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If you’re new to teaching English online with VIPKID, you might be wondering what VIPKID Trial classes are and how they work. This post breaks down everything you need to know about teaching your first VIPKID trial class and has 8 insider teacher tips to help you succeed!
In the years since this post was first published, VIPKID changed its online teaching platform, modified the application process, and shifted to a worldwide student base. Some of the information below is now out of date. For details about their new programs, check out the official VIPKID website.
What are VIPKID Trial Classes?
When a parent is curious about VIPKID, they can sign their child up for 3 free trial classes before enrolling. These classes are intended to show the parent and the child what the VIPKID platform is like before they invest in more lessons.
Even though these lessons are free for the parent, you still get paid for teaching them. You also have the opportunity to make some bonus money if a parent signs up for a full package after taking your class.
Trial class students are not yet signed up for official VIPKID courses (also called major courses). The goal is to give the student a great experience learning English so they want to sign up for more lessons on the platform. These classes should be fun and make the student feel confident.
How Long Are VIPKID Trial Classes?
VIPKID Trial classes are 25-minutes long, just like regular VIPKID classes. You’ll also need to submit feedback for trial classes.
This feedback form is slightly different from the VIPKID major course feedback form, but essentially it looks for the same information. You’ll write a brief summary of how the lesson went and rate the student on several skills.
You can read more about what to say in your VIPKID trial class feedback in this post! (It includes feedback templates too!)
Getting the VIPKID Trial Class Certification
Wondering how to teach VIPKID trial classes? First, you’ll need to get the VIPKID trial class certification. You can add this certification to your profile by logging into the teacher portal and hovering over the “Resources” tab. Click on “Certification” and you’ll be taken to the certification center.
Click on the “Major Course” section and scroll down. Here you’ll see the trial class certifications available.
MC Trial 3.0 Plus and Trial 5.0 are the most up-to-date.
Any certifications you already have will have the green bar on top. Any that you don’t have yet but qualify for will have a red bar on top and the word “Available.”
Select the trial certification you want to get and you’ll be taken to some study materials. Once you’ve reviewed all the information, you’ll take a quiz and record a 10-minute teaching sample. You’ll record this sample in an empty classroom and pretend that you’re teaching a real student.
Submit your teaching sample and you’ll hear back shortly. Once you’ve passed, VIPKID will start to add trial students to your schedule.
Unlike regular classes that are booked by the parents, trial classes are often assigned by VIPKID schedulers. This is a great way for new teachers to get some bookings under their belt when they’re first starting out!
How To Get Trial Class Bookings On VIPKID
Now that you know all about how trial classes work, you might be wondering how to get more trial class bookings with VIPKID. Let’s look at three ways to do this.
Open Peak Time Slots
The best way to get trial class bookings on VIPKID is to open as many peak time slots as possible. If you’re not sure when peak time is in your time zone, this post breaks down the VIPKID hours in detail.
I’m on the east coast and the most popular times for me are weekday mornings and Friday and Saturday nights (This corresponds to Saturday and Sunday morning in China. )
Remember, trial classes are often assigned to teachers by VIPKID staff. Give them plenty of opportunities to book you by opening as many peak times as you can.
Short Notice Classes
Another way to improve your chances of getting VIPKID trial class bookings is to open classes short notice. Short notice classes can be booked up to one hour in advance and in my experience, these slots are more popular with trial students.
VIPKID Trial Class Rebooking Feature
The VIPKID trial class rebooking feature is a way to teach more full classes and avoid trial student no shows.
Normally, a trial class can be booked or changed before the class start time. After the class start time, if a student is a no show, the teacher must wait 15 minutes in the classroom and will only receive 50% pay.
With the trial class rebooking option, this is less likely to happen. If a student is going to be a no show, the rebooking feature means that VIPKID can place a new student in that class even after the start time, up to the 15-minute mark.
If they find you a new student, you’ll teach the lesson like normal and be paid the full amount, even though the student might have arrived late.
Teachers can choose if they want to enable trial class rebooking. Many choose to use this feature so they are more likely to get full pay for the time slot, but some choose to leave it disabled and take a half-paid no show.
To enable this option, go to “My Info” and click “Account Center.” Scroll down the left-hand sidebar and click “Enable Trial Rebooking.”
