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Adult training center (private) vs University position (public or private)


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I'm currently teaching at a high school in Shenzhen until July and am wondering which route to take for later this year in regards to adult teaching jobs. In regards to my qualifications, I have a BA and a TESOL certificate (in class) from Australia (I'm also a native English speaker). Has anyone worked at both a private training center (such as EF or Web International for example) and a university? Do you have to plan lessons 'from scratch' or are you given teacher/student books at university level? Is there a lot of 'paperwork/grading' at universities or can you just teach and go home?


Universities seem less risky however recruiters seem to be almost giving them away (I've got about 3 offers in a week with very little interviewing time). As for training centers, I'm guessing people have had 'mixed experiences' which maybe due to things such as management, students, profit, etc (I guess there's a 'luck of the draw' element). I'm just wondering if it's worth waiting 6,7 weeks to start a uni job or go straight to a training center in mid- late July (I haven't got much money for a vacation or trip home this year). I appreciate any advice or thoughts as I'm weighing up offers from EF, Wall Street and a few universities across China.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a friend that used to work for EF and she loved working there. The place was well equipped and the students were really nice.


But, on the other hand, they set up an appointment with me a few weeks ago for a job interview and the interviewer blew me off and I wound up pulling my application because they wouldn't reschedule, apologize or even acknowledge that they hadn't kept the appointment. I've never been treated to disrespectfully by an employer in all the years I've been applying for jobs, so clearly your mileage may vary.


As far as recruiters go, the main issue with them is that they aren't always paying attention and passing information on. A good recruiter can be very helpful, but I found that with my previous recruiter that they were getting information that I should have been getting, lieing to the schools about who I was and generally fouling things up for me.


Working directly for a school solves that problem, but it also means that if it doesn't work out that you don't have the option of moving to a different school.

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  • 1 month later...

Like any job, it depends a lot on the particular employer.

I would say thst, generally, Universities "leave you to it" a lot more than provate schools. I have friends who have just been told "ok, you have class on Monday" having had zero experience teaching. They had to find out if a textbook was available, if there was a set curriculum etc. Another thing is that you may encounter a lot more students who just don't care about learning English. They may go because they have to but at University they probably already know if they want to learn English or not.

On the other hand, you can get to know some of your students really well and potentially have real conversations with them. Depending on your age, some of students might not be that much younger than you so some can become friends too. Equally, the hours at University tend to be set Mon-Fri and are usually less than a private school. However, the pay is usually less too.

Private schools tend to have a textbook for each level and a course plan that you have to follow. Better schools will give you training when you arrive and on going assessments of your teaching. The pay tends to be a lot better too but thats because of longer hours. If you teach kids, you won't become friends with them obviously. However, private schools tend to have a lot of foreigners working there so its really easy to make friends. My school currently has 45 foreign teachers. Also, whereas Universities (and your high school?) have huge classes, most private schools have between 8 and 20 students, depending on how expensive the school is for students and which city you are in.

The downside of private schools would be that you most likely will work at weekends and get two other days off. Your days off may or may not be consecutive. A lot of schools in BJ seem to have Mon/Tues as the set "weekend" for teachers. You read about split shifts online (working in the morning, then a break, then the evening) but i've never encountered this in China. You might also consider that most student you'll be teaching at a private school will be fairly affluent, whereas, depending on your highh school, you might be teaching a wide range of students from different backgrounds.

Edit: i just realised you said "adult training centre" - so all the students, presumably adults, should want to learn English and can afford it. You may encounter a lot of students too shy to speak out though or who seems like they don't want to be there (who knows why they are?!). Equally, you can meet some great and interesting people this way. If you worked at Wall Street, your class sizes would be very small (2 or 3) or just one on one.

As for risk, I would say the most risk is from recruiters and schools without any kind of foreign management. There is such a demand for foreign teachers, recruiters often just leave out details that may make the job unattractive or sugar coat the truth. My friend went through a recruiter to work in Chongqing... Actually, the school was 3-4 hours out of Chongqing centre. If yiu decide to go through a recruiter, ask specific questions. Whatever the school, try to speak to a teacher than already works there (not a manager) or someone who recently left. If the school or recruiter has a problem with that then that in itself should set alarm bells ringing.

Applying to one of the big companies you list (wall street, EF) should carry less risk of big surprises about the job or being told half truths.

Hope that helps

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