I will not comment on pts 2-4 as i have not been at the school recently and cannot say whether there is any truth in what is being said. Ultimately, it's a Chinese school, which means there will be things that will grate. However, things were nothing like what is being claimed when i was there, and they always paid and paid on time - which is not something to be relied on in China.
Regarding pt 1, unless taxi fares in GZ are now astronomically expensive, there is no way a trip to Gz should cost anywhere near the amounts stated. The school i am talking about is in Pingsha, which is not the greatest (nor the worst) location but is not that far from Gz as the crow flies.
Firstly, with much due respect to the very polite responses of Mr. Cratchett, as follows,
1. The taxi fare into Guangzhou proper from the Primary School is not 50 RMB. It never has been and it will never been. From my own personal experience, with receipts in hand, as follows :
From the Primary School to anywhere in Tian He, Guangzhou, minimum RMB 600.00. USD 100.00
From the Primary School to Guangzhou East Train Station, minimum RMB 700.00, USD 125.00
From the Primary School to Guangzhou Airport, minimum RMB 400.00, USD 80.00.
2. The Chinese students are indeed cute but very spoilt. The Chinese teachers are not cute and they can be downright vicious. If they do not like you, they will write letters of complaint to the administration and you will be summoned.
3. The foreign overseers are venomous, dishonest, manipulating and generally disgusting. If you ever wondered what a guard in prison might be like, then there is your answer. They are the number one cause of foreign teachers running away in the middle of the night.
4. I do not know when or where Mr. Cratchett lived there. These days, the foreign teachers are housed in miserable dormitory like accommodation, with squat toilets, bunk beds, no cooking facilities and bathing facilities down the hall, shared with Chinese students.
The location sucks, there is no other way to put it. But the worst part of the gig is the foreign local managers. They are either insane, drunken, strung out on drugs, sexual perverts, criminals truly in their own countries, or any and all of the preceding.
As for the other school mentioned by Mr. Cratchett, it is a well known hell hole.
What i should have said is that school is as good as you are going to get in China, and actually i don't think it is bad at all. They pay on time without any problems and the accommodation i had was fine. I never had to share and there were no problems with the apartment i was given. Also, most of my colleagues and students were nice enough.
It's true the location isn't the best, but you can get into GZ in 1 hr on a bus or in a taxi for 50/60 rmb. Taxis can also be taken to the nearest metro station for approx 20 rmb.
Overall, you could do a lot worse than working for this school. It may not be perfect, but nothing ever is.
However, If somebody wants a really bad China experience then i can recommend Baiyun College "in Guangzhou" (though it is a good 90 minutes from the train station on a bus). Nancy "the Dragon Lady" Zhang represents all that is wonderful about Chinese educational administration.
The poster must have had a really bad experience because this is not how i remember the school (unless it has had changed dramatically over the last few years). As China goes the school was no worse than most, though it's true the location isn't convenient. I never had to share accommodation so i don't know what that's about. That may be the case if you work in one of the schools that isn't in Gz.
Recently on another major ESL website, well known to all users of this site, a job advertisement was placed for the Primary School Attached to Guangzhou University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou.
I feel obligated to provide my insight. Initially, however, let me say that unless you are desperate for one of the worst years of your life in China, or perhaps your only year in China, do not take this job. Now the details.
1. The school is NOT located in Guangzhou proper, no matter what they will tell you. It is located, however, two hours outside of Guangzhou, essentially in the middle of nowhere, and a bus trip into Guangzhou will take at least all of two hours, if not more. There is now a subway in somewhat of a proximity to the campus but even the subway, which in Guangzhou is always overstuffed and overcrowded like in Tokyo during rush hours, will take you at least one hour to get anywhere. On one side of the campus there is bus service and on the other far side plus a 2 kilometer walk there is subway service. The last subway train is at 22h30 hours inbound and outbound and the last bus is at 20h30. After that, you are stuck in the boondocks. A taxi ride to Guangzhou will cost you at least RMB 600.
2. This school is the mama school for a series of about five other satellite schools (all previously owned private schools which had been forcibly taken over the governments and then given to GUFS). These other schools are truly in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of manure-laden fields, along trash-filled creeks oozing malarial mosquitoes, or next to smoke belching chemical compound factories. AND THERE IS BAIT AND SWITCH. The administration will promise you Guangzhou and ship you wherever they want, often in the middle of the term. As a person, you are of no importance to this school at all.
