If you are looking to work online as an ESL teacher, then I highly recommend that you apply and teach with Whales English.
I have been an online ESL teacher for over three years now. Within that time frame, I have worked with 6 ESL companies and passed the application process for a further 3. I am someone who can get bored quickly and constantly looks for the next challenge. However, this past year I have solely taught with Whales English.
**Please note I no longer teach with Whales English. I finished working for this online ESL company in January 2021 in order to progress with my career. I now teach ESL privately and also teach online with Outschool. Though I no longer teach with this company, I still believe it is a reputable ESL company and one of the best options.
The company provides me with a secure income and a fully booked schedule. I am able to teach numerous courses and age ranges to fulfil my need for variety and new challenges.
Read on to find out what Whales English offers their teachers, the application process, and the pros and cons of teaching with Whales English:
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase or apply to one of the companies I teach with, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can view the full affiliate disclosure here.
Whales English originally started as a non-profit organisation in 2012. A group of Chinese parents wanted to find excellent English classes for their children, beyond what was available to them within the school system.
They wanted to offer the opportunity for their children to develop fluency and experience modern teaching methods, not offered to them in school. These parents connected with American teachers and formed Sprout, the original name prior to Whales English. Together, they provided an American curriculum to Chinese students via online classes.
Over time, they enhanced their lessons, adapted material to support areas their children found most difficult and created a variety of new online courses.
Today, the company has celebrated its 7th anniversary since the beginning. Sprout is now known as Whales English and has grown from a non-profit organization to full corporate operation.
Whales English offers 1000s of students the opportunity to learn and study ESL virtually with native English teachers from around the world. Their courses offered range from English lessons based on the National Geographic curriculum to Reading classes centred on the Oxford Reading Tree range. On top of this, they offer additional subjects to their students such as social studies, science, and writing.
Related Post: How to Become an Online ESL Teacher
Whales English offers their students and teachers a range of courses to complete. Not only does this help provide teachers with a variety of lessons and content to teach to avoid too much of a repetitive schedule. But it enables students to select a course which will match their needs and support their progress more efficiently.
Whales English offers classes to students between the ages of 3-17. Classes are usually in pairs, where students are matched by their English ability rather than age. Students can select to study one-to-one with a teacher, however, this is rare as they pay a premium for this class type.
There are four core courses available for students to study:
ESC (English Starter Course, based on Bob Books)
This is a new course recently launched by Whales English which focuses on introducing English to beginner students. Lessons are based on BOB books to help students build fundamental reading skills by introducing letter sounds, using repetition, and short stories.
These lessons are aimed at younger students, with a lower attention span. Hence lessons are taught for 25 minutes twice a week. The ESC course lasts for 40 lessons.
CEC (Classic English Course, a combination of Superkids and Wonders)
These classes are based on the SuperKids series by Pearson for the lower levels and Wonders series for more advanced English students.
CEC courses focus on language development and building fundamental reading skills. Each lesson incorporates opportunities to progress with speaking, phonics, reading, and comprehension.
This course is currently still available for students to select, however, it is in the process of being phased out with the introduction of the new REACH courses available.
REACH (based on National Geographic)
Reach courses are newly launched at the end of 2019. These are based on material from National Geographic.
These lessons are similar to the levels of CEC classes, but are more interactive and offer a better structure for students to follow. Reach courses include animations, videos, and activities for students to participate in.
These courses last 30 weeks each and is taught once a week. Again, the aim of this course is similar to CEC, to support students in all areas of English.
ORT (based on Oxford Reading Tree series)
As listed, this course is based on the Oxford Reading Tree series and focuses on supporting students reading and comprehension skills.
Each lesson introduces one story, which students should have read prior to the class. Then students are supported in class to progress with their phonics knowledge, key vocabulary, reading skills, and comprehension.
Lessons are taught once per week and the course lasts for 30 weeks.
This course was formerly known as CRC (classic reading course) which is currently in the transition of being replaced by the ORT course.
In addition, as mentioned above, there are subject-specific courses available for more advanced students which are:
- Social Studies
Whales English offers a 12-month contract for successful applicants. Teachers must provide a minimum of 8 peak hours per week (peak hours are 7-9 pm BJT every day and 9 am-12 pm on weekends), but can offer more if they choose to. Additional hours available are 5-7 pm every day and 12 pm-7 pm on weekends (these are classes as off-peak so are not guaranteed to be filled).
There are currently two contracts available to new teachers who apply and choose to teach with Whales English:
As the name suggests, on-call teachers are those who do not have regular classes but fill in when needed e.g. for substitutions or emergency bookings.
On-call teachers must provide a minimum of 12 peak hours per week, which must include Saturday and Sundays.
On-call teachers must be available to teach during the hours they provide, whether there is a booking on their schedule or not. In other companies, this is similar to being on standby.
