Is Cambly Safe?

There are many people who worry that online ESL companies might not be safe, and want to know, “Is Cambly safe?”

Safety concerns can range from fear of sexual harassment or stalking by students on the platform, or perhaps the safety of your privacy from the company itself.

Remember, the best way to avoid unpleasant students is to avoid trial students by having a good rating. Why? Because with a high rating, you will be booked with regular students and can screen who you teach. Even while on Cambly Priority Hour, you will be immediately picked by a paying student with a long-term Cambly account.

Below, I address both safety concerns: the safety from students and the safety from the company.

Is Cambly Safe? It is safe to teach English Online for Cambly because Cambly has zero tolerance for abusive students
It is safe to teach English Online for Cambly because Cambly has zero tolerance for abusive students

Keep Cambly Safe: Staying Safe while Teaching Students

Cambly has a block button to immediately block students that do anything inappropriate in class. This is a great feature and not all ESL companies have this. Some other ESL companies require you to write emails or tickets to the company’s support team before having a student removed from your schedule. I had a teenage boy sexually harass me for months before VIPKid was able to remove him from my schedule. So, in this way, I think Cambly is quite supportive of tutors.

Unfortunately, Cambly had to give tutors this immediate ban button because harassment is quite rife on the platform if you are on Cambly Priority Hour.

Cambly markets itself to adults all over the world and it has a very low barrier of entry for students: you can sign up from your phone and use your free 15-minute trial immediately. So, women, in particular, might be at risk of men using the platform to harass them.

In my experience, there are two major kinds of harassment on the platform:

Gender/Sexual Harassment

Racist Harassment

Sexual Harassment on Cambly

Sexual harassment on Cambly can range from the mild (a male trial student calls you beautiful) to the extreme (a trial student begins masturbating during your call). It can also be of the garden variety demeaning “negging” variety that women are unfortunately usually very familiar with already: implying that you would be prettier if you smiled more, telling you that you would be prettier if you lost weight, and so on.

I have read accounts from male tutors on Cambly who also report being sexually harassed with homophobic language.

Cambly does not penalize you for banning students.

I once banned a new student because he began our conversation by telling me I would be more beautiful without my glasses. This might seem extreme of me, but trust me, I have learned to nip this kind of lookism/misogyny in the bud from personal experience. The first boundary-breaking that occurs is always a test and precludes further boundary violations. the behavior never gets better; it always gets worse.

Save yourself the emotional drain and ban a student from the first moment they make you uncomfortable.

Racist Harassment on Cambly of Minorities

Racist attitudes from students on Cambly might arise from two issues.

First, some abusive people might be critical of a teacher who does not fit their preconceived notions of what a “Western” person looks like. They assume the teacher is not a native speaker, (which is already a problematic and confusing term). This allows them to feel superior or entitled towards the teacher.

Hit that block button. Life’s too short to deal with this and there are plenty of paying students who aren’t infected with stereotypes. Don’t feel like you must martyr yourself to explain the intricacies of race theory to a foreigner. It’s not your burden to carry and you aren’t getting paid enough to deal with that.

Second, some abusive people might be overt or covert racists. This can span the range from commenting on the texture of your hair constantly or take the form of overtly racist language and taunts (by trial students).

BLOCK, BAN and contact Cambly immediately so these people are permanently banned and cannot traumatize another teacher.

Remember, regardless of the harassment, abuse is always about the abuser’s need for control and power. There are no cultural differences that excuse abuse.

Use that ban button generously.

Keep Cambly Safe: Abuse is not “Cultural”

Cambly will not accept abuse because of cultural differences, so don’t accept it yourself! Sometimes, Cambly tutors put up with vague sexist comments because they think the issue is cultural. For example, if a man from Saudi Arabia repeatedly tells you that you have beautiful eyes, perhaps you will overlook it. Don’t!

I have been teaching students from all over the world on Cambly for years. I can assure you that a student who respects you as a tutor will never, ever make even subtle comments about your looks or race. I have countless male students from Saudi Arabia who are absolute consummate professionals and treat female tutors with respect.

Accept nothing less.

Cambly: How to Block and Ban Students

Use That Cambly Block Button

Cambly has a block function to immediately ban students who are inappropriate. If a trial student makes you uncomfortable, ban them immediately! Cambly does not tolerate this kind of behavior from students and they will be banned from the platform.

The best way to avoid unpleasant students is to have a good rating. Then, even if you are on Priority Hour, you will be immediately picked by a paying student with a long-term Cambly account.

Learn more about Cambly’s rating system by reading my blog post, Top Tips for Teaching English Online for Cambly.

Is it possible to “block” a student without reporting them?

Yes! To block a student you would rather not teach again, follow the steps below:

Click on the “report/ban” button.

Then Cambly will give you the option to either report them or simply hide your profile from them,–which sounds like you want to do. Then you’ll select a reason from the drop-down menu and submit it to the company.

Is Cambly a Good Platform for Non-white Teachers?

Cambly has repeatedly reiterated its support for fighting discrimination on its platform’s Code of Conduct.

If you experience intolerance, discrimination, or harassment on Cambly, Cambly wants you to report it. Cambly will ban and block students who make discriminatory comments to teachers.

Also, Cambly supports teachers’ emotional well-being by allowing a paid break to teachers who experience this kind of assault on their personhood. This keeps Cambly safe by also protecting the emotional health of its teachers.

Does Cambly Protect Your Privacy?

Your Cambly profile will be publicly accessible via a search engine. However, you can use a nickname to protect your privacy.

Also, Cambly does not allow you to share your email or contact information over Cambly’s platform. Students can only interact with you over Cambly’s platform.

Some people wonder, “Is Cambly a scam?”.

The answer is no: Cambly is not a scam.

I have worked for Cambly for over 5 years and they always pay accurately.

To learn more about Cambly’s history, you can watch their founder speak:

… but there are some causes for concern. As I mentioned above, whenever you’re online and money and information get exchanged, trust is an issue. And of course, you should always take extra precautions to keep your online identity safe

Cambly Overview

How much does Cambly pay?

Cambly tutors earn $10.20/hour. You are paid by the minute at 17 cents a minute.

Bottom Line: Cambly has a low barrier of entry for trial students so tutors might pick up a call from someone who wants to harass them. Cambly has a ban button to immediately hang up and block these students. Cambly supports you in using this feature, so never fear using it so you can be a part of keeping Cambly safe for others, too.

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” 

Martin Luther King Jr.

Related Keywords: safety, sexual harassment, gender harassment, gender harassment, homophobic, racial prejudice, bigotry, xenophobia, implicit bias, intolerance, anti-racist, racial equity, allyship, critical race theory, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), fair, inclusive, microaggression, unconscious bias, White Fragility

Learn More About Teaching English

Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.