3. The living conditions are abysmal, stark, depressing, prison-like and totally unfit for human consumption, at least by Westerners. You will not have a private apartment, you will not have a private bathroom, you will not even have a mini-kitchen. Hot water is rationed and limited to either early morning or early evening and when the supply is gone, it is gone. If any of you have ever been to Russia or to Eastern Europe and seen the communal apartments, well then you are ready for this. Additionally the buildings are poorly maintained, fully of cockroaches and mosquitoes and the common areas are poorly lit in the evening, if lit at all. In Guangzhou you will be forced to share one big three bedroom flat (minus kitchen minus washing machine, etc) with two other roommates, sex indifferent. You will be forced to live with, for example, New Zealand drunks, British druggies, American fat lesbians, Filipine ladies who moonlight in Guangzhou as "escorts", Canadian hypertestoserone body builder types with a predilication for young boys, etc., etc. At least two teachers have suffered nervous breakdowns because of the living conditions and it is easy to understand why. Once upon a time, the foreign teachers had lovely on campus apartments but the Chinese local teachers complained and the foreigners were sent to the dungeons and the most faithful Communists among the Chinese teachers were given the foreign teachers apartments.
4. You are given a food allowance that limits you to the school canteen. It used to be a prepaid card. The school food is neither great nor bad but it is definitely salt-heaven and very fattening. There are some limited "restaurants" in the rural areas around the school but they are the kind of places that all but guarantee you a case of hepatits C and I mean it. As there are no cooking facilities in the "apartment" where you will be billeted, you will be up a Chinese polluted creek without a paddle -- oh, and local street markets, unlike anywhere else in Guangzhou, will try to rip you off each and every time on the price of food.
5. You will become a slave foreign teacher of the school. You will teach 25 classes per week, that is five classes per day, all of which require prep time at home, and your classes will be monitored, you will have inspection visits at any and all times, and in Guangzhou, they have cameras in the classrom where they watch you remotely. Two or three problems and you are chucked out at the end of the semester, or even before, quite unceremoniously. Additionally, you will have numerous English corners per week, plus any and all other activities that they can create to load up yo ur schedule. Don't count on 25 classes per week -- including the prep time and the "voluntary" outside activities, which are not voluntary at all, you will be on duty at least 40 - 45 hours per week, minimum.
6. Chinese management is non existant and you will be at the entire mercy of whatever seriously mentally deranged white foreign teacher that they have put in charge of the foreigners. And this teacher will be 100% deranged, psychotic and ready for an insane asylum. Initially the big honchos were a group of Brits that ran the place via Skype from their abode in Yorkshire, can you believe it? That was followed by a truly insane, bipolar overseas Chinese from Singapore and her British husband, a telephone lineman for British Telecom .... how either of them even obtained university degrees God only knows. After a foreign teacher revolt, they were replaced by white teachers from a born-again Bible school in Ohio who had never been to China before but promised miracles from heaven ... and failed. Who is running it this year,. I do not know. If the white folk who are in charge decide that you are a sh*t, then you are a sh*t. Summary judgment and don't let their Sunday like Protestant manners fool you -- they are deadly.
7. Finally the wages in this place have gone DOWN, completely DOWN. In 2009 they were offering 11,500 RMB per month with private apartment and much better conditions (18 hours per week, etc., etc.,). Now they are offering RMB 10,000 per month, tops, for concentration camp like conditions. Think of that.
8. Finally, expect NO camraderie from your Chinese co-teachers. You are dirt to them, worse than garbage, and that will be demonstrated to you every day, every minute. Do not think for a minute that the classes are yours to teach -- no, no, no, you will be white or black or pink foreign monkey and puppets for the Chinese English teacher, who can barely speak the language, who can barely write the language, and who will be a graduate of some vocational or technical or normal school. You will be sneered at and corrected at every turn. And you will be reported on and denounced whenever convenient.
I could hardly wait for the contract to end. And it was the same for so many others. If you must have Guangzhou, then there are so, so many choices out there and you can do much better.
Vincent J. Astor