Honest Palfish Review (After a Whopping 2500 ESL Classes Taught)

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This guest post was written by Kylie Loy, an experienced Palfish teacher earning over $4,000/month on the platform.

You may have heard rumors that Palfish is one of the best ways to teach English online (even if you don’t have a degree).

But what’s it really like being a Palfish teacher?

That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this no B.S. Palfish review.

Now, there’s a lot of hype online about Palfish, but the truth is, many Palfish reviews you read are written by people with little (or even ZERO) experience actually working for the company.

What the heck??

Well, I’m about to change that. 

At the time of writing, I’ve clocked in a whopping 2,500 classes with Palfish (all while traveling full-time around Australia with my family of five!).

I know the company inside and out. The good, the bad, and the UGLY. 

In this review, you’ll learn:

  • The pros and cons of Palfish
  • How to get started
  • My secret tips for earning over $4,000/month on the platform

Let’s dive in!

What is Palfish?

Palfish logo

Palfish is an online ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching company located in Beijing China. 

The company connects native-speaking teachers to students of all ages to learn English using their online platform. 

Palfish has thousands of teachers across the globe that have come together for one reason: 

To work a flexible, well-paying English-teaching job online. 

Many teachers (including myself) build full-time paychecks from teaching with Palfish, and many (also including myself) travel full time. 

There are many different platforms for teaching English online, but as you’ll see in a sec, Palfish is pretty unique. 

women teaching English with Palfish from the back of her van
Teaching doesn’t have to be in the four walls of your house.

Is Palfish legit?

There are many unscrupulous companies online, and it’s a good idea to be careful when starting anything new.

So, is Palfish a legitimate company?

Yes, it is. 

I have worked for Palfish for more than 12 months and officially vouch for the company. 

I have never had an issue accessing any of my classes or receiving my monthly pay. 

They aren’t perfect (more on that later), but I have earned some good money with them while traveling the world. 

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Palfish Official Kids vs. Freetalk

Unlike other online ESL platforms that require laptops or desktop computers, Palfish involves teaching via an app on your phone or tablet (Super handy if you’re traveling light).

When you sign up for the Palfish program, you have two options: 

#1.) Palfish Kids Course

The Palfish Official Kids Course (OKC) is strictly focused on teaching English to children under 12 years of age. 

The curriculum is supplied for you, with cartoon lessons you use to teach for a 25-minute set class. 

During the class, you can see the student, and the student can see you via a video window.

You are required to teach the student the required lesson plan and adjust to the student’s knowledge of English.  

The pay rate is set at a minimum of $22 USD per hour and increases as you complete more classes (we’ll cover the payscale in a sec).

To make a stable income with Palfish, I recommend applying for the OKC. This gives you a better opportunity to build up a steady stream of regular students month after month. 

screenshot of Palfish English teaching application
This is what your teaching classroom will look like.

#2.) Palfish FreeTalk

Your second option is Freetalk. This involves having informal practice conversations with anyone (mostly adults) who wants to improve their conversational English skills. 

This option is open to anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements that Palfish requires to become an OKC teacher. 

There are no set classes. You just log on, make yourself available, and wait for someone to start chatting with you.

You can choose to do video calls or only voice calls. 

The student will usually ask questions about the weather, your home country, traditions, etc. 

With FreeTalk, you set your own pay rate, and Palfish takes a 20% cut of your payments. It sounds bad, but this can easily be made up by slightly bumping up your prices.

FreeTalk could be a good option for you if:

  1. You don’t qualify for OKC
  2. You prefer working with adults vs. children
  3. You value flexibility over pay (e.g., you just want to log in and earn some extra money whenever you feel like it).

How long are Palfish classes?

The Official Kids classes are 25 minutes long, which seem to fly by for me. 

It’s best to arrive 30 seconds before class to avoid being late. 

After class, you are required to fill in a class report which usually only takes 2 minutes to do. These reports are usually pre-filled and only take a few touch types to complete. 

That said, some teachers (including myself) take the time to include personalized reports for each student, which take a bit longer to complete. 

The Palfish Freetalk classes are charged per minute and can go for as long as the student wants to talk over the phone. 

How much can you make from Palfish?

This is a very popular question within the ESL industry. If you put yourself out there and follow all the recommendations for marketing yourself, there is no reason why you shouldn’t earn $100 to $200 a month as soon as you start. This will increase as time goes on. 

I earned $400 my first month, and things escalated quickly from there. By the third month, I was earning $4000 USD teaching 45 hours/week.

The great thing about Palfish is that there are five levels of pay rates. 

You will start with a base rate of $18.50 per hour. Then, for each class you teach, you gain points. The number of points you earn in a month will determine your pay rate for the next month.

This is very motivating and a great incentive when starting out. By my third month, I was already on the highest level—$23 an hour. 

To sweeten the deal even further, if you don’t arrive late or miss any classes, you get a $30 bonus each month. I never say no to a bonus!

While the pay is nice, working for Palfish has other benefits as well. 

For one, it’s one of the most flexible jobs for travelers. During my time with Palfish, I have been traveling full time around Australia. I explore during the day and teach at night. 

If you reach the highest pay tier and get your bonus, you can make 50 dollars a day online working just two hours per day. And if you’re traveling solo through cheap countries, that’s more than enough!

family traveling in Australia
My family exploring the Whitsunday Islands

There’s also the amazing children I teach. They truly are great fun. I now have regular students every week, and they are always so excited to see me. 

This makes things way more enjoyable than other teaching jobs involving unmotivated students who don’t want to learn.

How do you get paid on Palfish?

When you sign up with Palfish, you will also be asked to sign up with Payoneer. 

At the beginning of every month, your payment will be transferred to your Payoneer bank account. From there, you can transfer it to your main bank account.

