I’ve seen a few people typing in keywords to the effect of “is it common to get fired from EF?”
I figured I’d write about my experiences as an ESL teacher at English First (EF) China so that you can not repeat the mistake of working there.
Why did I get fired? I tried to make conditions for workers better and when management refused I became a real asshole.
Anything my boss said or his boss said or any of the Chinese bosses said (yeah, we had two sets of bosses) was complete bullshit – and I made sure they knew it and all of my fellow teachers knew it.
It wasn’t too hard to convince anyone that working at EF in China sucked:
- We had an office built for 15 that was holding 30 or more people;
- Students were in wrong ability-level classes, primarily so their parents would keep paying the school;
- Safety considerations for teachers and students were ignored in favor of boosting quarterly profits;
- Mid-level management refused to listen to complains and cancelled pre-arranged meetings to meet with teachers to discuss their differences.
This was a real big problem in the summer of 2012. All of the Chinese teachers in our office were ready to quit. They got paid half what foreign teachers did, but that wasn’t really the reason. The main reason was that they had to spend about 2 to 3 hours each week calling parents.
Doesn’t sound so bad except you were expected to know that student like the back of your hand, something that was rather hard to do when you have about 500 students and only see each of them once every 2 weeks for 2 hours.
But that didn’t really matter to the management at EF – those weekly phone calls were part of the EF package, something the bigwigs in Shanghai – or maybe even Sweden! – came up so that they could generate more sales.
Did any of those additional sales ever trickle down to employees? Well yeah, with the company-mandated pay raise each year, which amounted to $0.25 an hour.
EF is a company that cares about its workers, at least that’s what they always touted, but you sure the hell didn’t see that in China and EF Shenzhen 3 – the school I worked at.
There you saw massive turnover with the Chinese staff, especially the support staff, so that there was a continual training mentality at the company. No one ever knew how to do their jobs!
That makes it real difficult for others dependent upon that support structure to work. But you know what? EF management just doesn’t want to hear about any of that. That might disrupt the little bubble they’ve created for themselves, you know, the one that ensures you do all the work while they profit, regardless of the unfair, poor, or downright dangerous working conditions you might have to endure?
That’s why I’m so glad I’m not a teacher at EF. I told them I was going to quit and told them I’d work 2 weeks extra until they got new teachers. They convinced me to stay a month more to help them, but then one Sunday after weekend classes my boss Jed was in the hallway and told me to come into the office to sign a paper that said I was done.
So that was late, fired 2 weeks before I already told them I’d quit. That ensured they wouldn’t have to pay the 3,000 RMB loyalty bonus to me, something they started paying every six months because too many teachers were quitting.
That was $475…which I was already making each week with my new job as a writer. I told them that, but they didn’t seem to understand that you could actually do something besides teach English in China for the rest of your life.
Well, that’s my story, hope all of you looking for articles on “quitting EF” “getting fired from EF” “why does EF China suck?” and “Is every boss that works at EF stupid, or just mine?” found what you wanted!
This should cover many of those bases, and I sure urge you to check out other training centers before EF. Actually, I encourage you to get your ass back to your home country and get a real job that will give you something to fall back on in your old age.
EF China will just give you headaches and misery.