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Fedup - 2015-01-24

My boyfriend and I worked at Power Language Training, Hangzhou for 1 year. We were constantly lied to and the climax was when they refused to honour the flight allowance at the end of the contract. They threatened us and made our lives hell before finally relenting. Do not work for this company.

The details: (The drama that has lines that seem to come straight from a bad movie is point #7)

1- They lie to get you there:
This was not our first time teaching so we knew what we wanted and didn’t want. We didn’t want to teach any kindergarten classes as neither of us enjoy it. We made this very clear and we were told that there would be no kindergarten classes. This was a lie.

I also asked questions about the curriculum and support for teachers etc. and was told lies about these things, too.

I know of other teachers working at the company who were also told lies about the location they would work and/or the ages they would teach. It seems to be a common theme that they lie about the classes they have. At some campuses they ‘teach’ children as young as 3 or even younger. I haven’t met anyone who was informed that they would be teaching pre-school classes before they arrived.

2- Contract violation #1:
In the contract, it states that salary will be paid on the 13th of every month. This is not the case. Some employees were paid earlier and some paid later. They then decided to change everyone to the same day, the 16th. There was no consultation with the employees on this change and the employees were informed in a ‘take it or leave it’ manner.

They change payday whenever they feel like it. On one occasion, they changed payday because the principals didn’t feel like taking the extra time to go to the bank because they had a meeting that day. The employees were informed the day before they were due to paid.
Personally, I was paid on time and in full. However, my boyfriend was consistently paid late and on occasion paid short (there was money missing and he had to demand the money.)

3- Contract violation #2:
No/poor quality Chinese lessons. This experience has been universal for all the employees that I have spoken with. The contract states that you will receive 2 hours of free Chinese lessons every week. This is obviously very appealing and was definitely a factor in choosing this school.

In our experience, we had to wait and wait and wait and ask and ask and ask to get these Chinese lessons. It was over 3 months before we received them, after I had demanded strongly that we get them. They provide the lessons by forcing one of the already overworked Chinese English teachers to teach you. These teachers while being wonderful people are not qualified Chinese language teachers and in most cases not even qualified English language teachers. The lessons were not very helpful and the teacher even at one point put on a TV show in Chinese and then said she would translate it to English. Obviously, this is not how you learn a language.

Obviously, the experience from employee to employee will differ depending on their own teacher’s ability and personality.

4- Contract violation #3:
The wording of the contract in English differs to the wording in Chinese. In the section related to class scheduling it basically says in Chinese that they can make you teach as many classes as the want on the weekends. This is not what it says in English.

While you can usually persuade them to honour the spirit of the English contract, I think it speaks volumes to the dishonesty of this company that they try to sneak things into the Chinese knowing that those applying from abroad probably don’t have much opportunity to get it translated.

5- No emphasis on learning:
While I understand this is a business, I think a business can make money and provide good product. There is no understanding of this in this company. They try to present a ‘professional’ image but their efforts are amateurish at best.

They hire non-native speakers who cannot hold a basic conversation in English. They lie to the parents and the Chinese English teachers (not that they are fooled for very long because many of them speak better English than these non-native speakers.)

This shows how little importance they place on actually teaching English. In fact, I was told by one principal that the Chinese parents just pay for you to sit in the room with the children. Somehow, I doubt that very much.

6- Lack of materials:
This may not be the same for every campus but some of them have little to no materials to aid your teaching. Children are being given already used workbooks or no books at all.

The school that I worked at had a very serious problem with mice/rats. They would run around the teacher’s office and defecate everywhere. The school was exceptionally dirty and basically falling apart.

7- They threatened us!:
I’ve saved the best and most bizarre for last. The law changed in China in August 2014 (as it frequently does) in regards to how long you can stay after your residence permit expires. You used to be able to change it to a single entry 30 day tourist visa but now you cannot. We tried to organise this with the ‘foreign teacher coordinator’ at the head office. She was absolutely no help. We went to the exit/entry bureau ourselves and were informed of the law change.

