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Brian US

Any reviews on Aston English School in China?

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Brian US

A friend of mine from the US wants to teach in China starting next month (6 months-1 year) and has been in contact with Aston English School. I have a hard time going off random reviews online as they tend to be: Aston School trying to sell itself, competitors slamming them, legit reviews, and disgruntled teachers that had an unrealistic expectation.

My friend had a Skype interview with them and seems pretty convinced he can find work with a bachelor's and TEFL certification. It sounded like empty promises when they told him they would get him a Z work visa with him only being 23 years old and no teaching experience. They also told him he had to enter the country with the work visa through them, as it cannot be done within China. Yet, browsing the Visa and Teaching forums I see many of our members have done it from within China. Not sure if this is to pressure my friend into signing a contract, so they can hold his visa against him in any dispute.

I have tried to convince him to come over and look for work on a tourist visa, but since he is an ABC he wants a guaranteed work placement when he comes. Most schools won't hire teachers if they don't look foreign.

Anyone have experience with Aston English School or know someone who has? I'm mainly interested in problems with them handling the visa and pay. My friend won't mind if they forget to put sheets on his bed or ask him to work weekends.

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anonymoose

A few years ago I worked for Aston for a year.

From my experience, they are a legitimate company who generally treat foreign teachers well. By that, I mean they will pay on time, provide the visa, and not force anyone to work extra hours, though you may be asked to and will be compensated if you do so.

Visa requirements are changing constantly, and even vary from province to province, so the situation may be completely different now, but back then, in order to get a legitimate Z visa, the employee had to sign, in advance, a government contract as well as the school's contract. This takes lots of time having to send contracts backwards and forwards, so for people applying at short notice, they were given an F visa instead. Technically, this is illegal, but noone ever had a problem with it.

However, over the last few years, it seems Aston have moved more into franchising, whereby schools are owned independently and just use the Aston brand and administration. In this case, I guess a lot of the local conditions will depend on how decent the owner is.

Only a couple of negative points - their pay seems to be lower than for many equivalent jobs. Being an ABC, your friend might find it hard to get better jobs elsewhere, but generally I would advise prospective applicants to look around as there may well be more lucrative jobs going in the same area. Also, many of the foreign teachers are the stereotypical can't-get-a-job-back-home, come-to-China-for-an-easy-life kind. This may or may not be an issue, depending on whether your friend fits in with that crowd.

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Brian US

Thanks for the response anonymoose! I thought I wouldn't get anywhere with a question about a random school.

I read that in 2007 they started franchises, which received very mixed reviews depending on the location. Apparently they pay about 60 kuai an hour and include housing as a flat rate for every city. I told my friend that this will limit him to second and third tier cities. Someone said that their Dalian location is under main management and not a franchise, so I might recommend that area.

Aston doesn't have a school in Beijing, but I sent him a link to Wallstreet Schools in Beijing that I've heard good things about. It might be best to sign the least demanding contract at 15 hours per week and then he can try and find side work. He is actually half Chinese-half white, so I told him to look less Chinese...

Also, many of the foreign teachers are the stereotypical can't-get-a-job-back-home

We are both from the dying state of Michigan, so this is definitely the case for us.

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chinajobspace

You're lucky to get the response you did. I have had also had a friend that worked at Aston and he said they managed his visa well. But he only did a one year contract and moved elsewhere for higher pay. I think once you get over here you realise there are a lot of opportunities for teaching!

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karamel

If anyone is thinking of joining Aston please think again, i have been through hell and back, they will threaten you by not paying or deduct your pay just to keep you quiet. living conditions were terrible the apartment was filled with cockroaches and fungus.

they will make you teach ridiculous hours and oh yeah teach illegally by sending you out to other schools in one week i taught 8 classes at primary school of 60 students per class that's 780 students per week its crazy they never state this on the contract or on their website.....i hope this can help.

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Trollope

Hey just wondering if any of you have any other school companies that you have had good experiences with and recomend? Thinking of going to either Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guilin or Liuzhou I know still a lot of cities in play but keeping my options open!

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noony1990

Hi Guys, I know that the post has been inactive for a while now but i have been working in a small city called Guiyang, the provincial capital of Guizhou province for a company called TT Elite. From what I can gather, my school pays comparatively high wages compared to the EF and Aston in my city so i suggest checking out smaller companies as i found that the smaller companies more desperate for teachers  sometimes have better pages and appreciate you more. If you want a look at conditions i work in and accommodation/ school facility pics etc then I just made a website Chinatefler.com to help new teachers compare to the job they are thinking of applying for. When i first started teaching here i had just turned 22 and it was a huge risk to go with the school i chose. It had scary bad reviews online and i guess i was just lucky that it was a decent school. I am treated with respect and paid decent wages. I love my school and love teaching in China. Its a great life! :) 

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roddy

But your 'learning Chinese' section is empty! We can help with that.

 

Welcome to the site, enthusiastic young English teacher. Are you me, from the past?

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noony1990

Hi Roddy, wow that was a prompt response. Haha my Chinese is soso, its surprising how much of an accent you pick up just by living in Southwest China. I'm going for HSK 6 this year, just got my HSK 4 in January. 

Thanks for the warm welcome, its nice to find a site like to talk to fellow teachers! :)

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Trollope

Just wanted to update everyone on what I had decided and accomplished.  We moved to Beijing and worked for FirstLeap English Schools they were a great company to start with over there.  Not too many days off but pay was pretty good and was ALWAYS on time which was awesome.  They do a pretty good job of helping with the transition to move there and with the 3 week training course you start with you meet a lot of new teachers that become life long friends.  Anyways we are back home now and I felt I needed to spread the word for other English teachers about to embark on that crazy adventure over there!

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