The following Cambly Review is a guest post written by Matt from Remotely Working. In this post, he will share why Cambly is one of the top places to teach English online without a degree, as well as tips for aspiring Cambly teachers!
When Matt and I first started collaborating, he mentioned that he had taught for Cambly. Since I know many of you are interested in teaching online without a degree, I asked him to share his experience with this unique online English company.
Matt is a former online English, content writer, and digital nomad. He’s also the founder of Remotely Working, a blog that helps other aspiring nomads to find online work opportunities and kickstart their digital careers.
Cambly Review: Teach English Online Without A Degree
One of the biggest barriers new online ESL teachers face when looking for a job is not meeting the entry requirements. Generally speaking, most online English companies ask for a Bachelor’s degree, and many of them also require you to be from the USA or Canada. This can be frustrating if you don’t fit the bill and want to be an online English teacher.
Fortunately, there are some ESL companies for whom you can teach English without a degree, one of which is Cambly. Cambly will hire anyone that can speak English to a native or near-native level, regardless of nationality, experience, or qualifications.
If you’ve not been able to get hired with VIPKID or a similar company, it might be the perfect alternative for you! That’s why today, we’re going to be diving into a full Cambly review.
In this Cambly review, I’m going to be telling you all you need to know about the platform, including:
- How it works
- How much you can earn
- What to expect
- How to sign up
And more. I’m also going to be sharing my first-hand experience of what it’s like teaching for Cambly.
Ready? Cool, let’s start with the basics.
Cambly is what’s known as a ‘log in and talk’ English teaching and learning platform. It connects secondary language learners with native speakers around the world for short lessons or conversation practice.
Log in and talk platforms like Cambly are very different than regular ESL teaching platforms like VIPKID.
The most obvious difference is that Cambly is a lot more flexible. It works as a kind of ‘on-demand‘ English teaching system. You don’t need to schedule classes in advance, you just log on and wait for a call to come through, then chat to a student until you or they decide to end the call. It’s a 24-hour platform, so calls can come through at any time of day (or night).
This makes it a lot more flexible, which works well for part-time teachers who want something they can fit in as and when they have the time.
Also unlike regular ESL teaching companies like VIPKID, there are no course materials. It’s mainly conversation practice, so you’ll just be chatting. There’s very little actual teaching involved (usually) and the students generally lead the lesson by deciding what they want to talk about.
While we’re on the topic of students, let’s talk a little bit about what Cambly students are like…
Cambly is primarily a platform for adult learners. You do get the odd teenager or child call through once in a while, but 90% of the time you’ll be speaking to other adults. This is very different from teaching children and young learners, and some teachers (me included) prefer it – the conversations are usually a lot more interesting!
Most of the students on Cambly are from Europe and the Middle East. This came as a surprise to me initially as I’d always previously taught students in China and didn’t realize there was such a high demand for ESL lessons in these regions.
I’ve taught students on Cambly from all over the place, but from my experience, 90% of them are from one of the following countries:
- South Korea
- Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, South America, and Asia.
You tend to get students from specific countries at different times of the day. If it’s peak hours (evening) in one part of the world, you’ll get more students from there.
Most of the time, students are very polite, friendly, and interesting to talk to. Occasionally though, you can get unlucky and speak to someone who is rude, or where there is just too much of a cultural difference between you for the conversation to flow.
In these cases, the good news is you don’t have to speak to them! Cambly is cool in that they give their teachers a lot of power to pick and choose. You can politely say that you have to go and end the call.
If the student does something really outrageously uncool or is making you really uncomfortable, you can also report them. Cambly will review the report and ban them from the platform if they think it’s justified.
What are Cambly Lessons Like?
Here’s what a typical Cambly lesson looks like based on my own experiences:
First, a student calls and we say some basic English greetings and get to know each other by asking each other’s names, where we’re from – general things like that.
Next, I’ll ask if the student has a topic in mind for the lesson and take the lead from them. Sometimes, they’ll want to talk about movies, music, or something else they’re interested in. If they don’t have anything in mind, I’ll just try to strike up a conversation like I would with any other person I’d just met by asking them about their life.