Eventually, we were granted a 10 day stay after our permit expired. But before we were granted this we tried to talk to the school to negotiate with them a way for us to leave earlier or get our things in order (apartment etc). One of the main issues was changing our money from RMB to USD. In China, this is actually quite difficult especially because the school would not easily provide the tax paper that allows you to change the money easily. Despite the fact that we didn’t have the paper, we did pay taxes every month. So, who knows what’s going on there!

It was agreed by the ‘foreign teacher coordinator’, the company director and my principal that we would be paid our money in a way that was convenient and easy for all of us. We would finish our 12month contract as agreed and we would be able to change our money. However, the principal of my boyfriend’s school stated that he was not going to pay the 6000rmb flight allowance and would not give a commitment that he would pay the final months’ salary. This is where things get very bizarre.

We were understandably upset. I tried my best to find out why and what was going on. I asked for help from the principal of my school as it is commonly known that he was also involved in the running of my boyfriend’s school. He said that it was nothing to do with him. Then a few hours later, he called me up and basically said that if we caused a fuss and tried to get our money that they would say that my boyfriend had ‘done something bad’ and there is nothing that we could do because we are foreigners.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was terrified because he was right. We were foreigners and if they accused us of something then what recourse would we really have? He said that if we worked for the next month and caused no problems then ‘maybe’, ‘probably’, my boyfriend would be paid.

I’m ashamed to say this but I went along with it. We kept our heads down and did our jobs. We thought it would be fine. Two days before our final pay check was due, it all started again. They said that they weren’t going to pay.

The ‘foreign teacher coordinator’ started to claim that the company and owner had nothing to do with it. They said it wasn’t their problem. This is despite the fact that we signed a contract with the company and these ‘principals’ are just managers. Lies, lies and more lies.

Finally, after a lot of drama, the principal of the school agreed to pay. We were both paid what we were owed. I’ll never understand why they did this to us. They threatened and tried to intimidate us. We lost a lot of sleep over it. Maybe they thought that we wouldn’t put up a fight and just leave. (They have obviously never dealt with an Irishwoman before!!)

Maybe they thought that the foreigners would take their side and think we were terrible and wouldn’t be upset that they were denying paying something that is explicitly guaranteed in the contract (my principal was aghast when he found out that I was actually friends with the other foreigners that work there and they were upset about the situation!).

I could probably write another 1000words just about the craziness of the days leading up to when we finally got paid. It felt surreal. I was being threatened and I was losing all faith in the goodness of people. However, my Chinese co-workers were very supportive and very upset that they were doing this to us. At the end of the day, the Chinese workers have it much worse than the foreigners.

There are many other problems with Power Language Training, Hangzhou. I have not listed them here as I assume they are quite common in most Chinese training schools(constant schedule changes, no rules for the students, being treated like an English speaking animal instead of a human being). I regret not leaving the minute that I found out that I had been lied to in regards to the kindergarten classes but I was excited to be in China. I was trying to ‘go with the flow’ and gave them the benefit of the doubt. That was a mistake.

I advise you not to work for this company. They are unprofessional and dishonest. They will say anything to get you to work for them. They lie constantly about the seemingly most inconsequential of things. They will say something and then in 30 seconds completely contradict themselves. This is almost tolerable but being threatened is not. They did this to us, they’ll do it again.

Messages In This Thread
Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- Fedup -- 2015-01-24
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- foxy -- 2015-01-24
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- [poster] -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- foxy -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- yu2fa3 -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- San Migs -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- foxy -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- Beth -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- foxy -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- San Migs -- 2015-01-28
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- Jon Plisken -- 2018-03-29
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- True Words -- 2018-03-29
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- Beth -- 2015-01-25
Re Power Language Training, Hangzhou, China -- San Migs -- 2015-01-25
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