I started my TEFL career in EF Tangshan six years ago. The original post is full of lies, and in fact It would have been alright if it wasn't for a particular senior member of staff (think criminal on the run, ended up festering away in his own bitterness for 20 years in a small Chinese City he hated). He told me after a few weeks that I'd never make it and sent me off packing to another branch. Well, last week I completed my training as an IELTS examiner after 6 years of teaching.
With the recent tightening on visa rules, I'd like to think the likes of him are not still lurking around.
Firstly I'd just like to say I once worked at EF Tangshan, I was there for 7 months.
I didn't leave because I hated it, I left to further my career with EF in another city. 2 years later, I'm still with EF (but this time in Shanghai).
EF Tangshan was a good starting point for my career.
Oh and "Steven" and "Richard" you seriously need to get your facts straight.
Jamie, I too knew about this post back when I was up there working with ya, but haven't bothered replying til now.
To whom it may concern,
Firstly I’d like to say that I’m the [edited] that Steven and Richard have posted about on these boards. My name is Jamie and yes I have worked for EF Tangshan since before these posts were posted here on these boards. I have lived and worked at EF Tangshan due to my wife being from Tangshan and this is now where our family lives. In my time I have never worked with a “Steven Dedalus” or a “Richard Marvel” these two people (We know who they really are) are using pseudonyms to not just trash talk the school, but to slander many of the good people within the school. Also Richard is posting under the guise of an old member of staff that has recently left. They aren’t even man enough to leave their real details (so why believe what they post).
There are some minor truths to what they have posted, but we have the evidence and proof to disprove most of the slanderous garbage they have posted on this site. Also, no I have not received any bribes or been persuaded to withhold or cover up any information. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me (my real email is above (not like the fake emails Steven and Richard have posted)).
I have known about this post since it was first posted by “Steven”, yet didn’t respond to this garbage till now because “Richard” has made this a personal attack against me.
I'd be glad to answer any questions.
^^That's unfortunate because these two [edited] are still there and the character and appearance descriptions of the two are incredibly accurate - It's a crying shame is what it is
Hi everyone. Looking for your suggestions. A friend is currently enrolled in teflinternships(DOT)com's 3 month internship program in Tangshan. You refer to "EF" being hell. Would "EF" cover teflinternships as well?? If so, what would you suggest as it would seem that he may not be aware of what his options are. Does he have any options??
Stay away from this school, and all EF schools. You'll slave away every moment you're confined by their contract. All summer, all winter, 1 day off a week, for less pay than you'd make at a real school. The [edited] are the only people who stay at EF and that's who you'll be working with before you scurry to get the hell out.
John, I understand what you are saying, but, in both my personal and peripheral experiences, I have found that it is harder than you make it out to just cut-and-run. For one thing, some people, despite having worked at a bad school, want to stay in China. Hopping on a place, I imagine, would make a return difficult. I know many people who come to China for both work and to travel, with an emphasis on work; which means, they come to China with very little money. Not everyone can afford to burn-rubber down the runway. I am familiar with this school, and know that they have strong ties to the police office, and many government official and their children attend. In China, you know what that means. So for people who just can't afford to leave, who have no job back home, who came to China with hopes of a future and something more long-term (not to mention legal issues and problems that can ensue), make a quick dash for the airport not an entirely realistic option. And the people at this particular EF know this. And put it to use effectively, and in their benefit. Otherwise, you are right, foreigners do have more power than they think in most circumstances.
Reading the post of a couple of EF school experiences makes me wonder whether there was yet another earthquake in the region. I bet more FTs are flocking to the EF now. Cheers and beers to whoever wrote it
I've worked for a couple of EF schools in China and have never experienced such a thing as you describe. Yes I did have to work the summer away, but it was good experience, I was paid on time and had a nice apartment. The staff was awesome and the kids where great. Sure there are some hellish schools out there and sucks for anyone to have to experience it. I've been through it and what I don't understand is these people you describe trying to get out but couldn't. Nothing is stopping you from grabbing a plane flight back home. So why put up with such abuse? I've been thrown into a dorm and stripped away from certain rights and had people lie to me ... but stood my ground right away and would not comply until my demands where met. Only once I had to run to the airport and get out. A few times the second I made a stink, negotiations began. We are westerner's and hold more power then we think. Saving face, the media and our skill set work in our favor ... For anyone out there going through this bs ... don't put up with it, made it known right away that you won't put up with it. Know how to get to the airport fast just in case and remember these people love to gossip, never give up too much information or any about your plans, misfortunes or disagreements with staff or friends. Most important of all ... don't ever give your passports away or let the school or some one else hold on to it for you. Go with them to the Police and foreign experts office and never loose sight of your passport.
