An Honest Cafetalk Review by an ESL Teacher

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I started teaching English online with Cafetalk in 2021. After losing in-person teaching opportunities, I decided to try my hand at online teaching and it has allowed me the flexibility to earn money from the comfort of my own home. Here’s my honest Cafetalk review and guide for teaching online with Cafetalk.

Want to teach abroad?

If you’re interested in teaching English abroad, check out my post on how to become an English teacher abroad.

What Is Cafetalk? Is Cafetalk Legit?

Yes! Cafetalk is a service that connects students with private online lessons with teachers from around the world. Besides English language lessons, you’ll also find tutors teaching art, musical instruments, or even yoga on Cafetalk. This is one reason why I love teaching on Cafetalk as I can also provide German language instruction on the platform.

Classes on Cafetalk are one-to-one and conducted via Skype or Zoom. You also have the freedom to create your own lessons and set your own price. This means Cafetalk is more of an online teaching marketplace.

You create your own profile, set your rates and available hours and students can book your classes. Cafetalk currently has a student base of more than 46,000 students.

Cafetalk provides a lot of support to get you started for new teachers. After you fill out your application, a Cafetalk staff member will have an interview with you. Once they verify your identity and your language ability, you’re good to go.

The search algorithm on the Cafetalk website also gives a chance to new teachers and places them towards the top of the pages. This will help you attract your first students and establish yourself in the community.

Check out Cafetalk now.

Cafetalk Teacher Requirements

Cafetalk requirements for applicants are:

  • You must be a native or fluent speaker of the language you’d like to teach
  • You must be over 20 years of age
  • You must be permitted to work in your home country and the country of your residence
  • A TEFL certificate is preferred (for English teachers) and prior teaching experience is preferred

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Technical Requirements to teach on Cafetalk

On top of the teaching requirements, you must also have the following equipment to teach on Cafetalk:

  • Fast and stable internet connection
  • PC, Mac or tablet (teaching lessons via smartphone is not permitted)
  • A working webcam
  • Hold basic computer skills and strong communication skills
  • Have a Skype account, Zoom lessons can also be offered

How to Register for a Tutor Account on Cafetalk

It’s super easy to register as a tutor on Cafetalk. Simply head to the Tutor page. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the Apply For An Account button. You will be directed to the Tutor Registration page.

How much can you earn teaching on Cafetalk?

When you first start looking into Cafetalk, you will notice that transactions are made in Cafetalk points. With this point system, one point equals 1 Japanese Yen. Once you get paid, these points will be converted into your desired currency from JPY.

Online English teachers often find that their Cafetalk salary can vary quite a lot. This is because you can set your own rates on the platform. When taking a look at established English teachers on Cafetalk, an average hourly rate of $14-$36/hour seems to be the norm.

Teachers on Cafetalk are paid every month on the 15th through Payoneer, Paypal, or directly to your bank account.

Cafetalk Pay Scale

Let’s talk about the pay scale in this Cafetalk review. As with any online teaching platform, Cafetalk takes a chunk from your lesson price every time you teach. This commission rate starts off at 40% of the lesson price and increases depending on lesson sales with the lowest possible commission percentage at 15%. Here is a brief overview of Cafetalk’s pay scale system:



If the margin rate calculated based on sales is less than 70% the following ‘reliability’ bonus will take effect:

Typical Lesson Flow on Cafetalk

The following seven steps are involved with a typical lesson flow on Cafetalk:

1. Get a request

Once a student reviewed your profile and decides to book a lesson with you, they make a lesson request. You will receive this request via message in your Cafetalk dashboard and you’ll also receive an e-mail notification.

2. Fix your lesson

The next step for you is to confirm the student request by clicking the confirm button in the dashboard.

3. Communicate with your student

It’s recommended to send your student a short message. You can also ask your students questions or share files before the lesson to tailor the lesson to their needs.

4. Deliver your lesson

When it’s time for your lesson, connect with your student via Skype or Zoom with a click of a button and deliver your awesome lesson! Check out my blog post about the best tools to use to deliver your online lessons.

5. Completion and follow-up

After the lesson is over, leave feedback and learning tips in the dashboard for your students. This is also a great time to encourage your student to take more lessons with you.

