Getting paid to have a chat might seem like a fairytale but, in reality, it’s not only possible – it’s positively easy to achieve.
That’s because there are plenty of online English teaching companies that will actually pay you to just have a conversation with ESL speakers, many of which have relatively low barriers to entry.
Not only does this make it one of the easiest and best ways to make money from home, it’s also a great way to learn more about other cultures and connect with some interesting people.
So where are these dream jobs?
Well, one of them is available through a platform called Cambly, which we’ll be taking a closer look at through the rest of this article.
In this full review of Cambly, we’ll be covering:
- What Cambly is
- Your earning potential on the platform
- How booking and scheduling work
- What the classes and students are like
- How much support they offer
- How to join Cambly
- Similar programs
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
What is Cambly?
Cambly is an English tutoring platform that connects native English speakers to second language learners all across the world.
It’s one of the easiest ESL teaching companies to get started with as it requires no prior experience or qualifications, which makes it suitable for those looking for entry-level positions.
Like most English learning platforms, classes are one-on-one and take place via an audio-video feed.
However, unlike most English learning platforms, Cambly focuses exclusively on conversation practice, and very little ‘actual teaching’ is required. Students just want to talk with a native speaker.
It also operates 24 hours a day and is structured very differently than most other online ESL teaching platforms as a result of it being a log-in-and-talk style platform.
What Are Log-in-and-Talk English Teaching Platforms?
Log-in-and-talk platforms are one of the two types of platforms that English teachers can work through, the other being those which offer set schedules, like SayABC and VIPKID.
As the name suggests, you simply log in to these platforms and start taking calls at a time that suits you. There is no prior booking necessary and you don’t have to commit to a minimum number of hours.
This means you can work anytime and anywhere, with complete flexibility and control over your own schedule.
It goes without saying that this comes with many advantages, and a lot of teachers prefer these types of platforms due to the flexibility it offers them.
Other benefits of log-in-and-talk platforms include:
- No lesson planning or preparation is required
- Easier to take work on the road due to the flexibility they offer
- Usually just conversation practice
- Often adult learners as opposed to children
- It’s possible to work at all hours of the day (or night!)
That being said, there are also some disadvantages, such as:
- You aren’t guaranteed a set amount of hours so your pay may vary over time.
- You aren’t typically given lesson plans so you have to be comfortable ‘winging it’, so to speak.
- Pay tends to be lower than the pay offered on schedule-based platforms
- It can be difficult to self-motivate yourself to work without a set schedule
Okay, that’s it for the basics – now let’s get into the more detailed stuff.
Cambly Pay and Incentives
You’re probably itching to hear about the pay right about now, so let’s talk money.
If you’re thinking that all that flexibility and easy work must be too good to be true and that there’s got to be a catch, you’d be right – sort of.
The catch is that the pay isn’t so great, at least not compared to other online teaching platforms out there. Cambly pays $0.17 per minute of tutoring. On an hourly basis, that adds up to a maximum of around $10.20 per hour.
If you factor in the time between calls where you’ll likely be sat around doing nothing (and not getting paid for it), you’d probably come to a more realistic figure of around $6-9.
This might seem low when you consider the fact that there are plenty of other teaching companies which pay $20+ per hour, but it isn’t really that bad, all things considered.
It still beats minimum wage in the US ($7.25 per hour) and you can use the time in between calls to supplement your income in other ways, such as by completing surveys on survey sites.
Plus, as I mentioned earlier, you can work through Cambly whilst traveling, from anywhere in the world. That $6-9 per hour will go much further in countries with developing economies. It’s possible to travel through Thailand on $20 per day, which is just 2 hours work each day.
There are also ways that teachers can make sure that they earn as much of that $10.20 per hour as possible, such as by taking advantage of priority hours and opening up reservation slots.
What are priority hours and reservation slots? Well, that question brings us nicely on to the next section of our full Cambly review.
