Five FREE Zoom alternatives with NO time limit!

News flash – Zoom is now limiting free meetings to just 40 minutes, including one-on-one classes. Of course, you can simply upgrade to a paid plan to remove this restriction, but before you splash the cash let’s check out five FREE Zoom alternatives for online teaching! As an added bonus, all of these are available in mainland China too.

Koala Go – best for interactivity and teaching kids

Ok this one is definitely our favourite so we’re sticking it right at the top of this post!

Koala Go is a very exciting new platform designed specifically for online teaching, with loads more features Zoom never offered!

They also have an incredibly supportive development team, are constantly launching new features and run frequent webinars for teachers.

Teaching with Koala Go - zoom alternative for online ESL teachers

✅ No time limit for one-on-one or groups
✅ Screensharing
✅ Advanced collaborative whiteboard system
✅ Upload files (worksheets, slides, etc) directly to the whiteboard
✅ Built-in rewards system
✅ Class payment/ invoicing system
✅ Curriculum marketplace (lots of freebies!)
✅ No software downloads required – all within your web browser
✅ Works on all devices (including iPads)

❌ No breakout rooms
❌ No immersive mode
❌ No class recordings
❌ No out-of-class messaging
❌ No annotation on screenshare

However, Koala Go is not only awesome with their free plan – we’re also huge fans of their paid plan too, which adds in an incredible co-browsing tool. This essentially is an alternative to Zoom’s “remote control” option but much more powerful. You and your students can directly interact with a shared web browser – perfect if you’re using interactive online ESL curriculum like the Abridge Academy curriculum or want to play online ESL games together!

VooV – best Zoom copycat

VooV (known as Tencent Meeting in China) is essentially a Chinese copy of Zoom and has very similar core features.

However, they currently have no meeting duration restrictions even on the free account – so it’s a great free Zoom alternative!

Free zoom alternative - VooV Tencent Meeting

✅ No time limit for one-on-one or groups
✅ Screensharing and annotations
✅ Simple virtual whiteboard system
✅ In-class chat/ messaging system
✅ Record classes locally
✅ WeChat mini-app for Chinese students
✅ Easy option if you’re familiar with Zoom

❌ No breakout rooms
❌ No remote control
❌ No immersive mode
❌ No out-of-class messaging

Note however that VooV’s website states that usually there is a 45 minute time limit for group classes and no annotation tools on screensharing in their free plan. These features usually require an upgrade, but during the coronavirus pandemic they have made them available for free plan users too. However, we don’t know how long they will continue to offer these for free so it might not be a good option longer term…

AnyMeeting – best basic option

A less well known option, but a solid free Zoom alternative! AnyMeeting has many of the core features online ESL teachers need, even in the free plan.

✅ No time limit for one-on-one or groups
✅ Screensharing with annotation
✅ Host from computer, phone or within the browser
✅ Basic attendance and chat reports

❌ Maximum of four participants in the free plan
❌ No virtual whiteboard system
❌ No breakout rooms
❌ No recordings
❌ No out-of-class messaging

Although AnyMeeting is relatively basic compared to the other options on this list, it could be a great choice for you if you teach small group classes and want a system which looks more formal (e.g. for teaching adults).

DingTalk – best for file editing/ whiteboard lessons

DingTalk is a Chinese business messaging and collaboration app – however, they also have an online classroom system, which was used by many Chinese schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is best considered a lightweight version of ClassIn rather than Zoom, but with no time limits!

Free ClassIn or Zoom alternative - DingTalk for online ESL teachers

✅ No time limit for one-on-one or groups
✅ Screensharing
✅ Advanced online whiteboard system
✅ Upload files (worksheets, slides, etc) directly to the whiteboard
✅ Simple games: polls and timer
✅ Record classes locally
✅ Excellent out-of-class tools, particularly file sharing and collaboration (great for homework or collaborative projects)

❌ No annotation on screenshare
❌ No breakout rooms
❌ No immersive mode

Although the online classroom system in DingTalk is relatively basic, the out-of-class tools really help it stand out compared to other free zoom alternatives for online teachers. You can message your students, schedule classes, and share documents for them to edit in the cloud. It is a little formal/ business-like, but would be a great option if you are teaching teens or adults and want to take advantage of the ability to collaborate on files.

Skype – best for conversation classes

Although Skype is remembered by many of us as an old, simple video calling platform, they’ve actually launched lots of useful features recently and are a solid option as a free Zoom alternative for your online ESL lessons!

✅ No time limit for one-on-one or groups
✅ Very basic screensharing
✅ Basic online whiteboard system
✅ Together mode (like Zoom immersive mode)
✅ Record classes locally
✅ Out of class messaging

❌ No annotation on screenshare
❌ No breakout rooms
❌ No virtual whiteboard system

Being totally honest, Skype is quite limited in terms of online teaching features. However, if you’re focusing more on conversation classes and your students already have Skype then it could be a great free Zoom alternative for you!

So which is the best free Zoom alternative?

Overall, we’d argue that Koala Go is the best option out there for most online ESL teachers, particularly if you are focusing on teaching kids – their fun platform, rewards system and interactive tools are really child-friendly! It’s also one to consider as a paid option, with their pro plan priced competitively with Zoom but with much more useful features.

If you want something that is essentially a Zoom copy, then check out VooV or AnyMeeting, whereas if you teach conversation-focused classes then Skype could be a good lightweight option. For more whiteboard-focused teaching approaches (particularly if you’d like to upload files to collaborate on), check out Koala Go or DingTalk.

Ultimately though, it’s also important to remember that as an independent online teacher you are also your own business – and sometimes it’s worth investing in the tools that make your business stronger.

So there we go – five awesome free Zoom alternatives! What’s your favourite, or do you have any other recommendations? Feel free to share in the comments ❤️

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