A partial view of a laptop keyboard and a headset used for teaching English online.

Native Camp: Review (by teacher) and Free Guide [2023]

What is it like teaching for Native Camp? In this post, we’re going to talk about teaching with Native Camp so you can decide if it’s worth your time.   At the end of the post, we’ll share some information about how to broaden your options teaching English.

(We also offer a free guide on getting more booked lessons at the bottom of the page.)

My (Our) Experience Working With Native Camp

Thankfully, we were already Native Camp and Cambly teachers before China changed its rules about teaching English online. With that change, I can’t imagine how many people lost their source of income, as the majority of people were working with Chinese companies.

Knowing that could happen anytime, we split our time between Native Camp and Cambly, which seem to draw students from different countries. That way, we hopefully won’t get blindsided by a country changing its laws about online English teaching.

A pink highligher highlighting the work 'paycheck' in the dictionary.

How Much Do Native Camp Teachers Get Paid?

Native Camp has different rates of pay depending on the type of lesson you provide. There is no Native Camp hourly rate. You get paid per lesson.

The Native Camp salary rate also depends on where you are from. The information here is based on being a teacher from the United States.

The last Sudden Lesson I did paid $4.16 per 25-minute lesson. However, now that my husband has been teaching regularly for some time, he often gets over $5 for a 25-minute sudden lesson.

We are not sure exactly how they calculate the pay, but since it’s going up, we are good with it! Booked lessons pay much more.

My husband gets booked lessons all the time because he is a regular, and his booked lessons pay between $9-$10 per 25-minute lesson. He ends up with a decent Native Camp hourly rate with booked lessons.

Overall, how much can you earn on Native Camp? With booked lessons, we usually average around $1,000 to $1,200 (each, when I’m doing NC and not teaching on other platforms) every other week.

That’s doable when you are not paying rent because you are pet sitting!

Native Camp Requirements

You only have to be an English speaker to work for Native Camp! If you are working on your TEFL certification and need a practicum, Native Camp is a great place to start. You are not required to have a degree nor a TEFL/ESL certificate to teach with Native Camp.

How To Apply For Native Camp

The application process for Native Camp is very straightforward and simple. You will need to register on their site, and then they will take you step-by-step through the process.

✅ Complete a basic application.

✅ Take a basic English proficiency test

✅ Do a system check and have a brief discussion with system administrators

✅ Gain access to sample lessons so you can practice for the demo lesson. There is some Native Camp demo lesson waiting time available, so you don’t have to do the lesson immediately.

✅ Complete the demo lesson

✅ Complete the registration process, including registering for Payoneer

✅ Record your teacher introduction video/write your teacher introduction text

Native Camp English Proficiency Test

You will need to complete a fairly long, but basic, English language test. If you pass that (and if you speak English almost at all, you will pass) you will move on to the second phase of the process.

The test is multiple choice, and it is 40 questions long (or, at least it was when I took it in 2021). There is a lot of focus on tenses and singular vs plural. It is all very basic, though. If you are a native English speaker, you really can’t fail the test.

Two cartoon people sitting across from each other in an interview.

Native Camp ‘Interview’

This isn’t really an interview, but you will be speaking live with someone. During this phase, you participate in a very short Zoom-like call. They want to make sure that you really do speak English fluently. They’ll also do a brief system check on your internet connection.

Native Camp Demo Lesson

After your system check, you will be given access to some sample lessons. You are supposed to study the lessons so that you know the format and are able to complete a demo lesson.

The Native Camp demo lesson time is 25 minutes, the length of most of the Native Camp lessons you will be teaching.

I was not prepared to do a demo lesson at that time, as I didn’t expect all of this to happen in one session. I started studying the lessons, they decided to do a demo lesson the next day.

(There is Native Camp demo lesson waiting time built into the process, so no need to rush.)

However, the next day I had an email from Native Camp welcoming me as a teacher, even with no demo lesson.

From what I have learned, it sounds like if you are a native English speaker you will not be required to complete a demo lesson.

Or, at least from the people I’ve spoken with, if you just ignore the demo lesson they will continue with the hiring process anyway with no demo lesson.

Native Camp quiz after demo lesson: none that I know of

A multicolor, cartoon outline of a video camera.

Native Camp Self Introduction Video

After you are hired, you will be required to record a self-introduction video. You will have access to some sample introduction videos. The sample videos are, quite honestly, a little over the top.

