SayABC Review: Teaching English Online

Teaching English online is gaining more and more popularity and we want to talk about our personal experience teaching with SayABC. Long story short, we moved abroad to Taiwan to teach, realized we wanted to travel all the time, then got online teaching jobs. Now we’ve been on the road more than a year and we’d like to share our review of SayABC and why it’s an awesome opportunity to work and travel. It’s great for making money at home too!

Review of SayABC Hiring Process

The hiring process for SayABC was pretty easy when we applied in August of 2018. It’s not much different today.

The important things to note are that you need a bachelor’s degree. A TEFL certificate or any relevant teaching certificate is required, not just for SayABC, but for teaching English as a foreign language in general. For more info on TEFL, read our post on how to get a TEFL certification. It’s certain to say that we wouldn’t be writing this review of SayABC without a TEFL!

Once the application is submitted and you’re approved, an interview is scheduled. This was a simple 30 minute session where we taught a mock class to the SayABC interviewer for about 10 minutes and spent the remainder talking about our experience and most importantly, making sure our internet and computer were up to par.

Supplies for teaching English at SayABC

Pro Tip: Online teaching is all about internet speed, reliability, and your computer’s hardware. It’s no different with SayABC and that’s why we want to emphasize the importance of technical quality in this review!

We practiced like crazy for that short mock interview, probably way too much, but we got the jobs. After becoming a teacher at SayABC, we completed a few lessons online as part of their training and then our evaluation class with real live Chinese students took place.

SayABC’s hiring process was straightforward and it took less than 2 weeks to go from application to evaluation class to getting scheduled and making money. 

How do Classes with SayABC Work?

The classes with SayABC can be very enjoyable, especially when the kids are really excited to learn English. They’re 40 minutes long and currently there can be up to 4 students in each class but they’re slowly transitioning to having up to 6 students in each class.

There is a new platform as well but this has yet to be rolled out to all classes. We are still working in the 4-child classroom.

You do not have to make your own lesson plan! That’s one of our favorite parts about teaching English online for SayABC. They have the lesson plan for us, we just have to be creative and put some spark in it during class.

Make sure your prepared for class and have the proper teaching equipment, especially during the interview! Have a good headset with a mic and solid props like a whiteboard, markers, and some flashcards! Check out our picks for budget headsets with mics for teaching!

That said, we don’t always agree with the lesson structure or sometimes there’s not quite enough content to fill the 40 minutes. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Once you’re in the flow of teaching, you’ll learn how to be a great time manager and improviser, regardless of any faults you find with the lesson itself.

What is SayABC’s Schedule Like?

It’s a good idea to get familiar with Beijing time, as the students you’ll be teaching are in China. Classes are daily, starting at 6 pm Beijing time and the last class being at 8:30 Beijing time. There are a handful of classes in the mornings (Beijing time) on weekends, which means they’re at night for teachers in the USA.

For teachers in the USA, just remember that Beijing is 12 hours ahead of NYC during spring forward. So yes, teachers in North America will have to be up and at it pretty early in the morning. But honestly, getting classes over with early and having the rest of the day sounds nice!

What Kinds of Classes Are There at SayABC?

Man teaching English on a laptop

The classes are divided up into levels (0,1,2, 3, and 4) based on students’ English proficiency. The levels are divided up into 9 units, each unit containing 9 lessons.


Homerooms are the bread and butter of SayABC and by far our favorite type of class. A homeroom is a class that meets twice a week, every week.

So, for instance, we currently teach 6 homerooms each. That means each of us has 12 classes every week (twice a week per homeroom).

For each homeroom, we begin a unit, complete 9 lessons and then receive a monetary bonus for completion, woohoo! Then we move to the next unit and repeat the cycle. We have had some students for multiple levels so we’ve been with them for many months and it’s a great feeling to see them advance successfully!

How do you get a homeroom? SayABC has a scheduling platform and you open the time slots for which you’re available to teach. The more you have open and the longer you have them open for (we have slots open for the next 6 months at minimum), the higher your chances are of getting homerooms.

Homerooms are great because they’re renewed before each unit ends, meaning you’re going to continue teaching that homeroom and keep earning income. That’s an awesome feeling!

However, it is possible to lose a homeroom with kids that you loved teaching. Thankfully, we’ve only ever lost a few homerooms during our 1st year and were given new homerooms to fill those empty time slots.

One negative review we can give SayABC is that you can lose classes, like homerooms. Granted, SayABC mostly has nothing to do with this. The students’ parents may not like your teaching style, students may have needed to change their schedule so they dropped your class, there can be a plethora of reasons for losing a homeroom. Don’t take it personally and keep those slots open!

Trial Classes

Trials are exactly what they sound like: a trial class. This is a class where SayABC is trying to convert students to permanent homerooms. These classes can be pretty tough at times. Our trial class experience has varied widely. Some students are perfect, others are awful and don’t pay attention, have the TV blaring in the background, have a terrible internet connection, don’t know what their name is, you get the point.

