range of bespoke and engaging lessons.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in search of an online teaching platform that allows you to teach English – this is something that Cafetalk certainly offers.
Most of the students wanting to learn English are Japanese adults, and they’re generally looking for work-related or business lessons. Being adults, they tend to take the learning pretty seriously and expect their teachers to be prepared and knowledgeable.
Cafetalk allows teachers the freedom to create their own lessons, their own schedule and set their own rates. With over 46,000 students using the platform, you’re in a good place to begin your online teaching career.
What are the Requirements to Teach for Cafetalk?
To be able to teach with Cafetalk, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Be a native speaker of the language you’d like to teach
- Be over 20 years of age
- Be legally permitted to work in both your home country and current country of residence
- Teaching experience is preferred
Relevant qualifications, like a TEFL certification, are not required to teach with Cafetalk, but may look good on your profile.
On top of the teaching requirements, Cafetalk teachers must have the following equipment to teach a lesson:
- Fast and stable internet connection
- Have a PC, Mac or tablet
- A webcam is recommended
- Hold basic computer skills and strong communication skills
- Have a Skype account
Providing lessons via smartphones is not permitted for Cafetalk tutors.
How much does Cafetalk pay?
Cafetalk utilizes a fee structure and payment schedule. As a Cafetalk tutor, you freely decide how much to charge for a lesson, and your earnings (or Lesson Fees as Cafetalk refers to them) will be a minimum of 60% of this lesson price. This fee can go up, with the highest possible fee percentage of 85%.
Some tutors have mixed feelings about the percentage of payment they receive for each lesson they teach. Starting out, you will only get 60% of the Lesson Fees you charge. This will go up, depending on how much you earn. The more you teach, the more this “margin rate” will increase.
For more information on how the fee structure and margin rates work, click here.
Cafetalk uses a point system for lessons charged to their students, where 1 point = 1 Japanese Yen, JPY (which equates to approx $0.01 USD). Whatever you choose to charge, remember that you will be paid a minimum of 60% of this price. According to Cafetalk, most tutors charge students somewhere between 1,500 – 3,900 points for an hour, which is between approx $14 USD and $36 USD.
How and when does Cafetalk pay you?
Lesson Fees are calculated in Japanese Yen but can be paid out in a currency chosen by the tutor (Cafetalk will provide tutors with a list of the available payment currencies). The conversion rates from Japanese Yen to the chosen payment currency will be shown on the Tutor’s Mypage on their account.
Cafetalk pays for the fees required to transfer the Lesson Fees into your account. However, it is the responsibility of the tutors to pay for any fees related to receiving the money into their account, withdrawal from this account or any conversion fees.
Working for online teaching companies, including Cafetalk, means you are an independent contractor, making you responsible for submitting your earnings and paying taxes.
Don’t be put off by this! Nowadays, there is a great deal of useful and helpful advice out there to make this process easier. For example, the IRS website offers guidelines for American independent contractors and HMRC website for those from the UK.
What is the application process for Cafetalk?
Applying for Cafetalk is pretty straightforward – the application and registration are free:
(2) Fill out your profile with the following information:
- Let Cafetalk know what you want to teach (you can select more than one subject)
- Information about yourself
- What languages you speak
- Your teaching experience
- Any relevant qualifications you hold
- Your motivations for wanting to teach with Cafetalk
- Description of the kind of lessons you would like to teach and the expected price (this is just a rough idea and can be changed)
(3) Have a simple interview so that Cafetalk can get to know you personally and run you through how their platform works
(4) Start teaching!
What is the Work Schedule for Cafetalk?
Cafetalk allows you to teach whatever you want, whenever you want – as much or as little as you want. You create your own lessons and set your own available hours and schedule to fit around you. Many online teaching companies ask that their tutors are available during peak hours or set your schedule far in advance. This isn’t the case with Cafetalk.
If most of your students are Japanese, you may want to consider the times when they are most likely to be available – after work, before work, at weekends in their time zone. However, at the end of the day, it really is down to you when you want to be available to teach.
Students make a lesson request according to your available times. All times shown are always in your local time. Below is what a typical schedule looks like, courtesy of Nihongoshark.
Understanding the Cafetalk platform
Students request lessons with a tutor by using Cafetalk’s search function. Students can either search for a lesson or search for a tutor. The search function allows them to search by language spoken by the tutor, price (points), if the tutor allows trials and more. A list of tutors or lessons then appears and the student can scroll through to choose the best option.
Once a student has requested a lesson, you will get notified and can then confirm this request. The quicker you respond, the better. Cafetalk allows for tutors and students to exchange messages and files leading up to the lesson and this is a good opportunity to find out exactly what the student wants out of a lesson.
The next step is to connect with your student and deliver the lesson over Skype. Once the lesson is completed, you are able to leave learning tips and feedback for the student. This could be a great chance to impress your student and possibly lead to more lessons with them.
You can then click on a button to request payment – students have pre-paid for points in advance, so there should be no concerns surrounding getting paid.
Your tutor profile
When students are scrolling through tutors or lessons, they can click on a tutor’s picture to find out more about that tutor. When setting up your tutor profile, you will give details on:
- Schedule / Availability
- Language Ability
- Average Response Time
- Number of Students
- Number of Lessons
There is also a chance to write a personal message to students about yourself and what sort of lessons you offer. This is your opportunity to stand out and really show the students who you are and what you can do.
At the bottom of your profile, there will be all the different lessons that you have created and offer, including prices and length.
The following video features a Cafetalk tutor. In the first 3 minutes, she talks about her motivations for becoming a Cafetalk tutor, but she then shows you what her profile looks like – skip to 3 minutes if you just want a quick look through a completed Cafetalk profile!
Your Cafetalk dashboard
The Cafetalk platform is said to be easy to navigate and use. There is plenty of support available, including how to use Skype, a start guide and tutor counseling from the Cafetalk team. During your application interview, Cafetalk will also run you through how their platform works.
Here is a sample of what a tutor dashboard looks like, courtesy of Nihongoshark:
Becoming a Cafetalk teacher is a quick, easy and free way to teach English online. Not only can you set your own prices, but you can choose your own schedule with hours that fit around you. The requirements aren’t even that strict! It’s a great little side earner, and a good way to gain experience in the online teaching world. You can also choose to teach other subjects in addition to English.
The biggest perk to teaching with Cafetalk is the freedom and flexibility of the job. Being able to choose when to work and how often to work means you can really tailor this job around your lifestyle.
On top of this, Cafetalk offers a great support system to ensure that their tutors and students feel at ease with the platform. They offer free counseling lessons and support to help with anything from using the platform to general questions or queries you may have. Staff also regularly check in to see how things are going.
The downsides seem to be that there may be periods of time where there are fewer students available so you may go through slow times. As it’s not always steady work, Cafetalk may be better as a part time position or a little side hustle, rather than a full time job.
In addition, Cafetalk doesn’t provide the students for you – it’s your job to make your profile appealing and create lessons that students will want. Cafetalk does offer promotional tools to help tutors boost their profiles, like discount coupons, articles and featured tutor interviews. However, at the end of the day, it is up to you to promote yourself.
Another disadvantage for some Cafetalk tutors are the fee structures where you earn only 60% of your lesson price to start out with. Although increases if you teach more lessons, it does mean that you may not earn as much as you initially hoped for when you first start.
Nihongoshark offers a pretty comprehensive review of Cafetalk. He is a Cafetalk tutor and Cafetalk student, so his review is a mixture of what it’s like from both perspectives. An interesting read to find out what it’s like from both sides.