I would suggest doing a basic video, and once you have a little experience redo your video. You’ll have a much better idea of the students you are attracting and you can adjust the tone of your video to that audience.

For example, I did not and will not use puppets, baby animal graphics, or props in my video. I want to attract adult students. If you want to attract younger students, by all means, jazz up your video!

Native Camp has to approve your video before it is published, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s acceptable. I tried to use my iPhone for my video, and it was consistently too large. Use the built-in Native Camp video recorder to save yourself some time.

Does Native Camp Require A Contract?

No. Native Camp does not have a contract that will prohibit you from teaching elsewhere or requiring certain teaching hours. They do have a boilerplate contract that basically says you will be an independent contractor.

You are able to teach with other companies while teaching with Native Camp. There are no Native Camp minimum teaching hour requirements, either. You are able to teach as few hours as you need.

I have gone several months without signing on and have had no trouble when I decided to start teaching lessons again. They do have a maximum number of hours you are allowed to open.

You can open up to 10 hours in a day. We do this so that we can get booked lessons. However, if you don’t get booked lessons (which happens when you are new), you won’t be able to sign on for sudden lessons once your 10 hours are opened.

For example, say you open slots starting at 7am and ending at 5pm. You don’t get any booked lessons. You won’t be able to sign on at 7pm that night to try to get some lessons in.

The words 'lesson plan' surrounded by multi colored clothespins.

When Can I Teach Lessons On Native Camp?

You can teach lessons at all hours of the day and night. Of course, sometimes it won’t be very busy. On the schedule, Native Camp shows how busy they expect to be at a certain time, but it doesn’t really seem to make much of a difference.

We get students even when it’s 3am in Japan! We also get students from all around the world, so your teaching time doesn’t really matter. It’s whenever you want to teach.

The dashboard will always show you the time in your time zone and the time in Japan’s time zone. The Native Camp default time zone is Tokyo.

Native Camp Native English Speakers

Students have told us that Native Camp now separates native English speakers from non-native English-speaking teachers when they sign on to take a lesson. If you are a native speaker, this definitely helps you.

Many students have said that they prefer native English speakers as teachers.

How To Get Booked Lessons On Native Camp

In our experience, once you start putting in the time teaching on Native Camp, you start getting regular students. What we have found is the best thing to do is build up your time so it shows that you are not a brand new teacher, then open slots for booked time.

If you constantly are on standby for sudden lessons, students won’t bother booking time with you because it costs them more for a booked lesson. You are trying to maximize your money and they are trying to minimize it, so it can be a tricky balance.

You also need to have good ratings from students. Unless you have 5-star ratings, you won’t get many booked lessons.

Native Camp introduced a new feature for booked lessons. You can now set your price per booked lesson along a sliding scale that Native Camp provides. You can change it at any time in your dashboard.

The good thing about that is you can set it so that you make more than a sudden lesson, but less than a traditional booked lesson. This can get you more booked lessons.

There is also a Native Camp app for your phone that will alert you when someone books a lesson. You can’t teach or do anything else on it, but you can open up your time slots, be alerted to booked lessons, and basically manage your Native Camp schedule.

Can You Teach English (ESL) Online Without A Degree?

Yes. You can teach English online with Native Camp. I happen to have a degree because I am was a traditional teacher. My husband does not have a degree, but he also teaches with Native Camp. It definitely helps to have a TEFL certification, though. As far as I can tell, Native Camp’s top priority is that you are a fluent speaker of English.

The word 'experience' written on a chalkboard with some doodles around it.

Can I Teach On Native Camp Without Experience?

With Native Camp, yes, you can start teaching without having any teaching experience. The lessons are, for the most part, scripted, so you are not required to develop your own lessons. The students also select their own lessons, so you don’t have to determine their English proficiency.

Native Camp is much more concerned with how fluent you are in English than whether or not you have experience, for the reasons mentioned above.

My Experience With Native Camp So Far

My first ESL job was teaching English online with Native Camp. I actually still do lessons there. The money can be less than minimum wage here in the U.S. if you don’t do booked lessons. However, if you are living overseas where the USD is strong, or you do booked lessons, you can definitely make a living.

For the most part, on Native Camp you will be teaching English to Japanese students.

