Blacklist of schools


#301

Big Byte is always advertising. Why? Beware constant adverts. They have retention problems for a reason. Any work below 650 per hour must be ignored.


#302

Giraffe (Lihu Branch in Neihu)

I have been in the industry for 10+ years, and this was by far the most unprofessionally run school I have ever seen. Don’t waste your time with them. I could write volumes on how poorly this school is managed, but I’ll just point out some key issues:

:thumbsdown: The owners (husband and wife) tell you one thing, then do the opposite. Most of what they say in the interview is a fabrication to get you in the door. Any issues you bring up after you start working, they just lie and tell you what you want to hear. They will not address any of your issues.

:thumbsdown: The communication (or lack of it) is terrible. The woman owner speaks Chinese half the time and English (broken) half the time. The husband has a day job, so he is only there occasionally in the evening. His English is pretty good and he communicates okay. The problem is that he’ll say one thing and the wife will say another, so you don’t know who to believe because they don’t communicate with each other.

:thumbsdown: They will cancel classes without giving notice, without pay of course. They don’t value, or even think about, your personal time and how cancelling your classes affects your personal life and your wallet.

:thumbsdown: They will not provide you with a schedule, even after you’ve asked for one again and again. If you can read Chinese, you will find out in the communication books that your classes are cancelled or that the school will be closed for an extended period of time. English classes are always cancelled for mid-terms and finals, a week at a time. That’s 4 weeks per year of no pay. Of course, that is not communicated to you in the interview. I found out in the communication book that English classes would be cancelled for 2 weeks for summer break. I found out the Friday before those two weeks began. The owners didn’t notify me about this. I asked them about it after I saw the Chinese notification in the communication books. The woman owner just laughed and said, “We take a 2-week summer break every year.” Well, how am I supposed to know that? I wasn’t working there at that time before. Also, her husband had told me a few months prior that we would have a summer camp during that time. Another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

:thumbsdown: They do not pay taxes on your income and do not provide health insurance.

:thumbsdown: On two occasions my monthly pay was short. The woman owner will also come into the classroom and give you a wad of cash (no envelope) right in front of the students. Slightly unprofessional. The students of course would ew and ah.

:thumbsdown: The woman owner is rude, to put it nicely. Sometimes she won’t even say hi when you say hello to her. I saw her throw a workbook at a student once. I was between them and the workbook almost hit me in the head. She didn’t say anything. She’s really pleasant! It’s clear that her only desire is to make money. In my opinion, she doesn’t care about the children or about their English improving (the system they use confirms this).

:thumbsdown: The school is a pigsty and the bathroom is literally more disgusting than a bar bathroom. They don’t pay anyone to clean the school, so most of it goes uncleaned for weeks. If I didn’t sweep my classroom and keep it tidy, I don’t know if it would have ever been cleaned. I didn’t have a problem cleaning my classroom, but it just seemed as if they didn’t care either way.

I actually felt sorry for the husband. He’s really nice actually, but he takes on all of the stress created by his wife. He spends his time trying to put out all of her fires. The school is so unorganized that I believe it’s beyond repair. More than anything, I feel sorry for the children. Not only is their English not being taught properly, but they are also learning from the poor examples that the school teaches. Kids are smart, they pick up on all of those things.

Aside from the above, the workload that you have to handle (from all the tests, quizzes, homework, communication books, etc.) is almost unbearable (there is no co-teacher). It’s such a stressful and toxic environment that it is just not worth it. Hopefully this post will save someone from the nightmare job that I put up with for a year.


#303

Just want to say that I worked here for over two years and I can attest to everything said above. The franchise owner will actively try to recruit new, inexperienced teachers, take advantage of them for as long as possible and then fire them once they wise up to the crappy deal they’re being offered. As I’m no longer in good standing with the svchool, I can say what the OP can’t:

A teacher handed in their notice so the school lied about leaving their ARC running. The teacher then started working elsewhere believing the new school only had to take over their ARC. The people at Shane had actually cancelled it, then proceeded to hound the immigration office (i.e. multiple calls a day for at least three weeks) until the immigration office caved to the pressure and ended up deporting the teacher for working without an ARC (the same ARC that Shane had assured the teacher was still active).

While the Shane structure seems quite good, and run well I’m sure it could be a great place to work, the one’s in and around Changhua should be avoided like the plague!


#304

Learning Seed School in Zhunan is a very friendly place to work. It is the first school I’ve worked at in Taiwan where I really get along with the Taiwanese teachers, who do their best to work with me - as opposed to against me.
Zhunan may not be your idea of a fun place to live, but it is growing quickly and new stores are appearing all the time. It’s not far from Hsinchu. However, if teaching pleasure is what you are looking for, this school is ideal.


#305

Yo Yo near San Ming road: mental cases! unless you kow tow!


#306

Happy Marian-Shulin Branch…for the love of god, stay away.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I am writing this to highlight some of the problems I experienced, so that others may know what to expect and what to look out for. If you google this school you may find a previous warning post about this school. I was aware of it and took my chances. I made a mistake. Don’t be like me. If you think it can’t be be that bad, it’s worse, trust me.

I found this posting through a recruiter, which was my first problem. Recruiters generally only hire for schools with bad reputations who have problems retaining English teachers. I had problems the first month of my employment and asked my recruiter about other opportunities, which he forwarded to HM’s manager, so much for confidentiality. Do not trust recruiters, they are only looking out for themselves and “their cut”. I will never get a job through a recruiter again, and will definitely do my best to avoid major cram schools like HM.

For starters, Shulin is very inconvenient to get to. Unless you live nearby, you’ll need to take the TRA to the Shulin station and take a 20-30 minute walk (I never did), or catch a quick bus ride. If you live in Taipei City expect 3 transfers, a 70-minute commute, and $2,000NT on commuting expenses every month. There’s no 7-11’s within 10 minutes of the school either, which sucks. No restaurants nearby either to eat at. Not very appealing since 60k-25 hour teaching jobs grow on trees in Taiwan.

HM will almost surely ask you do do an unpaid demo for maybe 30 minutes. Ok fine, no big deal. You will almost surely be hired on the spot and be asked to start shortly thereafter. Odds are the ARC/work permit paperwork will not be completed, which means you must realize you are being asked to work illegally. The chances of HM being raided before your paperwork is complete, and you being caught/deported are low, but the risk is there and you need to be aware of it.

I was shown a default HM contract that applied to all other HM branches. I noticed initially that the contract listed salary on a per-hour basis. It also listed fines for breaking contract (illegal) and various bonuses/incentives for good performance/attendance/etc. I was promptly told that this ONE particular branch (out of 24 total) just HAPPENED to not use this contract. When I listed my questions/concerns, they basically took this contract and deleted out what they wanted so that it ended up being a monthly salary ($60,000NT, standard), with no fines or bonuses. They would not list specified working hours because their schedules hadn’t been created. I was told that it would be between 20-25/week, that they would pay bi-weekly, and that they do not pay hourly salaries. VAGUE CONTRACT=GIANT RED FLAG, MORE DETAILS IS BETTER.

The way HM is setup, they have morning Kindergarten classes, and afternoon Buxiban (elementary) classes. You will likely end up working both. It should be mentioned that working ANY Kindergarten class is ILLEGAL, and if they get raided, you get deported and HM will not cover your ticket out of Taiwan. You should accept this risk if you want to teach any Kindergarten class. If you get stuck in the J3 (oldest Kindergarten class), you will be paired with a resentful, bitter Chinese teacher who thinks that because she lived in the US for 3 years, that she deserves the same salary as you, a dirty imperialist foreigner. Any time she catches you doing anything other than busting your ass, she will bitch and moan to the boss and say you aren’t doing your job. She is abusive and mean and will do everything in her power to undermine you, stab you in the back, and make your life hell. Some Chinese teachers are nice, but at HM-Shulin, there is definitely an “us versus them” mentality between Chinese and Foreign teachers, which creates a very toxic, hostile, and uncomfortable working environment. They may act nice but the weekly meetings are basically just used for the manager to tell you what additional work you need to do.

The curriculum is pretty straight forward. Not too much prep time to speak of as it relates to day-to-day teaching. Classes are generally 12-17 students which means you have to grade 12-17 papers almost every day (not in class) and write 12-17 “progress reports” every 2 weeks. There is no prep pay whatsoever and any type of grading or marking is simply expected to be included in the monthly fee they pay you. There is a good chance they’ll bring in new students who are 2 levels under-developed, then complain why they can’t read Shakespeare or write “an article” (manager’s favorite word) after 3 months of teaching. The concept of level appropriateness is nonexistent, it’s a money-making machine and no child is left behind, even if they are not ready to move up. You are simply there to sell the school’s services and be a pretty white face for the parents, who are your real bosses.

At some point in the year they will conveniently mention that oh by the way, there is a HM speech contest between schools and that you need to write 12-17 one-page speeches for each of your students (on your own time). They will want you to also write a 10-12 page play (with 12-17 characters) on your own time. Both of these are expected to be done on your own time and no compensation is given for these. No matter how much you practice with the students, the manager will say their accent/body language/memory is not good enough, and that this is somehow your fault. Various other unpaid activities include unpaid PTA meetings, unpaid articles being written for the HM newsletter, and having classes canceled so you can provide private tutoring lessons for the manager’s high school kids. Again, THEY THINK THAT FOR $60,000NT/MONTH, YOU ARE A SLAVE AND ARE OBLIGATED TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. At some point the schools bribes will pay off and they will be tipped off to the government’s inevitable raid. You will be asked to stay home and will not be paid, despite having a monthly salary. NOT COOL.

