I sincerely hope that Kojen has improved since I taught there

Ratings
Overall
4
Benefits: 4
Support: 3
Fun: 8
Facilities: 3
Safety: 9
Review

I worked at Kojen 12 years ago, in Kaohsiung, and worked for one year. Overall I was quite disappointed with my experiences while teaching there. For me, the list of cons is endless. I hope that over the past 12 years that they have made improvements.

Soon after commencing, I realized that they made what I called "Kojen promises" - promises that they never intended to keep, or at least their intention regarding a promise was different to what I (or a reasonable person from a western background) would assume it to mean. For example, they promised me that upon arriving that they would assist me (for one week) to find accommodation for my stay in Kaohsiung. I understood that that meant that someone would help me see a few (3 or 4?) reasonable places where I could rent a room, so that I could choose a suitable one. This sounded reasonable as I could not speak any Chinese upon arrival. However their interpretation of making that promise was to pay for my stay in a very cheap hotel for one week, and that I was to find a place entirely myself. I didn't even know how to find such a place at the time. It was particularly challenging as I arrived just before Christmas - a time that almost no one was advertising.

There were plenty of other "Kojen promises". Like that they would provide all the training I would need to commence and ongoing training and support from a teacher-trainer (an experienced teacher with more than 1 year of teaching experience at Kojen). Again very different interpretations of what that meant. There was no teacher trainer at my school when I arrived (the previous one quit just before I arrived because he was completely frustrated by how the school was managed) and there wasn't a new one for 2 months. In fact, the new one didn't want that role - in renewing his contract - he requested that he would not be a teacher trainer, and they promised him that he wouldn't be if he didn't want to. But once he signed the contract, and the previous trainer left, the role was imposed upon him.

Before I left my home country I signed a contract (in English) regarding my work there. It was a one page contract - easy to read. In my telephone interview, I was asked if I had read and understood the contract, and they were happy to employ me. However, when I was there and about to commence teaching, a Taiwanese manager presented me with a new contract - written entirely in Chinese, with no English translation. I was asked to sign it immediately. He was surprised and somewhat offended when I said that I wanted an translation in English. (Who signs a contract written entirely in a foreign language without any translation?). I eventually got a different manager (Canadian) who could read a lot of Chinese to explain what it said and verbally confirm that the content was mostly straightforward and consistent with my original contract that I had signed.

When I started, a new Taiwanese manager had been appointed. He was the son of the school's owner, had recently got his MBA from a university in America, and thought that he had "great new ways" to train teachers based upon his theoretical ideas. And guess what? Because I had just started, he decided to commence his "untried training ideas" with me. His ideas were stupid. I tried many of his ideas and EVERY time they were counterproductive. He blamed me for them not working. Over time, he recommended his ideas to other teachers - experienced and new teachers - and they all recognized that his ideas were ridiculous. The solution was that I instead talked with other teachers (foreign and Chinese) and we shared ideas that actually did work.

I could go on and on about my disappointments with Kojen.

However, I should also mention that despite all the negatives, I achieved my personal goal that I wanted to achieve from my teaching experience there. And oddly enough, despite all of the rubbish that I had to deal with at Kojen - that experience helped me so much to get to where I am today. I went to Taiwan to teach English BECAUSE I wanted to learn how to teach and to be good at teaching. After 8 months of teaching there I had a reputation as being one of the best teachers there. I invested more time than any other teacher to learn how to teach, to analyze what techniques worked and why a technique didn't work. I learned through a lot of trial and error. Although I would have appreciated a lot more training and support at the beginning, I discovered that the Kojen model for teaching worked - I just had to learn a lot about classroom management, dealing with problem students etc, to use the model effectively. When you have dealt with everything that could go wrong, and the experience of immediately resolving it - through trial and error and learning from your mistakes - that confidence, that experience shows - to your students and other teachers.

Now 12 years later, I teach at a university. I have lectured class sizes of more than 300 students. I have a reputation as being one of the best teachers at my university. My experience in teaching English 12 years ago, and the confidence I got from that experience, and ideas that I discovered about how I believe that teaching should be done - and then implementing those ideas - has led to my success now. I attribute 90% of my teaching success to the lessons (good and bad) that I retained from my teaching experience in Taiwan.

Would you recommend this program?
No, I would not
Year Completed
2002
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