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America Town Education


Chester22
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Hi Everyone

I've been reading on here for a while and have finally decided to take the plunge and move to China for a year. I was originally planning to just go to Harbin and study but I saw a job ad for America Town Education in Shandong that offers just weekend work which suits me perfectly.

I couldn't find any info on this company and was wondering if anyone had had any experiences with them?

Thanks for your help.

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I would be a wee bit suspicious of this. I am sure others would be able to help you a lot better, but the number one thing about working here is of course the working visa / experts certificate. The idea that you can get one with a company whilst only working weekends is a bit of a stretch for me to believe.

Your post is not clear. Are you here to study or to work? I imagine that you want to get here and enjoy this great country but apply caution to the wind.

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Mainly going for study and travel, but obviously a convenient weekend only teaching job would be a welcome way to pay for it all without digging into my savings.

I'm managing my expectations for the job and don't really see the harm in testing the waters, especially since I'm going to China anyway.

Guess I'll just feel things out.

Thanks for your input.

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  • 1 year later...

Being unable to find information is probably not a good sign, but it's probably not the kiss of death either. You just want to be sure that you've got the visa requirements legitimately and be prepared to apply for jobs elsewhere if something goes wrong or isn't as promised.

 

I'd strongly recommend that in a case like this where there is no information to require them to give you some references from past teachers before you'll sign a contract.

 

But, be aware that even when there is information available, it's not always accurate. The employer I'm going to be working with in a bit had some rather slanderous things posted about them by a disgruntled ex-employee. Some of it was just standard Chinese practice that's not generally a problem if you're any good. Some of the other stuff was rather unlikely to be true and I'm not even sure how somebody would know that a school had them blacklisted unless they were doing things that should get privileges revoked.

 

At the end of the day, I realized that I've been to China for a year and that I'm a good teacher so as long as I don't upset the government, I shouldn't have any trouble changing schools relatively easily once I'm over there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wouldn't read anything at all into the amount of information available on the internet. Plenty of excellent and very professional schools don't have websites. It's not a requirement in China and it doesn't have so much to do with your legitimacy as an institution as it would say in the U.S. You probably just aren't going to be able to find a ton of reliable info about anything. Most of the info about schools available is either from the marketing department or agents. You shouldn't believe any of it. You gotta pick something that sounds good, have a back up plan, and take a leap of faith. If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Finding a job as an English teacher in China really isn't hard. Talk to the teachers at the school if you can, if they say its good then it probably is.

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  • 9 months later...
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I worked for America Town Education. I'm sure it's not as bad as a lot of schools out there, but it certainly wasn't great. The offers are generally legitimate with options for many days off, but that means you will work an exhausting couple of days.

 

I think the company is run by a man that only wants to make money without really carrying about the students, the employees, and especially not the Chinese employees.

 

The ads promise there will be no last minute requests, no lack of training, and no dishonest managers. In fact last minute requests (or hearing about your obligations casually through the grapevine) are more common than any other type. You will often be asked to work and be given extra tasks on the few short, unpaid breaks you have. The training consists of a couple of days of dry repetition, forced enthusiasm, and little practical methodology. Finally, the owner practically runs his school on lies. Just to get your working papers they have to bribe the local government since most incoming workers don't meet the minimum Chinese standards (although I believe this is commonplace throughout China). On their ads to get more students, they claim that their English teachers have many more years of experience than they actually do.

 

The Mandarin classes for teachers are with the Chinese staff who are usually not trained at all and who receive no extra incentive to give the classes. These lessons are not taken seriously. They are often interrupted to give you or your Chinese teacher work to do.

 

The books and other materials are inadequate and outdated. Some students learn very little but just get pushed along through the levels, drowning more and more as they go, making the classes harder on everyone. No effort seems to be made to correct this.

 

The students spend the majority of their class time with the not so fluent Chinese teachers (probably in an effort for the boss to save money since the Chinese teachers get paid a fraction of what the foreign teachers make).

 

There are not really any options for taking time off and you're only allowed to be sick once without penalty. Also you will frequently have to work on your days off for events and holiday parties.

 

The city is also quite unpleasant with pollution levels surpassing those of even Beijing.

 

All that being said, although everyone complains, some teachers do so less than others, and despite the fact that some people try to get out of the contract early, some even sign on for another term. Of course it's not all bad, but sometimes you get the feeling that you're sort of trapped in a contract, working to fill the pockets of a man who takes advantage.

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  • 6 months later...
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For the benefit of anyone considering working there, I recommend you avoid working at America Town Education. I agree with the poster above and the dissatisfaction with the boss is fairly widespread amongst teachers who have worked there.  The Chinese staff are all great but unfortunately, the boss is untrustworthy.  Teachers learn quickly not to trust anything the boss says.  He tries to attract foreign teachers by claiming there is American style management.  I don't know where he got the idea that his style of treating people is good American management. He must have seen some pretty bad management back home. Nothing like what I have seen.

 

And yes, the city is extremely polluted.  You can do much better in other cities in China, and at other schools where you can trust the boss.