However, SayABC offers an $8 USD per student bonus to teachers who “convert” students within 5 days from a trial class to a homeroom so there’s incentive involved!

Sub Classes

Then there are substitute classes. These can be very lucrative but are the hardest to get. If you put yourself on standby and they call you with a last minute sub then you get $22 for that class. However, if they give you more than 24 hours advance notice then you only make $15 for that sub class. No bonuses. From our experience, it’s usually at the last second or 10 minutes into a class when they contact you.

Summer Camps

One perk of SayABC, and online teaching in general is the amount of classes offered during the summer. They’re called “summer camps” and are designed for short term English lessons while kids are out of school. There is a completion bonus for these and they’re fast and easy so grabbing some summer camps is another great way to make some more money in the summer.

What’s the Pay Like at SayABC?

The pay at SayABC has changed a little since we started. We used to get more incentive for completing homerooms, aka more money, but it’s still good pay if you ask us. You will be paid in USD and they do not pay via PayPal.

Currently, if you have a homeroom, don’t miss a class, aren’t late, and complete all 9 lessons for that unit, you receive $17 to $19 USD per class. The base pay is $13 to $15 USD but SayABC adds $4 per class if you complete all your classes with good marks. Not too bad for 40 mins of talking in English!

The main change is for new teachers. We started at $15 USD, like everyone else; however, new teachers nowadays get somewhere between $13-$15 USD per class (plus completion bonus) depending on how well you do on your evaluation class.

If you have a US bank account, SayABC deposits your money directly into your account, no problem.

If you don’t have a US bank account, you should look into services like TransferWise. This will help greatly reduce fees that can negatively impact your income! When SayABC pays teachers they send the money from a US bank account. You can imagine that sending money from a US bank account to an international bank account would incur a lot of fees. We know many teachers that work with SayABC and use TransferWise and it comes highly recommended.

Can You Take Leave/Time Off from Teaching?

This question is a little difficult to answer. At the time of writing this post, SayABC doesn’t have an official leave policy but they are working on one. When it comes to negative reviews, this is probably the most talked about with SayABC. The only way to take leave (at the moment) is to ask for “emergency leave”.

What does emergency leave mean?

Technically, it’s meant for emergencies like a medical or family emergency, a power outage, etc.

The official way to “take leave” is to make yourself unavailable for the day you need off. If you know you have a trip or obligation coming up but it conflicts with a homeroom/scheduled class then you’re supposed to uncheck your time slots.

The thing about this policy is you will permanently lose the classes. It’s better to try to make teaching work if you have a trip or obligation and worst-case scenario take emergency leave. Give them as much notice as you can because you’ll be penalized for waiting till the last minute.

However, make a habit of taking emergency leave and you’ll lose your classes!

It’s a very gray area at the moment, but we’ve made it work just fine. We can’t control emergency situations (like the internet going out in our AirBnb) but we plan ahead as much as we can.

Traveling Abroad and Teaching English Online

Teaching for SayABC in a bathroom
Sometimes we’ve even had to teach in the bathroom!

SayABC is a great way to fund yourself while seeing the world. We make enough money from month to month and live comfortably while traveling abroad. There are even some months that we can save money but that depends on where we are. For instance, we’ve saved a lot in eastern Europe and Asia but the UK was pretty hard to break even.

Read our post on teaching English online while traveling abroad for more info on how to make digital life and travel mix!

That said, traveling and teaching can be very stressful! We’ve made the mistake of planning flights, trains or buses on days we teach. If you’re traveling while teaching English online, don’t do this!

Missing classes at SayABC is a big no-no! It’s like asking them to take your homerooms away and give them to another teacher.

Traveling on teaching days can lead to having to find a last-minute Airbnb because the host changes their mind and says you actually can’t check in early or check out late. It’s also super stressful when you’re testing the internet speeds of an Airbnb and they don’t have fast enough internet.

All in all, we love traveling and teaching. We wouldn’t trade it for anything…except our dog back home who we really miss.

Summary of SayABC Review

We are glad to have found SayABC and have really enjoyed our time as teachers so far. We look forward to teaching many more classes with them in the future. Whether you’re on the road like us or working from home, teaching English online for SayABC is an awesome way to make money. We hope this review has given you a better idea about SayABC and helped you in your online English teaching search!

If you’d like, you can apply to SayABC using our referral code. Thank you in advance! If you use it, we’ll help you with any questions you have. If you don’t use it, we’ll still help you with any questions you have!

Happy teaching!

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Darah and Garrett in Spain

Where Food Takes Us

We’re Darah and Garrett. Our life has been an adventure ever since we eloped in a pink Cadillac in Las Vegas. Now we’re running around the world, working online, and eating everything we can.

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