Opinion or experiences with HESS, Gloria English and Oakery?

Hello community,

I’m an American who’s relatively new to the teaching English abroad community. I have my BA in English language arts, TEFL certificate, and experience tutoring and substitute teaching and I’m looking to teach English in Taiwan in January of 2020.

I was originally intending on finding a job once I arrived, but it was brought to my attention that these schools should be considered a priority because of how good the testimonials from previous tefl certified individuals regarded their experience. However, I’m conflicted whether I should follow through with them, since it would offer some security and comfort to know where I’ll be teaching prior to arriving and in essence could plan out my living situation better OR do you think I’m better off being face to face and feeling out the school’s environment in person?

My plan was to live in Taipe since it seems the most accessible to first time visitors, but I’m truly open to anything…I would love to hear your feedback and personal experience

Looking forward to it,


English language arts is a major?

There’s already a TON of threads on this topic, some very conveniently divided by school. Also blacklists/whitelists for schools. Just punch “HESS” or other terms of interest into the search bar, or click through this subforum.

It’s the weekly “how’s HESS?” thread.:smirk:


It doesn’t look like it to me! This is an interesting question

However, I’m conflicted whether I should follow through with them, since it would offer some security and comfort to know where I’ll be teaching prior to arriving and in essence could plan out my living situation better OR do you think I’m better off being face to face and feeling out the school’s environment in person?

I know. I was just being a bit cheeky. :stuck_out_tongue: Good luck to OP on his teaching journey here.

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Did you know Hess was opened by a Polish lady who was married to a Taiwanese, later he divorced her and she got nothing. I’m sure it must of switched hands by now though…I know because I knew her. Rights of foreigners was abysmal back then.


I would not say she got nothing. I do not know the details, but it is A LOT more complicated than that.

I taught at Hess when I got here in '93 and had a good experience. I give them a lot of credit and you have to tip your hat to what they built. I met Karen once or twice after she divorced Joe, and I met Joe because I worked in the main office for a year.

With your experience and credentials, I’d skip these schools and look for one that pays more and where there is more flexibility schedule wise. Go on interviews and check out the schools. Lots of places are/will be hiring so you should take advantage of that. Unless they are willing to pay you a huge salary, I’d suggest negotiating for an hourly wage for a block of hours. This way you’ll have your mornings, afternoons, and or evenings free and won’t be stuck wasting 40 hours a week at a place while only teaching 16 to 20 hours.

I taught at Gloria back in 2006, but they were only in Taoyuan, not sure if they are in Taipei now. The experience was good for the first year since there was a tight knit group of foreigners and you could make friends easily. However most of them lived in a dorm, but I opted to get my own apartment. I’m sure it would have been a different/much less appealing experience in a dorm. I don’t think you’d be getting much interaction with the locals that way either. I did also have to drive to a different school every day too which was a pain.

I’m guessing most would advise getting a job when you’re here rather than signing up beforehand so you can have a look around and decide for yourself.

You only worked there for a year? It looked like you owned the place.
I joined Hess the year you were there. You, some tall guy, the national head teacher (?) we’re excellent hosts during training.
When I was there, Hess seemed very much in the corner of it’s foreign teachers.
My branch’s, in the North,
head teacher even won a dispute against corporate over an unauthorized closing for remodeling that cost the foreign teachers money.
The Chinese head teacher didn’t fight this and the lost their money.
A little after my second contract began, my girlfriend graduated and moved south. I was unhappy and wanted to leave, even though they didn’t normally give a transfer they allowed it and let me.
When I was there, foreign teachers seemed to stay there forever.
I only left because there were no local branches near my wife’s village.
Worst mistake I made. I had to put up with an abusive boss who was always trying to steal money. Advice, if you choose a smaller school like I did, make sure your school gives you a written paystub that lists your pay minus taxes.
It’s common for these schools to underreport, and try to embezzle your tax refund.
Because there was no other legal work nearby, nor not many foreign teachers willing to move there, I had to stand my ground and put up with stupid battles…
But anyway, Hess was great but a little weird.
There was a Mr. Hess. A man who sounded a little like Colonel Potter.
He called me at the end of my first contract he was asking me for the rest of my open ticket.
It was weird. He asks me for my return flight. I ask him if he will give me anything. No. I asked him if I have to. No.
I talk with my Head Teacher the next day about the strange conversation. She just said that’s what he does.
Last roomer from my head teacher…
Karen Hess had a baby. That baby turned out to be a little learning disabled. Karen thought the educational system here was not up to it and she raised her kid in the states. How much is true. Not sure. I enjoyed Hess but hear it’s not the same.

That wasn’t me. I contacted Don Hess after my plans to leave New York City were set. Don lived up on the Glen falls area. He told me I missed the recruiting cutoff and simply contact Kim when I landed. Kim was the NST recruiter at the time.

