Among the many options for lucrative ESL (English as a second language) work, Cafetalk is a solid platform that prospective online teachers should consider.
This Cafetalk review will serve as your go-to guide for everything related to the platform, the teaching experience, and what might attract a teacher like you to work with the company.
So what’s it like delivering online ESL education on Cafetalk? Let’s dive into the details.
Founded in Japan, Cafetalk is a marketplace-based teaching platform that caters to students in both Asia and Europe. As a teacher, you will use Cafetalk to create a profile and market your lessons to students. In return, Cafetalk will keep a portion of your earnings (more on this below).
When it comes to teaching online (especially teaching English to Japanese students), Cafetalk is a solid option for teachers with a bit of experience. You’re able to teach what you want, set your own rates, and build relationships with your students.
Cafetalk’s requirements for teachers align with common industry standards.
First of all, you must qualify as a native English speaker or have a “non-native neutral” accent. For the purposes of ESL, “native” English speakers generally hold a passport from one of the following countries:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
A high-quality 120-hour TEFL certificate is not required, but it does give you preferential treatment in the hiring process. In the long run, such certifications are highly valuable for finding well-paying work in the broader global ESL market, so getting certified is definitely worth considering if you plan to teach English abroad or online for an extended period.
You will also need a bachelor’s degree (4-year or equivalent) from an accredited university.
Get Certified to Teach Anywhere!
Technical Cafetalk Requirements For Teachers
As with any online teaching job, a speedy internet connection is a necessity. Cafetalk requires its teachers’ connections to have a minimum of:
- Min Uploading: 3 MB/s
- Min Downloading: 8 MB/s
The basic equipment required to get started includes:
- PC, Macbook, or tablet (no cell phones allowed for lessons, no matter how great your camera is)
- Webcam (optional but beneficial)
- Headset w/ attached microphone (again, optional but beneficial)
The Cafetalk platform is compatible with most web browsers, such as:
- Google Chrome
When you teach online English with Cafetalk, you are technically an outside contractor rather than an employee. As a result, the model is that of agent-client rather than employer-employee – you are marketing your individual services on the platform in exchange for giving a cut of your pay to Cafetalk for hosting the lessons.
Cafetalk pays its teachers a “minimum assured rate” of 60% of the unit cost of the lesson charged to the student. That means, at this introductory tier of payment, the breakdown looks like this in the following hypothetical example:
|Cafetalk Payment Schedule|
|Total lesson cost (100%)||Teacher’s Cut (60%)||Cafetalk’s Cut (40%)|
It should be noted that, occasionally, Cafetalk offers promotional discounts as parts of marketing campaigns. However, Cafetalk will still pay teachers 60% of the standard price in these instances, so you don’t need to worry about losing out on revenue on your end.
If you teach more hours, and therefore generate more income for Cafetalk, the company will reward you with greater percentages paid directly to you – as high as 85%. For many teachers, that is plenty of incentive to maximize their hours, a win-win for both parties.
In addition, Cafetalk offers teachers “reliability” bonuses when the rate is calculated below 70%, specifically for zero no-shows or cancellations.
How Does Cafetalk Pay?
For most teachers, you’ll collect your bounty through Paypal or Payoneer, an increasingly popular alternative to PayPal that functions on the same basic model. You can sign up for a Payoneer account here; all you need is a bank account and email to get started.
If you reside in South Korea or Japan, though, you may be able to get your payment deposited directly into your local bank account – potentially shaving a few dollars off of fees.
Cafetalk pays out on the 15th of each month.
The bottom line pay-wise is that teachers earn between 60-85% of the total charged to the student, which varies generally between $14-$36/hour.
What’s It Like Being a Cafetalk Teacher?
The clients who use Cafetalk are located throughout the world. Although most of them are Asian – Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, etc. – many also live in Europe and elsewhere. As a result, classes are available around the clock.