When I am overseas I use a VPN, though. When I was in Spain, Native Camp knew that and it caused a lot of problems for some reason. Now I simply use the VPN and I haven’t had any trouble. This is the VPN I use: Express VPN.

Depending on where you live in the U.S., it could be pretty hard to live on what Native Camp pays if you only do sudden lessons. But, if you are not the only wage earner, it definitely can be done. You could also do professional house or pet sitting so you only have your travel and eating costs while living somewhere for free.

Bad Native Camp Reviews

I know there are a lot of really bad Native Camp reviews out there. Maybe we have just been lucky, but we have had no trouble with teaching or with getting paid (outside of the trouble my husband had getting his Payoneer account set up).

Some people tend to have a really bad experience with Native Camp; I get that. They are not always great to work with or for. I’ve gotten emails from people who have had a horrible experience, and I don’t doubt them at all!

My only advice would be to try it and see how it goes for you.

Working With Students

We’ve also had no trouble with students. Everyone has been so polite and kind. My husband has even had other non-native English-speaking Native Camp teachers come to his lessons to get better at using English! They have all been kind and friendly as well.

An angry red cartoon face.

Trying To Get Help From Native Camp Admin

If you need any help at all, well, then I understand the bad reviews because getting help is nearly impossible. It’s frustrating and maddening that the help is virtually non-existent. J had the same experience trying to get his Payoneer account set up, while mine went right through.

Low Pay

People also talk about the low pay. Yes. If you don’t have booked lessons, the the Native Camp hourly rate is ridiculously low, like $8/hour. However, with booked lessons that pay can go up to about $9 per lesson, which ends up being about $18/hour, and is what my husband makes.

I have no doubt people are getting ridiculously low Native Camp salary, but that just hasn’t been our experience because we mostly rely on booked lessons.

Getting Deactivated

Ugh. This is an issue. If there is a complaint about you, Native Camp simply deactivates you and you have to fill out useless paperwork and wait to get reactivated. One time someone said my husband yelled at them during a lesson.

That is so dumb, and of course, didn’t happen. Native Camp deactivated him for a couple of days and he had to complete and submit a couple of stupid forms.

Then someone apparently complained about his internet connection. He was again deactivated until we, again, filled out a stupid form and sent the results of a speed test.

The most frustrating part is that you have no idea who complained. You don’t even get to know the date and time. Anyone can make a complaint, and you’ll lose a few days of work. It’s really poor handling of the situation.

Booked vs. Sudden Lessons

With booked lessons, you can make ~$9 for a 25-minute lesson. To get booked lessons, you have to set up a regular schedule so that students can select you on a regular basis. Once you build up your student base, you can make decent money.

Sudden lessons are obviously not scheduled! You can sign on to the Native Camp platform whenever you want and go on standby. When you are on standby, students see your profile and can select you for a lesson, but you only make $3-$5 for a 25-minute lesson.

That being said, as a native speaker from the U.S. you will be in high demand on the platform and won’t have to wait on standby very long or very often.

A laptop with a notepad, pen, small clock, and a little plant.

What Is Teaching Native Camp Lessons Like?

There are two types of lessons you will teach on Native Camp, free conversation and lessons students select from a textbook. We will cover both types of lessons here. Native Camp lessons can range from five minutes of free conversation to a 25-minute scripted lesson.

(There is also a Native Camp Beauty Camera app that they are constantly trying to get you to use. I’ve never used it so I don’t know much about it. Apparently, they are really trying to get people to use it though, and the constant messages are a bit annoying.)

➡️ Free Conversation

Free conversation is just that–sometimes students want to practice something very particular, while at other times they just want to chat. It’s a good idea to have a list of free conversation topics you can turn to to keep the conversation moving.

One time my husband had a 25-minute free chat and his student just wanted to practice a sales pitch in English. He recently had a student who wanted to practice giving quizzes about COVID, and the student said he will be back to practice other quizzes!

I’ve had people want to role-play how to talk with servers in restaurants. Mostly though, they want to have general conversations so they can get better at speaking and understanding English.

Recently, I had three lessons in a row with a very odd selection of students: a cardiologist from the Cleveland Clinic, a seven-year-old boy from Taiwan, then a man from Tokyo who didn’t want to talk about typical subjects like food and travel.

You never know where your lessons will take you!