Cambly Booking and Scheduling
We already talked about how advanced bookings and scheduling is largely absent from log-in-and-talk style platforms like Cambly. And this is true – for the most part. Priority hours and reservation slots are the two exceptions that prove the rule.
Priority hours are usually available several times per week. During these hours, Cambly offers tutors a guaranteed pay incentive to encourage them to log on due to expected high demand for tutors.
This is usually either 15 or 30 minutes of guaranteed pay, and teachers have to book these hours in advance to take advantage of this incentive.
If you cancel your priority hours within 12 hours of the allotted time or don’t show up, you’ll be less likely to be offered them in the future, or temporarily banned from booking them completely.
The longer you’ve been teaching on the platform, the more likely you are to be able to book priority hours.
Reservation slots are a little different. Any teacher can choose to open reservation slots at any time, which students can then book in advance.
This can help you to fill your available schedule and guarantee yourself classes, rather than just logging on and waiting for calls to come through.
Many students will actively ask you if they can book for future classes following a successful conversation with them, and you can send links to your reservation slots to students directly.
Canceling these will also potentially limit your access to priority hours, but you won’t incur any other financial penalties. The bad news is that, if a student cancels it or doesn’t show up, you don’t get paid. This can happen fairly often, so try not to rely too much on reservations.
Cambly Classes and Students
Cambly classes are nothing if not varied. Sometimes they will last 5 minutes or less, other times you can be speaking for hours.
One class you might be speaking with someone from Saudi Arabia, the next Mexico, and the next Japan. You may be speaking about your favorite movies one minute, or giving relationship advice the next. No two classes are ever the same.
The way it works is students will call you if you’re available and they want to speak to you. They determine the length of the call, so they can hang up any time – and so can you.
This is different than how things typically work on ESL teaching platforms which give you a set schedule. Classes in these other platforms are usually 20 or 30 minutes.
Many Cambly classes will last about the same length of time, but it depends on the student. However, trial classes are always 5 minutes long, without exception.
Set class durations can be frustrating as you might sometimes need longer to finish a topic or struggle to fill the time. This isn’t a problem with Cambly as you can talk until your student has had enough.
There are no lesson materials provided, but you don’t need them. At the start of the call, you can ask the student what they want to talk about. They’ll usually just want a casual chat to practice real conversation with a native speaker.
It’s your job to direct the conversation so it doesn’t get awkward and to steer clear of uncomfortable silences. That’s all there is to it!
Most students on Cambly tend to be from Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, but there are plenty from other countries too. Other regions where Cambly is popular include South America and India.
Students are also mostly adults. Whilst you can occasionally get younger students, this isn’t nearly as common.
As you’re speaking to adults, it’s not uncommon for certain controversial topics to come up. Some students may ask you personal questions or strike up loaded conversations about politics or other divisive topics.
In these situations, you’re free to refuse to talk about these topics or hang up on the student if you feel uncomfortable, as long as you do so politely and professionally.
This is one of the best things about Cambly and is something that Cambly teachers love. Teachers are allowed to talk on their own terms, something which other platforms lack.
If a student acts inappropriately or offensively, you can even ban them at the click of a button. You probably won’t have cause to use this feature very often, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if you need it.
Cambly Help & Support
Support is one of the most important aspects of the job to many prospective English teachers. It’s important to be able to get help when you need it.
Unfortunately, Cambly doesn’t offer the most comprehensive support system out there. You don’t receive regular feedback from staff like you do with platforms like DaDa, there is almost no training, and tech support is practically non-existent.
That being said, this could be considered a good thing if you’re not the kind of person that likes to be micromanaged.
It’s also not as necessary to have a functioning tech support system as it is on other platforms as you can just disconnect the call with your student when you have tech issues with no harm done.
Cambly students only pay by the minute. This means that they don’t have to waste money waiting for the tech issues to be resolved. On platforms where classes last a set duration, these tech issues can have a greater impact on students.
Also, teach issues are usually picked up automatically by the system checks before you begin teaching anyway.