So, if you are a night owl or are looking at a second job on the weekends or evenings to supplement your income, the schedule flexibility of Cafetalk is a major plus in the “pro” column.
The lessons are conducted via the well-known video conferencing site Skype. Several tutors, in a bid to attract more students, offer free trial lessons. However, this is optional; you will never be expected or required to teach for free.
Time-wise, lessons can range widely from 10-120 minutes, depending on the specific preferences of the individual students.
Based on the literature on its website as well as independent reviews from teachers who have experience working with Cafetalk, the company makes a strong commitment to creating a casual, pressure-free learning environment where both learners and teachers thrive.
Cafetalk Tutor Rankings
As you gain more experience on the platform, your ranking and status improve, furthering your visibility and, ideally, attracting more paying clients at higher rates. The designations assigned to teachers based on performance and completed lessons are as follows:
- PREMIUM: Highly accomplished, many lessons completed (in the hundreds of hours), overwhelmingly positive reviews
- POPULAR: Positive reviews, extended time with the company
- HOT: Trending upwards, with positive feedback
- RECOMMENDED: Cafetalk feels confident about recommending you to clients based on performance.
- NEW: The three-month “probation period” that all new teachers must complete before moving up the rankings
Of course, you might have additional, more specific questions about the teaching experience at Cafetalk. You can direct those inquiries via the contact form. The staff is generally highly responsive to questions from potential tutors.
Cafetalk is still a relative newcomer to the ESL field, so it is not as thoroughly vetted on independent sites as other well-known platforms. However, it does have a 3.7/5-star rating on Indeed.com.
Generally, the reviewers cite the flexible scheduling and friendly, professional working environment. Drawbacks include taking time to build up your profile as an independent contractor and criticisms of the lower pay scale compared to some other online ESL platforms.
Similar reviews appear on another employment review site of note, TrustPilot.
Also, check out what Mello has to say about her experiences with Cafetalk:
The bottom line is that, although the majority of reviewers enjoy the working conditions, the navigability of the platform, and flexibility of scheduling, a major recurring negative theme in these teachers’ experiences is the lack of available students.
Cafetalk Application and Interview Process
The application process is straightforward and can be broken down into the following steps:
- Create an account to apply (free)
- Fill out profile and teaching interests (beyond just English, Cafetalk hosts tutors covering an array of subject ranging from yoga to dance and ballet to IT programming)
- Take and pass one-on-one interview
- Receive acceptance to the platform and start teaching.
If you are a veteran of the online ESL game, you will notice here that there are significantly fewer hoops to jump through before getting started – including, critically, no dreaded “demo lessons.”
Once you’re fully registered and onboarded, you can control your teaching schedule, payment preferences, and other aspects of your work via the “tutor dashboard.”
Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding teaching with Cafetalk.
Does Cafetalk require a TEFL?
No. Although a high-quality, accredited TEFL certification is always beneficial to have as it increases your attractiveness to employers, it is not a requirement to teach with Cafetalk.
Do you have to be a native speaker to work for Cafetalk?
Generally, yes – but with exceptions. Cafetalk prefers candidates who are native English speakers, but the company will allow teachers with “non-native neutral” accents on the site – provided they have a passport from one of the native English-speaking countries:
Does Cafetalk require a degree?
Yes. You must have completed a bachelor’s degree (4 years or equivalent) from an accredited institute of higher learning in any discipline (even mechanical engineering majors welcome).
The Bottom Line on Teaching ESL With Cafetalk
If you are new to the online teaching game, it is wise to take the time to explore your many options – Cafetalk is just one of a plethora of companies that connect teachers and students in cyberspace.
Compared to other platforms, Cafetalk’s major positives are the freedom it affords (you are an independent contractor rather than an employee), the relatively lax requirements, and the ease of the application process.
However, due to an abundance of teachers on the platform and limited numbers of students, you may have difficulty scoring as many clients (students) as you might with other online ESL providers.