In return for this time commitment, on-call teachers are provided with a base pay per hour, plus a completion bonus for slots where they have taught a class.
Generally, on-call teachers will teach trial classes and the ESC (English starter course). On-call teachers can earn between $672-1368 per month.
All teachers, unless offered the above on-call position, will be on this contract. New teachers begin teaching trial classes and are paid $18 per 50-minute class (half this rate per 25 minutes ESC class). You can also earn $5 per student sign up when teaching trial classes.
Trial classes are booked by the system and you are provided with a TS (trial support) who is available to offer you help and support your bookings.
Once you have built up your experience with Whales English and completed your regular class training, you can then begin teaching regular classes. Pay is dependent upon the level, of course, you teach, for example, teaching Prek-GKB lessons will earn a lower pay rate per hour, than teaching G3 courses for example. Pay ranges between $18-26 per hour.
As a regular teacher, you can earn incentive bonuses on top of your class pay. Whales English offers two incentive bonuses:
Weekend bonus: if you teach peak hours on a weekend, between 7-9 pm BJT, Whales English pays you an additional $5 per hour on top of your base pay.
Monthly bonus: depending upon the number of classes taught per month, you can earn an incentive bonus which ranges from $150-450.
As a regular teacher, you also have the opportunity to build a rapport with your students whom you see week in week out for 30-40 lessons. Often, when you have built a positive rapport and professional relationships with students and their parents, you will find that they rebook you as their teacher once their course has finished. This provides higher security with regards to your pay and schedule.
Regular classes are booked differently from trial classes. Parents and students select teachers based upon their credentials and introductory video. Parents are sent 3 introductory videos and teacher profiles to choose from. Hence, it can take time for your schedule to be filled.
As an example, my own schedule was filled within 6 weeks and at the time, I offered 16 hours per week. Other teachers, it can take a few months for their schedules to be filled.
There are a number of things you can do to help fill your schedule quicker:
- Spend time on your introductory video and ensure you demonstrate your credentials, personality, and teaching style
- Be professional. Develop a professional relationship with your support staff. They are more likely to recommend you to team members who are looking for substitute teachers, and pass on your teacher profile for parents to consider.
- Complete all training’s possible to widen your opportunities. Ensure to complete training for Reach, ORT, and ESC so you can gain bookings for all three core courses, rather than just Reach.
- Be willing to learn from other teachers and try different props, resources, or methods of teaching.
Another point to mention is that Whales English offers secondary positions to teachers who perform well. As an example, after just 5 months of teaching with the company, I was accepted as a trainer for other teachers including one-to-one training, group training, and writing new training material.
Other positions include curriculum developers, interviewers, and evaluators.
Related Post: Where to Find Online ESL Teaching Jobs
If you are considering becoming an online ESL teacher and want to teach with an ESL company which
- respects their teachers,
- provides regular feedback,
- offers personal support (e.g. trial support and teacher support),
- and a higher than average pay (with bonuses included)
Then I highly recommend that you apply and teach with Whales English.
Whales English Requirements
Whales English has set requirements that are non-negotiable.
Teachers must be a Native English speaker from the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand.
If you are not a native English speaker from the countries listed above, please do not apply as the company will reject your application at the first stage.
Whales English requires you to hold a BA degree or higher (this does not have to be a teaching degree), and a 120hour TEFL/TESOL certificate (or at least be prepared to get one).
This company likes its applicants to have at least one year’s experience teaching children. Though you don’t need to previously have taught online, it is prefered if you have some online ESL experience.
Whales English requires teachers to provide at least 8 peak hours per week.
Hiring Process for Whales English Applicants
Whales English has a very fast response rate to its applicants. Though this will not be the same for everyone, the last lady I supported to be hired by Whales English, was told within one hour of completing her demo class that she was offered a teaching position.
Once you have decided to apply to Whales English, you can submit your application either via their website, or, via my referral link if you would prefer personal support.
When you send your application, you are required to attach a resume and photo. Ensure to keep your resume clean and professional in appearance. It is important to have your essential information listed clearly and near the top of your resume e.g. your nationality, qualifications, and experience. Companies do not spend long considering resumes, so make it easy for them to tick off that you meet their requirements.
Here is an example of a resume layout you can use:
Within 1-2 days of submitting your application, you should receive an email to either, reject your application, or invite you to a mock class and interview.
You then need to book your mock class via a link included in your invitation email.
Within your interview, your interviewer will ask you basic questions to confirm your experience and qualifications stated on your resume. Then, you are required to complete your mock class, which lasts for 10 minutes, with your interviewer pretending to be your student.
Your mock materials are sent via email to you when you are invited to book your mock class. You do not have to prepare your own materials, but do ensure to dedicate time practising and preparing for your mock class. Ensure to include relevant props, additional questions, your learning objective, TPR, error correction, and a reward system.
After your mock class, you should receive a response via email within 1-2 days. If you are offered a position to teach with Whales English, you will be sent a contract to sign with your pay per hour rate included.
