I taught at EF for 3 years and saw it go from one of the better training centers in China to one of the worst. The change was gradual, but in the last year I worked there it was increasingly obvious that the only thing the company cared about was money. Teaching English to Chinese kids was just a façade to get more money from their parents.
Furthermore, as I got closer to leaving the company, EF continually pressured teachers to become more salesmen than teachers. We were regularly encouraged to sell the company’s newest products when we had class, talked to parents in Parent Teacher Meetings (PTMs), or when he had to do city-wide Life Clubs (LCs), which often necessitated working longer hours on the weekend without any additional pay whatsoever.
Several teachers complained about this, mainly because they had never signed up for that. Their complaints were brushed off and business went on as usual. This is a common theme you’ll find at EF if you work there, and a common theme you’ll hear if you read the coming posts. EF is a company that cares only about money, their leading managers, and little else. And their management is some of the most incompetent, unprepared, and uncaring I’ve ever seen in all my years of working.
These articles will focus on several things in the coming week or two, so let’s take a look:
Headquarters: We’ll start out by examining the country and regional headquarters of the company and how these are the breeding grounds for the managerial incompetence that teachers will be forced to put up with during their one-year contracts, or longer if they choose to stay on.
School: Next we’ll focus on both the kid’s schools and the adult schools, the two main branches of EF in China. Both have their drawbacks, and neither really has many benefits to speak of. I’ll of course be more knowledgeable about the kid’s schools since I worked there for 3 years.
Classrooms: Next we’ll focus on what it’s like to work in an EF school. I’ll discuss the conditions in the classroom, the office, and the hallways. All three are overcrowded, noisy, and nearly impossible to move around in. Really, when you work at EF there’s nowhere to work, and they don’t hide that fact from you.
Teaching: After that the focus will turn to what it’s like to teach at EF, and what you can expect when you choose to do so. Most people don’t have a problem with the students, it’s just all the administrative nonsense that you’ve got to put up with. The aspects will be discussed in detail.
Living Conditions: It’s a lot easier to have a decent living when you work at EF compared to public schools in China, but you’ll still struggle at times, unless you’re living like a monk. And you’ll quickly find that it’s nearly impossible to save up any money. I’ve seen many teachers get sucked into another year at EF because they didn’t have enough money to get out.
Management: I’m saving the best for last, or perhaps I should say the worst for last. I’ve never seen such poor management of a company, especially an internationally recognized company that operates in so many countries and employs so many people. Perhaps that’s part of the problem. This will be the longest post, and most probably the last.
Those are the main points that I’ll touch on as I discuss EF, although the list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve got most of it written up already, everything except the last two points, but as the days go by I’ll probably think of some more things to gripe about. And believe me, if you choose to move to China and teach with English First, you’ll have a lot to gripe about too.