Your afternoons will be split between further Kindergarten classes, and some Buxiban classes. In theory 25 hours a week means you SHOULD be working 9-4 with a 2 hour break, 5 days a week. In practice they will expect you to work 9-6:30 most days with a 1.5 hour break. The claim the paid holidays offset the low hourly average (hovering around $400NT/hour if you divide $60,000/130 hours a month). Anyone with basic math skills should understand that hourly salary is always in favor of the teacher, and monthly salaries should be avoided. If they claim that they will not offer this, then decline the job. TRUST ME. THEY WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU AND ASK YOU TO WORK 35 HOURS A WEEK, NOT THE 20-25 THAT WAS ADVERTISED. With prep working, you will end up working 30-40 hours for 20-25 hour pay.

The buxiban classes are basically glorified babysitting classes. The kids are unruly and just run around the class and have little to no attention span. Most actively admit their parents treat your services like babysitting because they are at work, and that any learning is more or less “residual benefits”. There is a good chance you will be asked to teach a lesson and do 10 exercises in a 2-hour class, when the first 20 minutes are trying to get the students to sit in their seats. When they inevitably fail their bi-weekly tests it’s going to be “because you didn’t teach them”, not because they can’t pay attention and certainly don’t study. Most students readily admit they don’t look at their books except for the 1 day they are in class. When tests were taken you basically have to walk the students through the answers for them to pass, just to keep the manager off your back. Not exactly what I would call “learning”.

Halfway through the year my bi-weekly paychecks started to come in late. I didn’t get any reason other than “I am busy”, and certainly no apology. Be aware that getting paid on time here is hit-or-miss. They finally acknowledged it was a problem and decided that the contract you originally signed is worthless, and they will now start paying you once a month instead of twice a month. Take that for what it’s worth, but it is concerning that they don’t even know what a contract means.

TAKE NOTE: As soon as parents start complaining or test scores start dropping, they will add hours or cut pay at random. This happened to me, as well as other teachers. If you are cool with them arbitrarily adding 2 hours a week to your schedule, or cutting $5,000NT from your paycheck, then have at it. This was one of the final straws for me.

After speaking with several teachers (Chinese and foreigner), I was told that this branch rarely has a foreign teacher last more than 2 years, and less than 1 year was common. Going into the year I thought that I was a patient, reasonable person and could tough it out. I was wrong, and now I am a statistic. I am sure there are some other issues/problems that I am forgetting.

Some of the problems I mentioned above are unique to just this branch, but I have a sneaking suspicion that some of these problems occur at other HM/cram schools, so I would advise to take note of some of the issues I’ve mentioned and make sure to do your due diligence before signing anywhere.

Good luck fellow teachers, and I hope you find a school that treats you right. This one will not!


#307

Steer clear of Penguin American School.

They take advantage of experienced teachers new to Taiwan. Their job listing may advertise 6-16 hours but they give you less than 6 hrs/week if you do not want to take their back-breaking and mind-numbing 10 hrs/day position. They deceive you in their job description and in the interview into thinking that you will get paid the minimum 600nt/hr wage until they offer you the job with less pay than 600nt. They do not keep to their word since they will try to bargain your wage below the minimum hourly rate.
Their actions speak volumes about the schools’ integrity and their treatment of teachers. The teachers I’ve seen do not seem happy and I’ve seen complaints from the teachers (e.g. the students’ uncontrollable screaming behavior) not being addressed nor being taken seriously. I would say more about my personal experience with this school, but I’m cautious they’ll take my criticism against me in court. As silly as it may sound, I’d rather be safe than sorry and if you are the same you’d stay away from this school.


#308

Much like the other teachers in this thread, I too have worked at CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) and agree with much of what has been said. I worked for this school for approximately 7 months this past school year before I decided to leave. Many of the reasons for why I left have already been highlighted in this thread but I will continue sharing some of my experiences with CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan). This is a long post so if you need a brief overview please just jump to the bottom of the post and if you’re too lazy to do that, just let me say DO NOT WORK OR SEND YOUR KIDS HERE.

 Before I begin I would just like to state that I know many high schools in Asia overcharge students for having foreign teachers and are generally just a place for the students to work on their English and hopefully one day go to an English speaking country for University. I understand this is a gross generalization but this seems to be the case the majority of the time. CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) is on another level on the topics of undervaluing teachers, treating everyone as if they were a piece of property, and overcharging students. 

 When I first arrived at CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) I arrived to not one teacher from the previous teaching year. On top of no previous teachers, we had no previous resources. Just to note this isn’t just an English teaching job, this is actual Ontario based curriculum and you need to incorporate ESL into every one of these courses. Which, if you’re a teacher you know how long and difficult it is to build curriculum from scratch, especially when it’s for anywhere between three to five different classes. Now even though there were no previous teachers we had a newly appointed Dean of Academics who was previously mentioned in another post. She was a hard and dedicated worker who shared the vision of improving the school for the students and staff. Unfortunately like many of us she has since left due to management of the school. Her position was supposed to be one where she had the power to change things but it never worked out that way. Just to highlight the seriousness of this post I’d like to tell you the turnover rates. I think it speaks volumes that the current turnover rates for the first semester is already over 100% among the teaching staff. This is not including the 4 support staff and the Dean of Academics that have quit as well. 

 The problem with this school starts from the top. The micromanagement from the administrators is by and far the largest problem with this school. They take any critical feedback and suggestions from the teaching staff as if they are complaints and constantly defend their reasoning behind these decisions. This prevents much of the growth in the school and for anything to actually change they need to realize they are not educators, they are business people and they should respect the opinions of educators who are trying to make their business grow and have higher educational standards. They have had year after year of different teachers who have suggested the same suggestions again and again only to ignore them. There were multiple occasions where the teachers provided a collective list of students that shouldn’t be attending CICT for one reason or another. A few of these reasons were students not wanting to be there or students that had learning disabilities that we were not equipped to deal with. These lists were ignored and this demonstrates the schools lack of caring for what is best for the student’s education but rather only caring about the profits the business makes. At one point in time we were told by the administrators that we just need to teach and not worry about the business end of the school. They think that the two concepts of education and business are separable in a school when they are in fact not. 

 On top of the micromanagement there is the utter disrespect and uncaring nature for the staff and students of CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan), all who I mentioned before are seen as unnecessary and replaceable assets. Whenever a teacher either left or was fired from CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) the administrators would make up a lie to tell the students a different reason as to why they left in order to save face. If a teacher is fired, rather than fixing the problems or owning up to their mistakes (of hiring a bad teacher) they blatantly lie to the students with one reason or another. If a teacher leaves on their own accord the administrators give various reasons like “they were not meeting teaching standards of CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan)”, “They cannot adapt to Taiwan and they’re only here to have fun”. When I resigned one administrator asked to speak to me in his office. I was straight to the point and told him the list of reasons as to why I was leaving CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) and told him he needed to reconsider his business practices since he is getting huge turnover rates. The day before my last day he called an assembly to inform the students what was happening and told them I was leaving because I was “intimidated” by the new teachers, a blatant lie. Many of the students were upset over this because they had already been told the real reasons. Like I’ve said, rather than trying to fix or even offer to fix the problems I had stated in my one on one meeting with him, he simply dismissed me from his office and turned his head as if the schools problems did not exist. The administrators will blame everyone but themselves when something goes wrong and will always try to displace the responsibility upon someone else. 

 A prime example of blaming everyone but themselves and taking no responsibility mentioned in a previous post was the sexual assault of one of the students attending CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) during a school event at Hanyin high school. No one took responsibility for the incident despite being pressured by the teaching staff repeatedly to do something. As a result nothing was done to investigate the incident or give consequences on the perpetrator. This is unacceptable in any environment and even more so when it happens to a student when under the supervision of the school. In addition to this event there was a more recent incident with one of the teachers who had been fired and then went on to assault another employee. The school had no policies in place in regards to workplace harassment, assault, or anything else for its employees or students. It is absolutely upon the business owners to have these boundaries established and to protect its staff and students in situations like these. 

 The students that attend CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) are charged incomprehensible amounts of money to attend a private school. The base fees for attending the school and living on campus are higher than those of an international school in Canada. We’re talking over $40,000 for one year of private school. Now perhaps this would not seem so bad if the students were receiving the benefits from these costs but they do not and the students are charged for anything and everything.  

 Your teacher wants some basic chemistry equipment? Night classes? The students are charged. Field trip? Visa to Canada? Trip to Canada for the summer? The students are charged and the price is marked up. What happens if you don’t want to attend any of these events? Punished or perhaps you are not allowed to attend CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) next year.  Now I figure after all is said and done the students pay in the range of $50,000 - $60,000 a year. So now you’re thinking, well they must have some awesome equipment, extremely small classes sizes or some 5 star living and dining, right? There’s no way you can be charging someone that much and not getting the best of the best! 

Wrong.

