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Best organisations to work for?


goldchocobo
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Hi all I'm a recent grad from Sydney Australia. I'm looking to immerse myself in Chinese culture and language whilst teaching abroad and am very grateful as I recently received a a 1 year contract offer in Beijing.

 

Just wanted to know what you guys think about EF before I sign away as I am quite happy to do so.

 

1. What do you think of EF?

 

2. Are there any other organisations/institutions or universities they would recommend? (preferably Beijing)

 

3. Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School vs. EF Education First?

People have been saying New Oriental and EF are the biggest and best organisations in China

 

 

 

 

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EF is one of the biggest language schools in China, they've got a lot of centers and financial backing. From what I've heard the pay is "ok" but I've also heard they work you quite hard.

However, I think they're willing to invest in you as an employee. They offer Trinity TESOL courses - all levels - to their teachers (not for free) which are based online and in person. As they have a large network of schools in China there are also good opportunities for advancement to senior teacher, assistant director of studies and director of studies. They offer to pay for or sponsor some of the cost of qualifications as well but you'd need to sign up for a certain period of time.

Like many larger schools, they have foreign management at the centers - like senior teacher and DOS - so that can make problem solution easier.

If you've been offered a contract, like the feel of the people you've dealt with etc then I'd just go for it.

One thing, they told you where you're going to be teaching? If not, and you have to sign up first, then maybe you'll end up somewhere you aren't keen on.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm quite familiar with EF. Whether it's good or not is a roll of the dice: what it really depends on the Director of Studies at your centre. They are some who are easy going, and don't mind what you do so long as you teach the classes well. But there are others who want you to be "productive" for every minute of the day, which can be a nightmare - as a teacher you definitely need a breather after teaching a few lessons. The biggest advantage of EF is that it's a great training ground if you're new to teaching in China. They do show you the ropes and stuff. The biggest downside is the "office hours", where you have to remain in the office, possibly doing "busy work" even when you're not scheduled to teach, additionally, the hours are highly antisocial (weekends / evenings). As for the salary, it may seem okay at first, but then when you look at the hours you're working Vs what you're getting paid, you'll find that you're getting roughly 70RMB for each hour of your time. They need to deduct tax (legit, as far as I know), and a "insurance fee" which goes to a company owned by them (a bit lame). So you're take-home salary is a bit lower than the advertised amount.

 

Overall, if your goal is to gain some foundations for teaching in China, then EF is okay. But, if your goal is to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and language, I suggest that you seriously reconsider. Working at EF, with the relatively long, antisocial hours, you won't have much time to immerse yourself in the culture and language. In the centre itself, you may not be allowed to speak Chinese (a lot of centres like to have an "English only policy").

 

I think the type of teaching job which would suite you best would be at a public university or vocational school. They pay isn't as high, but they usually offer accommodation. The hours are relatively short and are usually during working days, so you'd have plenty of time to learn about the culture and language. Anyway, try and find a job where you have a maximum of 20 teaching hours a week and no compulsory "office hours".

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Having only worked at a private university in Hangzhou for going on 2 years, I would recommend:

 

1. Work at a university: you can work regular hours and have a social life on the weekend full of Chinese culture, like you want.

2. Contact directly universities in the area you wish to work: money saved on any middle-man recruitment fees can potentially be negotiated into a higher salary, offsetting the somewhat lower salaries at universities. I've heard straight from my FAO that recruiting new teachers for our university can be about 70,000 RMB over a one year contract to the agent.

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Hi all thanks for the replies.

I'd love to teach at a university but I doubt they'd give me a shot based on (my lack of) language teaching qualifications/exp... I had a look at Dave's ESL cafe and the uni's are all looking for those with 2+ years exp, 25 years old + etc. Got knocked back by one I applied for in Beijing. I believe my 5 years piano teaching exp/exp currently working at a bank + personality/communication skills helped me w my EF application.

 

Anyway, yes my purpose remains to get as much exposure of the culture and language as I can but I don't mind putting in hard work first then applying at uni's with 1 year experience at EF under my belt. 1.5 - 2 years in China rather than the 1. How's that for a plan?