How Do I Know I’m Teaching A VIPKID Trial Class?
In the VIPKID classrooms tab, you’ll be able to see a list of all the students who have classes scheduled with you. Next to the date and time, you’ll see a code for the lesson you’re going to teach them. This will look like a string numbers and letters.
Trial classes have a T at the beginning of the lesson code and the name will be “Trial”
Why Did The Name Change On My Trial Class?
Sometimes you might notice that the name and class changes on your trial class booking. You might also see a “Finished: Student_No_Show” indicator in the Finish Type column before the class starts.
This is totally normal and it just means that the trial student VIPKID originally booked for you was no longer able to make it to class.
VIPKID removed that student from your list (and marked them as “Student No Show” if it was close to class time) and replaced them with a new student. As you can see in the image below, sometimes this can happen multiple times for the same time slot.
Student #1 was booked for my 7:30am class and wasn’t able to make it. They were marked a no show and student #2 was added to my schedule. They weren’t able to make it either so student #3 was added. All this happened before the class start time. When I signed into that class, student #3 arrived and we taught the lesson as planned.
Unfortunately, you don’t get “No Show” pay for the students they substituted out before the class started (But how great would that be??)
VIPKID Trial Class Slides Explained
One of the nice things about trial lessons is that you’ll always be teaching one of the same 7 trial lessons. After a while, you’ll know these lessons like the back of your hand, but until then, here’s a breakdown of the VIPKID trial class slides and topics.
Level 1 Trial Lesson (PreVIPKID)
Level 1 or PreVIPKID is the youngest group of students in VIPKId and they’re usually 3-5 years old. You must have the PreVIPKID certification to teach this trial class.
In this lesson, you’ll teach the student how to say their name, age, and the colors blue, pink, and yellow. Introduce alphabet letters A and B and teach the words “Apple” and “Ball.”
I like having several blue, pink, and yellow items around during this lesson. After we learn the color words, I show an item to the student and ask “What color is it?” This is a great way to apply the vocabulary to real life.
Birthday candles also come in handy during this lesson. When we talk about how old they are, I hold up one candle for each year and in the end, we “blow” them out!
If 2D props are more your style, I made a birthday cake + candles reward system that also works well for this lesson. You can grab it here!
Level 2 Beginner Trial Lesson
In this lesson, you’ll teach the student about facial features like the nose, mouth, and eyes. Students also learn about “big” and “small” as well as the letters [Mm] and [Nn].
Toward the end of the lesson, there’s a slide where the student traces the new alphabet letters they learned. If you want your student to write the letters Mm and Nn on the screen, draw them one line at a time to demonstrate what you want the student to do.
If the student still struggles, drawing in the air or using their finger to make the letter on the palm of their hand works well too.
Level 2 Advanced Trial Lesson
In the advanced level 2 trial class, students learn about animals in the jungle, including a [monkey], [tiger], [snake], and [parrot]. Students also learn how to say what they see and identify the letters [Mm], [Tt], [Pp], and [Ss].
They will learn the sentence frame, “What do you see? I see a ______” so you can use this for lots of extensions.
Level 3 Trial Lesson
This is a slightly more advanced lesson and at this level, the student can make full sentences. They will learn what ingredients go into a salad [lettuce], [tomatoes], [carrots], and [dressing] and how to make a list with First, Next, Then, and Last.
In the end, they will see a large plate with other salad toppings. This is a great chance to ask your student about what foods they like and dislike. Students at this level can usually explain what they ate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Level 4 Trial Lesson
This advanced trial lesson is all about travel! Students will learn about flying on an airplane and what to pack in their suitcase. For extension, ask the student if they’ve ever flown on an airplane, where they went, and what they packed for their vacation.
The lesson also talks about different landforms and places to visit. You can deepen the conversation by asking the student if they like going to the beach, what they should bring to the beach, and what they can do there. You can also talk about famous places to visit in China.
Level 5 Trial Class
In this VIPKID trial class, you’ll teach students about weather conditions such as blizzards, floods, tornados, and rainstorms. You won’t see this lesson often because it’s rare to have students enter at such a high level, but it does happen.
Make sure to keep the conversation flowing because practicing speaking fluency is a top priority at this level.
