I'm an ex-ESL teacher that worked in China, and I know two people who have done “online teaching” through apps or websites. In other words, I know what it's like to make money teaching English even if you're not a professional teacher. This app claims to pay you for tutoring students who are trying to learn English. But can you really make money with the PalFish App?
The truth is, yes, you can. Some people do successfully make some side-cash this way. I did it as a career for 5 years, which was much different from what PalFish is doing, but kind of related.
What are my feelings?
This job is very draining. When you switch students all the time, and deal with people's poor study habits, very quickly the situation turns into you “pretending” to teach and them “pretending” to learn. As a person who takes learning seriously, it was a frustrating position to be in, and the main reason I eventually quit, and would never teach English online.
While in China, I started doing this, eventually quit my job, and work for myself at home. I had no previous experience starting a business, but was able to make enough to quit my job after just two years of operations. Yes, the claims sound a bit sensationalized, but they are 100% true. If you do not have a passion for teaching, and are concerned you'll be bored teaching English through an app, at least check out that link and consider doing what I did to “break out” of your 9-5 pattern.
It takes some time, but is worth it in the long run.
Regarding PalFish, I had never heard of this app before but my friend told me about it. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical of this one, right from the beginning. I found it on a list of apps that are supposed to pay you for tutoring—but there were a lot of signs that I didn’t like about this one right from the start.
For example, the listing for the app on the Google Play Store (pc site online) had a lot of non-English in it. And yes, I understand that they need to do this in order to appeal to both English and non-English speakers, but couldn’t they have made two apps, or at least two different listings for the app, in two different languages?
Here is a screen shot of what I’m talking about.
Then again, it is not entirely fair to judge the entire site based on this one single design decision… so I decided to dig a bit deeper, to see if I could figure out how the app really works.
The biggest question is this.
Can the PalFish app make you some decent money… at least enough to make it worth the time?
I’ve reviewed a few different apps like this… apps that help English-speaking tutors to connect with students who will pay them for English Tutoring. This is an especially popular thing for Chinese students, and for apps like this to make that connection is pretty cool.
But… with that being said, I have also looked into some very, very fine apps and websites that offer this same service, that pay out very well for your time… and to be super honest, those are going to be tough for PalFish to beat. VIPKid is a service that I especially liked, and I am really doubtful that this app will be able to bring the same kind of value to the marketplace.
But I try never to judge a book by its cover, so I decided to look into the app for myself to see what it was all about. Here is what you need to know.
The Basics: Getting Started With PalFish
In the Google Play Store, this app has 3.8 stars, and mostly 5 star reviews… though it hasn’t been downloaded a ton of times either.
As of the time that this was written, it had broken through the 10,000 download mark. This is a pretty good number, but I tend to find that apps with more than 200,000 reviews are most likely to strike my fancy—so this was a bit of a weak point for the app, I will say.
I clicked on the ‘Read More’ tab to see what the app said about itself. I found out quite a bit of info here… and some of it was almost a bit strange.
For example, they quoted Uncle Ben from Spider Man.
No joke. Here is the screenshot.
I mean, I’m not judging. I love superhero-movie quotes as much as anybody.
It was just… unexpected to see this, I guess.
Anyway, I clicked on the ‘install’ button to see what would happen.
Here is what I found.
Downloading the app was simple. Once this was complete, I opened it to find a very professional looking Register/Sign In screen.
I clicked on the ‘Register’ button, and was sent to a page where I was asked to fill in my phone number. Then, I was sent to another page where I was asked to input a code that they texted me, to verify my number. Then I needed to upload a profile picture, choose my gender, and create a username and password.
After this, I was given access to the main hub of the app… but then this message popped up.
It said that my device doesn’t fit the requirements for taking lessons. But I wasn’t sure if that would keep me from teaching or not, so I continued forward.
Here is what the main hub looked like.
At this point, I was curious about what the qualifications were for tutors. What standards did I have to meet before they would let me teach?
That is what I looked into next.
Standards For Teaching On PalFish
I found out pretty quickly that you cannot withdraw you money unless you have at least 200 Chinese Yuan in your account (about $30)
But I could not find any information about what standards you must meet as a teacher on this app. Plus, if I dare say so, I felt like the content written in the app FAQ was not written very well. It was, in my opinion, poorly worded and quite disjointed.
Overall, my initial experience was not giving me a lot of confidence. The longer I looked at the app, the less confident I became in it. I was not really excited by it at all, and almost felt like it looked like a gimmick.
So I decided to do some online review-reading, to see how other people felt about it. Here is what I discovered.
Reading PalFish Reviews Online
So, after reading through some online reviews of this app, I came to understand that there really aren’t any standards for teachers, as long as they follow the rules. The rules are pretty common sense. No dirty pictures, no profanity, be sensitive, don’t be rude, etc.
You can get banned from the site for racking up too many infractions or complaints.
But overall, I didn’t find much in the online reviews that did anything to sway my mind on the app. Yes, you can set your own prices and manage your own classes, but the style of the app seemed really difficult to use to me. I was just not super impressed with how it was set up.
To be super honest, I was just not sure how they expected the app to work very well when it is not better designed.
The main upside that I can see to PalFish is that you do not have to have a college degree to teach on it, whereas other sites (like VIPKid) do require this.
But my question, then, became this… why didn’t the company just do a better job of designing the site/app? Why not give users an experience similar to VIPKid, but without the more stringent requirements?
Granted, having teaching experience or a degree might make you more likely to get work on PalFish, but I would still almost feel better if there were some type of educational requirements. This is almost like a Freelance app, but I still feel like it wasn’t designed well enough to do the idea justice.
I just didn’t really care for it overall. It is not horrible. Yes, you can make money… but I found myself not even interested in pursuing it after this. Call me a snob if you want… but it just didn’t appeal to me.
Also, be wary of websites that claim to have tried the app. I have read several sites that talk about it in a very general way, but that obviously don’t know much about it… which tells me that they probably didn’t download it or even really use it.
My Personal Feelings About The PalFish App
I just wasn’t feeling it with this one. I am sure that it has its merits (one of them is that there aren’t really any requirements for teachers). But I just wasn’t really digging the look or the feel of it. I felt like the content was kind of just thrown together in a semi-professional way, and I felt like there are just a lot of better English tutoring options out there than this one.
If you want to try your hand at some tutoring, but have no teaching experience or college degree, then I could see this app being an obvious option for you.
But if you want a serious tutoring job for Chinese students and really believe in teaching English (and getting paid for it), then I would certainly recommend that you try a different site. There are many sites that will pay well, and I even know some people that do English tutoring online as a side-gig. It's not a super-lucrative job, but it is decent pay for the work.
The trouble is, it's not a smartphone app. It's an actual company you apply for, and you have scheduled times you need to show up for a work.
In my opinion, Palfish not side-hustle worthy. All around, it is just my opinion that there are much better ways to earn extra money with your time. VIPKid has much better reviews.
Our Final Thoughts About The PalFish App
Should you download it and use it to earn some extra money?
Honestly, when you calculate the time spent trying to make money with apps, it rarely works out to be more than a few dollars per hour. Most of the time, you'll only make a few dollars per month. Personally, I think my time is worth more than that!
That's why in 2010 I learned how to make my own website and earn money through online advertising. After a few months of working on my website I was earning consistent income and within two years I was generating over $10,000 per month.
The same training I used to start earning online, passive income is currently open to new members. The beginner course is FREE, and if you join through my link, I will be available for personal support as you build your own business.