6. Make a Payment Request

To receive payments, you can click a button to request payment or turn on auto-requests. The minimum payout amount on Cafetalk is 3,000 JPY (around US$25).

7. Payment initiated

Payment is made to your local bank account via Payoneer, or Paypal every month.

Pros of Teaching Online with Cafetalk

With Cafetalk, I’ve been able to teach English from home at any time I wish. Being an expat living in South Korea, this flexibility allows me to travel frequently and match my teaching hours to the lifestyle I want to live. Teaching online on Cafetalk also means that I can travel back home to see my family and stay for long periods of time (I usually go home and stay between 2-3 months) – while still working online!

The fact that I can teach what I want on Cafetalk makes it fun and interesting for me and the students. I don’t have to follow a strict curriculum and can teach what interests me and my students.

Teaching one-on-one is wonderful. I get to meet so many interesting people from all over the world on Cafetalk. Teaching individual students allows for a great learning environment, and it also fosters a deeper connection between teacher and student. Most students on Cafetalk are adults, which means that they are extremely motivated and want to be there – which is not always the case when you teach children, for example!

Finally, I am very impressed by the teacher support on Cafetalk. They regularly check in with you when you hit a new milestone (like your 100th lesson). They even prepare banners for your milestones that you can include in your profile. You can also schedule a consultation with them when you want to discuss an issue.

Cons of Teaching Online with Cafetalk

You will have to know before you teach online, not only on Cafetalk but any other platform, that it takes time to generate a regular student base.

While Cafetalk supports new teachers by placing them in high positions in their algorithm, students look at reviews and the number of lessons you have taught. This means, in order to get a regular student base, you need to start by offering lessons at a lower price than other teachers on the platforms. However, you can follow a couple of tips mentioned in this blog post to quickly build your online student base.

I think the biggest negative when teaching on Cafetalk is the high commission rate new teachers start with. As a new teacher on Cafetalk, you start at the bottom of the scale, which is 60% earnings and a 40% commission that goes to Cafetalk. Combined with the low rates you need to offer in your first few months to attract regular students means that you likely won’t make big bucks in your first few months on Cafetalk.

That being said, if you want to make teaching on Cafetalk a full-time income, you should start teaching on the platform before your prior income stream ends.

My Honest Cafetalk Review: Do I recommend Cafetalk?

Yes! If you are looking for an easy side hustle, then Cafetalk is great! However, I’m not sure that teaching solely on Cafetalk is enough to earn a full-time income.

I teach an average of 30 lessons per month (around 1 or 1.5 hours a day Monday to Friday) with earnings of around US$250 USD. 

With Cafetalk online teaching, you can provide a meaningful learning experience for motivated students from around the world, while enjoying the benefits of a remote working arrangement. Cafetalk is one of the best companies to teach English online. Here’s a list of 20 other online teaching platforms for comparison.

 Recommended Literature for Online Teachers

Planning lessons and creating a curriculum that makes sense and flows is challenging – especially for new teachers. The following resources will help you with this daunting task and also save you time!

Teaching English as a Foreign Language For Dummies

Don’t underestimate this book of the “for dummies” series! It’s a great book to get started in teaching English as a foreign language. You’ll learn how to put an EFL course program together from scratch, lead your students in skills classes – from reading to listening, deliver grammar lessons in a logical and intuitive way, and finally how to cope with different age groups and capabilities. In short, this book is your one-stop guide to a career that will take you places! Buy this book.

The Ultimate Teaching ESL Online Manual

This book gives great tips to reduce the learning curve that all new online teachers face. It helps new teachers establish a reputation as a fantastic online ESL teacher right from the first lesson, while building a loyal client list. It gives detailed insight into making it on major online platforms like Verbling and Italki. I also really appreciate the helpful tips to avoid common mistakes that new online teachers make which lose them students. Buy this book.

101 Activities and Resources for Teaching English Online

With this book, you’ll get dozens of amazing ideas to use in your own virtual classroom. The highly-detailed descriptions will show you exactly how to use the activities during your online classes. This book will really save you lots of valuable preparation time. At the same time, handy teaching tips will help you avoid common pitfalls. Buy this book.

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Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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