Level 6 Trial Lesson
It’s safe to assume that any student entering at level 6 will be an extremely proficient speaker. Encourage the student to share their thoughts, explain things to you, and respond to questions with details.
How To Change The Level During A VIPKID Trial Class
During the trial class, you have the ability to change the lesson if its too easy or hard for the student. I use this tool all the time and you shouldn’t worry about changing the level if needed.
When you enter your trial classroom, it will default to the level that was set by VIPKID. This level can come from a few different places. Some students take a computer test that assesses where they are and assigns them a level. Sometimes the parents select the level they think is best for their student.
If neither of these things happen, the student will be placed in Level 2 Beginner by default.
When you meet your student, you should be able to assess if their level is correct within the first few minutes.
If a student is blazing through the material while chatting you up with full sentences, they probably don’t need to be doing the Level 2 Beginner lesson. Likewise, if your Level 4 kiddo is struggling to answer “How old are you?” they might need to be adjusted down a bit so they don’t get overwhelmed.
The goal is for the student to leave the class feeling confident excited about learning English, so if a student is on the cusp of two levels, I usually stick to the lower level and give them lots of chances to extend.
To change the level, click the “Slides” button in the bottom left corner of the classroom. A white box will pop up. Here, you’ll see a list of all the trial lessons. Choose the one you think is best for your student and click it to open.
It will take a few seconds to load, then you can jump right in.
I try not to make it a big deal when I change lessons so the child doesn’t get concerned. Usually, I’ll quickly teach them a song, chant, or sentence frame and have them repeat it while I find the new lesson so there isn’t an awkward pause.
Tips For Teaching VIPKID Trial Classes
If you’re looking for VIPKID Trial class tips, you’re not alone! Your first trial lesson can be daunting, but stick to the advice below and you’ll do awesome!
Start and End The Class On Time
Just like with regular VIPKID classes, it’s important to start and end the trial class on time. I aim to be signed into the Teacher Portal and in the correct classroom with my camera and microphone off about one minute before class is supposed to start.
Then, I click the “start class” button 10 seconds before the official start time. I turn on my microphone and camera too. I do not exit the classroom until the timer has passed the 25-minute mark.
If you log into the classroom before the class time and the student is already there, no worries! This is pretty common since trial students are still learning to use the platform and might have checked in early.
Don’t start class early. Just wait in the classroom until about 10 seconds before the start time, then turn on your camera and microphone.
If the student is trying to communicate with me before class starts, sometimes I’ll type something like this in the chatbox so they don’t think I’m ignoring them or having technical issues.
“Hello! The class will begin in 45 seconds. 🙂 Teacher Nicola”
Don’t Stress About Finishing The Slides
In normal VIPKID Classes, finishing every slide is essential.
But in trial classes, it’s not as big of a deal. It could take you some time to adjust the student level and if they’re a new beginner, it might not be possible to cover everything in 25 minutes.
For trial classes, it’s okay to skip to the end once the 25-minute mark hits. You can use the slide selector toggle at the bottom left corner of the screen to jump to the end without having to click through every single slide. Praise the student, reward their hard work, say goodbye, then you’re free to end class.
UPDATE 2020: Lately I’ve noticed that my trial classroom automatically closes somewhere around the 26-minute mark. This caught me off guard when I went a bit over with a student and was bumped out before I had a chance to say goodbye. To be on the safe side, make sure you start saying your goodbyes once you reach 25-minutes.
Adjust The PPT If Necessary
Don’t be afraid to change the level of the PPT. You can even change it multiple times if needed. You always want the student to leave class feeling confident in their abilities, so if they seem to be struggling go ahead and bump it down.
What To Do If The Student Doesn’t Speak
This does happen from time to time and it’s normal for some kiddos to be nervous. Usually, there is a parent nearby during trials who can encourage speaking (they want to see if the program is worth signing up for, after all), but sometimes you’ll be met with silence.
Here are a few tips you can try:
- Talking in a silly voice or in a whisper. I’m not sure why, but sometimes this makes kids more inclined to repeat what you said in the same silly voice.
- Use lots of VIPKID TPR (body language) like cupping your hand to your ear and pointing to the student when you want them to speak. This shows them that you’re listening for their response.