Those were good times. I taught for just over a year and re-upped, but then broke my contract to go home to Manila and help set up an Internet Gateway provider. Despite what I heard about what a betrayal breaking contract was, Hess hired me back 18 months later when they set up their ill-fated Hess Computer School. I worked for Fred (nice guy who was Joe’s right hand for a time - he would always say, “jiangzia de difang” the way the rest of us say “so desu ne!” or “really?”) and then moved over to the headoffice IT department when the computer school initiative was cancelled. I succeeded Mike Sullivan as Hess’s 2nd webmaster.

I have good memories of teaching at Hess. I went from doing so poorly almost half of my CTs complained and my HNST sitting me down saying he would let me go except the Banquiao branches were so understaffed of NSTs, to becoming an average, reliable teacher. Had the Internet not arrived in Asia at that time, I probably would have stayed an NST for a while

The tall guys at the head office when I worked there were Kenny Blackman the main recruiter, Tyrone in training, Heath Rawles, who worked with the nascent Hess Kindergarten team, and writers Malcolm Higgins and Michael “Stu” Staudacher - who began the revamp of the N program. Awesome guys, every one

Yes. Tyrone …
Not tall but either his dress or manner showed class. He made you feel at home and very approachable. He explained the ins and outs quite well. I’m trying to recall my head teacher’s name… Keelung… Nina? Or was that a book character?
My kid broke my Hess more than computers cup not long ago…
Like I said, I feel I should have stayed with Hess for a little while more…
The boss I got after Hess put a lot of strain on me and my girlfriend/wife.

That’s what she told me first hand , but yes I didn’t get the other side of the story. She certainly didn’t get what it was worth and she lost total control of what she created. She was a very nice lady.

I think Hess is great. But I’m a parent, have never been a teacher, and I only know this one location. Yup, this comment is useless for this thread. But my daughter Lynn thinks all her teachers are awesome, so thanks to you great people who teach there!

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I truly appreciate all the insight folks, as well as the mysterious history behind Hess ! I also caught wind of a program through TeaLit called Arun language that was advertising 65k ntw a month and only 25 hours a week…it almost feels too good to be true for a school advertising online-has anyone heard of this program?

Nonetheless, I’m definitely planning on doing some face to face interviewing around Taipei before accepting a position or agreeing on a contract. I still have a boat load of research and planning to do when it comes to specifically laying my plans out and where to target, but my vague outline consists of saving at least 5,000 USD by late December, Flying to Taiwan in January, and staying in a cheap AirBnb while I search for a school to pair up with.

My next inquiry, or some strategical knowledge I’m curious about hearing your guys input on at least-am I better off locating a school to work in first, or an apartment/room to rent? I’ll probably be doing them simultaneously, but it seems ideal to live relatively close to the place you work and then be able to obtain an ARC. Is it still difficult to find work in Taipei due to how competitive it can be, or should I have some luck if I’m persistent? I’ve grown up in Manhattan and managed to find my own apartment when the time came, but fortunately there wasn’t any language barrier there! My Mandarin is still atrocious and TeaLit is the only apartment website I’m able to comprehend; I feel like this being the only website I can navigate imposes some limitations on planning where I’ll look when the time comes…

I’d nail the job first, and then work out where to live afterwards, especially since you could stay in Airbnb these days.

Fwiw, when I landed here 26 years ago, I had 2,000 in my pocket. I had lost my savings earlier that year when I totalled a rental car the night of the NBA All-star game. I had chosen not to insure the car. I was put to work right away and was fortunate to not have to worry about finances - barely had time to spend any. And then summertime came and, boy, did we make a lot of cash!

For rentals, you cannot manage with 591 and Google Translate on another tab? Ok, maybe you won’t be able to close a deal but you should be able to get a sense of pricing and features in your target area. When you join a company, especially a major buxiban, there will be colleagues to help you close the deal.

Btw what part of Manhattan? I grew up in Yorktown and went to college in the Village

Extremely common story on rip off island.

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Yeah that makes the most sense and once again I’m quite thankful for the Airbnb’s making journey’s into unfamiliar lands like this much more approachable; although I’m pretty set on teaching in Taipei because it seems to be the hub, and just the most accessible for a noob like me, but would it be advisable to travel around the island to see if there are other any contenders? Personally, I don’t mind paying a little extra rent in Taipei if it’s the easiest to get by with meager English (although I do plan on improving my Mandarin), yet I feel like I’m not giving other cities a fair look.

Wow…that sounds like a pretty rough transition into a new country! but one that encouraged you to put your nose into the necessities and make smart decisions. I’ll check out 591 again, it was pretty late last time I checked and it boggled my mind to try and even navigate. Would you say that buxiban’s are my best bet? Although I’m not a certified English teacher, I’m certified to substitute here in NY and was curious if that would offer some leverage in public schools.

what a small world, I’ve lived on 73rd and York for the last for years while attending Hunter College, but previously grew up on 61st and 1st in my childhood.

I know three of the teachers at the Taitung Hess. They seem fine with it. Two of them have been there for years.

I have the feeling that liking or hating Hess has more to do with how rural a place you teach in. In Taitung there are fewer options and the pay is (on average) lower, so guys (and it’s usually guys) tend to be more satisfied there. In big cities there are undoubtedly better options for most.