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EF English First

Why choose EF English First?

How we began: EF English First was founded in 1965 by a young Swedish entrepreneur named Bertil Hult. Our first office was modest and our concept was straightforward: take Swedish students to England to learn English.

Who we are: Almost 5 decades later, EF Education First is now the world's largest private education company, comprised of over 15 subsidiaries and non-profit organizations centered around language learning, educational travel and degree programs. Today, EF has over 26,000 employees, teachers and volunteers; with offices and schools in 54 countries, EF has turned the world into a global classroom.

Where we are going: EF's mission is more timely than ever. EF remains committed to breaking down barriers of language, culture and geography by providing the highest quality educational experiences-whether that's in another country, around the corner, on or the internet


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Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome place to work! Great CPD and opportunities

I started working for EF in 2007. Without any experience in teaching ESL, I was given an opportunity to work for them. At first, I was a little nervous teaching children while living in a new country but the team is amazing! They made me feel welcomed and supported.

The team provides continuous professional development sessions that help me become a better teacher. It's one of the best decisions I made in my life- to fly to China, experience the rich culture, work for EF and teach children. I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone.

  • great professional development that will help build your career
  • great experience and you get to experience Chinese culture
  • top-notch company
  • I can't think of any
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No, I don't recommend this program

Horrible teaching experience

The only reason I'm giving EF two stars and not one is because I do really like my students and have come to form nice teacher-student relationships with them. They are the only good thing about EF.
EF itself is a nightmare. Their platform is CONSTANTLY having technical issues, which prevent the teacher from entering the classroom in a timely manner (which we are penalized for) or for being able to effectively teach a lesson when the classroom needs to be reloaded non-stop.
The scheduling is also frustrating. They advertise March and April as being extremely busy, fruitful months, and in the end, teachers are rushing to claim substituted classes, because you can never get enough hours with them.
If a student no-shows a class, you are only paid a small percentage of the time you have to wait for them, even though the hour of your schedule is blocked out still. For example, if a 40-minute lesson no-shows, that one hour of your time that you aren't paid for and that you aren't able to teach. I am certain that the student is still paying for that class, when they no-show, and EF is just pocketing the money instead of paying teachers for their time. It's so disrespectful. And students no-show A LOT, and it seems there are no negative consequences for it.
Another bone to pick is that EF's contract is really vague, but then they use these manipulation and intimidation tactics with teachers. I accidentally forgot to submit a report within 24 hours of a class, and EF started sending me emails to remind me, stating "This could end in the termination of your contract, but we would really like to avoid this." How manipulative and passive aggressive! Then, when you try to reach out to them to find out if your contract is being ended, they don't respond or tell you anything! I've been in limbo for days now wondering if I still have work.
They absolutely have no regard for teachers, but they try to brand themselves as caring about teachers and wanting to be a good place to work. If they can shell out millions to support a cycling team for the Tour de France, they can pay their teachers more and pay us for the full lesson when a student no-shows.
Also, their customer support for teachers is ridiculous. I was being spoken to inappropriately by a student ( a one-off situation that rarely happens), and it made me really uncomfortable. I wrote to EF and told them I didn't want this student to be able to book lessons with me, because he was making inappropriate comments about me. I'm unable to block students or remove them from my schedule without being penalized. EF wrote me back and said that they would block him from booking lessons with me, but that I should "be aware that this is an exception and we don't usually do this." Oh, so you don't usually prevent your teachers from being sexually harassed by students? How nice, EF. Wonderful support you provide there.
Everything about EF has felt like it's been portrayed in one way, and it turns out the opposite. You can make more money on other platforms and not deal with the garbage that EF puts you through. Run, don't walk, away!

  • nice students
  • flexibility
  • terrible pay
  • terrible teaching platform
  • unhelpful and unsupportive company
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No, I don't recommend this program

Your payment card will be used without your permission

I've subscribed for three months as a trial, assuming that once the trial finished they will inform me and ask me if I want to continue, but I was surprised when they deduct 99 USD from me without any prior notice.

When I complained and ask for a refund, they told me that I've approved the terms and conditions (Who in earth read terms and conditions)

This is the terms but I didn't read it:
"For some Trials, we’ll require you to provide your payment details to start the Trial. By providing such details you agree that we may automatically begin charging you for the Subscription on the first day following the end of the Trial on a recurring monthly basis or another interval that we disclose to you in advance. IF YOU DO NOT WANT THIS CHARGE, YOU MUST CANCEL THE APPLICABLE SUBSCRIPTION BEFORE THE END OF THE TRIAL."

So be careful because your payment card will be used without your permission.

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Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Way to Start your TEFL Career

Before moving to China with EF I had very little experience in ESL. I was impressed by the support I received in learning to teach ESL as well as make a transition overseas in general. They gave full financial support in areas of TEFL certification, visa costs, training, and travel to my new home. I was able to feel confident in both the position and making a move to somewhere I had never been and knew very little about. EF was a great place to begin my career in International Education!

