I really recommend working for EF but thought giving advice would be better than talking about individual instances of blame and praise.
The Recruitment Process.
You have Skype interviews where you find out more about EF and they find out more about you:
- Have your documents scanned and ready for submission.
- Check emails regularly and double check interview times for your local time and China.
- Be honest about what type of city and students you want. Adults, Kids or Online students. Big modern or smaller traditional town. Ask yourself why and then communicate it.
- Wait until the confirmation from EF before you book your flight.
- Take the free online Chinese classes while you wait, it gets you into 'China' mode and you will be surprised how much you remember when you get there.
You are given two weeks in a hotel with your fellow newbies and have training with them. Most people find a good friend or two from this group:
- Take the interest free salary advance, having that cash as a buffer is very useful.
- You have two ears and one mouth. Your listening to talking ratio should be the same, there will be a lot of new information so give yourself the time to take it in.
- Download apps called 'WeChat' and 'pleco' they are very useful. Try to have unlock your phone from its carrier before you come.
You will be given an online TEFL certification before you arrive and get a free qualification from the University of Cambridge called the TKT. Every week you have a training sessions ran by your boss:
- Sign up for the free distant learning courses, especially if you are a newer teacher. They help you if you stay but make your more employable if you leave.
- The CertTESOL and DipTESOL are also available but you have to pay for them. If you are staying in ESL then make taking these very high on your list of to dos.
- The free Chinese classes help when you are a beginner but you will want to find a tutor if you want to go beyond that
I lived in the most expensive city in China with the highest cost of living and I am from London where I am used to paying over the odds. The salary gives you enough to live comfortably but not extravagantly.
- Rent is your biggest expense, live with other people instead of your own. It saves money and is more fun. Why fly half way around the world to be a recluse?
- Bring an emergency credit card, your home country banking card and a little savings.
- Sign up the medical cover offered by Met life with your package. It makes things so much easier than trying to skimp and get caught out.
The Company Culture.
EF is a business that sells education to paying customers. This is good and bad. Most people think of education as being altruist and usually in the state sector.
- Customers satisfaction is important to the company so keep that in mind. If you have experience in the service industry you will know the customer is usually right even if he is usually wrong.
- Most of your colleagues will be Chinese and that might present challenges because of cultural misunderstandings. As soon as you say 'back home we....’ you have lost the argument and missed the point of why you are not at home.
- You will progress if you’re proactive and competent but some of the promotion structures are a bit opaque. Management varies but highlighting a problem and offering a solution will stand you in good stead.
- Most people work weekends and unusual hours to match when the students can take classes. I miss having a normal schedule.
The Teaching/Classroom experience
None of the centres are more than 10 years old and most are usually placed close to a train station. They are usually in shopping malls so that was different from my idea of a school.
- The best part of the job are the students, they will view you with curiosity and bombard you with questions. Some might seem strange but remember that 98% of people are Han ethnic Chinese, they haven't met someone like you.
- The majority of lesson planning is done for you because the materials are prepared by the company and focus more on speaking and listening communicative tasks. This is very different from traditional lecture style classes and experienced teachers from none ESL backgrounds might find that challenging.
- Use resources like www.englishpage.com to brush up on some on your grammar. As a native speaker you might know how to use something without knowing why or how to explain it.
- The work is easy and
EF is a good company that will suit a lot of people but not everyone. Being the largest company in the industry and having schools in 60 cities mean there is variation so some of the very good and bad reviews might be isolated instances.
Going on a website like this is a good start but also educate yourself on China and ask the recruiter for testimonials or a chance to speak to current teacher.
The person who has the most power to affect your experience is you. Be proactive, open to change and honest with yourself.
My linkledin in https://cn.linkedin.com/in/akbarkarenga if you want to connect.