Despite the lack of a dedicated platform support, Cambly does have one of the best online teacher communities out there. Their Facebook group is huge and functions as a kind of crowd-sourced advice and support platform.
The group is called Cambly Corner. It has over 3,000 members and is a great place to share experiences, ask questions and gather new ideas for conversation starters.
If you’re still considering whether you want to apply for Cambly, it can also be a great place to scout out the platform and get a feel of what other teachers think about it – the good and the bad.
How to Join Cambly
We’ve now covered most of the important aspects of the job in detail, so you should be able to make a more informed decision about whether you’d be interested in signing up for the platform and using it to boost your monthly paycheck.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you’d go about doing that.
There really aren’t many requirements to work at Cambly. They’ll hire anyone who:
- Speaks English at a native level
- Has a headset and microphone
- Has a stable internet connection
And that’s it!
Unlike most other ESL teaching companies, they don’t require that you have a bachelor’s degree or any prior teaching experience.
If you fit the bill, here’s how you go about signing up.
Cambly’s hiring process can be broken down into 5 simple steps. These are:
Step 1: Head to Cambly’s official website and hit the become a tutor button.
Step 2: Fill out some basic information, such as your email, chosen username, password and date of birth.
Step 3: Pass the automated connection test, which will check your internet speed, video and audio feed to make sure it’s all up to scratch.
Step 4: Record a sample introduction video for the Cambly staff. You should use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and talk about your experience, personal qualities, and interests.
Step 5: Send this to Cambly for review. They will usually respond by email once it’s approved, which can take up to a few days.
In most cases, the video will be approved or you’ll be asked to re-record it if there were any issues.
Once your account is approved, you can fill out your profile and start earning money immediately.
Programs Similar to Cambly
If Cambly doesn’t sound right for you, it isn’t the only platform out there.
In addition to the many schedule-based online teaching platforms out there, there are plenty of log-in-and-talk style platforms like Cambly too. Three of the best alternatives are:
Tutoring is an audio-only English teaching platform connecting Korean students to native English speakers. Like Cambly, it pays $10 per hour, but also offers peak-time incentives for a few hours each day.
During these hours, pay is often increased to $13 per hour, which makes it possible to earn more than Cambly if you choose your working time wisely.
Teaching via audio only also comes with a lot of advantages for both the teacher and the student.
Many teachers feel that teaching on webcam makes them leaves them feeling self-conscious; something that isn’t a problem with Tutoring. Both you and your student will probably feel more relaxed and able to have a more natural conversation.
You’re also free to do whatever you want whilst you’re talking. You can make a cup of tea, watch TV, walk around (if you have a laptop that you can carry with you), read a book… the possibilities are endless.
Palfish is an app-based teaching platform that offers both schedule-based and log-in-and-talk work, depending on what you’re looking for.
Teachers can sign up to teach their ‘official kid’s course’ and commit to a set schedule and a minimum number of teaching hours for a minimum of $16 per hour.
Alternatively, you can set your own rates and log in to teach at any time, but you’ll have to market yourself well to get a lot of students. You can do so through the features built into the platform, such as offering free ‘live classes’, moments, book readings and more.
Signing up is simple, easy, and similar to Cambly. However, if you choose to go down the schedule-based route, you’ll need to go through a more stringent hiring process.
Palfish official kid’s course teachers need to pass both an interview and demo class before they can begin teaching.
Italki works in a similar way to Palfish but doesn’t have a schedule-based option. You set your own rates and compete with other teachers to attract students and fill your available time with classes.
You get paid in Italki credits which you can withdraw as soon as you’ve earned at least $30, or use on Italki.
Italki isn’t just for English learners either – it’s for many different languages. Therefore, if you aren’t a native English speaker, you still might be able to use it to tutor in your first language.
That concludes our full Cambly review. Hopefully, you’re a little closer to finding that perfect side hustle that’s right for you.
If teaching isn’t your thing, check out our articles on some other great ways to earn money from home.