The following QKids Review is an interview I did with the fabulous Courtney from Courtney the Explorer! In this interview, we talk about Courtney’s experience as a Qkids teacher, her experiences teaching English abroad, and her best tips for traveling on a budget.
UPDATE: As of August 2021, QKids is no longer offering classes due to new regulations in the online teaching industry. Please visit this post to learn about alternative online ESL teaching platforms.
Courtney The Explorer is a travel website that helps women travel the world on a budget. Courtney has a passion for free travel, long-term backpacking, and storytelling (aka sharing all her travel fails in an attempt to help others.)
She currently teaches online with QKids and is planning to move to South Korea in August. When she’s not blogging and teaching English, she is probably listening to a podcast, people watching, or dancing to salsa music.
Hi Courtney! Can you tell us about yourself and your blog?
Hello! My name is Courtney Vondran. I’m from the Midwest, originally from Iowa. I went to the University of Iowa and got a business degree. I worked in a corporate HR position for about 6 months. Six years ago, I quit the job I hated to travel the world and “live my best life.”
I currently live in Chicago, one of my favorite cities in the world. I run a travel blog, Courtney The Explorer, and teach English online. I started my blog in 2014 during a solo trip to Guatemala and Mexico. It was my way to stay in contact with friends and family.
In the last year, I’ve started treating it as a business, a way to “escape the 9-5” forever! My mission is to inspire women to travel and live abroad. I want to give women the tools to “live their best life” as well.
I know you teach online with Qkids. How long have you been teaching online and what made you start on this path?
I’ve been teaching English online with QKids for almost 6 months.
I’ve met a lot of people who teach online and enjoy it. My cousin’s friend specifically introduced me to QKids. I thought it would give me experience before I teach in a classroom.
I think teaching English online is a great way to work and travel. If you’re in the states, it can be a great side hustle as well. One month, I made around $600 from teaching only a couple of hours each morning.
What are the Qkids requirements or qualifications to sign up?
You must have a Bachelor’s degree, one-year teaching experience (or teaching-related), and live in the US or Canada. A TEFL certificate is preferred. You can read more about how I got TEFL certified here! QKids teachers must also be able to teach at least six hours per week.
No BA Degree? No problem! Check out these 12 online English companies that hire people without degrees!
Can you tell me a little bit about the Qkids application and hiring process?
It wasn’t too extensive compared to other companies. First, I had to submit a short introduction video. I introduced myself, said where I’m from, and read a short story.
Next, I had an interview where I taught a QKids lesson to the interviewer. All materials/instructions are provided beforehand. After, I taught 2 paid lessons to students that were monitored by a staff member. Then, I was hired!
You can read more tips for getting hired here!
Can you walk us through a typical Qkids lesson?
I sign on the platform about 5 minutes before class starts. I introduce myself to the students and one by one ask the students questions to check the sound and video quality. There are 1 to 4 students in every class.
Usually, the parent is in the room. The lessons vary on the student’s level. Qkids has levels 1 to 10. I am a new teacher, so I usually teach lower levels.
Once the class starts, there are about 15 slides or so. Each slide is either a lesson or a game. There is a theme to each lesson and key vocabulary words to focus on. Students are awarded diamonds for good behavior and correct answers.
What is your favorite thing about working for Qkids? Least favorite?
My favorite thing is the lack of preparation needed for classes. All lessons are provided. All I really have to do is show up.
My least favorite thing is waking up early at 5 am for classes! I’m not much of a morning person.
You also taught abroad in an in-person classroom. Where did you teach in-person and how did you find your job?
I taught in Santa Marta, Colombia for one month while on a South and Central America backpacking trip.
I found the job off workaway.info, where I find all my volunteer jobs. Workaway has a paid yearly membership. There are TONS of opportunities on their website! I highly recommend! I’ve had about 7 long-term volunteer jobs off Workaway.
What was a typical day like when you were teaching abroad?
I had to wake up for breakfast at 7:30 am and my official workday started at 8 am regardless of whether I had classes or not. The boss was a bit strict about being prompt.
Tuesday through Friday I taught private adult classes. The classes ranged from 1 or 2 hours. I usually had around 1 to 2 classes a day.
On Saturdays, I taught young kids for 4 hours. When I wasn’t teaching, I did translation work and voice recordings for my boss.
You can read more about my experience in Santa Marta, Colombia here!
Do you have any plans to teach abroad in the future?
Yes!! Starting August 18th, I am teaching in Busan, South Korea for one year! I am so excited! I am going to teach young kids at a private school Monday through Friday 10am-6pm.
Read about how I found my job in South Korea here!
You write a lot about budget travel. Do you have any go-to tips for saving money while traveling?
Yes! For food, eat at local restaurants and shop in markets. For accommodation, I recommend hostels or couch surfing. Each city I go to, I search for free activities.
I love traveling by house sitting. Do you know any other ways to travel for free?
I love volunteering abroad. It always adds value to my trips, whether it was a good or bad volunteer job. You get a chance to work with locals and practice the language. It makes for a truly special experience. Again, I use workaway.info.
What has been your favorite travel destination and why?
I would say Antigua, Guatemala and Cali, Colombia. If you’ve read my blog, I’m sure you’re sick of me talking about these two places. The energy is completely magical.
I would pack up my things and move to Antigua or Cali and live the rest of my life there. There are so many beautiful places in the world, but it’s rare to find a place that you could call home. I consider Antigua and Cali home.
What advice do you have for people who want to start traveling but aren’t sure how?
If money is the issue, I would focus on simplifying your life. Personally, I sold everything. My car and everything in my apartment is pretty much gone. There are certain sacrifices that need to be made to get you to your goals. But it’s definitely possible.
If you have no savings and want to move abroad, I recommend getting a teaching job in Korea or China. If you want to save a bit and go backpacking, pick up a side hustle like bartending or dog walking.
If money isn’t the issue and you’re scared to solo travel, start with small solo trips to different states. Or book a volunteer job for when you arrive in a country.
There is always a way, it’s just about figuring out your way.
A huge thank you to Courtney for telling us all about Q Kids and teaching abroad in South America! If you want to follow Courtney as she heads to South Korea, make sure to follow her on Instagram or Youtube.