 The school has less equipment than an underfunded public school. We’re talking a few projectors, two smart boards and the rest chalk boards. All of my classes with the exception of one (of 7) were over 25 students and had up to 35 students in one class. Keep in mind; this is at a school with 100 students. As for 5 star living and dining, up to three students are put into small residence style rooms and charged ridiculous amounts of money for them. The administrators say it’s to “get them ready for Canadian prices”; an unnecessary price when the cost of living in Taiwan is very low. Now for the food, I’d compare the food to prison food but that would be taking a shot at the cooks in prison. The food is disgusting and many of the kids complain about just how bad it is. When the students complain they are punished. After consistent complaining from teaching staff it was finally changed to a new company in February which happened to be worse than the first company (smaller portions, less quality of food and a smaller variety). After complaining again how bad it was, rather than searching for another new company they returned to the first company. The best part about the food is they advertise “5 star dining” on their Facebook page. 

You might ask, why don’t the students just leave then? Well there are two problems. The first is there doesn’t seem to be much market competition for getting children into a Canadian University which is what CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) offers. Second, the students are essentially stuck once they enter in this system. If they try to leave mid-year, they would have to repeat their schooling for whatever time they missed in the Taiwanese system. (Note that CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) is not teaching under the Taiwanese educational system but instead under a Canadian one). CICT does this by listing it as a cram school where they can teach whatever curriculum they choose. If the students decide to stay at CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) and complete their two years there, but do not want to or cannot advance into a Canadian high school they have to pay up to $10,000 CAD for their regular Taiwanese high school diploma or return to the Taiwanese system and repeat the previous years missed. 

 Now I think I will end it on these three main points as my previous colleagues have touched on many other problems that exist in CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan). There is much more wrong about CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) but I will save you the misery I’ve had to experience and just say if you have any questions or want to hear more about my adventures please feel free to contact me. 

Synopsis:

  1. The administrators micromanage and all critical feedback is ignored.
  2. Everyone is seen as disposable and replaceable: students, administration, teachers.
  3. Nothing in place to protect students or staff if there is an incident that occurs.
  4. The school values money over everything.
  5. The administrators both consistently lie to administration staff, the teachers, the students and the parents.

Please DO NOT support this school by working for them or sending your children there. It is only encouraging the administrators that they do not need to change their business practices and will continue to profit off of this unethical business.

Please see another post where this school is discussed more at length: eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin … read=69652


#309

Anyone know what other school this grease-bag Allan Lo (of CICT fame) owns in the South of Taiwan? Certainly should be on the blacklist as well.


#310

@gavmasterflash

He owns another CICT in Tainan, but to be objective and fair from what I understand that school’s operated by a different owner just paying royalties to Allan Lo for usage of the CICT name and its connections to CIC in Canada.


#311

@gavmasterflash

Allan Lo has another CICT in Tainan. While I can attest to the heinously low quality school at CICT Taoyuan is, I’m not sure how the Tainan campus is run.


#312

Following the condensed version of this review of CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) will be specific examples of things that happened at CICT. The original group of teachers had 3 pages of incidents compiled in bullet point form after just the first 5 months at this ‘school’. Written here is just a portion of the points in an elaborated form, split into two parts by importance. I believe it’s important to provide these so you get a better picture of what this institution is like (please refer to them if you need elaboration on the point form). If you are seriously considering working at CICT I really hope that you take the time to read everything.

Where to begin…

I’ll start by saying that all the things in this post are either 100% fact or if I was not at the scene, cross confirmed with multiple reliable sources. Nothing unreliable will be written here.

Pros:

A small (but not tiny) proportion of the students are truly amazing.

A large proportion of the students are great

Teachers get to attend excursions with the kids for free

Free meals

Cheap rent

Other trivial miscellaneous items

Cons:

Sexual assault of student not followed up on despite teachers repeatedly requesting it.

Physical assault of teacher due to negligence of school (another teacher on campus at the time had to hide in the school bathroom out of fear for personal safety, dean resigned because of threats to personal safety)

Unacceptable working conditions as well as poor facilities and location

Teachers and other staff treated poorly and not respected

Chairman constantly lies and is immoral

School’s top priorities are: money and reputation. Education is not up there.

Lack of communication, structure and organization

Not a legitimate school (teacher was rushed out and hidden during labor union inspection. Not legally recognized as a high school by the government, no nurse’s office etc.)

Ridiculous workload considering pay (note: summer not paid)

Students are charged over 40,000CAD a year for this circus of a school

A small proportion of students are rich, spoilt, disrespectful and very badly behaved, but allowed to stay at CICT because they are a revenue stream.

On a personal note, this is hands down THE worst work experience I’ve had in my life (by miles), probably the worst experience of my life so far, period. When I read previous posts about CICT I thought they sounded too personal/emotional and not as objective or professional/detached as an unbiased review should be. This was the reason why I initially believed the school when they told us that what was written about them is false. After working at CICT I now understand why it’s so hard to stay professional/detached reviewing an institution like this. It takes so much restraint to even call it that, an institution. Instead of another much less respectful term that CICT deserves. There’s been teachers who started smoking and teachers who started drinking because of the outrageous treatment of staff and students, lies and stress. When I met new people in Taiwan I couldn’t bring myself to tell them where I worked because I don’t want them to send their children to CICT or to work at CICT. Every teacher has thrown away their 4 boxes of CICT business cards as well as discarded or left behind their CICT shirt. This was my first time in Taiwan and this experience has ruined Taiwan for me.

If nothing else, if any of this review seems like it’s just a displeased ex-employee spewing anecdotal evidence, believe this following metric. The school has a 7 teacher team (excluding the chairman’s daughter who’s also a teacher). From mid August 2015 until end of April 2016, within the short span of 8.5 months, 10 teachers have either left or been fired. A turnover rate of over 140%, the academic year isn’t even over yet. Not to mention deans, counselors, assistants and other staff that have left. Number’s don’t lie, and these numbers are cold hard facts.

They told us last year’s cohort of teachers (of which 0 remained at CICT by the way, an almost as impressive 100% turnover) were liars and what they were saying about the school wasn’t true. That’s probably what they’ll tell you too. Ask yourself which is more likely, they’re just the most unlucky school in that they keep hiring complaining, irresponsible liar teachers OR the consistently poor reviews of this school are all true.

More important:

School/chairman constantly lies to parents, teachers and students

CICT is advertised as a legitimate high school to both parents and teachers when in reality it’s actually a buxiban (cram school) or a ‘class’, of Hanyin high school. Hanyin, being the actual government recognized school that the chairman owns. CICT is NOT a legally accredited high school (when students transfer out of CICT all they receive is Hanyin credits, credits that do not match the courses they took at CICT).

On all of our ARCs (alien resident certificate, your legal documentation) it says employed by Columbia private short term english cram school NOT Columbia International College Taiwan (something you might want to note when passing through customs if the officer decides to ask where you work/which company hired you)

One teacher was pulled during their class and rushed out of CICT to be hidden during a labor department inspection, time cards were also hidden for the duration.

Sexual assault of a female student was not dealt with or addressed despite the entire teaching team bringing up the issue multiple times at teacher meetings.

Teacher was assaulted physically due to negligence on the school’s end.

Took the school almost 4 months to replace a teacher fired in October, in the meantime classes were covered partly by a rotating selection of Taiwanese staff who only spoke Chinese.

(chairman explained to students saying that drama was free, not included in tuition to begin with)

After a new teacher was fired 2 weeks in during the second semester, the school just hired a Taiwanese teacher to teach precalculus in Chinese instead. (guess precalculus was free too)

There is no communication laterally, vertically or otherwise (e.g. ^said Taiwanese teacher was not informed of exam week, stumbled into his would be class confused as hell. Students were all of a sudden moved into teacher dorms halfway through first semester with no notice to teachers).

Non-existent discipline system, when students misbehave and severely hinder classroom progress, disrespect the teacher or upset other students, they end up leaving the counsellor’s office scot-free after jokes and laughs with the counselor. (a student has flipped their food tray, thrown chairs around in front of Taiwanese staff and others have straight up cussed at their teacher during class)

Teachers were asked collectively for students to expel, many overdue, valid suggestions were provided. None were expelled or even suspended.

No first aid station or nurse on campus, students have to wait around bleeding for someone to be free to drive them to a hospital/clinic.

Multiple colleagues told by the chairman’s daughter to lie on their way in at customs and say they’re coming to taiwan for a vacation. (perhaps something shady with the visa application)

One camp leader reeked of alcohol, fell over multiple times while he hosted an event, students complained about his smell and seeing him smoke. Same camp leader had students in his room behind closed doors on multiple occasions. Still stuck around for about a month after teachers brought it up before being ‘fired’ (transferred to Hanyin, reappeared months later at CICT)

Grade 11s taught grade 12 electives so they retake the same course at CIC, artificially boosting their grades. This is so CICT is more marketable with an impressive looking alumni university list. Grade 11s end up skipping grade 11 electives altogether making them inadequately prepared for the grade 12 courses and university. The artificial boost may get them into university but CICT does not keep track of dropout rates because CICT doesn’t care what happens to its students after they get into university.

Teachers are constantly told to just teach and not worry about the business side of things (including when we mention the school admitting special needs students despite having no support structure or IEPs in place)

There are zero resources, literally the only thing the school provides you with is a textbook (in some cases a photocopy of a textbook), nothing else.

Attendance lists consistently wrong, incorrect student list, no ordering of any sort (homework completion lists different order, report cards yet another different order).

