Abraham Academy (亞伯拉罕兒童英語學院)

Does anybody know the link to Abraham Academy, a school in Taipei? Thank you.

Does anyone know if Abraham Academy is a good employer?

I just dropped a CV off there on the off chance. The reception area was all oak panels (or other dark wood) and leather chairs. They confirmed they were looking for teachers but didn’t seem too welcoming. I asked about their school’s philosophy or style, and they said I could find out on the website.

Just as I was leaving, I saw a “science” book on the shelf called “Enjoying God’s World”. Curious, I asked if I could take a look. With the book right there in front of me, the woman I was talking to said it would not be convenient right now because someone might need it later. I said I just wanted to have a very quick look, but she repeated that it was inconvenient.

I had assumed that Abraham Academy was just another random buxiban name, but it seems that perhaps there is greater significance to it.

There was something of a weird atmosphere about the place. The picture of the boss and principle looked scary too. I don’t think I’ll be going back.

I just noticed this thread. You should hear their ads on the radio. “Many parents send their children abroad to learn English. But do youreally feel comfortable sending them to live in a foreign country? Worry no more. Here’s Abraham Academy.”
Yeah, like sending your kid to a buxiban even compares to sending them abroad :unamused: .

Anyone have any other real experiences from here? They contacted me recently via my ad on Tealit.com, should I stay away from this school?

Yes you should indeed stay away from this school. I interviewed there a few years back and the principal (lady at that time) was very arrogant and very overwhelming. I got offered the job, but decided to decline as I figured there would be no way to have a productive and communicative relationship with her. This obviously would have been a horrible working environment, and would have eventually ended in my demise. I also check tealit often to see which schools are hiring, and I often see this school with and ad looking for teachers.

Yes you should indeed stay away from this school. I interviewed there a few years back and the principal (lady at that time) was very arrogant and very overwhelming. I got offered the job, but decided to decline as I figured there would be no way to have a productive and communicative relationship with her. This obviously would have been a horrible working environment, and would have eventually ended in my demise. I also check tealit often to see which schools are hiring, and I often see this school with and ad looking for teachers.[/quote]
You’re being presumptuous here. How do you know that things would have gone so badly? You can never judge strictly by first impressions.

You probably already accepted or declined this offer, but I can give you some insight on my interactions with this school.

I had an interview for a part time position here and got the same first impression as the second poster in this thread. The administration felt cold and unwelcoming. Smiles were forced. This was unfortunate because the school is actually very beautiful and looks well organized.

I have to say that I got the worst impression during my demo. First of all, I wasn’t introduced to anybody who entered the room and they all filed in as if they were a jury about to deliver their verdict. I made an effort to introduce myself to everyone and didn’t get much “participation” from the “class” during the demo. Afterwards, because I did not know the answer to one of the “student’s” questions, my occupational knowledge was called into question. I was pretty offended as this piece of information was not required in the lesson plan and irrelevant to my job description.

I want to point out that I often go into an interview with MORE of an open mind than most people. I was also desperate for a job at the time and this opportunity looked great on paper. All in all, when I walked away from the school, my gut was telling me “no way!”

Hope this helps. I also hope that you had a different experience!

[quote=“FlorenceN”]You probably already accepted or declined this offer, but I can give you some insight on my interactions with this school.

I had an interview for a part time position here and got the same first impression as the second poster in this thread. The administration felt cold and unwelcoming. Smiles were forced. This was unfortunate because the school is actually very beautiful and looks well organized.

I have to say that I got the worst impression during my demo. First of all, I wasn’t introduced to anybody who entered the room and they all filed in as if they were a jury about to deliver their verdict. I made an effort to introduce myself to everyone and didn’t get much “participation” from the “class” during the demo. Afterwards, because I did not know the answer to one of the “student’s” questions, my occupational knowledge was called into question. I was pretty offended as this piece of information was not required in the lesson plan and irrelevant to my job description.

I want to point out that I often go into an interview with MORE of an open mind than most people. I was also desperate for a job at the time and this opportunity looked great on paper. All in all, when I walked away from the school, my gut was telling me “no way!”

Hope this helps. I also hope that you had a different experience![/quote]

Thanks for sharing that FlorenceN, I’ll be looking for jobs in Taipei soon so that’s good information. By the way, how long ago was your interview?