 

Would you say the experience alongside extra TEFL certs would be useful when applying to teach English at uni's?

 

 

 

Re: where I'll be teaching, Beijing but not sure which district yet as waiting for Visa docs to go through. Completed the online foundation TEFL course yesterday.

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@goldchocobo they all ask for 2 years of teaching experience because it's required for the visa application. EF is certainly not exempt from this. they will probably use your piano teaching experience on your work visa application.

 

after a year at EF you'll have a much easier time getting into a uni, in fact that's what all the smart ones do. so i think your plan is good. work at EF for a year, and then apply for some uni's or vocational schools in a 2nd tier cities where you'll get lots of exposure to the language and culture.

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@victor557

 

Interesting you mentioned 2nd tier cities. Would i be competitive enough after the year to score a uni role at a 1st tier city like Beijing or Shanghai?

 

It's sort of my short-medium term goal while I'm there.

 

Was sadly knocked back a few weeks ago by an English centre linked to Beijing Foreign Studies University

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You got knocked back from one University job and that means you're ruling it out?

You could get a University job teaching English, without experience. You just need to look at less prestigious/popular Universities (perhaps "Normal" universities as they're called here) and also in less popular cities. It's not surprising a Beijing Uni knocked you back as they have the largest pool to draw from.

You could still find University work somewhere "big" though. A friend with no experience ended up working in a Chongqing University and another in one in Hunan.

If you're set on somewhere like Beijing (not sure why!) then it would be tough and a language school would be the way to go.

As above, you might be able find a job as a piano teacher either full time or, if not, as side work.

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Whether it's good or not is a roll of the dice: what it really depends on the Director of Studies at your centre. They are some who are easy going, and don't mind what you do so long as you teach the classes well. But there are others who want you to be "productive" for every minute of the day, which can be a nightmare - as a teacher you definitely need a breather after teaching a few lessons.
 
Very much agree with this. I worked at an EF school in Beijing 3 years ago and my experience was overall very positive, but I know a fair few people who worked there who have a less rosy impression of the company. Equally, I know many others who, like myself, enjoyed their time there, or at least had no major complaints.
 
Three of my former foreign teacher colleagues from the same center still work at EF, all of whom are now DoSes themselves. I'm also still good friends with a number of my former Chinese colleagues, a couple of whom still work at EF.
 

 

You just need to look at less prestigious/popular Universities (perhaps "Normal" universities as they're called here)
 
"Normal" has nothing to do with how prestigious or popular the university is. For example, Beijing Normal is pretty highly regarded. "Normal" means that the university has a focus on pedagogy (i.e. teaching students to teach). It's a translation of 师范, and is to do with "norms" of teaching.
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You just need to look at less prestigious/popular Universities (perhaps "Normal" universities as they're called here) and also in less popular cities

 

I think what you are referring to is "学院" vs "大学." [edit] These can be loosely translated as University (4 year) and College (2 year + 1 year internship). [/edit] 

 

If you're looking for immersion, don't go first tier. Pick a 2nd or 3rd tier and enjoy a more immersive and enjoyable life style with less pollution. If you can get 10,000 RMB/month in a 2nd tier city, you are doing very well. 6,000 is bottom line (assuming a place to live is included). 

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Beijing as the Chinese hub for politics, art and technology is what attracts me in particular. It may sound stupid but it also looks better on paper as I'll be coming back to Aus after the year or 2 to apply for grad positions or do a Masters. But I'll definitely look at travelling to other parts of China with my leave, holidays and 2 days off.

 

Thanks for all the input! I'm starting to think I've got this all planned  :roll:

 

RE: Piano teaching I would definitely consider it - but beginner to intermediate adults only. Some parents can be a nightmare which is one of the reasons I'm doing adult teaching with EF

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i have no experience of EF at all, so I can't comment about them. However, it is worth looking at other options also. I used to work at Aston in Dalian (where it's called Future) 10+ years ago. They were good because there were no office hours so if you didn't have classes, you didn't have to be at the school. Most classes were evenings and weekends, though, which I guess would be similar for any language training centre.

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I stand corrected! Normal is anything but normal!

