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Mission: To help China speak with the world.
Location: Beijing, China
Employees: 3500
  • $45.6 million at IPO - 2016
  • $65.1 million pre IPO - pre 2016

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Team Members

The people you would work with

Leesha Chetty
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51talk Salaries

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What employees at 51talk think about working there

“Love the opportunity 51Talk has given me to teach right from my home! They're super flexible, have a great online platform constantly changing for the better, and you're able to teach right from home. One thing they have that many other chinese based ESL companies don't have is english representatives so if you have any questions, you can talk to someone who you can easily communicate with.”
“They've done a lot of positive changes to the platform while I've been working here which feels great. Because of their missed classes policy it can be a little stressful working through internet, if your wifi cuts and you lose connection you're penalized, but they're investing a lot of money to make sure the tech itself is as stable as possible.”
“One of the best ESL online teaching platforms out there. Huge amount of students looking for classes, they're the leader in the chinese market, so unlike many of the competitors entering the space, there's a lot of demand for teachers. The base pay is not as high as VIPKID, but if you're good enough I've seen people charge super high amounts for the wealthy families who want the best.”
“Although you do get to work from home and your hours aren't 9-5, you have to work when students in China are looking for tutors. Since it's a 14 hour time difference between where I am and where my students are, I have to get up at 3:00am to start my day. They advertise a flexible schedule but this has forced me to completely shift my social life like no other job has.”
“51Talk gives their teachers a great base salary to start, but be careful to not miss any classes! For every class that you miss, you have to pay 51Talk more than double what you would make in that lesson itself. I woke up sick so I cancelled my lessons, now I'm in debt to 51Talk more than $40. Now I'm careful to not overbook and to always cancel if I feel a cold coming on.”

51talk Glassdoor Themes

Good pay

The base pay is pretty good when you compare it to other flex jobs and work from home jobs. Especially because what you're leveraging is a skill that you have pretty much mastered. It's possible to get more money per hour from some other sites though (such as VIPKID), but you can get more bookings through 51Talk so I prefer working for them.
I love to teach! Watching my students get better every day, seeing their smiling faces when we join the call, and helping them prepare for the future is the best! I've worked hard to build a strong curriculum and parents have recognized this. Since I'm in such high demand I'm able to charge pretty high prices, and make a very good salary doing what I love, right from home.

Quality lessons

51Talk provides all the lesson material you need to run a successful class, and there's a great flow to the material. If the hours were not so different than standard working hours, I would definitely consider investing more time into expanding the lessons.
The lessons they provide for us to teach the kids are so well designed, its honestly amazing. The kids love them, their light and good humored, and they do a great job at building over past concepts. You can work around with some of the material they already provide to mae it fit your style, but their base is already a step above lots of the schooling we get in the states.

Competitive industry

It takes some time to make yourself known in the community, but once you do and you get a roster of recurring students, 51Talk is super rewarding. i learned a lot from some of the other top teachers by reaching out and figuring out their tricks. In general everyone is willing to help and they just want to help as many kids as possible.
It's pretty tough to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other ESL teachers on the 51Talk platform. It initally takes some time rto ramp up the number of bookings you get, and many of the top hours and higher paid spots are being occupied by people who've been working for 51Talk for a long time.

How does 51Talk help kids differently than other teaching platforms?

“"The basis of 51Talk is to prepare the next generation of chinese kids for the connected world they'll be living in. This is the major selling point of the platform, and is one of the major differences compared to a lot of other online ESL marketplaces. 51Talk is dedicated to helping k-12 students.

There are competitors in the space, specifically one that comes to mind is VIPKID. 51Talk is different than VIPKID though for a few reasons. There onboarding process is a little easier, for VIPKID you have to have graduated university, where as 51Talk all you need is some teaching experience or a teachers degree.

VIPKID is also more involved with the process of teaching. They feel like they have the best solution to teaching english online, and so they have stricter protocols and things you have to follow to get a good rating from the supervisors. 51Talk is much more lenient towards how you teach, and its up to you to build your own style.

The main difference between VIPKID and 51Talk is that 51Talk gets you bookings faster than VIPKID. The day I opened my schedule for 51Talk, I was getting scheduled."”

How is the interview process for becoming an english teacher for 51Talk?

“The interview process for 51Talk is a simple online application of your resume followed by a phone interview. They do the phone interview to get an understanding of your past experience as a teacher, and then you play a role playing game. Someone pretends to be a young kid, and you have to help them through certain problems you're most likely going to face on the job.”

What skills is 51Talk looking for?

“51Talk is looking for warm and friendly people who love to share knowledge and teach. If you're good at explaining concepts to people, making sure people are happy, and are good with kids, 51Talk is a great place to use these skills!”

How can I make sure I succeed at 51Talk?

“To be successful at 51Talk, and become one of the higher paying teachers on the platform, you have to dedicate time outside of work to develop and tailor lessons for your regular students. As you build a deep connection with your students, parents can recognize that you're someone people go regularly to, and will offer a higher hourly rate to get you to teach their kids.”

Why do some people think 51Talk is a scam?

“"There are a lot of reviews online that say that 51Talk is a scam but this is simply not true. There are definitely some practices they do that aren't with the teachers in mind, but these are there to make sure the company is reliable in the eyes of parents, and to keep the standard of teaching as high as it is expected.