I agree with the others that my interview was cold and awkward. To start they wanted to copy my diploma and an actual passport photo at the beginning of the interview and I thought why not, it’ll smooth things later. I did the demo and they grilled me pretty hard and had me fill out some paperwork. The demo was for about 5-6 of their teachers and they wanted me to treat them like children, but I really find that hard to teach people who could potentially be my superiors like they are children. I basically just went over the steps of my lesson plan and explained different ideas and each time they interrupted me to teach them like a normal class. Overall it wasn’t a bad demo. Then they took all the paperwork and told me that they would be in touch. I said wait a minute because I usually have about 5-10 questions that I like to ask at the interview. I took out a notebook and the interviewer started moving toward the door. The questions were just about basic stuff like how many students go to the school, what kind of books they use, holidays, vacation time etc. She said that the director determined that and they couldn’t tell me any information while she kept on moving out the door. As I went through each question the interviewer got more and more nervous and asked me why I would need to know these things. She was unnecessarily secretive and just wanted to push me out the door. I gave them a copy of my passport, diploma, etc, and they won’t even answer basic questions like how big class sizes are and how many children go to the school? wth? I didn’t get the job and it was probably for the better. Maybe it’s ‘sour grapes’ but I wouldn’t want to work for a school that isn’t forthcoming on small details like this. If you interview them take a note of these details and see how forthcoming they are in the interview. I think its very important to ask a lot of questions in the interview. Its very important that you find a good fit before you sign that one-year contract. This could very well be a great school, but be on guard at that interview.

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Read their website, eh? Here’s a terribly awkward paragraph worth highlighting:

At Abraham Academy, results acquire public praise, the America Asia Federation gives the certificate to them, and that certificate “approves” that the single English level of all of their students is equal to the one level of all of the elementary students in America. This is what “results from the point” of two to three hours of daily English training.

Note: Other paragraphs are equally bad.

Oh, and it’s a religious school:

Wow! That’s quite a claim. The part about being on par with the kids in the states is bullshit though. Maybe 1st and 2nd grade could be about the same, but no way that’s true 3rd grade and up.

I don’t get what they mean by a Christian traditional education. If I recall correctly from my religious studies coursework, most devout Christians traditionally got their linguistic training by transcribing the Bible into different languages. I couldn’t imagine sitting children down for that kind of work.

They do, however, teach their children to recite Aesop’s Fables, which is a bit ironic, since Aesop wasn’t a Christian; but also, impressive, if they understand the morals of the fables afterwards.

I thought I’d share another gem from Abraham Academy’s website.

In my search to find an English-teaching job that will hire a newbie with no teaching experience, I’ve come across several Abraham Academy ads. Of course I checked out their website, and on the homepage immediately saw what I thought was the beginning of a poorly-phrased sentence: “To break the myth of happy English learning…” No school would want to have miserable students, right?

Wrong. The sentence ends with “make students concentrate and devote themselves to learning speaking and writing English instead of chatting and singing.” (Because chatting is clearly not speaking :aiyo: ) I had to re-read that sentence a few times to make sure they actually are stating that it’s not okay for English learning to be fun.

Let’s just say this newb isn’t about to apply to this school… especially after reading this thread. Yikes!

I interviewed there a while back, and they liked my demonstration and wanted to hire me – even offering me my current pay rate upon hiring; but they offered a ridiculous contract, so I declined the offer.

The school is associated somehow with a religious school in Pensacola, Florida, and they try to operate under a similar model. Students are expected to learn during their classes, to rest and relax during their breaks, and to do nothing else. They’re discouraged from socializing or making any noise (rehashing the attitude that children are to speak when an adult speaks to them), and the managers prided themselves on that fact. They had a classroom full of students who were on their breaks in the other room, and it was absolutely silent. Whatever they do to the children to train them into that kind of mindset (which reminded me of the monastic life) works.

Even with the Christian association, the school does not teach the Bible, and they don’t seem to teach English as a self-contained subject. Instead, they cover core subjects (math, science, history) in the English language, like French immersion schools in Canada do. Because of this, they are pretty narrow in their search, since they want serious-minded instructors who can serve as academic and social role models for students. There wasn’t a sticky ball within a hundred meters of the building, nor a collection of broken English writing and illustration projects scattered across the school’s walls, as is the norm of most buxibans. Instead, everything was tidy and clean, a first-ever sight for me in this country.

I could go through the details of my demo, but the short of it was that I gave a pretty direct method for covering the key points to the topic on which they requested I perform the demo. They liked the method that I used, liked my overall demeanor, and found my pedagogical philosophy aligned well with theirs. They were eager to have me sign a contract with them and to begin working there, so I went the next day to review their contract.

The school would not print a copy of their contract for me to take home, but they did allow me to take notes over the terms of the contract, and left me to my own devices to review it, which I dutifully did (with you all in mind). I discussed the more dastardly bits with the head of the school.

