Kojen Schools - What's the scoop?

Hi all!

We’ve been looking into some places to begin working and Kojen schools in Taichung has come up as an option. Has anyone worked for them before and if so, what was your impression?

This will be our first teaching position and we are doing everything we can to get off on a good start. Thanks in advance!

Landon and Karen :sunglasses:

Kojen is a very good place to start if you have no previous teaching experience. They have dedicated teacher trainners, a decent curriculum, and more supplementary material than you could possibly use in 3 lifetimes of teaching. In short, unlike many schools in Taiwan, you won’t be thrown into the classroom empty handed and unprepared. In my years as teacher and teacher trainner at Kojen [used to be called ELSI, btw], I was always impressed by the high degree of peer cooperation, and sharing. Ideas and material flow freely around the teacher’s room. People are normally very happy to help newbies. Your classes will be observed by teacher trainners on a regualr basis, and lots of very helpful constuctive feedback comes to the teacher in post observation reviews. Kojen also has the best teaching libraries I’ve seen. The problem becomes not, “I have no material”, but rather, “I have too much material”. Given these problems, clearly it’s always better to be overprepared.

The disadvantages of Kojen are that the pay is medium to low, you might be asked to teach on weekends, do early morning “breakfast clubs”, teach a mixed adult-children schedule, and definetly - teach a split schedule [morning and evening work]. The owner of the School, Mr. Ken Ho, is a legendary jackass, hopefully you won’t have to deal with him, or his slimy VP much.

My perspective is based on teaching exclusively in the adult department. For kids, the Kojen program is okay, but there are several other school chains that also have strong programs with lots of teacher support, which you could consider.

Taichung is a nice enough city, but because it’s away from the Kojen main market of Taipei, some of the teaching culture might be different, but at least the material will still be bountiful.

As far as adult private language schools are concerned, I think that Kojen is pretty much the best, though I’m sure you will find a lot of dissenting opinions about this. It takes about a year, to a year and a half, to really absorb the trade-craft, and to fully come into your own as a teacher, so my advice would be to use Kojen for that amount of time, and then drop them for more lucrative work. By then you will be a seasoned teacher, who knows how to run a lesson, and is in possession of lots of ideas, and material. Now you have some real value on the market - time to cash in on this. The extra NT100-300 per hour that you might be offered elsewhere really adds up, particularly in the summer time.

Good luck.

i’ve heard their preschools have some problems with vacation time and pay. the adults and kids department sound pretty good. i would make it quite clear that you don’t want to work in the preschool.

My experience with chain schools is that they’re each run by their own management. Thus the one on this road could be absolutely brilliant, but the joint around the corner could be crap. Point taken about materials and trainers too.

But my advice with any new school is this,
‘don’t sign anything until after at least a month’, by then you’ll know what the management are like. If they’re honest, they’ll think that’s not a bad idea.

Cheers Amos

I get the KOJEN “news letter” stuffed in my mailbox from time to time and I have to say that if it is any reflection on the quality of the school, I’d keep my 10-foot pole handy.

Kojen is very good compared to other places and would be my first choice. Check around for the best boss of the dept as personalities do vary widely. You will not want to work for some and will definitely want to work for others. Your boss will make or break the experience.

What’s up with their spelling? :s Kojen? :s I’d love to know how they romanize the word for mouth/opening, or the word “real”. I think what they meant was Kejian.~sigh~ :unamused:

I have an interview with Kojen (Kejian for Maoman) tomorrow morning. Until this post, I’ve only heard reasonably good things about them. Of course, as was mentioned, my impression from people in the forums (not my own experience, as I just arrived in Taiwan) is that it depends on:

  1. The branch you work at, and the management therein…
  2. Your attitude and expectations…
  3. What you put into it.

If offered a position, I would definitely not go into this thinking Kojen will be a perfect experience. But, any experience – good or bad – will teach you something about yourself, your needs and expectations, and the world around. And, for a year, I think I can deal with it.

The management has never been perfect in any job I’ve ever had. I would never expect it to be.

I’ll tell you how my interview goes after the fact. :slight_smile:

Jonathan aka LJ

I taught for ELSI about 10 years ago. Roosevelt Road - Joe was the AD. Fine spot. Taught at them all eventually. Some had more than their fair share of know-it-alls. That’s what you need to be aware of. Many teachers think they are God’s gift and are quite intimidating. **** them - it’s the luck of the draw - hope you get a good place.

ELSI had the best materials, and if you find a teacher sympathetic to newbies they can be a great help. Don’t knop why it’s called Kojen now, must be the Taiwanese transliteration of the Korean spelling of the Irish for ELSI. Or something.

Kojen used to use the English name ELSI [English Language Services International]. About 20 years ago Mr. Ken Ho the president of Kojen was a importer-exporter looking for a new avenue of investment. He bought a franchise from ELS, a Culver City, CA based chain of English schools. While most overseas ELS schools were under direct US management, the terms of Ho’s agreement allowed him to build his own programs - using the ESL franchise as a marketing legitimizer. The “I” part of ELSI indicated this degree of seperation from the US headquarters.

If you have ever had the dubious honor of meeting Ho, you’ll know him to be a somewhat astute businessman who often acts the buffoon in order to disarm people. I think his real gift is in taking other peoples good ideas and thuroughly coopting them. He is a dreamer and a schemer, and early on in his foray into the ELSI project he was pursuaded to invest money and manpower on teacher trainning and materials developement. ELSI has thrived for him because some very talented teachers, trainners, and academic directors have created a system that puts teachers in the classroom with real teaching skills, and a properly organized and teachable syllabus. In a market where the norm has been cluless foreigner X, in front of a totally mismatched bunch of students - free talking, ELSI has developed a very solid reputation among Taiwanese students.