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I also worked for America Town Education, In the time I worked there, I was put through constantly being over worked, never getting straight answers, 12 hour working days, no extra pay for copious amounts of one on one lessons and plenty of other problems. My coworkers also had plenty of issues to the point that on more than one occasion we had to call meetings with our American boss. The adverts indicate there are lot's of teachers and big the school up. The only thing I can say is we were MOST OF THE TIME paid on time.

There was a really bad atmosphere in the school as every single Chinese teacher despised their job but could not leave as the owners had their insurance papers. I saw more than one teacher leave without giving any warning. My foreign coworkers had plenty of problems with our boss also as he would dock our wages without giving us any warning. One coworker had to replace her locks as our boss broke them from the inside trying to get into her bedroom while she was in work, she had to pay to fix this herself without so much as an apology from the boss. Even with no electricity or running water in the building the staff were still forced to work.

The School itself is filthy with several occasions that the children have pointed out rats running through the corridors. What you are not told until you arrive is that the school is in three different tiny cities, only one of which has any other foreigners in it. These are over an hour away from any decent western supplies. It was also not mentioned to us in our interviews that we would not only teach in our language school but also a local kindergarten and adult classes (not to mention the 1on1 classes) one coworker was made to prepare all of the lessons for the adult classes in an unrealistic time frame and was not given any added benefits for it.

The owner Mike, is money driven and give no shits about his staff, what he will tell you in your interview will be at least 80% lies, claims this is an American run school but having lived in America, I've never witnessed anything like it. You teach from old books with ridiculous vocabulary (2 weeks based on only teaching american food to 8 year olds) there are very few resources, the interactive boards seem to always be broken and you may end up working in another school.

If you are sick, you will more than likely get someone coming to your door to bring you to the doctor regardless of if you asked for it. Having worked in another school not I would be very surprised if they had actually paid for our insurance as nothing was ever mentioned to us and we still had to pay for medical assistance ourselves. 

 

As for JIning itself, It is highly polluted, passing the maximum pollution count of 500 this year, it is cold and miserable in the winter and very hot during the Summer (which is not helped by the fact that the aircon in the school didn't work well) It a very old and dirty town. However there are some amenities such as a Mcdonalds, some large malls and a park near the accomadation you are provided with (which is shared with a shared bathroom by the way).

 

The accomadation is reasonably spacious but assume you will be charged some fee when you finish your contract for some damage you did not cause, this seems to be the overall experience of everyone I worked with.

 

If you don't heed this advice, good luck in America Town Education.

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  • 1 month later...
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Hello Everyone,

 

I worked for America Town recently, and my experience was quite a bit different than the above commenters.  I worked 2 days a week and had 5 days off to travel. The two days were long, 10-12 hour days, but I had no issues with the hours.  We were told going in what to expect and it was a great trade off for the 5 days off a week.  Personally, I loved that we were able to work heavy hours on the weekend and have the rest of the week free.  The travel track allowed me to make enough money to live, travel, and spend while in China. I was able to travel all over China.  I was always paid on time, my privacy was never invaded, and I, for the most part, felt like I was treated as I was promised.    My overall experience was positive and I'd recommend it to others who are looking for ways to make a little money and travel around China.   

 

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I worked for America Town Education a few years ago and I'll have to agree with Sunshine. My experiences there were generally quite positive.  It's a nice school and they were very honest with me but the China school life maybe not for everyone, so I can understand how some people could be upset there. I was told to expect a 12 hour day on the weekend but it didn't happen, my workdays were 8-6, but my roommate had a longer Saturday and it was closer to 12 hours.  The bosses were nice, very forthcoming with information about the school and the city. I wasn't surprised about much in the school, but they were sometimes late on the holiday stuff.

 

The school took everyone in the school on a trip to a fake Disneyland one time. The bosses often took us out to have dinner and gave me multiple pay advances. Classes were small and had electronic whiteboards with lessons plans already made and we had an office that was mostly toys. The staff was really helpful and helped me set up a bank account and I made some good friends with some of them.  

 

In all it was a pretty good place to work. We got a Z visa. The apartments were very close. The school had a curriculum and teaching materials. We were given raises in the middle of our contract. The students learned well. The bosses were friendly and helpful. I was picked up at the airport. 

 

That being said I don't think China is for everyone, and if you can't roll with the punches, it may not be the place for you. If you have trouble with a dirty country, it's not a place for you, if you don't like Children, go to a university, if you wan't an adventure, yes. If you want to be pushed out of your comfort zone, yes. If you want to see the world, yes. But if you are looking for life back home then, no. I'm glad i taught there at America Town Education and don't regret coming to China.

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I'm very suspicious of two posts from two new users within two days in agreement with each other in a very positive way. 

 

To be direct: are either of you here by request from the school? Do you know each other outside of the forums? 

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I could be suspicious of the two negative reviews that were written on the same day as well.

