Job Offer with Hess, Need Advice

I was recently offered a position with Hess, but am reluctant to take it since their negative feedback outweighs their good. However, a lot of the negative feedback is years old. During my interview, the interviewer seemed pretty transparent about the negative aspects (i.e. Not being paid for prep time, difficulty managing the classroom, etc). Although, I couldn’t tell if he was sugarcoating.

Can anyone share about their recent experiences with Hess? Also, where are the good schools located? I’m trying to get placed in a more rural community. I definitely don’t want to work in Taipei (too crowded, too expensive)

Just some background info on myself, I’m an American with family in Taiwan. My reasons for going are both for family and to learn Mandarin. However, all of this negative feedback about Taiwan in general is making me consider going to China instead.

I worked at Hess in 2009 in a suburb of Taipei (what is now known as New Taipei, a misnomer to be sure). And guess what? I liked it. The following is my personal opinion and experience. Others are welcome to offer conflicting/contradictory reports.

Let me put this out there first: Hess is not inherently better or worse than the other main chain buxibans, and your experience there will be entirely based on your personality, your coworkers, your students, and your branch management. In other words, everyone’s going to have something different to say. But keep in mind people are more motivated to take it to the Internet when they’re unhappy than when they’re content.

Hess pays alright, treats teachers well enough, gives you the materials you need, etc. But basically you’re a circus monkey in the classroom, a faceless cog in a giant English-teaching machine that doesn’t particularly care about anything as long as you show up for class and fulfill your responsibilities. If you can accept that, you have little to worry about. They provide some basic training which isn’t terribly useful, but you have CTs on hand to help you out when the kids inevitably get out of hand. For me the major setback was an inability to move forward with a career. Even after a decade at Hess, one of my coworkers was still singing the same songs and playing the same games with students that I was, just at a slightly higher pay-grade. The culture of buxibans in general I believe discourages learning Chinese, but that’s just my opinion.

I quit because I don’t like teaching English and I don’t like buxibans. It had nothing to do with Hess itself, and I made friendships with my CTs which have lasted. (That’s more than I can say for the other foreign teachers there…) I only have good things to say about Taiwan, btw. Any other questions?

They won’t have any problem placing you in a rural area but you should be aware that rural Taiwan is much different than rural America especially for a non-native speaker.

HESS is what it is. It’s the biggest chain (I think) and likewise it will get the most negative feedback. One thing you will notice on forums is that people rarely post positive feedback. Chains will vary anywhere from bad to okay. Non-chains will vary anywhere from exceptionally awful (not getting paid, awful curriculum and everything else terrible) to pretty good but you probably won’t be getting the pretty good jobs your first year.

edit - and there’s a rare positive experience that gets posted. I have about the same comments about Kojen.

China might be a better idea, especially if you want some time to learn Mandarin.

I’m going to tell you right now, working at Hess, you will NOT have adequate time to learn Chinese, especially if you go for split shift contracts.

The biggest downside to HESS is that they will give you tons of unpaid work, especially if you get a Young Scholars (aka Treehouse) class. Its not just prep time, but homework grading, quiz grading, test grading, progress reports, special functions, and you’ll have to compile all the grades by hand. This is the bare minimum assuming all you get is Hess Language School (Step Ahead)

Young Scholars has substantially more unpaid work as you are entirely responsible for the class.

If you take the kindy option you’ll have split shifts.

No matter what it will be a six day workweek. You won’t be learning much Chinese, that’s for sure. I’ve seen some very intelligent people try to do just that and they weren’t able to pull it off.

I worked there from 2011-2012. My experience was extremely negative but I was put in a notoriously bad branch that couldn’t keep a male teacher more than six months (Longtan, Taoyuan County). I’m not going to extrapolate my experience as the norm because of just how intensely negative and nasty the staff was. But I will say that, at the very least, you’ll be doing lots of unpaid work.

The six day weeks and possibly split shifts are going to take away nearly all of your free time. If you’re looking to travel around and learn Chinese this year you might as well forget about it at HESS.

And because you’re Asian, it will be harder to find work anywhere around here. HESS is one of the best employers in that regard. Many of the HNSTs are some kind of non-white or of a “non-ideal” nationality such as South Afrikan (or both!). I suspect they stay at HESS because they are the least racist about this stuff.

Hope this helps.

This. Unless your family is going to partially support you so you can take a contract with reduced hours, the amount of unpaid work will prevent you from being able to study Chinese. This was my biggest disappointment while working at Hess because I was interested in learning the language.