For specifically EF, Tangshan: Tangshan is the ugliest city I have ever seen in my life. It is apocalyptic. Hideous, even for China. There is nothing to do whatsoever. There is one very quiet Japanese bar, otherwise, nothing. Winters are very, very cold. Also, the people are basically farmers who have flocked to the city, rendering a lot of 'waiguoren,' and 'hello, hello.' Everyone points and stares. And, on top of all that, it is an industrial, coal mining city, which means the city is covered with soot, you'll never (really, never) see the sun, and each breath you take is like dragging on a cigarette. I knew a 36 year old teacher who had been there for a few years: she looked like she was in her fifties.
For EF in general: just search EF on this website, and any other website. Account after account of atrocious treatment. This place is evil. Just read, help yourself.
I gotta say that info is 100%. I stay in touch with some of the Chinese staff there ( I terminated my contract with them about six months ago) and it is the way it has always been. When I was there it was hell. I was threatened when I tried to leave. I had to pay them, fly home because they wouldn't give me a release and fly back. The worst year of my life. And all the dos could say is, 'that's China!' No, I still live and work in China. I have found a wonderful job too. That is not China, that is EF. EF has the worst reputation of any English training school in the world. It is the worst, because they make it that way. They treat their employees like money-making machines. I have never been treated so horribly, and never seen people treated that way in my life. Never seen anything like it. Stay away.
No matter where you go in China, you will constantly hear horror stories about schools, mostly private training schools, and the bulk of those stories come from EF. EF has gained such an infamous reputation in China (and other English-hungry sections of the world) that you'll probably have to be outside of China to not know enough to stay away. This post is supported by almost every person that has worked at an EF in China, and by every blog post I have ever seem. EF is a hell that they will force you to remain in, even when you want to leave.
When I first arrived in China, I knew very little about it, working environment or otherwise. Now, after having lived here for a couple years, and having worked at a few very nice schools, particularly the one I work at now, where the job, the environment and the people are wonderful. Let us compare the two.
Before I arrived (at EF):
1) I had been talking to a dos, who apparently hated the school as well, so when I was about a week away from getting on a plane, he disappeared to somewhere else. Of course no one was there to fill me in, and with him being the only I had talked to, and I was left in the dark, to get on a plane with about a weeks worth of unanswered emails. Fortunately or unfortunately, they werent about to let a fresh teacher escape their claws.
2) Next I was dropped off, by a Chinese guy whose English was terrible, at a building where all the teachers lived in dorms, having a little cubby for themselves and their belongings. It seemed strange to me because the former DOS sent me pictures of what would be MY apartment: a spacious kitchen, a big bedroom and living room.
After I arrived:
1) During my first week was left to fend for myself. The new DOS had left a note on the table saying that she would see me in a week. I was left to fend for myself in a new country, at a new job, and I found out later, I was doing so unpaid.
2) When I arrived at the school I received no training, and, on my second week there I was informed that I would be going to a summer camp for two weeks. Ive lived in China for a while now, and Ive never heard of anyone experiencing anything like this camp, outside of EF. I was crammed into a cubby/room with no screens on the window, insanely hot, while mosquitoes feasted on me at night, and while children, who were all on the same floor as me, burst into my room at all hours. The bathrooms were the worst Ive seen in China. I had to fight to be able to shower by myself. The gate was locked so I couldnt go anywhere. And one night, the dorm building, had about 10 busses full of travellers, who poured into the buildings, literally defecated all over the place, whether bathroom or shower, and it was not cleaned up. The Chinese staffs, which were there to really take care of the children, were about 20-23, and fresh out of university. They allowed the children to do absolutely anything, which included buying serious weapons, nun chucks, sling shots, and needless to say, children got hurt and had to be rushed to the hospital. The other foreign teacher and I were appalled, yet helpless: no one would listen to us, and they even seemed surprised at our anger.
3) EF prays on the inexperienced.
Let me compare my job overview now, at a typical Foreign Language School, to EF:
1) Now I teach 18 classes a week, 35 minutes a class. The hours are few, and classes are cancelled frequently. I work 5 days a week, teaching roughly 2 hours a day, between the hours of 8 and 3. When Im not teaching, I go home to my fully paid for, 2 bedroom apartment (and when I say fully paid, I mean internet, electricity, gas, cable, etc.) At EF, I worked nights and weekends. Saturday and Sunday I was forced to teach 4 or 5 two-hour classes, each day. During the spring and fall I taught about 25 to 30 hours per week, and on top of that we were forced to come in each day for office hours, where the teachers sit on the computer and kill time. During the summer teachers work 50 hours + per week, six days a week for 2 months, in the winter it is the same intense schedule, for about a month. At the school Im at now, we get a fully paid winter holiday, with no work. Over a month off, paid. On top of that, for this holiday we get a travel stipend for 1100 RMB. Same goes for the summer. As a bonus, for each completed semester teachers get 500 RMB. This means that while teachers are teaching at EF for 6000 per month working an insane amount of hours, teachers at my school (which is pretty standard) get close to 14000 RMB (including 5000 airfare, EF gives you about 3000 per semester, but you really have to fight for it). During that time teachers travel, experience China, go home, etc. Cant experience much at EF while working overtime and 6 days a week. Sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep, work at EF, and your paid less.