I also worked at an Aston school in Yinchuan and found it a fantastic experience. Aston have franchise schools which is one reason why people's experiences are so varied. If you look at reviews online for the company, they're all horrible but not many go online when everything's fine. I think it just depends on who is running the particular Aston at that time. The pay used to be below average though. One advantage is they offer 6 month contracts.

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I crunched some numbers tonight and based off say a 12k a month salary, 5k a month studio in Beijing as well as costs from food, transport, health insurance, hobbies (e.g. fitness/language) and tax (lowers salary to about 10k net) I wouldn't have much left over for savings.

 

Lets say I'm really strict on my spending, would 2500rmb a month in pure savings be a realistic figure for ESL teachers? It translates to about AUD$6000 in savings for the year (eeek!). Anyone who's in it for the money would never even consider it i.e. I'm not in it for the money. It has definitely however opened my eyes a little more.

 

 

 

Also makes me wonder how so many Chinese parents can pay for their child's overseas study when it costs AUD$40,000 a year just in tuition fees  :-?

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Those parents that can afford to send their kids to foreign countries are upper middle class, at least. Earning 12,000 RMB a month as a teacher is great! At my college, a teacher earns about 6,000 a month. The government has announced it will be paying teachers even less soon as they won't get as much insurance included and instead be expected to pay. Going through the math with a co-worker, she is expecting a 1,500-2,000 RMB hit to her monthly earnings due to this. Having friends who work at colleges that primarily teach teachers as well as being part of a program that trains English teachers, many teachers become teachers out of lack of options. Not money. Maybe a conversation for another thread, though.

 

As for your monthly breakdown, expecting to save money while living in Beijing as a foreign teacher is usually expecting too much, unless you have an amazing resume. Your 5,000 RMB apt estimate could be cut significantly if you didn't require a studio. Maybe find a room that has it's own bathroom but would still share the kitchen. I've seen pretty big rooms run for about 3,300 RMB at a nicer complex. Another option is live in a less new area away from a lot of the conveniences. Might mean a 45 minute subway to anything special, though. 

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^I would second living a bit farther out in the suburbs. You could buy a fast E-bike with a hidden gasoline generator for extra range for about ¥5000, be golden on your commute while being able to save a ton on your apartment, and have the added bonus of mobility (go wherever your cultural learning nose takes you). For example, a friend of a friend just signed a lease on an apartment in Hangzhou's Binjiang District. While it's pretty far from Hangzhou's city center, it's a two story unit in really good shape for ¥2000 per month, whereas a unit closer to downtown would likely be way more than that.

 

Unfortunately, it seems to be that if you're in it for money, I think ESL teaching at basically any level other than international schools is wasting time.

 

 

Also makes me wonder how so many Chinese parents can pay for their child's overseas study when it costs AUD$40,000 a year just in tuition fees  :-?

 

My guesses are 1) corruption 2) a lifetime of hard work 3) loans

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International schools pay the most?

 

Yeah I wouldn't mind living a bit further out. And actually since, EF teaching is afternoon/night and weekend hours public transport/traffic may not be as bad as peak periods! Right?

 

 

My guesses are 1) corruption 2) a lifetime of hard work 3) loans

 

Yeah... lucky they (usually) only have 1 child

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Yeah I wouldn't mind living a bit further out. And actually since, EF teaching is afternoon/night and weekend hours public transport/traffic may not be as bad as peak periods! Right?

 Probably. I occasionally watch the "sardines" go past in public buses and then thank heaven I bought an e-bike, but I don't specifically note what times are terrible since it doesn't apply to me anymore. From what I remember, 5-8 pm weekdays is pretty heavy traffic, and weekends vary depending on conferences, local performances (the Korean group Big Bang got Hangzhou pretty congested the other weekend), etc. Probably safer to be a sardine, too.

 

International schools should more or less net you: ¥20,000/month; daytime M-F working hours; and more enthusiastic students. You don't have the  ESL experience to teach English at an international school yet, but to beat a dead horse I think your piano experience could get you a nice international school position. You'd be in higher demand than as a run-of-the-mill English teacher that's for sure.

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