[quote=“naijeru”][quote=“KaiXi333”]
I’m going to tell you right now, working at Hess, you will NOT have adequate time to learn Chinese, especially if you go for split shift contracts.
[/quote]
This. Unless your family is going to partially support you so you can take a contract with reduced hours, the amount of unpaid work will prevent you from being able to study Chinese. This was my biggest disappointment while working at Hess because I was interested in learning the language.[/quote]

Actually I found that it’s possible to study Chinese and work at Hess, but it really depends on your schedule. I did it for a while, and I have a friend who does it as well. We are both lucky in that we do not have classes after 6:30 PM. However, it is equally likely that you will be given a split shift where you have to come in at 8:40 in the morning and don’t finish your last class until 8:30 or 9:30 or night – in other words, no free time and zero chance of being able to study Chinese. I know plenty of people who have this schedule. There’s also a good chance that you’ll be working on Saturdays. I did for almost a year.

Something else to consider with Chinese classes – even if you sign up for a class and start attending, Hess can change your schedule at any time (and probably will at some point), and you HAVE to take whatever hours they give you. It’s in your contract. One small change in schedule could mean bye-bye Chinese class.

As others said, expect a lot of unpaid work. 40+ hours of work per week for 20-25 paid teaching hours is normal, even after you’ve been working there for a while. I worked as much as 55 hours a week during especially chaotic times (performances, etc.) – and that’s on a 20 hour contract.

There will be a lot of pressure for you to make the parents happy, but I’d imagine it’s the same with any buxiban. If a parent complains about you, even if it’s over something completely ridiculous/not your fault, you will still be to blame. My experience is that most managers don’t really care about you or the kids’ English learning as long as the parents keep signing the checks.

Is the consensus, then, to take the job if you like the idea of being worked to death and only receiving half of a salary’s worth of pay?

Think about it for a second. Even if you made their TOP salary, NT$720 (or thereabouts) for twenty hours per week, and you had to work for forty hours per week in actuality, then you’re only making NT$360 per hour. Are you telling me that you couldn’t find a job anywhere that pays more than $12(USD) per hour?

Even low-paying contracts in Korean hagwons pay more than this ($21(USD) per hour), and you could learn Chinese there, too (Believe it or not, there are Chinese speakers and classes everywhere on Earth!), never take work home, and pay zero in rent.

There is a lot of overestimation here. While it does take time out of class to plan lessons and grade homework and do events, it came out to like 30 extra minutes of my day before class and another 30 minutes after class once I had gotten into the groove of things, meaning my longest day was something like 1pm to 9pm, and my shortest day was 6pm to 9pm. Not that bad, really (as long as you don’t get Treehouse classes. Treehouse sucks.)

Agreed. The extra work I did probably accounted to 1 hour per day. So, if I was working 4 hours, then I would probably have to do about an hour of grading at home. Obviously it took longer when it was test time, but for me it was about an hour every day. Doing kindy and cram school would make it impossible for most people to learn Chinese. However, just working afternoons and evenings should present no problem to studying Chinese in the mornings.

The extra hours are not that bad, certainly not equivalent to paid hours. For every seven hours of paid work I did about an hour of unpaid work, so a 35 hour week would have 5 additional hours rounding out to a 40 hour week. As others have also said, avoid Treehouse.

I’ve read some of the “it’s not that bad” piffle on this thread. If you’re working unpaid for more than a minute a week…it’s bad…full stop.

Welcome to the real world, kid.

Yet absolutely the industry standard in 98% of EFL jobs on every continent.

Unless you work in retail or a fast food restaurant, what job doesn’t require this???

As far as a consistent basis goes: No, don’t work unpaid! As a rule, you get NO RECOGNITION & NO THANKS for working above & beyond. So why bother?

Oh Lord, I’m going to let someone else take this…

Have you ever taught in your own country? Maybe in a big city, in a private language school? Or a government place. Were you bathing in gratitude and cash for homework marking? :laughing:

If people were all on a salary then IMO their willingness to do unpaid work would increase. I’ve put unpaid work in italics because I think it is part and parcel of any teaching job. Having said that, I also appreciate the work to rule mentality of some hourly based teachers. I can understand how the resentment builds up. If you are on a salary - no excuses.

You should really consider it the other way. If you really take responsibility for the classroom, make and grade all of the homework assignments, and tell them nothing beyond what they explicitly ask you, they’ll feel uncomfortable because they’re not in the loop and are more dependent on you.

That’s what happens at my job, anyway. I have students who I basically teach privately inside the buxiban building. The boss almost had to beg me to add her to the CC list when I e-mailed homework assignments to them directly a while back. Not only that, but if I have to face some jilted employer saying that I was lazy or whatnot if ever I leave, then I have all of my students’ work saved on my computer to demonstrate otherwise. I also have all of the names and e-mail addresses of my students, plus many of their parents’, as well.

ehophi, based on that description you sind like a dedicated and responsible teacher, and I offer you my unending respect. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of the flippant type of teacher who has no concern for what happens when he or she is off the clock, ESPECIALLY if their employer doesn’t realize it. Anyway, best of luck to you!