From this point, you are hired as an online ESL teacher with Whales English. Once you have completed your class training, you can open up your schedule and start receiving classes to teach.
Stages of your application:
Resume screening – Invitation to book your interview with mock class – Sign your contract – Complete Class Training – Begin Teaching.
Related Post: How to Pass Your Online ESL Interview
For individuals who use my referral link to apply to Whales English, as a thank you, I offer personal support and coaching throughout the application and onboarding process.
This is an overview of the support I provide to applicants who apply via my referral link:
- Resume template and top tips after reviewing your current resume
- Ongoing email communication throughout your application
- Ability to keep track of your application through the Whales English platform
- Zoom call for you to practice your demo class live with me, with follow up tips and feedback for you to implement before your mock class with Whales English
- Support to help you navigate your way through Whales English platform and website.
Here is a testimonial from a fellow ESL teacher whom I helped and supported during their Whales application:
I really wanted to work for Whales English because they fit my personal circumstances best…Catherine was super patient and answered all my questions and concerns…
Before the mock class Catherine organised another Zoom call with me to go through the interview process and practise the mock class. I can hands down say that Catherine’s feedback and tips for the mock class were the reason I was offered a position with Whales just one hour after giving the class.Phoebe Lee, Newly hired ESL teacher.
This offer is ONLY accessible to those who have applied via my referral code. Alternatively, you can contact me regarding the different support packages I offer.
To ensure you can gain my personal support, please:
- Apply via my referral link here.
- Email me to confirm you have applied at firstname.lastname@example.org
This second stage is very important as I will not be able to contact you myself. I am not provided personal details of those who apply via my referral link. So please ensure to email me and confirm you have applied to Whales English via my referral link.
Here, I would like to give an unbiased overview of the pros and cons of teaching with Whales English. After which, I have shared my personal experience including the benefits I have gained, so you gain a complete overview and perspective from a Whales English teacher.
- Higher than average pay in comparison to other online ESL teachers, with especially generous bonuses
- Whales English respects its teachers and treats them as professionals
- They care about their teacher’s wellbeing, particularly with reference to the Coronavirus outbreak, Whales English sent regular emails offering support and advice to teachers on how to take care and look after themselves
- They have a good leave policy with limited fines. For example, teachers can take a long and short term leave per 6 months. Long term leave is classed as 3-14 days and short term leave 1-3days.
- Lessons do require more prep work than other ESL companies
- They have launched a new platform, and with it being new, it has ongoing issues which do impact on your classes. Though there is IT support, it is an additional challenge to manage during your lessons
I have personally been teaching with Whales English since January 2019. I have found the company to be extremely accommodating, supportive, and very friendly.
As an example, when I taught with a different ESL company, my daughter had to go into hospital suddenly and was rather ill. I needed to take time off as I was with her in hospital 247 for several days and she needed my full attention.
This previous company made it extremely challenging to take time off to be by my daughter’s side. I literally had to jump through hoops, speaking to numerous different staff members each day I was due to teach and couldn’t. It made it extremely stressful at a time that I need to be fully present for my daughter.
In complete contrast, Whales English has always been accommodating when my children have been sick. Each teacher is provided with support staff that they can contact for any issues. My support staff has been amazing when my children have been sick and I had to cancel classes a few hours before they were due to start.
Though this resulted in a loss of pay, due to not being able to teach, I wasn’t fined as it was classed as emergency leave. On top of this, my support staff messaged me the next day, not to ask if I was able to work, but to see how my children were feeling.
For me, my family are my priority and Whales English must work around that. Hence, why I have stayed with Whales English since starting and continue to grow a career with them.
Here are some of my personal views on why Whales English stands out from other ESL companies:
- Students are, overall, more studious, better behaved, and more supported at home than those at other online ESL companies
- Having a personal support staff makes all the difference and helps you with your schedule, access to training, and also any issues that arise from your students/parents
- A wonderful community, full of other Whales teachers. With an official and unofficial Facebook group, you don’t feel as alone when you have access to online communities and a place where you can ask all of your questions
- The company respects it’s teachers and will take action on feedback provided. For example, teachers collectively mentioned that a new course had too many feedbacks to complete within a short time span. Whales English listened and adjusted the amounts of feedbacks to be completed for that course
- If you do well, your skills are noticed. I was given a secondary position as a teacher trainer in June 2019, just 5 months after starting with the company.
This post has provided you with a fully comprehensive guide on how to apply and teach with Whales English.
It is really important when you consider teaching ESL online, to compare a number of online ESL companies and find the company that works best for you.
I personally, highly recommend Whales English for the reasons given above. For me personally, I have found Whales English to be professional, approachable and responsive, whilst providing me with an opportunity to have a professional teaching career from home.
If you would like to apply to Whales English and wish to gain support during your application, feel free to apply via this link.