ESL Starter

Program Reviews

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No, I don't recommend this program

ESL Starter are actually the recruiters for Teach and Learn, who run this internship program, so my review is of the program with Teach and Learn.

My main qualm with this internship program is that as an intern you are placed on a Chinese student visa. As the Go Overseas website states, "Foreign interns in China need to have a "special business F visa" that specifically prohibits compensation. Be wary of any provider promising paid internships in China." (

With Teach and Learn, you will be placed on a student visa, not a business F visa. But, with the program, you will be working as a Teacher. During our induction week, we were told that we were not to tell anyone that we were teachers, and instead had to say we were students.

If you are caught in China on the wrong visa, you can be fined and may not be allowed to enter the country again for a certain period of time. If you are willing to risk this, it's up to you, but I do not feel that ESL starter was upfront with us about the fact that we would technically be working on the wrong visa, which is why I want to warn potential interns of the risks. In fact, some interns were "found out" by the police and had to leave the country and enter China again on the correct working visas.

The Mandarin lessons you are meant to receive every week will vary depending on the school or University you have been placed at. Some people only received a one hour "lesson" from one of the teachers at the school. Others were "taught" Mandarin by University students. They are not proper lessons and definitely did not teach us enough Mandarin to pass us off as the Mandarin students we were meant to be according to our visas.

Your experience on this program will vary depending on which school or University you are placed. Whilst I enjoyed the place I worked at and they provided decent accommodation, I was aware that I could be earning a lot more (and not living in fear of being caught teaching on a student visa!) if I had instead applied for a proper teaching job in China.

The good parts of this program are that it's only 4 months long, you teach a maximum of 15 hours a week, and you meet other interns during your stay in China. Also, a lot of interns were people who couldn't get a working visa in China - non-native English speakers and people without University degrees. So for them I guess this internship was good, as they couldn't have got a proper teaching position in China (a working visa requires you to have a degree and be a native speaker). But for others, I think you have to think about whether you are willing to enter China and live there on the wrong visa.

Ben Tollington
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall Rating
9/ 10
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Go to Argentina

Submitted by Ben Tollington - Swindon | February 19, 2015

I still reflect very happily on my time in Argentina and I am so glad I decided to do it, and I am especially thankful to Connecting Worlds for making me feel comfortable throughout my program. I taught English for 4 months in a private school in a seaside town called Mar del Plata. As it was my first time teaching I prepared a presentation which I prepared to all the classes of a variety of ages and skill, which made for a challenging but exciting experience, followed by a range of different types of general and specific classes as I gained confidence. Everyone was fascinated to listen to my accent and hear about my life in England. I was given all the support and encouragement I needed by the teaching coordinators, and everyone was so friendly and energetic that I enjoyed every minute.

I was lucky to live with a very kind family throughout my stay who showed me the typical Argentinian hospitality, I will never forget the countless lively dinner conversations we had which I just about managed to keep up with after 4 months, and to intimately experience and learn from such a passionate culture was one of the highlights of the program. I was also really impressed with the social events that our co-ordinator in Mar del Plata organised which enabled me to meet lots of amazing people who made me feel welcome in the city, helped me learn the language and the culture, and made it such an enjoyable experience.

My advice to someone thinking of joining a Teaching English Abroad Program is if you have an open mind and the time and money necessary, then do it. Any worries or nerves you have about taking on such a daunting experience are nothing compared to the new rewarding perspectives and values you will take away from it. Regarding the Argentina program I can highly recommend Connecting Worlds who looked after me personally and offered a fair and fulfilling program. I should add that as the program was quite new when I signed up, the level of teaching I would be giving and the host family I would be staying with was subject to change, so I would advise asking lots of questions to make sure you understand what to expect, but as long as you are driven to get the most out of the experience as you can and keep an open mind I can recommend choosing this program.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the main improvement I would recommend is organising a more fixed and structured timetable to the teaching program, to ensure the volunteers have a clear structure to their program.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I have been an English teacher in South Korea for 3 and a half years and it is the best decision i ever made. I was working a lowly 9-5 sales job in South Africa when i decided to use my english degree and apply to EPIK in korea. I managed to secure the position i currently have with the help of ESL starter who were wonderful.I really really wanted to come so i sent loads of follow up emails that were probably not necessary but i always received prompt replies and good advice. Life in South Korea is amazing. We earn very good money and have very little expenses so you are able to save a lot although i did'nt save that much in my first two years because there is a budding social scene here.My bank account is looking a lot better now that i stay in a lot more with my girlfriend (who i met here ). Over and above the money and the great social life what makes korea great for me is the fact that I wake up everyday and love what i'm doing.There was one time when i was feeling down about something and as soon as i walked into the classroom and the children made me laugh i felt a lot better. A huge challenge of living and working here is of course not speaking the language. My Co teacher took me to the eye doctor one and on the way jokingly said that sometimes i was like baby. You can do most thinks here alone but there are sitauations where you absolutely need person who speaks Korean to help. Thankfully Koreans are very helpful and really good to foreigners as my co teacher was that day.

What would you improve about this program?
I would arrange for a possible applicant to be able to talk to someone currently living and working in South Korea. This person would be able to provide excellent advice and answer most if not all questions. I think this would really help someone applyingto be less anxious and improve the programme
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Yes, I recommend this program

I did the TEFL course with Elebaires in Buenos Aries and found the whole experience so enriching! The teachers were so helpful and it was a great bonus to be based in a language school too. I learnt so much and have grown in confidence with my teaching skills!

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Yes, I recommend this program

With ESLstarter, I found a great placement in Nepal, not far from the capital, Kathmandu. I began by spending 2, 3 days in Thamel, the buzzing centre of the capital to become acclimatised with the culture and way of life in Nepal. I was taken on tours of the temples, given some basic language lessons, and stayed in a guest house. It was the ideal beginning.
I then was placed into a rural school some miles away. The whole placement was coordinated between ESLstarter and a coordinator in Nepal who helped me step by step. The school was extremely friendly, and also provided accommodation. The family ran the school and were excellent hosts, I fully enjoyed being part of their family and way of life during the Month. The teaching was also enjoyable, and the children a joy to work with. At the beginning I had a little surprise as I did not follow any particular syllabus, and as such had to decide on the lessons myself. However the TEFL training online I had completed equipped me to deal with this.
In the last week, I took excursions to Chitwan National Park and Pokhara, which was organised by the Nepali coordinator. These are must-see destinations.
ESLstarter helped sort the placement out, and my advisor was Claire, who was particularly helpful and answered any queries promptly and in full.