Teaching Prospects on iTalki
Recently the online English teaching industry has garnered additional attention as major players like VIPKid and DaDaABC have earned accolades for their work environments and employee treatment. While these companies offer an excellent opportunity for new and seasoned teachers to earn income teaching remotely from home, their rigid schedules and curricula may not be appropriate for all teachers. iTalki is an online platform that connects language learners with teachers and allows teachers to teach classes in any language on their own rate and schedule. Founded as a "Facebook for language learners", iTalki now boasts more than 5 million users and 10,000 teachers world-wide.
While iTalki offers flexibility and the ability of teachers to dictate their own prices, because of its marketplace nature iTalki teaching income is less obvious than its counterparts. In this project, we hope to shed some light on what prospective teachers may expect to encounter as they begin a journey teaching on iTalki. All statistics represent teachers located in the United States who teach English language on the iTalki website
Over the next four weeks English teachers are scheduled to teach an average of 65 30-minute lessons. The mean booking rate of the data is 28.6%, meaning that iTalki students signed up for an average of 28% of time made available by teachers for language lessons over the next four weeks.
iTalki teachers select their own pay and curricula and so it was prohibitively difficult to substantively evaluate pay during this project. Lowest hourly rate per teacher started at $18.53 and had a standard deviation of $7.71, but because iTalki does not publish which lessons students take and when, it is impossible to infer actual teacher income from scraped data.
This data shows no obvious relationship between average rating, career lessons taught, career students taught, and four week bookings. Nearly all teachers boasted a 4.9 or 5 star average rating and so this metric does not appear to be a useful distinguisher of teacher effectiveness. The strongest predictor of four week bookings identified so far is the number of lessons taught in the month of May, suggesting that recent teaching momentum is more important than cumulative teaching experience.
Teachers most commonly used words in the word cloud below to describe themselves in their introductory profiles. Of note, the frequency of words like "Mexico", "Japan", and "French" suggest that many teachers may themselves be language learners or proficient in multiple languages.
- iTalki teachers are scheduled for an average of 65 hours over the next four weeks, suggesting either that teachers only teach an average of 15-20 hours per week, or that most lessons are not booked until within a month of the lesson. It appears that for many, teaching for iTalki may then represent a realistic alternative to sites like VIPKid which typically boast around 15-20 hours per week per employee.
- The relative un-importance of career lessons taught and career students taught vis-a-vis the number of lessons taught in the most recent term suggests that it may be fairly easy for new teachers to enter the iTalki marketplace.