The shortest time between last day of exams and due date for all marked exams as well as report cards and grades was a span of 1 full working day. (Last day of exam on Thursday, report cards + grades due on Monday, you have to teach on Friday too)

Students charged over 40,000CAD a year (including the mandatory summer month at CIC) for a school with no academic infrastructure, no equipment etc.

Less important:

Students HATE the chairman, the school and how it’s run, as well as how much of a money grab it is, attitude problems spill over into the classroom. (Many students transferring out because CICT is too much)

Tried to withhold holiday pay from teachers leaving, saying that holiday pay is for a 10 month contract but leaving teachers only completed 5 (contract does not stipulate contingency of holiday pay on completion of contract). School said if teachers were to stay an extra month, they could receive full holiday pay (presumably because parent teacher meeting is at the end of the month and they already had 71% teacher turnover at the time, didn’t want that number to hit 100 before the meeting)

Colleagues were prematurely evicted by the school for no good reason and as a result their belongings were thrown away, the school denies all responsibility (pushing all responsibility on the guard, school refused to compensate anything) and ultimately claim (after much flip flopping) that security camera footage of the incident is inaccessible even by them.

Teacher didn’t get their ARC OR healthcare care card until 2.5 months after their arrival.

Female teacher’s dorm had no heating, took about 2 months to install after being requested for (winters are deceptively cold and teacher couldn’t sleep properly).

Half day advance notice regarding cancellation of class because the chairman decided the entirety of CICT was to be cheerleaders for the Hanyin basketball team for a day.

Random camps throughout the year use up about ¼ to ⅓ of classrooms and teachers are expected to adjust and accommodate them. Camp kids super noisy and living in teacher dorms. Teachers also expected to teach camps during extra week you’re forced to stay after first semester ends (students gone, report cards finished)

Required to plan for next semester’s courses during said week when who’s teaching what was still up in the air. One teacher found out their final course list changed 3 days before second semester started (during vacation, no textbooks provided for new courses).

The school’s report card writing program that was supposed to be finished by October 2015 is still not functioning, despite the fact that every single month when report card writing approaches, school says it’ll be done by next time. (some teachers have over 100 comments to write every month)

Monthly exams and report cards (exams you have to make from scratch). You’ll work 50-60 hour weeks easy (works out to be around $13CAD - $15/hr pre tax, $10-$12 post)

0 days paid sick leave when we first arrived (instant half salary starting first day you’re sick), 5 days paid vacation initially.

You are each other’s substitute teachers (no extra pay, no upper limit on how many times you have to cover)

Summer not paid.

Random (unannounced to teachers) assemblies that cut into class and tutorial time.

Students forced to help promote school, any expenses incurred during, paid by students.

Told that this is an all English school/learning environment, all announcements to students made in Chinese. No effort to make them in English even though there are fully capable bilingual staff.

Drilling INSIDE of classroom DURING class on the 1st day of second semester despite 3 weeks of no classes for them to furnish.

Chairman believes that women should obtain their man’s approval before drinking beer

Some dorm rooms were not cleaned (filthy) when teachers were told to move into them.

Non functioning dryer (cycled through about 4 or 5 second hand ones before they found a second hand one that worked semi consistently)

No swimming pool or track

Leaky roofs, exposed electrical sockets, doors coming out of door frames, collapsing rusty desks.

Internet in school consistently poor and frequently unavailable.

School is VERY remotely located. Closest TOWN is about 3km away

To quote a colleague,‘it’s a family business, and it’s a poorly run one’. Do not work for this ‘school’.


#313

Hey all, I’ve been here for about 5 years and just want to post some schools on this list and some of the shitty things you can expect from them.

English Wonderland, Gwangfu Public School:(Taipei, multiple locations, my site was Zhonghe)

Recruiters YG expert are not to be trusted. They will make all kinds of threats and avoid responsibility and pass the buck. They rule by intimidation and withholding information and they, like many other schools, will fire you at the drop of a hat. Not to mention, the program itself is enough to make you slit your wrists because of the mind bending monotony. My advice is to stay away from English Wonderland. I gave like a month’s notice that I would be leaving early and they actually “rejected” my resignation and then refused to provide the cancel contract agreement, which I needed to get a new work permit and which, in most definitely illegal. On the whole, it’s not the worst job I’ve seen by a long shot, but there are actually good jobs here at good schools and you really ought to not settle for jobs with shady people who are OK playing fast and loose with your livelihood. These people are very unprofessional, and you are very likely to encounter a very stressful situation sooner than later with them having leverage over you because they are sponsoring your work permit.

Chingshing Elementary and Middle School (Taipei, Wenshan)

This school signed me as a grade school teacher, then abruptly changed my job to kindergarten teacher without a whole lot of explanation. They told me the teaching hours would remain the same. But as it turns out, the teaching hours were about 9 more a week. This school has a policy that you must pay a substitute teacher if you are sick per according to how many teaching hours you work. So, flags went up for me when they asked me to pay my sub according to the increased hours. Because the contract also said that I would be paid overtime for teaching hours above a certain amount. So of course I requested my overtime, which was denied to me, with the explanation that the Kindy position doesn’t have overtime and that the director made a mistake on the contract. I pressed the issue, for which, in the end they begrudgingly paid me, only to proceed to harass me with meetings and evaluations afterwards. In a culminating meeting with the principal, she had the nerve to not only ask that I retroactively sign a modified contract, absolving them of wrongdoing, and committing fraud in writing, but also that I pay back the overtime wages they were forced to pay. This same scenario happened to at least 1 other teacher I knew at the school. Dishonest, inconsiderate, and conniving from the core. There are good things about the school, but I find the core reality to be inexcusable.

TPS 英羽幼兒園 (Taipei, DaAn)

I subbed for my friend for a day here, and I have never been treated more like cattle by a person than at this school. The woman wouldn’t even look at me and I scarcely knew she was even speaking to me when I came in. Her attitude was palpable, and I honestly have never felt more disrespected by anyone in a work scenario in Taiwan so far. I saw this same woman screaming at a child literally like 5 minutes after I arrived because he put trash in the recycling. I asked on Tuesday if they would need me on Thursday and Friday, to which they said they would.I told her I had a scheduling conflict with Thurs and wouldn’t be able to do it. I got no response. After teaching the day on Wed, they told afterwards that they had found a teacher that could do it and they didn’t need me anymore. I also know that a friend that just quit had is wages garnished to account for the early termination fee, which is totally illegal. The people that run this place are straight up psychopaths. I understand that there are far worse schools in Taiwan, but to me, this kind of shit is a deal breaker. Like I said before, there are good schools, with respectful people running them, who just don’t do this bullshit. Why waste your time with shitty people and shitty schools that do?


#314

Z.O.E. Children’s World or (it also went by ZOE kid’s world) in Guandu absolutely needs to be blacklisted. The kindergarten curriculum is a joke (the teacher directions are full of errors and often don’t make sense, but teachers are expected to follow them to the letter) and there’s a lot of unpaid work. The environment is miserable and Daisy, the owner, has a horrible temper and blows up at children and staff regularly. The bosses are incredibly cheap and I often had to buy my own markers or other basic supplies. Some of the other teachers are okay, but the Taiwanese preschool co-teacher when I was there was cruel and verbally abusive. Constant yelling and I saw her hit a 2 year old then leave her in a dark supply closet (full of kitchen tools and bleach and whatnot) unsupervised as “punishment.” She had been working there for years.

The majority of their latest Tealit ad is straight-up lies (“Well-developed curriculum and WONDERFUL teaching environment!”) so I had to post. Avoid, avoid, avoid.


#315

What was the physical assault that happened?

[quote=“excictteacher”]Following the condensed version of this review of CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) will be specific examples of things that happened at CICT. The original group of teachers had 3 pages of incidents compiled in bullet point form after just the first 5 months at this ‘school’. Written here is just a portion of the points in an elaborated form, split into two parts by importance. I believe it’s important to provide these so you get a better picture of what this institution is like (please refer to them if you need elaboration on the point form). If you are seriously considering working at CICT I really hope that you take the time to read everything.

Where to begin…

I’ll start by saying that all the things in this post are either 100% fact or if I was not at the scene, cross confirmed with multiple reliable sources. Nothing unreliable will be written here.

Pros:

A small (but not tiny) proportion of the students are truly amazing.

A large proportion of the students are great

Teachers get to attend excursions with the kids for free

Free meals

Cheap rent

Other trivial miscellaneous items

Cons:

Sexual assault of student not followed up on despite teachers repeatedly requesting it.

Physical assault of teacher due to negligence of school (another teacher on campus at the time had to hide in the school bathroom out of fear for personal safety, dean resigned because of threats to personal safety)

Unacceptable working conditions as well as poor facilities and location

Teachers and other staff treated poorly and not respected

Chairman constantly lies and is immoral

School’s top priorities are: money and reputation. Education is not up there.

Lack of communication, structure and organization

Not a legitimate school (teacher was rushed out and hidden during labor union inspection. Not legally recognized as a high school by the government, no nurse’s office etc.)

Ridiculous workload considering pay (note: summer not paid)

Students are charged over 40,000CAD a year for this circus of a school

A small proportion of students are rich, spoilt, disrespectful and very badly behaved, but allowed to stay at CICT because they are a revenue stream.