These transfers do take about a week, but it’s usually the same time every month. 

How to get started with Palfish

Palfish teaching requirements

Now, let’s get into the more serious side of Palfish. 

There are some teaching requirements for Palfish you should be aware of. These differ for Freetalk and OKC. 

Palfish Official Kids Teacher Requirements: You must be a native English speaker from one of the following countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, or the U.S.

You also need a TESOL or TEFL certificate. When it comes to TEFL certifications, you get what you pay for.

  • Low end: Less than $50 on Groupon. With this option, you’re basically just paying for a piece of paper and don’t actually learn how to be a good teacher.
  • Medium end: This company offers a basic training for under $100 (a bit more comprehensive than Groupon courses). 
  • High end: If you’re planning to make teaching English your main source of income, I recommend getting properly trained. This will enhance the experience for both you and your students.

Palfish FreeTalk Requirements: FreeTalk does NOT require you to be a native speaker or have a TEFL certification. This is one of the few options available for non-native speakers to earn money teaching English online.

Do you need a degree for Palfish?

Palfish is one of the few ESL companies that doesn’t require a degree to teach. For OKC, all you need is a TEFL certification. And for FreeTalk, you don’t even need that!

I personally do not have a degree, and I have had great success with the company. 

Suggested Readings:
Best companies teach English online to Spanish students
How to teach English online to Mexican students
How to Become an Online Tutor and Travel the World

The Palfish Application Process

screenshot of palfish app

The Palfish application process is super straightforward. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Download the Palfish App to your tablet or phone. 

Step 2: Enter your basic details, upload documents, etc. 

Step 3: You will be asked to enter a paragraph that informs parents/students who you are and why you should be the person to teach their child. Spend some time on this so that your best self shines through and you stand out from other teachers. 

Step 4: Make a 2-minute audio introducing yourself so that parents and students can hear your voice and accent. Remember to use simple words and speak slower than usual. 

Step 5: Make a video (maximum 3 minutes long) introducing yourself to parents and potential students. This is the hardest part for many new teachers, but it’s essential to create a quality video that wins parents over so they choose you over another teacher.

Step 6: Set up your payment details so you can start getting paid. 

How do I pass my Palfish interview?

To become an OKC teacher, you will also need to book an interview. 

The interview isn’t what you might expect. You don’t actually meet anyone from the company. Rather, you perform a mock class with a fake student to show your skills as a teacher.

I know this might sound scary, but you will have plenty of days (even weeks) to practice this mock class. Take advantage of this time so you can nail it on your first go. 

My advice is to watch some Youtube videos and mimic some of their ideas. Here’s a good example:

From there, it’s just practice, practice, practice!

Keep in mind, if you just want to do Freetalk classes, you can skip this part. 

Palfish Review: The Pros and Cons

What I Like About Palfish

There are plenty of things I like about Palfish. I have stuck around more than twelve months now so it can’t all be that bad.

✅ Palfish is one of the highest-paid ESL companies.

✅ Palfish doesn’t require a degree for any of their teaching jobs. 

✅ They pay $15 to buy any props you need (this is a nice touch).

✅ The more classes you teach, the higher your pay rate (plus bonuses for not being late or having any absences).

✅There are many opportunities to market yourself and find new students (instead of just waiting for them to come to you). 

What I DON’T Like About Palfish

Nothing in life is perfect. Here are some things that frustrate me about Palfish:

❌ Support is minimal for a beginner. If you don’t know where to look for support, you will have a lot of unanswered questions. My advice? Youtube and Facebook Groups.  

❌ Penalties are harsh. If you are late, you have points deducted AND money taken off your class. These add up. Even if you are 1 second late, you are penalized. 

❌ If you are more than 2 minutes late, your class will be given to another teacher, and you’re pay gets docked. 

❌ There is little to no feedback from the admin staff. This becomes difficult when you need to ask a question about a student. 

❌ Sick days? Yeah right! If you are sick, you must work.If you don’t work, you will be penalized for taking an unexpected day off. 

Is Palfish a good company to work for?

My overall review of Palfish is: Yes, it is a good company to work for. 

Like any company, it has its pros and cons. But during my time working for Palfish, I have found great success. 

Palfish has funded my family of five to travel Australia full time for over a year now. I have love being able to travel and teach at the same time. 

There aren’t many entry-level digital nomad jobs out there that allow you to do that (especially with no degree and minimal training).

How to succeed on Palfish: 5 tips for juicy monthly checks

#1.) Pump up your excitement. My best tip for getting students is to be fun and exciting. Wear a funny hat, smile, and be inviting. Make learning fun! I always like to think about what it would be like for the child and how I would want my teacher to be (when not knowing much English).

#2.) Make yourself available. To earn more money, you need to open up as many time slots as possible. If you teach more classes, you earn more points, which leads to higher pay rates. 

#3.) Practice your skills. Being an effective teacher is one of the most underrated tips when starting out as a Palfish. Ultimately, your students want to learn English. Their parents are paying big bucks for these classes. If you’re a good teacher, you’ll get regular students who book you for months in advance. If you put in minimal effort or don’t take things seriously, nobody will want to waste money on you. A lot of this comes back choosing a quality TEFL training.

#4.) Engage with Palfish OUTSIDE the class. Inside the Palfish app, there are many options to connect with potential students. You can post moments (yes, just like Instagram) that potential parents can see to get to know you. You can also comment on students’ posts. Lastly, you can ‘Like’ certain reading books that the children read. 

#5.) Treat it like a real job. My secret tip is to treat this job like you would any other job. Just because it is an online job doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up dressed well, on time, and looking respectable. The Chinese culture expects their child’s teacher to be well-presented. This will also help with student retention. Be friendly, smile, and always be professional. 

Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).

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