The majority of feedback from sites like glassdoor and reddit are positive. The negative feedbacks on these platforms, especially the negative feedback on the website sitejabber, zeroes in on the penalization for missing tutoring sessions. If you miss a tutoring session, you have to pay 51Talk for almost double the amount that you would have made for the lesson.

It's definitely a steep price, but when you think that these kids have set time out of their day to learn english, it might be the only time during the week they have time, and you're unable to make it, 51Talk is to blame. They need to keep a reputation as being a reliable company where students can book the times and know that their teachers will always show up.

Another complaint is that if the student doesn't show up, you'll earn 1/2 pay for the lesson. This may seem like a great thing, but it definitely gets tiring when you prepare for a class and set time out of your day, and only end up getting half the money. Especially when its a lesson in the middle of a block.

51Talk is definitely not a scam, but there are some things you have to watch out for. In the end, you're a contractor for the company, so you have to be your own boss, and always be present."”

How much can you expect to get paid?

The average pay for working at 51Talk is about $17 an hour, but this depends on how much someone is willing to pay for your teaching. The base rate is $15 an hour, while some of the top teachers are able to make upwards of $22 an hour. To get the higher pay, you should have perfect ratings, and a teaching degree or certificate will definitely help.

What do you like the most about 51Talk?

I just love the teaching experience. I have had such a pleasure teaching these students, when they join the online classroom and I see their faces, I instantly get excited and happy. On top of that I'm also learning a lot about Chinese culture, and it makes me feel more connected with the world around me.

What did you wish you knew before starting at 51Talk?

51Talk has a very strict policy regarding missed classes. If you miss a class, you can pay almost double the amount you would have gotten for doing the class. One day my internet crashed and I was instantly indebt $30, and 51Talk said they weren't responsible since the technical issue was on my side, not theirs.

What does a typical day look like as an english teacher for 51Talk?

“"I start my days very early. Usually I wake up at around 3:30 or 4:00 AM so that I can teach the late afternoon and evening classes for 51Talk. Where I live, Beijing is 14 time zones apart, so me getting up early is necessary if I want to be able to work during their peak hours.

Once I'm up and ready, I start preparing my materials for the day. I have a cute backdrop with lots of colors and puppets, which I use for a wide range of lessons. I love bringing lessons to life with my puppets and stuffed animals, and the kids learn faster with them too!

I then start planning for the specific lessons I have for that day. A lot of my students are actually repeat students, so I have a history with them and know what they like and what they don't like. I then go through the days lessons and make sure each lesson fits with the student I'll be working with. This is key for getting a good rating!

It's usually around 10:00 AM that I finish my classes for the day. I love being done work so early in the day, and then I can meet up with friends, work around the house, and do all the things you wouldn't be able to do at a traditional 9-5. I love the work from home lifestyle!"”

About 51talk

51Talk connects Chinese students looking to learn new languages with motivated, and engaging teachers that love to teach. 51Talk has developed three core business units: 51Talk Philippines (catering to mass market young learners and adults), 51Talk International (catering to young and adult learners), and Hello World American Academy (a private service dedicated for K-12 learners). 51Talk has recently honed in on their K-12 service, seeing that as the future of the company.

Founded in 2011 by Jia Huang and Ting Shu, 51Talk has its headquarters based in Beijing, Beijing. Currently run by founder and CEO Jack Jiajia Huang, 51Talk has grown rapidly since its inception. Receiving a $10M round of funding from Shunwei Capital in 2013, and another $55M in funding from Sequoia Capital, 51Talk was able to build itself quickly for an IPO in 2016 which raised $45.6M. 51Talk has over 1,000 employees and has a distributed workforce of tens of thousands of teachers.

Positive reviews from language teachers report enjoying the flexibility of working when you want to work, the excellent students, the ability to work from home, the constant positive changes made by the company, the good training, and the regular pay. Negative reviews from employees report being frustrated with the lack of upwards mobility, the inconsistent support quality, the competitive nature of the industry (competing against many other teachers for the same students), the high penalties for missed classes, and the timezone difference between North America and China.

The majority of opportunities to join 51Talk are for its Hello World American Academy business, where english teachers from North America teach english to Chinese students.

Values and Beliefs

Our vision is to be recognized as a highly respectable online education platform for centuries.

Our values are:

- Passion - Make continuous improvement a habit.

- Customer focus - Help customers achieve their dreams.

- Game changer - Dare to try new things.

- Camaderie - Trust and respect each other.

Interview Questions

Why do you want to become an ESL teacher?

Why did you decide to apply to 51Talk?

Tell me about yourself?

When was a time you dealt with conflict and what did you do?

How would you explain something to a kid who is a beginning english learner.


Talk is China’s largest online English education company, and is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (COE). We bring students and teachers together for live, online English classes.

51Talk was founded in 2011, and since then has expanded globally. As the first online Chinese education company to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, 51Talk continues to make headlines with its strategic partnerships across the academic world, including: Highlights, Pearson, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, And the American International School of Utah.

Our founders built 51Talk with an inspiring mission: love and empower every child. 51Talk is looking for motivated, engaging teachers to give Chinese children fun and fruitful learning experiences. Together, we will forge a bright future for the next generation of young learners in China.