 

I legitimately worked for the school, I just worked there recently, and my overall experience was positive.  I saw what had been written about the school and decided to share my experience. I think that people tend to vent the bad, but rarely say the good.  I wanted to share my experience to help the school out, but that doesn’t mean I was asked to write the review.  And no, I don’t know who wrote the post after mine, I never met any of the previous teachers.  It seems that the teacher above worked a few years before I did.

 

To be honest, I worked with a friend, and I know her experience was about the same as mine.  I thought about having her write on here too, to share her experience. Should I not do that?  Do you see why that might be a bit unfair? I’m not trying to be confrontational, I just don’t understand why my post is being questioned.  Are you a former teacher or an admin?  If you are an admin, I can assure you I am writing because I wanted to, if you are a former teacher, I’m sorry you didn’t share my overall positive experience, but please understand that people can often have different perspectives of the same experience.  My friend and I are both positive people and have traveled all over the world.  In comparison to some of the other teaching positions I have found myself in, this was one of the better. 

 

 

 

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Hi, I've been following this post purely because I DO NOT want anyone to go through what I went through in this school. The boss of this school *I won't use his name on  a forum* was the WORST boss I have ever had and honestly I've taught previously and never had an issue like this. The reason there were so many posts at the same is that I saw this post as I was tempted to say something and I mentioned it to a group of previous teachers and obviously they felt the need to warn people from making a huge mistake also.

I completed my contract in America town but not one of my coworkers were not tempted to leave early and NONE of us had a good thing to say about our boss or the company. From what I understand the boss seems to have realized when ALL of his staff left within two weeks last September that maybe he was really not a good boss. This isn't even considering the fact that a lot of parents in local schools knew of this language school's bad reputation leading to two of four schools closing down this year.

I really felt I needed to post again on this to say once again that this is not an attack on the school but purely to warn people from making the same mistake as I made and which caused me some serious emotional upset and stress for my entire time in Jining. From what I understand the two positive teachers were actually teachers in the school in Zhoucheng which is an hour out of the city and rarely visited by the boss above mentioned. I am really glad to hear that you had great experiences in this school but as a teacher with MANY years experience both in China and several countries, I don't appreciate your condescending tone that maybe China was not for us.

I myself had a really awful experience while working here and I know that around 90% of previous staff left with similar feelings to myself. I would imagine that the boss of America town has asked teachers to write positive comments as I know he is trying to reestablish his business as he now finds it very difficult to get new teachers but Everything I said in my above message was true and I can testify for the other negative messages and promise they were not biased but things that I witnessed and heard first hand from previous employees.

I'm sorry if I came across as rude in this message but this has brought up old unhappy feelings and I felt I needed to tell my side of this.

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You could be suspicious of the two negative reviews as well, and you'd be right to, imo. The other suspicious posts don't make the two positive posts seem less suspicious, though.  Luckily, there's another post besides the two negative posts from two new users. 

 

I would love to hear more from your friend about their experience at this school.

 

And, no, I'm not an admin.

 

*Edit*: For whatever reason, I'm just noticing LoveTeaching's post and want to add, thank you for clearing that up. The back story about the boss helps a lot to understand the school's situation. 

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I worked at America Town from March 2012 - March 2013 and had an overall positive experience. I worked in their Jining school, as did my husband. I felt the communication with the owner of the school was fine - on par with or better than other experiences I've had with bosses. In fact, we became pretty good friends with the owner and his family. We spent time together socially; we even traveled around China together a little. I felt the expectations and workload that we talked about during the interview process were adhered to during our year of work. We had a nice apartment, assistance with things like banking and utilities, and our pay was always on time and in the full amount. We actually considered staying an additional six months after our contract ended, but homesickness prevailed and we came home at the end of our year. We formed close relationships with a few of our Chinese colleagues, and I didn't get the impression that they felt horribly mistreated or unhappy with their jobs. Many of them did go on to other jobs during or after our time there, but isn't that the nature of working during your early 20's? There were two Chinese teachers who left abruptly (as other posters witnessed), but it seemed like that had more to do with their personal situations rather than their relationship to the owner of the school.

 

This is not to say we didn't have tough moments. The work culture we saw at the school and the factory and kindergarten where the school contracted to teach was very different than the work culture in the States. It took some adjusting to - just as it took a while to adjust to the culture in a smallish Chinese city. But we were able to form nice relationships with our boss, colleagues, students, students' parents, and neighbors, and once we got the hang of life there, we had a really good experience.

 

Jining was a great jumping off place for travel around China. Close enough to Beijing to take weekend trips there by high-speed rail. Near Qufu (birthplace of Confucius), Tai Shan (a beautiful sacred mountain), and Qingdao (very cool coastal city in Shandong province). Our work schedule made it possible to travel to most of the places we wanted to see. We also just enjoyed hopping on a city bus and seeing where it took us. There's a great lake to the south of the city with a giant golden Buddha in the middle, interesting outdoor markets all around town, and a nice walking path along a huge canal. Between having a couple consecutive days off each week and the many government holidays throughout the year, we felt we had a pretty cushy schedule for sightseeing.

 

Based on our experience there, my husband and I would both recommend America Town and Jining as a decent place to work and live.

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