2) I am paid 7,500 RMB per month. At EF I was paid 6000 for about 3 times the work.
3) As stated above, living conditions at most schools are wonderful, at EF you live in a dorm.
4) At EF the schedule is always changing, and when you go into work you often find theres been an additional class added to your schedule, for that day.
5) EF imports teachers and has them work illegally, and, because it is a for-profit school teachers have to be sent back out of the country, usually to Korea, in order to get a legal visa.
When I was there all teachers worked illegally, until their tourist visa was about a day from up. Then the teachers were shipped to Korea for a visa. On our trip a newly-hired 22 year old planned it, and we had to foot the bill for much of it, because he didnt give us enough money for the taxi and visa. This happened to another teacher, who, unfortunately, didnt have enough money on him and he had to spend a night on the streets.
When People realize what theyve gotten themselves into:
During my time at EF I saw many teachers come and go, or try to go. I saw probably 20 to 30 Chinese staff go, and for good reason, they are treated horribly, and when they complained about it, or asked for decency, they were thrown out. Working in China is no picnic for most Chinese, but these people were treated worse, and paid less, and worked harder than migrant workers, and these people had university degrees. It was like working in a sweat shop.
Many foreign staff tried to go, as well; although this proved much more difficult. Basically, EF doesnt fire teachers, and doesnt let them go either. While I worked there one teacher got rough with a student, and the student had bruises up her arm, and the teacher was not reprimanded. Another girl broke her arm in a class with a teacher who was not even qualified to be there in the first place, and was working there illegally. But these were the only two teachers who wanted to stay. The rest of the people who worked there all wanted out.
1) One teacher tried to escape secretly and was told that if he didnt come back the police would be called, and he would be fined heavily, arrested, and deported. And EF offers classes to officers and their children for heavily discounted prices. The Tangshan police are minions of EF, and EF can bully their workers into anything they choose. This teacher, who had been working happily in China for almost 2 years before coming to EF, was forced to return home.
2) Another teacher wanted to leave, and tried, and was continually threatened by the manager, and told that he could leave only if he paid 20000 RMB.
3) They even tried to force him to sign an additional contract. EF forced him to leave the country as well.
4) Another teacher who has left just recently is trying to get her letter of release, and EF is not picking up her calls, which means she will have to leave the country as well.
I have personally seen many teachers threatened, and I have been threatened myself, lied about, and forced to come in and beg for a release letter, which took me months to get from them.
The DOS at EF, during the time I was there, was a South African man with no degree, no qualifications whatsoever, and his spoken and written English was atrocious. In fact, his release letter has become a main source of humour for other teachers at my current school. I would be surprised if he made it through primary school.
These are the only types of people who stay at EF. The people who would be working at Mcdonalds back home. Out of all the teachers that I saw come and go the only two teachers that didnt cancel their contract with the school were 1) A grotesquely fat man from Australia with no education whatsoever, who clearly was there for a wife (which he got) 2) and a guy who literally thought he was a character from Dragonball Z, or one of those anime cartoons (which he was obsessed with) and literally thought he was a superhero.
At EF you will not experience China, and when everyone else has the summer or winter off, paid, you will be working 6 days a week, 50 + hours, morning, noon, and night. You will be loaded with paper work (at regular schools you do none). You will have no weekends, no nights, no time to travel, NO LIFE whatsoever; and on top of the hours you will be forced to do marketing activities where they parade you around like a clown at shopping malls, restaurants, etc. You will be crammed into a dorm with other teachers, and on top of that you will be forced to split electricity, gas, etc., where other schools will give you a spacious apartment and pay for everything. Not to mention Tangshan is an industrial city, and is literally black with coal, and hideously ugly.
I write this because I have travelled extensively around China, and met countless people who have worked all over China. I write this because I love the school I work at now, and my life is easy, relaxed, I have time to travel, study, and my school takes can of me, I make more, work less and my life is enjoyable, easy. EF is a hell that they will not let you escape.
I write this to inform. I spent many cold nights, with most of the other teachers, trapped, trying to figure out a way to get out. Teachers who brooded, desperately, of having their time, and their good-humour stolen from them, due to the working conditions of this school. EF is a nightmare that will colour and seep into every area of your life. EF is a hell where you are overworked, lied to, cheated out of money, cramped into atrocious living conditions, and forced to obey them, unconditionally. They will squeeze you dry, draining the life out of you, and your life in China, which may have once looked hopeful, will be a fog of work, arguing, insecurity, and people taking advantage of you, filling every single day with things they force you to do, paperwork, classes at all hours, overtime, hostility, and a daily-changing schedule.
THIS IS NOT CHINA. THIS IS EF. THIS IS THE HELL THEY WILL CREATE FOR YOU, AND A HELL THAT YOU WONT ESCAPE FROM EASILY. CHINA CAN BE VERY PLEASANT, JUST DONT CHOOSE EF.