Furthermore, China was a wonderful place to work and explore and I'm so happy I had the opportunity to call this place home through EF's teaching position abroad. The cost of living and opportunities for exploration made quality of life for an expat in this country hard to beat. Some cities and rural spaces are tough to travel through as there aren't as many English speakers, but it provides for a great opportunity to learn the local language!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
EF is a big company, take advantage of all it has to offer! Whether that is development as a teacher or getting involved in social and cultural activities outside of the work schedule. Being as large of a company as it is in China, there are so many opportunities for networking, enriching expreiences, and building a community abroad.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

EF is a great company to teach in China, especially for new teachers and people moving abroad for the first time. Their staff was really helpful throughout the visa process and made me feel welcome upon arriving in China. Their assistance was great and helped me feel settled in China right away. At work, I had professional training and guidance that helped me feel comfortable as a teacher. I worked in a diverse center with teachers and staff from all over the world and was given the opportunity to be myself inside and outside the classroom. EF is also a massive company with frequent opportunities to develop as both a teacher and professional.

Overall, I would recommend teaching with EF to anyone who wants to experience something new and exciting in a safe and supportive environment.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I had never been outside of my country before, and EF provided the perfect opportunity to both challenge and educate myself by learning/working in a new culture.

Any business student will tell you how impactful China's economy is on the rest of the world. Right now, I am able to live and study at the heart of it all. Learning how to conduct business differently will greatly increase my future success.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

English First assisted me with: my initial flight (through a flight reimbursement that is received monthly), locating an apartment (and gave me a 0% interest loan to help me secure said apartment), setting up a bank account, setting up a phone, setting up my health insurance and most importantly my Z visa! They basically made sure I had the essentials.

On my own, I had to figure out: the lease on my apartment (with the help of my agent), where to buy food, how to get to work, and other things like how to get internet in my apartment. Doing these types of things on your own really help you to become confident/comfortable in your new culture.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Come with an open mind. Things here will be different and ever-changing. This can either make you frustrated or interested. Being interested opens up so many doors for education and understanding.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

As an Adult English Teacher with English First, you will basically be working a second shift schedule. This is primarily because when the students get off work, they want to come to class. You will have two days off that are weekdays, and this turns out to be a great thing. Cities get extremely busy on the weekend and having weekdays off allows you to bypass the "people mountain people sea" aspects of city life.

In English First, you will be teaching 21-25 classes per week, planning for those lessons, and getting to know your students during your work hours. Classes range from 5-20 students so getting to know the students is very easy and rewarding.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My bigger fear was that I would fail (again this is my first country outside of the USA). The only reason why I did not was because I kept an open mind, and surrounded myself with positive, enjoyable people. Success became more obtainable by breaking down my problems into manageable parts. Everyday tasks become pressing issues when you live abroad (for about the first 6 months). Stop, take a breath, and laugh about it.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Eric Joseph Ripple

Job Title
Eric is a Lebanese American from Nashville, Tennessee. He is currently working and living it up in Shanghai, China. He believes in sailing through life with a smile and a sense of humor.

guy smiling and teaching

What is your favorite travel memory?

A week after arriving in China, I hit an unusual snag. I was in a place that I had never been to and knew no one and definitely didn’t speak the language. At the close of my first two weeks I had found an apartment, mapped out my route to work, and found a lovely group of friends. Then on a very short notice I had to leave my new home. I realized I had a choice to make: I could either pack it up and go back to the U.S. or go to Thailand. Needless to say, I didn’t choose the first option.

I spent the next two months discovering the hidden truths of Thailand and of myself. My days were spent wandering in and out of markets, temples and alleyways in Bangkok, relaxing on the sunny beaches of Phuket, searching the meaning of life at a Buddhist meditation retreat in Chang Mai and finishing it all off with a very unique Muy Thai camp in Pai. Forget the closed door – jump through the window.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The biggest factor to success or failure is you! Although it may seem a cliché, it is incredibly true. Companies are made up of people. Some companies have thousands of team members; some only have two. The point is without the people the company would not exist. To be successful, the needs and priorities of the team members must be recognized and well taken care of. It is not just enough to tell them that you know what is important to them. You have to show them.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working for EF has changed me in so many different ways! I never saw myself as a teacher or working with kids...ever. Looking back on a year of not only teaching, but teaching kids, I have never been happier with a job.

Working as a kids and teens teacher has made me see life from a different perspective. I have a whole new respect for the learning and interpersonal interaction process.

Teaching ESL has helped me grow as a communicator both verbally and non-verbally. Teaching kids has forced me out of any comfort zone I ever had and made me realize just how different and exactly the same we all really are.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

There are many companies that offer ESL education, but none that do it on the global scale that EF does. Many people seem to have a negative perception of the words “global corporation.” What most people don't realize is that being part of a team with a global presence has just as many, if not more, positive attributes. Being part of a global corporation gives teachers access to some of the best resources and materials. As part of the team, we have never ending chances for growth and development. Lastly, everyone in the ESL field knows EF, which gives my work experience instant credibility.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

My team has grown and changed a lot in the past year. Sometimes as a foreign teacher, I can feel palpably that people are always coming and going. The school can feel like a revolving door of personalities and cultural differences. One thing I love about my team now is that everyone actively wants to grow closer and stronger together. I think I can speak for most of the team when I say we care about what we do and whom we do it with.