After that, we’ll chit-chat about something for 10 minutes or more. During that time, I’ll correct them (politely) on any mistakes in grammar or punctuation that pop up. I find they appreciate this as it helps them to learn but don’t do it too often as it can be disheartening to hear constant criticism. Sometimes, it’s better just to model the correct sentence back to them.
If you’re running out of things to talk about, just ask the student if there is anything else they’d like to discuss. If not, I politely suggest that we end the lesson, give them some feedback, and say goodbye. Easy!
Occasionally, students will call with a very specific purpose and want to structure the lesson around that. For example, I’ve had students call who want help with their English homework; students that want to read through news articles together, and students that just want to practice a public speaking presentation and ask for feedback.
Classes only last as long as the student wants them to. You or the student can end them at any time.
Cambly Scheduling & Booking System
Ok, let’s talk about the booking system. There are three ways you can get classes:
- Just log on and wait for a call to come through
- Sign up for ‘priority hours’
- Open your schedule in advance
With the former, all you do is log on, go through some basic checks (they’ll test your webcam and connection), and wait for someone to call. When you’re online, expect to spend around 50% of your time teaching and the other 50% waiting around.
Priority hours are a little different. You have to sign up for these through the system in advance. When you log on during priority hours, you’ll be put to the top of the call queue, so you’ll get more calls. During priority hours, expect to spend about 75% of your time teaching. Sometimes, priority hours will also be paid at a higher rate, and this is made clear on the system.
If you sign up for priority hours, you can cancel them at any time as long as you give 12 hours’ notice. If you give less than that, you risk being penalized and stopped from signing up to any more priority hours for a set period.
You can also open up slots on your schedule in advance. When you do this, students can book classes with you for future times. If you’re trying to make a full-time income, this can help you to fill your working hours and earn more money, so it’s a useful feature.
Now let’s move on to what you’ve all been waiting to hear about: the pay!
Cambly pays a standard rate of $0.17 per minute. That works out to around $10.20 per teaching hour. It’s not as much as companies like VIPKID, but the work is a lot more flexible and arguably a lot easier. Plus, Cambly has a much lower barrier to entry.
In that regard, I’d say it’s a pretty reasonable rate of pay, but perhaps not enough to make a full-time income unless you live somewhere with a very low cost of living.
Pros and Cons of Cambly
In case you’re still undecided on whether or not you’d be interested in teaching for Cambly, let’s fire off some pros and cons before we move on to the sign-up details.
- Low barrier to entry (no degree or experience required)
- Mainly adult students
- Easy conversation practice lessons with little formal teaching
- No lesson planning or preparation required
- Very flexible (24-hour platform, no advanced scheduling required)
- Low rate of pay compared to other ESL companies/platforms
- Arguably not as rewarding work
- Not a stable income
- It can be hard to get classes during non-peak hours
Alternatives to Cambly
If Cambly doesn’t seem like the right platform for you, the good news is that there are plenty more platforms out there that hire teachers outside of the US and without degrees.
If you’re from South Africa or any non-native English-speaking company, you can find a list of some of the best online ESL teaching companies here. If you’re looking for an ESL company similar to Cambly, my top picks would be:
- HiTalk (adult-only; audio-only)
- Tutoring.co.kr (adult-only; audio only; flexible)
- PandaABC (degree required; any nationality accepted)
How To Sign Up For Cambly
Decided that you want to start teaching with Cambly? If so, here’s how to sign up for Cambly:
- Head over to their ‘become a teacher’ page and click apply
- Fill out some basic details and work your way through the application process
- Record your introductory video and send off the application
- Wait a couple of weeks for Cambly to approve your request to join
- Log on, fill out your profile, and start teaching!
It’s as easy as that!
My Personal Cambly Review (Final Thoughts)
I had a great time teaching for Cambly and got to talk to interesting people from all over the world. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone looking for an easy side-hustle to fill their schedule.
It might not have the best pay rate in the world, but it’s a great way to earn a little extra. Plus, if you’re really determined and make the most out of your schedule and priority hours, it’s definitely possible to make a full-time income from it.
That’s about it for this Cambly review. Good luck and happy teaching!