On a personal note, this is hands down THE worst work experience I’ve had in my life (by miles), probably the worst experience of my life so far, period. When I read previous posts about CICT I thought they sounded too personal/emotional and not as objective or professional/detached as an unbiased review should be. This was the reason why I initially believed the school when they told us that what was written about them is false. After working at CICT I now understand why it’s so hard to stay professional/detached reviewing an institution like this. It takes so much restraint to even call it that, an institution. Instead of another much less respectful term that CICT deserves. There’s been teachers who started smoking and teachers who started drinking because of the outrageous treatment of staff and students, lies and stress. When I met new people in Taiwan I couldn’t bring myself to tell them where I worked because I don’t want them to send their children to CICT or to work at CICT. Every teacher has thrown away their 4 boxes of CICT business cards as well as discarded or left behind their CICT shirt. This was my first time in Taiwan and this experience has ruined Taiwan for me.

If nothing else, if any of this review seems like it’s just a displeased ex-employee spewing anecdotal evidence, believe this following metric. The school has a 7 teacher team (excluding the chairman’s daughter who’s also a teacher). From mid August 2015 until end of April 2016, within the short span of 8.5 months, 10 teachers have either left or been fired. A turnover rate of over 140%, the academic year isn’t even over yet. Not to mention deans, counselors, assistants and other staff that have left. Number’s don’t lie, and these numbers are cold hard facts.

They told us last year’s cohort of teachers (of which 0 remained at CICT by the way, an almost as impressive 100% turnover) were liars and what they were saying about the school wasn’t true. That’s probably what they’ll tell you too. Ask yourself which is more likely, they’re just the most unlucky school in that they keep hiring complaining, irresponsible liar teachers OR the consistently poor reviews of this school are all true.

More important:

School/chairman constantly lies to parents, teachers and students

CICT is advertised as a legitimate high school to both parents and teachers when in reality it’s actually a buxiban (cram school) or a ‘class’, of Hanyin high school. Hanyin, being the actual government recognized school that the chairman owns. CICT is NOT a legally accredited high school (when students transfer out of CICT all they receive is Hanyin credits, credits that do not match the courses they took at CICT).

On all of our ARCs (alien resident certificate, your legal documentation) it says employed by Columbia private short term english cram school NOT Columbia International College Taiwan (something you might want to note when passing through customs if the officer decides to ask where you work/which company hired you)

One teacher was pulled during their class and rushed out of CICT to be hidden during a labor department inspection, time cards were also hidden for the duration.

Sexual assault of a female student was not dealt with or addressed despite the entire teaching team bringing up the issue multiple times at teacher meetings.

Teacher was assaulted physically due to negligence on the school’s end.

Took the school almost 4 months to replace a teacher fired in October, in the meantime classes were covered partly by a rotating selection of Taiwanese staff who only spoke Chinese.

(chairman explained to students saying that drama was free, not included in tuition to begin with)

After a new teacher was fired 2 weeks in during the second semester, the school just hired a Taiwanese teacher to teach precalculus in Chinese instead. (guess precalculus was free too)

There is no communication laterally, vertically or otherwise (e.g. ^said Taiwanese teacher was not informed of exam week, stumbled into his would be class confused as hell. Students were all of a sudden moved into teacher dorms halfway through first semester with no notice to teachers).

Non-existent discipline system, when students misbehave and severely hinder classroom progress, disrespect the teacher or upset other students, they end up leaving the counsellor’s office scot-free after jokes and laughs with the counselor. (a student has flipped their food tray, thrown chairs around in front of Taiwanese staff and others have straight up cussed at their teacher during class)

Teachers were asked collectively for students to expel, many overdue, valid suggestions were provided. None were expelled or even suspended.

No first aid station or nurse on campus, students have to wait around bleeding for someone to be free to drive them to a hospital/clinic.

Multiple colleagues told by the chairman’s daughter to lie on their way in at customs and say they’re coming to Taiwan for a vacation. (perhaps something shady with the visa application)

One camp leader reeked of alcohol, fell over multiple times while he hosted an event, students complained about his smell and seeing him smoke. Same camp leader had students in his room behind closed doors on multiple occasions. Still stuck around for about a month after teachers brought it up before being ‘fired’ (transferred to Hanyin, reappeared months later at CICT)

Grade 11s taught grade 12 electives so they retake the same course at CIC, artificially boosting their grades. This is so CICT is more marketable with an impressive looking alumni university list. Grade 11s end up skipping grade 11 electives altogether making them inadequately prepared for the grade 12 courses and university. The artificial boost may get them into university but CICT does not keep track of dropout rates because CICT doesn’t care what happens to its students after they get into university.

Teachers are constantly told to just teach and not worry about the business side of things (including when we mention the school admitting special needs students despite having no support structure or IEPs in place)

There are zero resources, literally the only thing the school provides you with is a textbook (in some cases a photocopy of a textbook), nothing else.

Attendance lists consistently wrong, incorrect student list, no ordering of any sort (homework completion lists different order, report cards yet another different order).

The shortest time between last day of exams and due date for all marked exams as well as report cards and grades was a span of 1 full working day. (Last day of exam on Thursday, report cards + grades due on Monday, you have to teach on Friday too)

Students charged over 40,000CAD a year (including the mandatory summer month at CIC) for a school with no academic infrastructure, no equipment etc.

Less important:

Students HATE the chairman, the school and how it’s run, as well as how much of a money grab it is, attitude problems spill over into the classroom. (Many students transferring out because CICT is too much)

Tried to withhold holiday pay from teachers leaving, saying that holiday pay is for a 10 month contract but leaving teachers only completed 5 (contract does not stipulate contingency of holiday pay on completion of contract). School said if teachers were to stay an extra month, they could receive full holiday pay (presumably because parent teacher meeting is at the end of the month and they already had 71% teacher turnover at the time, didn’t want that number to hit 100 before the meeting)

Colleagues were prematurely evicted by the school for no good reason and as a result their belongings were thrown away, the school denies all responsibility (pushing all responsibility on the guard, school refused to compensate anything) and ultimately claim (after much flip flopping) that security camera footage of the incident is inaccessible even by them.

Teacher didn’t get their ARC OR healthcare care card until 2.5 months after their arrival.

Female teacher’s dorm had no heating, took about 2 months to install after being requested for (winters are deceptively cold and teacher couldn’t sleep properly).

Half day advance notice regarding cancellation of class because the chairman decided the entirety of CICT was to be cheerleaders for the Hanyin basketball team for a day.

Random camps throughout the year use up about ¼ to ⅓ of classrooms and teachers are expected to adjust and accommodate them. Camp kids super noisy and living in teacher dorms. Teachers also expected to teach camps during extra week you’re forced to stay after first semester ends (students gone, report cards finished)

Required to plan for next semester’s courses during said week when who’s teaching what was still up in the air. One teacher found out their final course list changed 3 days before second semester started (during vacation, no textbooks provided for new courses).

The school’s report card writing program that was supposed to be finished by October 2015 is still not functioning, despite the fact that every single month when report card writing approaches, school says it’ll be done by next time. (some teachers have over 100 comments to write every month)

Monthly exams and report cards (exams you have to make from scratch). You’ll work 50-60 hour weeks easy (works out to be around $13CAD - $15/hr pre tax, $10-$12 post)

0 days paid sick leave when we first arrived (instant half salary starting first day you’re sick), 5 days paid vacation initially.

You are each other’s substitute teachers (no extra pay, no upper limit on how many times you have to cover)

Summer not paid.

Random (unannounced to teachers) assemblies that cut into class and tutorial time.

Students forced to help promote school, any expenses incurred during, paid by students.

Told that this is an all English school/learning environment, all announcements to students made in Chinese. No effort to make them in English even though there are fully capable bilingual staff.

Drilling INSIDE of classroom DURING class on the 1st day of second semester despite 3 weeks of no classes for them to furnish.

Chairman believes that women should obtain their man’s approval before drinking beer

Some dorm rooms were not cleaned (filthy) when teachers were told to move into them.

Non functioning dryer (cycled through about 4 or 5 second hand ones before they found a second hand one that worked semi consistently)

No swimming pool or track

Leaky roofs, exposed electrical sockets, doors coming out of door frames, collapsing rusty desks.

Internet in school consistently poor and frequently unavailable.

School is VERY remotely located. Closest TOWN is about 3km away

To quote a colleague,‘it’s a family business, and it’s a poorly run one’. Do not work for this ‘school’.[/quote]


#316

I had a bad experience working for Sesame Street located in Gueiren, Tainan. The school has a terrible condition. It needs repair, but the owner neglects it. There are rodents and roaches everywhere. The ceiling fell down on the floor and almost hurt students. I told them they can’t keep the school like that. Instead of fixing the problem, they tried to use the work abuse to make me to quit. I happily resigned this job. But, my last salary was missing 5,000NT after they made the deposit. I contacted them, but they ignore my emails. Another teacher also had trouble with them. Here is the blog with the details http://taiwanbryan.blogspot.tw/


#317

School: Inter English School
Location: Homei Town, Changhua County, Taiwan

When I happened over the reviews from this school I ignored it: please DO NOT IGNORE. They are true and I experienced it first hand!!! I read the reviews but when I interviewed with him, I thought it couldn’t be this bad. Well, you’d be surprised because it was worst. I don’t even know where to start!

