So How Does One Support Oneself Abroad? Pt 2 – Cambly

So far I’ve spent about 3 weeks teaching for the online English tutoring company “Cambly”. The next few posts will be a more in-depth review of my experience with this company and what it’s like to teach English online. They are going to focus on answering the common questions I get from people that are considering living abroad.

For starters, for all those that are thinking about teaching English online, I highly recommend getting a comfortable headset. I personally prefer the over-ear style of headphones since they’re more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. I also like how well they block out background noise. AKA “kids”.


Here’s a link to the headset I use:

I like these ones because the foam pads are soft and comfortable, the microphone is built into the cable (in-line), and the sound quality is really good so they’re also useful for watching movies and listening to music on top of making calls.

You can also use the earbuds that come with any smartphone, but I find that they aren’t very comfortable after 2 or more hours of straight use and I don’t like in-ear styles that much, especially if I’m not feeling well and have a cold or something.

Depending on your computer you may also need a way to connect the headset into either two separate jacks or a USB port for the microphone and headphones. There are a million (don’t quote me on that but I think it’s pretty accurate) ways of doing this. Here is an example of a product that will work:

I would highly recommend following the link and taking a look at that product description. Part of the allure of buying this particular product is the “surround sound effect which will bring you fantastic feelings”. Since I am a fan of fantastic feelings, I might need to buy this for myself.

So really aside from a decent headset, there’s not a lot you need to do to get set up. The hiring process is really easy on Cambly. Just follow the link HERE and start going through the application.

After you’ve filled in your particulars and added “Jonathan M.” as the teacher that referred you, you need to do an internet speed test. Cambly is waaay less strict that most other online ESL companies in this regard, they only require 1 Mbps upload and download speeds. For the sake of comparison, many other companies require a minimum of 10 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. Most places in South America have internet in that speed range, although problems of intermittency may persist depending on location.

So assuming you pass with flying colors, the next step is to record a short introduction video. This is only for the sake of the “interview” – it’s proof that you are indeed able to speak English and likely gives them some form of confidence that you’re actually capable of assisting people that need practice in conversational English.

The final step is to fill in a tutor profile. This is what learners will see when they look you up. You can always come back and change it however many times you’d like so at this point it’s really only for the sake of getting hired.

Once it’s all done and submitted you just need to wait for a response. My wife was hired within the same day, and I had to wait about a week. I think it depends on how often they get around to reviewing applicants.

When you’re hired they’ll send you an email to let you know. Then you can log on and record your introduction video to potential students. I would recommend taking this part seriously. I would say that 75% of the people that request me mention that they chose to practice with me because of either something in my introduction video or something in my profile.

I’ve changed around my profile and redid my video several times to see what types of things seem to attract more learners. I’ve found that it’s important to mention any additional languages that you’ve learned, or whether you are currently trying to learn any. Many people have commented that they felt more at ease with me because I was patient with them as they were trying to formulate sentences, and they attributed this to the fact that I can relate to the difficulty in learning a new language.

Another thing I mention in my profile that seems to have generated a lot of interest is my background in manufacturing. I would say that about half of the people that request me are engineers that would like help practicing technical language. I have one regular learner that literally uses his 15 minutes a day with me to study different textbooks and published standards to help him with his job. Basically he reads the material and asks me questions about anything that he’s not clear on.

So my recommendation is that if you’re wanting to teach English on this platform, it’s important to advertise any niches that you might cover. For me it’s technical English. For you it might be sales lingo, poetry, or the uncanny ability to verbally describe odors with clarity. Either way, try to make yourself interesting, since it seems that curiosity really draws people to you. A lot of the regular learners have already met a large amount of the tutors that are typically online when they’re learning, so they’re on the hunt for interesting conversation.

Anyway, that’s how you can get started on Cambly. I’m sure that much of the information will also apply to other teaching platforms. In my next post I’ll get into what teaching here is really like.


Want to keep reading? Here’s the next post in this category:

So How Does One Support Oneself Abroad? Pt 3 – Cambly

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