Ho being Ho, he has made made some collassal blunders along the way. He’s wasted millions on half baked notions, and he has gotten himself in legal problems galore - both major Tax trouble, and law suits from digruntled parents. A couple of years ago he had a falling out with Culver City and he was forced to give up the ELSI name. So, “Kojen” English was born. All along, ELSI was known locally by it’s mandarin name “Ke-jian Mei-yu” [Kojen American-English], so I guess it was logical for them to make use of their Mandarin name instead of thinking up some clever new Enlish acronmym. I’m not sure why they chose to use K-o-j-e-n as a romanization… sounds like Ho taking someone’s advice again.

I’d reiterate to anyone thinking of working there, the essence of my earlier post: despite its many drawbacks - Kojen is a very good place to cut your teeth as a new teacher. Use them for a year or two, then move on.

Kojen branch schools are all under direct management - not franchises, like so many kiddie schools.

Well… I was offered a job with them today, and I took it. From everything I could find out, and my visit on Tuesday, I found them to be a very good choice. In fact, there was another new teacher there, who had also checked around at other schools – interviewing and such. He felt the same way.

As has been stated many times, things are never perfect. So, I’m not going into this thinking that it will be heaven. But, I think it will be a good experience for me. And, they do seem to take care of their people.

They are giving me NT$20 hour more than the norm to start, because of my background. This is despite the fact that little of it has to do with directly teaching English. I know that they still pay lower than some, but I don’t think I can expect top dollar for being new to the profession.

Besides, as it was explained to me (your opinions on this are welcome), they pay less because they have overhead that includes extensive on going training, teacher support, strong curriculum, etc… unlike other schools that just “throw you to the wolves” without any support. Maybe this is so… Maybe not. I’m still happy with my choice.

I was even assigned to a school two MRT stops from my home. They seem to be able to give me the hours I want. However, if they can’t, there are another two schools within 15-20 minutes of me that I can go to.

I’m satisfied for now. We’ll see if in 6-months I feel the same.

Jonathan aka LJ

NT$20 over the norm would be how much?

Wolf… I’ll be getting 540 for adult classes and 550 for kids. Again, I know it’s not alot compared to some (many?). However, I’m satisfied for now.

Jonathan

LJ that’d be ok if the hours were regular. Are they? Like if you were pulling 7 hours or so, every day. If your hours are all over the shop, 2 here, 1.5 there and a couple at night, you’ll understand more about what’s everyone is saying.

Well… Each teaching session my schedule will probably be a bit different, though steady throughout the session. Most classes will be afternoon or evening. I don’t think I’ll mind that, since I’m more of a night person than a morning person.

However, only time will tell whether I will like teaching at Kojen, whether I’ll be okay with the hours, whether I’ll find the salary sufficient, etc… :slight_smile:

Jonathan

Workin’ at ELSI (or Ko Jen, or Ke Jian, or…)

Good teacher trainers.
Good teacher support.
Tons of materials.
Decent pay.
Split schedule, except summers when you will work up to 45 classroom hours a week.
May have to teach kids.
If you stay too long, you will realize that the company beleives you are expendable.

Ken Ho has been heard saying that if he could run his business without foreigners, he would do it in a heartbeat.

And “If the foregn teachers aren’t happy working at my schools, they can…”

If you have no experience, start there, but don’t stay too long.

I was interviewed by Kojen about a year ago or so, and I think it went pretty well. They all agreed that my English is good enough for them, and would contact me ASAP. Well, they never did… I ended up teaching English grammar at Global Village for a year and decided to quit because they only paid me like NT$350/hour. Guess what? I only had 2 students when I first started teaching, and had like 20 students when I quit. Not really fair if you asked me considering what they are paying me, but I accepted the fact. I am not white, all right, although I considered myself more attractive and desirable than most foreign teachers teaching there. :smiley: When I quit, they told me that my students like me a lot. I couldn’t be happier, to be honest. Well, it just seems strange that I never felt discriminated when I was in the US, yet I felt discriminated against in my own country. OK, I am not here to complain. Just need to talk. :slight_smile: Luckily, English is not my only skill, and to me it’s just a tool. I am more of a computer person. By the way, anybody using a Mac on this board?

While teaching in another country I filled out Kojen’s lengthy application on the Internet and waited for the “follow-up phone call.” They e-mailed a contract showing the low pay rate and no guarentee of minimum hours, and asked me to send a tape of myself answering the same questions I already filled out on the website. Like I was going to go out and buy a tape machine for this? I thought it was just cheap on their part that they couldn’t just call me on the phone–I was already in Asia. Considering it a bad sign, I passed. I’m not sorry either because I’ve been able to interview in person at a dozen places since coming to Taiwan.

Stay away!!!
I have personally known several teachers working for, or stopped working for Kojen/Elsi in Taichung and Kaohsiung .
Both of these schools are run by family members of the owner. The managers at both of these schools ( four in Total) are incredible racist and dishonest people.
If I may quote Ms. Jo, current manager of Kojen schools Taichung,
“They (English teachers) are foreigners…They have no rights!”
This was said in response to the MOE legal arbitrators questions at a legal arbitration hearing in Taichung, between Kojen and one of it’s teachers.

eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sef … -28937.txt

It would also be beneficial to point out that even though the arbitration hearing found Kojen/Elsi at fault for illegally withholding work deposits, Ms. Jo refused to return the money.

[$350 at Global Village? Isn’t that pretty good for GV? What is the going rate for GV these days?

I don’t know it’s been quite a while since I worked there. I remember being paid something paltry then, too.

Kenneth