These terms seemed most relevant to prospective employees, with [color=#0000FF]positive points in blue[/color] and [color=#FF0000]negative points in red[/color]:
[ul][li]Their part-time position is for ten hours weekly. Their full-time position is for twenty-two hours weekly. [color=#0000FF]They claimed that they never had student shortages or merged classes (and at NT$90,000 per twenty weeks per student, they wouldn’t need to merge them). They use ability grouping, not age grouping.[/color][/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]They assess a NT$20,000 fine for early contract termination[/color], and the tone of the whole contract led me to believe that they would sue teachers to get it.[/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]Full-time employees are not allowed to work at other schools.[/color][/li]
[li]They have a three-month probationary period, which their contract claims is used to increase or decrease their offered salary, depending on performance (more on how they assess performance later). [color=#FF0000]The reality, though, straight from the boss’s mouth, is that they don’t have a practice of reducing salaries, but of dismissing teachers.[/color] [color=#0000FF]If you’re up to snuff for the first three months, you may get a raise;[/color] [color=#FF0000]if not, you’re fired.[/color][/li]
[li]There is not any guarantee of pay raises.[/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]All new employees must undergo three weeks of unpaid teacher training.[/color] Supposedly, the time it takes to complete the training depends on “how smart you are,” which means that they’ll blame you if you take the full three weeks to complete it.[/li]
[li]Employees must write and provide weekly and semestral tests for students, and they must generate all homework assignments (I even had to provide one for the demo, itself.). You get a textbook and access to any stored assignments that they might have on their computers.[/li]
[li]Teachers have to submit “teaching tactics” (a curriculum) every week for each class.[/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]The school does not allow employees to download files from the school’s computer, and they threaten to prosecute people who do.[/color][/li]
[li][color=#0000FF]The school offers teachers a NT$1500 perfect attendance bonus every month.[/color][/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]There are kindergarten classes. [/color] My job wouldn’t have contained them, but they exist at this school, and [color=#FF0000]they hire foreigners to teach them (illegally).[/color][/li]
[li]They offer five days of unpaid annual leave per year, unless you (as an employee) can prove that a family member died, etc., which you can use to negotiate slightly longer unpaid leave.[/li]
[li]All employees operate under a point system, sort of like merits and demerits that administrators use to grade teachers. Various demerits accompany various infractions, and other merits accompany positive administrative reviews. Their system is such that the top scorers for any given month get bonuses or pay raises. [color=#FF0000]But this system incentivizes unfriendly competition among instructors, so if you want to help other teachers, or request some help from them, know that it’s in every teacher’s economic interest not to help another teacher, because doing so increases the recipient’s points and reduces the helper’s chances of getting a raise.[/color] I recall the manager of the school stating that they offered bonuses to their top five or ten performers.[/li]
[li][color=#FF0000]One such infraction is the use of Chinese in the classroom.[/color] I defied the boss to give a definition of the word “self,” or to draw a picture of a self. He couldn’t, and I told him that it’s a waste of time to draw pictures or give definitions if there isn’t a lot of lexical ambiguity to a given term and there are some clear and standard translations for it. He conceded this much to me, but who knows how that would have played out in their “training?”[/li][/ul]

I know Taiwan had all those cram schools with Harry Potter related names. Was just wondering if this school’s name has anything to do with that movie Abraham the Vampire Hunter?

I’ll tell you something. These schools can never due you for breaking the contract. Just give them some excuse and say that you gotta go back. What can they do. That contract they signed with you is not even binding in court.

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Well, not every term to a contract will be legally enforceable, but given my Internet degree in contract law, I understand that whole contracts don’t get thrown out when one part of them is illegal. I think the lucky thing about Taiwanese ESL business culture is that we can gut most contracts with the LSA, allow owners to pretend that we don’t know about the provisions and protections in the LSA, and counter-sue for certain damages, withheld funds, etc. In fact, if there were a reliable route to winning punitive damages or reward money for whistle blowing on illegal business practices, I’d seek out ridiculous contracts like the one above.

There are tons of schools like this in Taiwan. I have talked to some people who have worked at American Eagle, and it is the same situation. It is essentially classicism through private learning. I think it is good that they attempt to bring in good teachers, but one has to believe that some of the stories being posted about some of these schools on social media are true. I know at the university level both foreigners and locals get paid exactly the same if one considers the retirement pay earned after a decade or two decades of service. An individual that works for two decades retires at 80% salary and receives a New Year’s bonus for life. Other sectors of the economy also pay into a welfare program for their retirements, too. I am not sure about the actual figures of this though.

[quote=“Britt”]. . . I checked out their website, and . . . saw what I thought was the beginning of a poorly-phrased sentence: “To break the myth of happy English learning…” No school would want to have miserable students, right?

Wrong. The sentence ends with “make students concentrate and devote themselves to learning speaking and writing English instead of chatting and singing.” (Because chatting is clearly not speaking :aiyo: ) I had to re-read that sentence a few times to make sure they actually are stating that it’s not okay for English learning to be fun.[/quote]

The following is just an observation, and an anecdotal one, based on a very limited sample: The only person I personally know who has become very fluent in English without setting foot in an English-speaking country has done it by “happy learning.” It has involved work, and sometimes hard work, but apparently with this person there has always been a strong element of enjoyment in it (movies, songs, reading for enjoyment, conversation, etc.).

I’ll add one more anecdote: In Korea I briefly met a young Hungarian man with excellent English (he was a university student there, but he was mainly there to learn taekwondo), and when I asked him how he’d done it, he said that back in his home country, he and his friends had formed an English club, and had regularly had discussions in English, and had watched English-language movies and television programs.