- Singing or chanting. It’s less scary to sing along with a fun song!
- Demonstrate “repeating after the teacher” with a puppet or toy. Look at the toy and say “Hello” then have the toy look at the camera and say “Hello.”
- Give them plenty of time to respond. No need to rush during a trial class and the student might say something after they’ve had time to process.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get a word, teach the lesson to a puppet or toy, making the toy respond in the way the student should. The student is still learning, listening, and absorbing. They might chime in later in the class once they feel more comfortable.
How To Get The Student To Circle Or Draw
Ahhh drawing a circle. Getting your student to draw a circle is a key part of the trial classes at the lower levels because it shows the student a way to communicate with you, even when they don’t have the words yet.
But how do you get the student to draw a circle? Your best bet is modeling. Draw a circle on your screen while saying the words “Circle.” Do it again and again. Point to the student and say “Draw a circle” while making a huge circle gesture.
Most students take classes on an iPad, so if you have an iPad you can hold it up and use your finger to draw a circle on the screen. This will show the student exactly what you want them to do.
You can also use classroom instruction cards like these to give your students more of a visual.
What To Do If You Finish Early
If you finish the lesson materials early, you still need to teach until the 25 minutes is up. If you have extra time, go to the very last slide of the PPT. Often this is kept blank for extension activities. Here, you can play academic games or do activities with the student. For example:
- Spelling bee: ask the student to spell words from the lesson
- Writing practice: if you taught the student alphabet letters, practice drawing them together
- Sentence practice: if your student learned sentences like “How old are you? I am 6” practice asking them the sentence again and again in different voices so it’s firm in their memory.
- Play “What do you see” and hold up items from your room. Ask the student questions like “what color is it?” and “how many candles do you see?”
No matter what happens, make sure you don’t leave the classroom until 25 minutes have passed.
Patience, Patience, Patience
For some students, this might be their first online class ever. They might not know how to use the online classroom and the little ones might have trouble operating their device. This is normal and part of the trial class process is teaching students how to use the VIPKID platform.
Stay patient and calm, even if things don’t go perfectly. Smile throughout and give plenty of encouragement. These lessons are an introduction and you want the student to leave with a good feeling.
The Best VIPKID Trial Class Props
It’s a great idea to use props in your VIPKID Trial classes! Props can make it easier for your student to understand what you’re saying and they make the class more interesting.
I usually use laminated printables and finger puppets during my trial classes. These are some of the most common images and props I use:
- FlashCards: The lower level trial classes have letters in them and the flashcards help. Grab my hand-illustrated flashcard printables here!
- Instruction Cards: I have little instruction cards that show the students how to circle and draw a line. I also have sentence frames written out that can be used to prompt the student. This helps SO much with the true beginners. Grab mine here!
- Animal Finger Puppets: Animal finger puppets are so much fun! I use these in the lower level trial classes about animals in the jungle and body parts. When the student is learning eyes, nose, and mouth, it’s fun to use the animals as examples. I got mine from IKEA and they’ve been going strong since 2017.
- Food Images: One of the intermediate trial lessons involves making a salad. For a visual, I drew pictures of different foods you could put in a salad to show the student. Grab my food props here.
The Best Rewards For VIPKID Trial Lessons
VIPKID likes it when you use a reward system during your trial lessons. These are some of my favorite VIPKID Trial class rewards to keep your students coming back again and again.
- Finger Puppet Party! For this reward, add a finger puppet to your hand every time you want to reward your student (every 4-5 minutes or so). In the end, count the puppets together and make them talk to the student. My younger kiddos find this hilarious.
- Fish in the Fish Bowl: This reward is simple and exciting for students. You start out with a picture of an empty fish bowl and when they do a good job, they get to add a fish to the picture. You can draw this on a dry erase board, or I have a free printable of a fishbowl and fish you can download in my Free Resource Library.
- More Reward Ideas: This post has 32 fun reward ideas you can use during trial lessons! Read it now.
Final Thoughts On Trial Classes with VIPKID
Teaching trial classes can be a great way to book more classes, make more money, and meet amazing new kiddos. The objective of these classes is a bit different than major courses, which makes it a nice change of pace for many VIPKID teachers. Use the tips above and you’ll be wowing your VIPKID trial students in no time!