Exclusive: A Detailed Look At Our Rigorous Process For Hiring Spanish Teachers At BaseLang
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This post is now out of date. We have a very selective process (actually more selective than described here), but this is no longer the exact process and exact list of qualifications we have.
“Oh my god man, she was terrible. I literally asked for more advanced stuff, and the next day she comes in and starts talking about the difference between Ser and Estar. Which I thought I understood, until she used some complex explanation that made no sense, and…”
I sat and listened.
I felt my friend’s pain. A terrible teacher is not just a waste of money, but time. But it’s hard to know what you’re getting into before you just try them out.
At BaseLang, you can do just that – try us out for a week for just $1.
But, I imagine you want to know how we hire our teachers first. How do you know they are any good?
That’s what this post is about. It’s an inside look at the full, rigorous process someone goes through to get hired as a BaseLang teacher.
We’re very selective.
Step 1: Application
First, prospective teachers have to fill out an in-depth application.
We source applicants through long-standing relationships (read: years, sometimes decade-long relationships – this is how we are so successful in sourcing the best teachers and have so many applicants) in certain cities.
We also have developed a reputation for being an awesome place to work in those cities (we pay our teachers above average wages, give tons of support, healthcare, and they spend all day talking to fascinating people all around the world just like you), and get a lot of organic applications.
Step 2: Initial Review
Once an application is submitted, Joel (who handles the first round of hiring, passing on the top 20% or so to the next stage) reads each application, checking for a few key things first:
Has a degree in teaching both Spanish and English. By having both, it means that a) their English is fluent, and b) they understand both languages deeply, and thus can explain the differences better.
We hire teachers who have substantial experience actually teaching.
We don’t discriminate on age (just experience). This is because BaseLang students range from teenagers to people in their late 60s, and different students naturally prefer teachers who are closer to them in age. Most teachers are in their late 20s or 30s, however.
If we wouldn’t have a beer with them, we won’t hire them. It’s very important that our teachers are charismatic, fun to talk to, and are super friendly. If someone is great on paper, but boring, they don’t get hired. This is important because if you don’t love sitting talking to your teacher, not only is it less enjoyable, but you learn slower and are more likely to quit the language as a whole.
We test their internet, both with sample calls and using speedtest tools to make sure they have a quality connection. We actually provide all teachers a data plan as well in case this goes out, so classes are never missed if the internet goes down or is choppy on a particular day.
We check that they have a mindset of always wanting to improve. We make sure they are professional but not robotic. We make sure they can take constructive criticism well and immediately use this to improve (we have an optional feedback form after every class where you can tell us what your teacher could do better, and what you loved so they can keep doing that – you can actually read every single response to that here).
We prefer great writers, as quality writing is an indication of clear thinking. If someone is a good writer, they are almost always excellent at explaining ideas to people (obviously important for a teacher), plus it means communications within our team run smoothly.
If a teacher passes the initial review, they move on to step 3.
Step 3: Teaching test
The teacher has a mock lesson with Karina, who manages our teachers.
Karina acts like a struggling student who gets confused easily and challenges the teachers to be very clear. We cover topics at different levels and different styles of lessons to check teaching skills.
Example lessons could include:
- Ser vs. Estar, or another basic lesson (can they explain fundamental concepts clearly?)
- Conversation class, student wants to talk about their day and makes lots of mistakes (can they walk the fine line between too many corrections and too few? can they choose the right things to correct based on what stage the student is at, and what they are focusing on that day?)
- Pronunciation class, where student is struggling with the r’s and keeps mispronouncing o’s (can they explain the mechanics of how to move and position your mouth to make particular sounds, and help the student reach a native-like accent?)
- Advanced class, covering the subjunctive or something similarly advanced (can they explain concepts that are more complicated, especially those which we have no equivalent for in English?)
And throughout these classes, can they keep things fun and enjoyable while simultaneously making the student have lots of progress?
If a teacher passes this step, they get to the final check before getting an offer.
Step 4: English check
Once a teacher has passed everything else, our last check is to make sure their English is very good. We already know by this point that it’s strong, but we have Adrian (who is near-native level fluent) have a conversation with them in English, pushing at hard words and forms to verify they have very good English.
Even if everything else is amazing, if their English isn’t very good, they don’t get hired.
Step 5: Offer!
At this point, the teacher gets a letter offering them a part-time position with us, earning a salary. Once paperwork is sorted, they start a two-day intensive training process to learn all of our materials, how we handle things day to day, how to handle all sorts of different situations, and so on. Not only so they know our system, but so that you get a consistent core experience teacher to teacher (obviously each will have a particular style, which is good, as you’ll find a few teachers you “click” with more than others).
Then, they start a trial month teaching with BaseLang.
After their first trial month, teachers who don’t meet our teaching standards, have any issues of missing or being late to classes (currently less than 0.5% of our classes are late or missed, and this is constantly going down), or fail to keep up to our expectations on any of the points we hire on, get cut.
And going forward, even after the first month, we continue to cut people if they don’t maintain the awesomeness that got them onto our team in the first place.
We do this to make sure our teachers are all all-stars, as this is by far the most important thing for you as the student!
Each month, we award one “teacher of the month” per twenty teachers. There are a myriad of factors that go into this, but this keeps a friendly competition between teachers to consistently deliver a “WOW” experience to you as a student.
The best teachers get promoted to full-time, or to coordinators (who manage our teachers and report to Karina, making sure everything runs smoothly and any issues are handled as soon as they come in).
This entire hiring process, and post-hire system, is in place for one reason: to make sure your experience is consistently and predictably amazing, class after class. Everything we do here is focused on that – not just because that means you’ll make faster progress, have more fun, and love BaseLang (and love BaseLang our students do) – but because it’s smart business. We’re proudly un-funded and profitable, meaning we answer to only one person: you, the student. Not to investors or a board. And that’s how we’ll keep it.
Want to try out our teachers for real, and see the results of this insane hiring process? Get started today, your first week is just $1.
How much are BaseLang teachers paid?
As a private company, BaseLang does not disclose teacher salaries, however, the salary is dictated by a number of variables – including where the teacher is based. Teachers are not paid on a per-class basis, but instead, earn a salary regardless of how many or how few classes they give. Pay is competitive for where teachers live, and many teachers refer friends to work with BaseLang as well.