Best Referral Bonuses in 2023

The ESL Companies with the Top Referral Programs

What Online ESL Employers Have the Best Referral Bonuses?

Are you great at recruiting teachers and looking for the best referral bonuses you can get?

Well, a lot has changed since the Chinese crackdown on the online ESL market. Still, there are a lot of opportunities out here in 2023.

Here is a breakdown of the affiliate programs offered by various online ESL companies right now.

Online ESL Companies with Great Referral Bonuses

Maybe you are great at online marketing or have lots of influence and access to a large community of potential English tutors. If so, recruiting other teachers and sharing your love of teaching English online will be a good fit for you.

If you are interested in working for a company that offers very high referral bonuses, there are many ESL companies to choose from.

Landi English is known for a great referral program. Check with their current rates. As of 2020, they were offering this to current teachers:

For your 1st – 10th successful referrals, you will receive $80 each!

• For your 11th – 20th successful referrals, you will receive $90 each!

• For more than 20 successful referrals, you will receive $100 each!

HAWO (Formally 51 Talk)

$150 referral bonus for every for fully launched Group Teacher

SayABC – In 2019, SayABC offered $100 per successful referral. The company is winding down as of 2021.

GogoKid – Gogokid offers $120 per successful referral as of 2019 too. *Gogokid has ended as of August 2021 due to China’s curtailing of foreign online tutoring. Please stay tuned as the situation is changing rapidly.

VIPKid Global- Remember when VIPKID was the big-name player in the ESL for kids market, and their recruitments were all over?

Well, they switched to VIPKID Global and they are still offering referrals. Their program changes all the time, though, so go to their site to learn more.

Just remember, for all of these ESL companies, to get the referral bonus, the teacher must actually get hired and teach a class.

Online ESL Employers: Incentive schemes

A woman in glasses typing on a desktop while dressed professionally in a light blue collared shirt

There are two kinds of referral bonuses:

Refer a Teacher Bonus

Many online ESL companies offer current teachers bonuses and incentives in addition to their pay, including bonuses for referring another teacher to the company. In effect, you are recruiting for the company. A top Human Resources recruitment tip is to promote employee referrals. When you are an employee who refers other employees to your company, you are acting as a freelance recruiter or HR agent. Companies offer this because they get better retention and loyalty from teachers whom their friends have referred. The referral program has many benefits for the company. It creates a strong company culture if current teachers refer their friends and colleagues. It also incentivizes current teachers to promote the company in a positive manner. In this way, the referral program also acts as free advertising for the company.

Refer a student

ESL Companies need to pay students first and foremost. Some companies offer teachers a bonus if they refer the company to a potential new trial student. Almost all companies offer bonuses if you convert a trial student to a paying student. Companies often offer free trials to students and need them to buy a package of classes after the trial, and they rely on a great teacher to sell that package to the student through an engaging and personable class.

Here is a list of some major online ESL companies and their referral bonuses. Some offer points, and some offer money.

Let’s talk more about the two kinds of referral bonuses

Referring a Teacher

Referral bonuses are a recruitment tool. Recruitment refers to the process of identifying, attracting, interviewing, selecting, hiring, and onboarding employees. Usually, online ESL companies do not expect you to interview or onboard teachers. However, some encourage you to mentor the applicant through this as well. It helps the company cut down on labor, and it also helps ensure the success of your application as they have a personal assistant through the process.

Don’t Spam

Be authentic, and don’t spam anyone.

If you are going to encourage people to use your referral code to get a referral bonus, you should be personally available to help the applicant apply to the company.

The ESL field is flooded with referral bonuses, and you will quickly seem like a spammer if you do not offer real service and offer real value to the applicant. I suggest creating a simple packet of information on your desktop with some basic Q and A about the company and its hiring process, and then you can email the packet to the applicant. Many websites are devoted to sharing tips for online recruitment, and I suggest reading them too.

Tips for Making the Best Referral Bonuses

Stay away from video chatting with each applicant.

I did this when I began my online teaching English journey, and it was a waste of time. If a friend of a friend said they wanted to apply, I would video chat with them about their credentials and explain the job to them. I had no one actually apply after extending myself in this way. Alternatively, when I posted my referral code on FB groups or Reddit groups specifically geared towards job searching for online English teaching jobs, many people used my code.

If someone wants to apply, they will show initiative and then contact you. Only *after* they apply would I send follow-up messages and texts. Rarely have one of these applicants wanted to video chat. They already did their research, but they did need me to be available at stand-by for questions during the process.

Bottom Line

Though there aren’t as many now as there were a few years ago, there are still many ESL companies that offer bonuses to current teachers to hire other teachers. If you do this, be sure to mentor applicants if they use your referral code, but do not video chat with applicants who have not already begun their application.

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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.