My Experiences:
When I interviewed, he told me after three months I would get a review and then if my review was good, I would get a raise. Well, my fault to trust him…all of a sudden he’s giving me a review two weeks after I started working. He made me feel bad for him by saying how busy he was so he would need to do my review early. I felt bad so I said yes sure. After he gave me the review, he said how good I was doing etc so I asked him for what he promised me in my interview. WELL…all of a sudden he doesn’t remember…he didn’t write it down…he never said that did he…then I wouldn’t let it go so he decided he would have to give it to me because he said it. Next day he comes in…he negotiates the raise down $10NT. Ok, I’m here for the experience so that’s fine. Money wasn’t the issue…keeping your word was the issue. Now here comes the hell…after I was such a good teacher…I became a BAD teacher and he wanted another review after two more weeks. I tried to reason with him…I tried to tell him just because it’s September doesn’t mean that it’s the next month; one month is 30 days or so! He reviewed me at the end of August…comes two weeks into September he’s reviewing me again. I was frustrated so I said ok fine whatever. He told me he would review me for two days…then decided he would review me for a week. I said no…two days of him in my class was enough! The kids hate when he’s in there. They act differently because he has no manners. Tapping on their desks and everything. He even made one girl student cry in my class then when I tried to console her and have her join the activities again, he told me I should have left her alone. That for kids that cry, don’t pay any attention to them because they’ll cry more especially the girls. “They cry too much.” THIS MAN SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO EVEN OWN AN ENGLISH SCHOOL…let alone teach these kids English. For my young class, he told me to make the abc sounds from my stomach. To use my stomach to talk…I said no, I can’t. I’ve never heard of that before. Then he told me I need to be googling how to teach the abc sounds, but did he google how to teach it? Half the things he told me to do he stole from other teachers and didn’t know how to apply it. After this review however, everything I did was wrong. He found fault in every way I taught and tried to make me think I was a bad teacher…I was teaching wrong. When we had our review meeting, he wanted me to teach like him. He wanted me to be doing his stupid memory game that the kids don’t even like! He said to drill drill drill and repeat repeat repeat. I told him I want the kids to comprehend what I’m teaching them not memorize everything. He gets all upset, started sucking his teeth, and started acting like a spoiled kid saying, “Fine! Fine! We’ll see how the kids do on their exam then. We’ll see how they do!” and ended the meeting. Low and behold, the kids passed with flying colors! That wasn’t the only incident. He’s telling me to do one thing for class and his wife (the accountant - one day and the receptionist - another day and the TA - some days) is telling me to do it another way. They need to talk to each other and figure out what they want instead of telling people how to do the same thing in two totally opposite ways.
Now he’s not going to give me my raise…he keeps putting the contract in my face. “But the contract…but the contract” He’s a liar. He asked me to come the beginning of August. He had just lost a teacher from doing the same things to her…but her story is for her to tell. I came in around 2 am and the next day I was already being shown the school and learning things about the school. I was naive and stupid (you could say). I trusted and depended on this man. I was in training that week and started teaching the week after. His training (I just want to laugh) consisted of me sitting in on teachers teaching. His materials consisted of pages of things the students have learned. Mind you this is the first time I’ve ever taught. After a week and a half of that, I was teaching. I just found out that per the law in Taiwan, you should not be teaching without a working permit. He had me teaching illegal without my knowledge for a whole month. I didn’t get my working visa until somewhere in September. For August pay, he told me he’s giving me the money in cash and not taking any taxes out…oh and also he was telling me he would pay for the private insurance of $200 NT for me because it’s only 200 so “fine for that”. He didn’t charge me tax and didn’t report to the government that I was working (ding ding ding)! Bells should have been ringing in my head but I just saw…oh so nice of this man! He’s trying to help me sincerely. Little did I know…little did I know…
September pay came…he’s trying to convince to take the 6% tax instead of the 18% - it was to help me save money…“the government knows about it…and says it’s OK”…“other teachers before said I was dirty for saying it.” I asked him if the government knew and was ok with it…he said yes…I said ok then if the government knows and is ok with it then why would you be dirty? So why not? I took the 6% tax. He had two separate pieces of paper: one for the full pay and one for the fake pay. He was ok to pay me by the 6% but wait until the end…wait to hear what he did!

After the hellish review week, I decided I wasn’t a good teacher. He kept insisting I teach like him. I told him “but when I interviewed you said I could teach my way”. How can I teach my way but teach like him? There’s no way…so I gave him my resignation. Our teaching methods were too different and there was no way I was going to just drill information into the students and not have them learn how to use the English. He apologized to me about lying (he kept saying that I was mad because of the review. I kept trying to tell him it’s not the review but that he LIED to me.) He didn’t lie to me once, he lied to me multiple times by now. After he apologized for lying and said he will try not to have “any miscommunications again”, I agreed to stay.

Things changed…I changed…I started listening to music and doing my own things are work. Then came the looking through my things! I thought I was going crazy…when I started noticing my lesson plans (some are notebooks and some are binders) being moved and placed in different directions…I decided to take all my lesson plans with me. Then my draw, which is kind of broken and I keep things in it, was open when I come down between classes. I thought I was going crazy for a second…then I realized someone was looking through my things like the first reviews. So I cleaned out my draws…threw everything away…a couple days go by and sure enough the draw was opened again. So I started leaving notes for whoever it was that was going through my draws. Everyday I left a different note so they would know I know they were looking through my draws. After a week of that, it stopped. I still left notes but the draw wasn’t left open anymore.

Then the apartment I was living in started growing mold on my clothes. My co-worker said don’t open the windows but I didn’t listen to her. It was so humid so I kept the windows opened and opened the fan…sure enough my room was covered in mold. I was complaining to the boss and he’s like oh yeah Taiwan is very humid open the windows. I told him I did and it’s not working. (You have to understand. Where I live in America, I don’t have a humidity problem or mold. I had no idea how it spreads or anything). He just kept telling me to open the fan and open the window…there’s no circulation. It became such a big problem because the landlord was not going to help us either. I said it’s all over the room, it’s making me sick. The landlord needs to do something. So, I went away for one weekend and decided to let them come look. They looked then came back on Monday to look at the co-worker’s room. Then they accused us of smoking in the apartment. That we were burning stuff! I have pictures for proof. I made a video for proof. I have pictures of mold growing on my underwear but they want to brush it off and say I was smoking in my room! That I never open my windows that’s why the mold is growing. I was upset! How do they know I open or close the windows…do they live there or do I live there? Then they laughed at my co-worker as she cried out of frustration. They just kept saying open the window and the mold will disappear by itself! We said but it’s cold now…how are we supposed to open the windows at night…he goes “open it a little”. So, if we don’t die from mold, we will die from pneumonia. At the signing of the contract, he’s all this is this…this just says this…sign sign sign…now he’s telling us “I can’t help you. I’m just the middle man. I don’t know. I’m just the translator.” Yes – a very bad translator!

I felt sick so I went to see the doctor. This doctor was priceless! He spoke some English…he wouldn’t listen to my concerns…then he told me I was allergic to the air in Homei Town. He said I’m having an ALLERGIC reaction to the polluted factory air…which is causing me to have a cold. He prescribed me two cough medicines and a antibacterial pill. Well well well doctor…all I did to make the symptoms go away was clean the mold. SMH…I’ve really lost all trust in Taiwanese doctors. I will probably never go to another one again.

Comes the day of reckoning: I went to work Monday…called out Tuesday because even after I cleaned the mold off the walls and bought tons of dessicant to put in the room and on everything…I had mold growing all over my undergarments. I messaged him that I had to clean my clothes and dry at the laundry. I even sent him a picture of my molded undies I threw away. I had to go BUY new underwears! Wednesday comes along…I go in…he’s talking about we need to discuss the situation. I told him I have to lesson plan. He wouldn’t stop…just kept pushing. I said no…and that I will move out on the date I moved into the apartment. Then he bothers me again to have a meeting with the landlord. I said not today…if I want a meeting with the landlord then I need all my rental receipts and all that so I know what they are talking about. Come down after class and the landlord is standing there with his copies of the contract. Are you serious? After I told him no, he went ahead and did it anyways. So, fine, we decided to go talk. Boss man was egging me to record the conversation. I was, don’t worry. So I told him no he should record it and he did with his phone. I recorded mine which never stopped for the whole four hours of craziness. He stopped his after the landlords left.

Convo with the landlord: Boss man was causing so much drama with the landlord but lies to us. The landlord is all upset…the boss man told him we were going to sue the landlord…I said I reported him…not that I’m suing him. The boss was the one that suggested that we would have to go the court and we said yes, fine. The landlord then wanted me to pay him money and I’m like no…come to find out the boss man NEVER explained the contract to me correctly! He never told me the start of my lease included my temporary housing! When we went to sign, the boss told me I was paying for the two weeks at the apartment and for the month’s pay…plus the deposit which is two months rent. Hence all the confusion…the boss was just egging the landlord on and was trying to get me kicked me out of the apartment. The landlord was trying to make me pay him in advance…which the boss is the one who set up our rental payment date to be after our payday which is the 10th of every month…so the rent is due on the 11th…oh but if pay day lands on Saturday…you don’t get paid until the next Monday. So this month, pay day lands on Saturday and I get paid on Monday. I asked the landlord to allow me to pay him the same way I’ve always been paying him. He wouldn’t budge. Just kept telling me I must pay him. Everything is going horrible until we called one of the TAs to do the translating instead. She was in the room for about 20 mins and everything was settled. Her translation of the problem: The landlord said I was going to leave in the middle of the night…that’s what the boss told him…that’s why he was trying to extract money from me. I wasn’t having it…I said but I work here and if I don’t pay you, wouldn’t you just come here for the payment? I don’t understand why you would think I would leave in the night? Even if I left, I still work here!!! No common sense at all…that’s when everything clicked! The night before the boss messaged me and kept trying to make me go see an apartment. I wouldn’t go…kept saying no…then he attempted to negotiate with me by saying he would pay for 1200 of the monthly bill and I would pay the same amount as I did in this moldy apartment. I declined and said a friend was helping me look for apartments in Changhua City…no wonder after that – suddenly, I’m leaving in the middle of the night! Ding ding ding! Becareful with his sweet lies…when he feeding you good and bringing you things and doing things for you…he wants something from you!