➡️ Textbook Lessons

There are a multitude of books and lessons available to students. Students select their lessons before you come on, and then you simply go through the lesson on your screen. The format of the lessons is pretty routine.

My favorite lessons are the Native Camp Daily News lessons. They are current event articles that include vocabulary and comprehension questions. There is also a reading component for the student to work on fluency.

When you are on standby, you can now access the newest Daily News lessons and preview them, which is really helpful.

Some different colored bubbles representing people talking.

I do suggest practicing though, because the platform can be a little busy, making it hard to follow the lesson. Native Camp has done a great job of updating how the lessons are laid out. They are so easy to follow now!

Even so, certain things are supposed to be repeated three times, so it’s good to know those going into the lesson.

Native Camp Badges

Native Camp awards badges for certain textbooks. You have to do a tutorial and take a proficiency test. After passing the test, you request the badge from Native Camp and they will add it to your profile within 48 hours.

I’m not sure if badges help at all, but I guess they can’t hurt!

What Happens After The Lesson?

After the lesson, you are required to write a brief review that the student will receive. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like it matters. We don’t always do them and no one has ever said anything about it.

You’ll have to include the lesson you taught (so make sure you write it down!). Native Camp now includes the lesson, so you just need to note the page number and the words or phrases you worked on.

You can also add things for the student to continue working on, and then just a brief, personal note.

Even though it sounds like a lot, it really takes less than a minute once you’ve done a couple of them. You will receive a reminder if you have not sent your message, and you may also get kicked off standby until your message is sent. (this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore)

How Does Native Camp Pay You?

You have to sign up for Payoneer to get paid, and that can be a pain. Mine went through on the second try, but it took my husband countless tries over weeks to get it to work! However, once he got it set up he has had no trouble getting paid, and neither have I.

You will get an email notifying you that your money has been sent to Payoneer. You’ll get another notification when your money is available. You need to request that your money be transferred from your Payoneer account into your bank account.

This is a simple, one-step process.

Native Camp salary is paid in Native Camp Coins (NCC), and I think they do that so they can convert the NCC into your local currency. I guess they don’t want NCC to have the same value in say, the US vs the Philippines.

A cartoon envelope with money coming out of it representing what you get paid for teaching English online with Native Camp.

When Does Native Camp Pay You?

You have to earn a minimum amount of money during the two-week pay period to get your Native Camp payment. If you don’t reach the minimum, your payment will carry over to the next period. The minimum pay is $35USD. I’m not sure what it is in other countries.

The pay periods are the 1st through the 15th, and the 16th through the end of the month. Native Camp salary is not really a salary as your pay depends on how many lessons you teach, and not how many hours you work, or fixed weekly pay.

Native Camp Pay Dates

You’ll receive your Native Camp payment on the 10th and the 25th of each month. This is when Native Camp sends your money to Payoneer. Once your request that the payment is transferred to your bank account, it can take from 1-3 days. Sometimes it only takes hours.

Does Native Camp Offer Bonuses?

Yes, they do. They offer a little extra money if you go on standby during the busiest hours. The best way to earn bonuses is through the different contests they run. Their standby bonuses are a bit bogus, though.

They offer barely any money (like $3 USD) to be on standby for an hour, but if someone signs in for a sudden lesson you don’t get the $3. Kind of a scam, so basically just ignore those.

Is Teaching English Online Worth It?

I think that depends on your perspective. For us, since we are both able to teach English online, which allows us to travel, it’s definitely worth it. If you commit to a schedule of your choosing and show up consistently, it’s a little better than a minimum wage job paycheck-wise.

It’s also pretty fun.

👉 I teach online with Cambly, too. Learn more about that here.

Native Camp is a great start, but do you want to have more options for teaching English as a foreign language?
Would you like to teach in Romania or Spain (no degree required), or Thailand or Costa Rica?
These amazing opportunities can open up for you with just a couple of months’ worth of effort.
Read more information on how you can broaden your options by getting a TEFL certificate.

Conclusion: Teaching English Online With Native Camp

I hope this post has answered the question, “what is it like teaching for Native Camp?”

My husband is a regular teacher on Native Camp. Now that he gets booked lessons, he makes ~$10 per 25-minute lesson. The longer he teaches, the more booked lessons he gets.

Overall, we are both happy with Native Camp. We love that we can make our own hours, and when you get booked lessons you make decent money.

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