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Kunming College of Eastern Language and Culture


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March 15, 2018

I was incredibly disappointed with KCEL. I have attended schools--in China and the US--with much better teachers. If you want to study in Kunming specifically, I would recommend Yunnan Normal University over KCEL any day!

Also be warned: the tuition fees can be quite unreasonable expensive. For one-to-one classes, the cost is a minimum of 90rmb/hour. If you attend less than 120 hours, then they try to charge you 120rmb per hour (not listed anywhere), which is just astronomically high, especially considering how terrible the teachers are. Also, they force you to pay in a lump sum instead of on a weekly basis because their policy is that if you need to leave the program early for ANY REASON you will not get a refund. For example, I had a family emergency and immediately needed to return home, my tuition fee had not even finalized, and the administration refused to refund the tuition. Note: other universities do refund tuition expenses! Especially considering the teachers made absolutely no plan of study for me--and even made me take a taxi by myself to a bookstore to pick out my own textbook (which I purchased and they did not let me keep)--I do not see why it would be *impossible* or unreasonable for them to refund at least some of the tuition expenses. And even though I think the quality of the education is terrible, I also think that it is unfortunate that the tuition I paid and subsequently did not use will go directly to the administration and will not go to teachers or other staff. I know of several other students who have had issues with the administration regarding tuition and reimbursement. The teachers and staff honestly seem afraid of the admin, too, which is quite telling.

Many schools also offer many more opportunities to interact with other students and teachers, while KCEL only really offers lunch (which is not included in tuition) and the teachers often just sit together and talk amongst themselves.

Bottom line: KCEL is in the business of taking your money, they are not providing quality education or cultural immersion. I would choose any school over KCEL. March 2018


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I enrolled in one-no-one lessons at KCEL in Kunming for 6 months. In total I have been to 5 Chinese language schools in China, and KCEL was by far the worst (and I say this with the authority of being a qualified second language teacher at the master’s level). Reasons are set out below. In summary, if you want value for money, no drama and a relatively high degree of professionalism, enrol at Keats instead.


Before I signed up with KCEL, I had a verbal agreement with the boss of the school that he would offer me a special rate of 75 yuan per hour. After I flew from Australia to Kunming, the boss sprung on me that the special price was conditional upon buying a minimum of 6 months worth of hours upfront.


Before I signed up with KCEL, I had a verbal agreement with the manager that every 4 weeks I could take 1 week off for rest. After I flew from Australia to Kunming, the manager claimed she never agreed to rest periods and I would have to study for 6 months straight without rest weeks. Another significant lie the manager told me was that, before I leave China, I would have to pay a 160 yuan cancellation fee of my visa. I found out later from the Chinese Embassy in Australia that there was no such fee.


The first teacher I was given taught me incorrect grammar nearly 100% of the time. Fortunately I’m very good at pattern recognition and would be able to work out the grammar for myself. After 4 weeks of crappy teaching, I finally confronted my teacher about the situation, to which she went on the offensive, claiming I had made no progress all month so I must stop studying the grammar in my textbook. The boss of the school also told me I couldn’t study grammar in classes any more because he knows what is best.


One day the boss of the school pulled me aside to talk with me privately. He said that my teachers had made a complaint about me - they had said I ask too many questions in my one-on-one classes. He directed me not to ask questions anymore in class.


When I first approached the school, I had a textbook I wanted to study from, I wanted to study topics that interested me, and I wanted to play language games. The manager and my indoor teachers rejected my requests, and imposed the typical Chinese teaching methodology on me (i.e. rote learning). Despite the fact that I didn’t resist their imposed methodology, the boss, the manager and my indoor teachers would regularly say to me that I had made no progress in my Chinese because I always reject their methodology.


I had checked with the manager months in advance if I could spend one week travelling in Dali and Lijiang at the end of my 6 month contract before returning to Australia. I had informed the manager that I had two friends flying from Australia and one friend flying from Japan to meet me for the trip. The manager said this was fine. Three weeks before the trip, the manager sprung on me that I’m not allowed to travel in China on a study visa and she was going to cancel my visa while I was travelling.


In order to try to protect my visa while travelling, I walked away from the last 3 weeks of my tuition at KCEL and bought 4 weeks of tuition at the Keats language school. This was done with the clearance of the Chinese Embassy in Australia. For some reason this infuriated the boss and manager of KCEL, despite the fact that they got three weeks of my money for nothing. They sent me half a dozen threatening text messages, claiming I could not transfer schools without them cancelling my visa. They finally turned up at my house demanding that I must go with them to the police station to cancel my visa. Fortunately I wasn’t home, but my dad was who is professionally trained in negotiation tactics. He spoke with them for one and a half hours (standing in the hallway the whole time). By the end, my dad managed to get the manager to concede that she had lied about many things, including that she had no authority to cancel my visa, and that I indeed had the right to transfer schools.


Many times during my lessons, my teachers would be on WeChat, take phone calls, do administrative work, turn up late, and take extra long breaks. They also would not turn up at all to some of my classes. I was never refunded for those lost hours.


This is just the tip of the iceberg. I had to endure much more.



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Its a shame you seemed to have had such a bad experience in your opinion.


I have to say though that it doesn't seem so bad when you consider your points 1 and 2 are based on Verbal agreements. I wouldn't do anything involving long distances to travel and out lay of money on a Verbal agreement. I would say you should have got it in writing.


Points 3,4 and 5 seem to show you have come up against Chinese style teaching and were not prepared for it.


Point 6 again you should have got it in writing.


Point 7 they were probably just trying to cover themselves and make sure procedure was followed.


Point 8 well I don't know what you could have done about it but complain, but would it have got you anywhere?


What else did you endure?




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