Convo after landlord leaves: boss man tried to make other co-worker stay and discuss their problem. She wanted me to stay as a witness…he didn’t want me there. She did…so I went and sat down. That’s when hell broke loose…because he started pointing his finger in her face and accusing her of finding a job. Saying she was leaving etc. Then he tried to use her email as proof…but proof it was…proof for her that boss man couldn’t comprehend English well enough. He couldn’t comprehend her email and assumed she was looking for a new job or got a new job already. Then he told her “well maybe today’s your last day”, so technically, he fired her…lol…but she quit after that. And I have all this as proof on record! He stopped his recording after the landlord and maintenance guy left but I didn’t stop mine. I recorded everything that was said. I have five hours’ worth of recording. So, I quit too because if he can do that to her…what makes me think he’s not going to do that to me. So, we stood together and he wasn’t getting rid of us until he paid us our money. That’s when he decided the 18% was BY LAW and took ALL THE BACK TAXES FROM AUGUST out of this month’s pay. He didn’t want me to have money plus he knows I’m going to report him. BUT he forgot…I still have all the paystubs and my bank statements showing how much he actually paid me and at what percent. He was sending a different version of my pay to the government and keeping the real version for himself. Now, he decides he’s going to charge me 18% and backtracked all the months he didn’t charge me – to cover his own behind. See how sneaky he is?!

Also, the whole thing started because of RITA. She was talking about our mold problem with all the TAs that Monday when I went to work. She thought I didn’t hear her but I did. She kept saying our names and how we were at fault because we blocked the door. And that our fans in the apartment were all black. Ummm…blocking the door had nothing to do with the mold. I block the door but opened the window and the mold spread everywhere. If they had any common sense, they would have looked up mold information. BUT we’re talking about Giant and Rita here…only thing they look up is how to cheat parents.

Oh, I almost forgot the most precious thing ever! They wanted to do this big Christmas event…hahaha…but the TA Jenny told me they would make the kids buy their own supplies and bring it to school!!! Can you believe that? They charge the parents an arm and a leg but they can’t even provide the students with supplies for a Christmas event they want to do. Oh Oh and if you work for them, you have to buy your own notebooks or binders…your own paper…They get really upset when you print a lot. Before they use to allow us to print worksheets for the kids to do after the tests…after the new teacher came (lol…he used a lot of paper), they decided to tell me and the other girl that we shouldn’t print anymore things for the kids. The other teacher even witnessed he hitting one of the kids on the head for playing with the light switch.

Lesson here is: don’t trust these people. Boss man’s wife RITA is a witch in disguise. Be very very careful around her. She’d be all nice to your face then BAM talk shit behind your back. If you decide to work here, GOOD LUCK! You’re going to need it. What I just stated was only half the things they did to me. Remember, I was only here for FOUR MONTHS! These people just give you the worst worst worst ever experience in Taiwan. If not for meeting so many nice Taiwanese people (out of this town), I would just go back home.

Oh and you should go read the Taiwan Labor law rights before signing anything with this school. His contract basically violates most of the laws. He makes us go in two hours early and doesn’t pay us. He doesn’t allow us to clock in or out (by law you have to get paid if you do any work for him) but tells us to initial on a timesheet. Once you sign that contract, you unknowingly sign your labor rights away. So, better safe than sorry. Here’s the link to the American version of the Labor laws. http://english.mol.gov.tw/6386/6394/


#319

Hello to anyone who’s looked into (or been accepted into a program in) Kinmen county!

Below are some things I wish I had posted years ago, but I see this as better late than never.

There are a LOT of foreign teachers in Kinmen. Over 30, despite there only being 17 elementary schools, four junior high’s, one high school, and one vocational high school.

There are a number of ways to get into teaching (English) in Kinmen. Basically, cram schools (there are big chains and small, privately owned schools, some are legal and will help you get an ARC, some are not and won’t tell you until you’ve arrived), and public schools. There are three ways you can teach at a public school, and they are all very different experiences on the life side of things, though pretty much the exact same on the working/teaching side:

  1. MOE (Ministry of Education, aka the people who hire real teachers in public schools in Taiwan)/certified, licensed teachers who are recruited from the schools themselves
  2. Fulbright (non-profit scholarship from the US gov. that’s in a lot of countries, known as “foundation for scholarly exchange” in Taiwan, because politics)
  3. King Car Educational Foundation (the company that makes coffee, but also brings in volunteer teachers) which somehow is lumped in with IBLP, but isn’t necessarily, anymore)

First of all, if you’re going to Kinmen because you personally researched it and talked to people from there/have friends there/think it would be fun, go! If you were accepted into the Fulbright Program or King Car, and they said “congrats, you’re going to Kinmen! It’s the best of all the places you could be sent to!” please, think very carefully about what you’re doing. You will be miserable and used, but spend most of your time doing what you can prove to the social media world and your program’s higher-ups how amazing your life is. In recent years, the number of people in these programs that have been sent to the tiny place in lieu of other counties around Taiwan has increased, and with that, problems.

Both of these programs have their own side reasons for sending “foreign teachers” to Kinmen (for Fulbright, it’s spreading American monolingual English culture, for King Car, it’s Christianity). But on top of that all, their reasons have a lot to do with money and status.

You see, Kinmen County has more money than they will ever know what to do with. It all comes down to the production of Kaoliang, the liquor that is so well-loved in Taiwan and Mainland China. What better way to increase the politicians’ statuses than using a sliver of that money to make sure every single public school on the island has a foreign*English teacher?

*Qualifications for “foreign English teacher” are very complex, consisting of a rigorous application process that requires…nope, they just want white people to take pictures of to show off to the other schools and counties.

When you first arrive, regardless of which of the above mentioned program, “teachers” are told about how much better they are than everyone else (as in, government people come to training and tell everyone in Fulbright that they’re better than King Car, but King Car is told that they’re better than Fulbright…). This is amusing, because, besides the fact that the government just wants white people in the schools and just assumes that their presence in the school will bring about absolute English fluency for all, the qualifications for acceptance into either program have absolutely NOTHING to do with teaching. (Fulbright requires a college degree in anything and an “interest in international affairs” while King Car is focused on how good of a Christian the applicant is.)

Note: I’ve lost track of how many Fulbrighters I’ve heard complain “I wouldn’t have come here if I’d known I was going to have to teach English classes”. If you’ve been accepted into the Fulbright ETA program and don’t know that that stands for “English Teaching Assistant”, don’t get on the plane over. What the heck did you think you’d be doing? Drinking Kaoliang and avoiding landmines on the beach every night and sleeping in late every day?

Note 2: nobody that isn’t a foreign teacher has any idea about the difference between the programs. They care that there are foreign teachers. Graduated from Harvard? Great! Highest education level received was a high school diploma through homeschooling? Okedoke! Your school, co-teachers, students, their parents…yeah, they don’t really care. As long as you’re white. If you’re black, you’ll be an object of fascination. If you’re Asian-American, get used to being told that you’re not actually a foreign teacher. This is a point of racism that neither program seems to know how to address, probably because both programs are run by white men who are genuinely convinced that Taiwan is a haven for all people and have no idea what being anything other than a white man of “status” in Taiwan is. We could also just say they don’t have any idea what racism is.

The thing is, both of these camps of people internalize what they are constantly told about being “better” than everyone else, and they justify every single problem they encounter by trying to convince themselves that the program has their best interests at heart and anything that happens is an accident. This is especially true of Fulbrighters, who are usually recent liberal arts college grads using this program to boost their resumé to make themselves more qualified for grad school/med school/ government jobs. The resumé, in the end, trumps the quality of the actual experience. Blindly trusting their employers, they eat up everything they’re told without giving it a second thought. “Taiwan is so safe, murder is front page news” (as told by AIT) seems to have translated into “everyone in this country can be trusted”. ETAs say things like “Taiwan doesn’t have gangs” when they’re eating in a restaurant in Kinmen that is owned by a gang member, their scooters are rented from a shop that is owned by a gang member, things keep disappearing out of their apartment and the police say they can’t do anything…the list goes on. But when you’re constantly being gaslit by an organization that you’re convinced is respected and to be adored, you’re quick to trust everyone.

Then we get into pay and treatment. A full time teacher in Taiwan shouldn’t teach more than 25 hours/week. That’s absolute max. Usually contracts say 18-22 hours/week. While Fulbright and King Car try to work with the schools, plenty of people end up with 28-30 classes/week, especially those in King Car who work at more than one school. King Car teachers are paid (under the table, in cash) NT$25,000/month (housing is included, pay isn’t usually on time and isn’t always in full), and Fulbrighters get NT$40,000/month in “scholarship/living stipend” (always on time, but paying through their noses each month for crappy apartment and scooter rentals that they could get for about half the cost, but must get through the program’s prearranged sketchy landlords and scooter shops)

Remember, both of these incomes are based on a min. of 18 hours/week of teaching that usually come closer to 25 hours/week.
That comes out to be

400-555NT/class for Fulbrighters,
250-350NT/class for King Car.

If you’re only teaching 18 hours/week as a Fulbrighter, it’s not a bad pay rate for a first time teacher in Taiwan. But that’s the best you’ll get. And, unlike cram schools, you can’t just tell your boss that you think deserve better pay or say that you can’t handle that many classes/leave and find a better quality job. You’re stuck in the program at that pay and those hours for the year.

These programs are supposed to be “co-teaching” and “co-planning” classes, but usually what ends up happening is that the “foreign teachers” end up not only planning all of their classes on their own, if there is any supervision in the classroom at all, it is a school soldier/TiDaiYi (替代役), who probably has as much experience as the “foreign teacher” (that is, probably none at all). This means you end up being paid a max of 555NT/class of anywhere from 6-28 kids, that you have to plan and teach (and manage) on your own. (Ok, some schools have gotten better at co-teaching with actual local English teachers actually teaching the class together with the foreign teacher, but most still have some number of classes that the “foreign teachers” are on their own. There is NO accountability directed at the schools because the schools know that no matter how they treat their current foreign teacher, they will just get a new one next year)

For Fulbrighers, there’s also “English Village”, which I’ve seen other people post horror stories about in other locations. Basically, the government built a REALLY nice (looking) facility with various “real world classrooms” (airport, kitchen, beach, etc.) that the students in grades 5-6 come to learn English for two days each semester. There is no curriculum for these classes, but the government expects Fulbrighters to write complete lesson plans and create activities, worksheets, and assessments from scratch. They keep “loosing” most of the stuff from the previous year, so it’s pretty much from planning from and creating from scratch each year. Supposedly, local teachers co-teach and co-plan these lessons. In reality, the local teachers don’t have anything at all to do with the planning process because they don’t come to English Village until their own classes do, because they’re teachers at other schools on the island, not EV. They just exacerbate the problem by chilling out in the back or interrupting by taking pictures of students who would much rather smile for the camera than try to understand the white person acting out stuff in a language they understand nothing in.

They also keep trying to get Fulbrighters to make an “all English website” for the “whole county” to “learn English”, but, every year, everyone gets pulled into spending lots of time working on it, only to have it not continue the following year. (Though they managed to get some thing up and running last year, http://kinhuev.wixsite.com/englishvillage, they aren’t maintaining it anymore). The government doesn’t seem to understand that making a website entirely in English will only deter people from using it to learn English, not encourage or help them. Or, they don’t care because they just want more pictures of white people and Kinmenese with English on the page to boast about. I see forcing Fulbrighters to make these sorts of materials as taking absolute advantage of their vulnerability of and “go getter” attitudes, using them when any decent employer would PAY them for their work. Working in English Village is an 8am to 4pm gig, and it includes teaching 6 different classes that, as mentioned, have to be planned, materials created and printed by the individual teacher. There’s also further nonsense like “maintaining a bulletin board” and “creating a weekly theme” with activities that they never actually get around to doing. At a Fulbrigher’s salary, that’s pay of about 500NT/ class (assuming there’s only 14 classes being taught at their actual school), with two hours that you have to sit in the office each day, and an additional few hours of prepping and planning each week. Also, you don’t get to go home when there’s no students/classes aren’t taking place due to holidays. You sit around the entire day doing nothing and aren’t allowed to leave until other teachers in the actual school because “that’s policy”.

Legality is something else to consider. King Car is “volunteers” “volunteering” under tourist visas and leaving the country for a visa break half-way through the year. Fulbright is “educational exchange” with “recipients” doing “exchange” “working closely with schools or English Villages” (intentionally vague on the contract). While Fulbrighters do have an ARC, it’s not with a work permit (it’s an “exchange visa”, with very sketchy and explicit writing in the contract about not mentioning work or pay when applying for the visa, more recently adding that “no outside paying jobs such as tutoring” can take place while on the program, due to visa restrictions. They suggest tutoring in exchange for bubble tea, as if a 50NT cup of bubble tea comes close to the usual tutoring rate of 600-800NT/hour). Since both programs have these (not) “teachers” usually teaching full time in English classrooms without the proper credentials or work visas, they have both been under investigation by the government. But, a government investigation finding out that the two largest suppliers of white people to their public schools wouldn’t do anyone any good, would it? (but really, if the day comes that an investigation actually surfaces, it’ll be on the “teachers” to sort out the likely deportation for working illegally, not their organizations. Fulbright got their BS called on them in January 2015 in the Apple Daily, and they responded by saying that they knew an investigation was “taking place” but that these people “don’t understand what we’re really doing here”)

Socially, both programs encourage you to make friends with locals, but really don’t want you going anywhere near anyone local outside of your school. The requirement to live with other people in the program plus the expectation to do extra curricular activities together with people in the program makes it difficult to make local friends that your roommates won’t also be friends with. This forces you into a bubble that is very difficult to break out of. There are approximately the same 12 Kinmenese locals/college students that befriend the Fulbrighters and King Car teachers each year. They are usually locals/college students looking to befriend foreigners for the social status that that comes with, which helps when the foreigners are looking to prove that they’re actually making friends with locals and not just sitting at home watching Netflix and talking only to their American roommates after school every day.

I could go on and on about the gas lighting and brainwashing of both of these programs, the sexism, the encouraged racism, the covering up of rape cases, the theft, the threats to keep your mouth shut when things do go wrong that are only the fault of the lazy administrations that don’t want to loose their lifestyle of being driven around by private drivers and luxuriously sitting around in their fancy apartments in Taipei. But I think I’ve said what needs to be said.

If you do want to come to Kinmen to teach English, look at (licensed) cram schools, or, if you have a teaching license and go straight to a school and get your job through them. (Make sure you speak Chinese or already have someone you’re confident you can trust to help you.) If you’re employed by the schools, your responsibilities are exactly the same thing as the Fulbrighters and King Car people (which, admittedly, varies a lot, but no English Village) but you get paid the way a local teacher would, instead of that money going to the pockets of your “administrators” in Taipei. Also, your schools are more likely to treat you well because they would have the opportunity to hire you in further years as opposed to disposing of you. (Salary starting around 60,000 NT/month, round trip airfare, healthcare, monthly housing stipend, etc.). BIG thing to watch out for is…you probably won’t get paid on time. It’s become a thing to post to Facebook when the foreign teachers get their first pay of the year…it’s usually late October after working the whole of September and most of October. Make sure you arrive with the resources to survive the first two months without pay, if you do this. This goes into more of the bureaucratic nonsense of the Kinmen government. Something about delaying pay because of the people in charge of processing pay checks needing or not needing to be working in that time frame?? Welcome aboard! But at least the pay is reasonable.

No program is perfect, but I wanted to make sure I shared my own experiences thus far dealing with various organizations in Kinmen county. There are so many things worth it about coming to teach in Kinmen, but there are so many things to consider that could make the entire experience hell.

Good luck!


#320

If you want to know the scoop about working as a foreign teacher at Lizen High School here it is. You get reasonably good pay. Foreign full time teachers make about 60 K. Sure you could get a higher salary at Wagor but for Taiwan standards its fairly good. You either work Part time in High School Or Elementary OR both departments full time. Full time tends to be from 9-6 pm and it will pretty much take over your time. From what I understand, the work is not too over-demanding and the kids tend to be great. The downside of working at the high school is you will usually need to deal with a few bad apples in the class and how you deal with them will determine how you teach the rest of the class and whether you enjoy it or it becomes a living hell. You teach solo. The elementary department, the problem is the Taiwanese teacher, who is in class with you, who will no doubt pick you apart about the various things they think your doing wrong and how well you adapt to criticism and your relationship with co-teachers will determine if you enjoy working in that department.

The biggest problem with Lizen is the people who actually run the school. From what I have heard, the “bosses”who deal with foreign teachers don’t really call the shots. This was not always the case. Before the current management staff, the high school and elementary staff was run by a woman who had free rein from the principal and pretty much was the head honcho and could make unilateral decisions regarding pay, class schedules and so on. Sometime a few years ago, the position of the man directly below the principal at the school was replaced with another . Apparently this person is extremely strict and keeps the management staff on a short lease and basically they cant even wipe their ass without his approval. There are stories that this man and the Principal have told management , “look these foreign teachers are just talking heads”and “if one gives you problems, replace them “and all they need is somebody with a pulse who listens and “it’s not important if they are a good teacher or not”. This is sad that the school is now run with the standard cram school attitude towards foreigners because it apparently used to be different. So don’t expect a flexible place. The pay has not changed for the last 10 years ago and is unlikely to change. There are superiors who you don’'t see, but rule the roost, with a mentality hostile towards foreigners, who they view as slave labor.


#321

Liren High School or Lizen High School. It is located in Taichung.