Review: Adult ESL Schools

I finished a lot of MAJOR projects today, but only slept like 4 hours last night, so I am bored, but I have thought about sharing my experience in the adult teaching scene here. I have taught at chains, at schools with only one or two branches, but all adults. So thought I would share. Please add any schools to the list. I am rating MY EXPERIENCE (so subjective) from a 1-5.

Elite 菁英國際語言中心
Type: chain
Branch: Taichung
Pay: 620-750 depending on class.
Experience: 4.5
Facilities: Almost all rooms have a computer with internet and a projector. Before class you can check your schedule that day to see exactly which pages in which book you are supposed to teach.
Materials all made, no prep, OK materials. A. Bosses are chill, students interactive college girls and a few guys here and there. Always pay on time, no monkey business, taxes done right, really no problems. Opportunities to do editing work and curriculum development. Also can do offsite “corporate” classes at companies or big seminars at public schools.
Students who sit in on your class ONE time can leave a review for all to see in their online system. This can be bad, as I once had a student whose review consisted of “he made jokes and everyone laughed, but I did not know what was so funny since I could not understand anything”. Meaning, the student was so below the level she could not even understand what was being said. I got a bit of hell for this review, but when I pointed out the fact the student’s level was obviously way below the class’s, the issue was dropped.

Usually do not offer ARC, but will on occasion.

Type: local to Taichung
Branch: both Taichung branches
Experience: 2.5
Facilities: Not the cleanest rooms, old CD players and projectors that have to be lugged into the classroom, setup right in the middle of the room on books.
Pay: 600-650
All materials are provided, no prep needed.

Sometimes they forget to tell you if you have private students who cancel, or move, or just die or something, so you show up and they are all bewildered as to why you came. This happened both with private students and for a class I was subbing. They went ahead and paid me for the private students that went off to school overseas, since it was their mistake (and I made a fuss). The subbing they did not, since I was just relieved to have the day off and did not press the issue.

Does not offer ARC

Compass Lifestyle English 康培士英語
Type: Local to Taichung
Facilities: small, super clean rooms with glass walls, no cd players or anything else (as that does not fit the program). Except for the bottom “theme” floor with theme rooms on buying aiplane tickets, shopping, going to the salon (they have a mock salon, mock convenience store, etc)
Pay: 450-500
Experience: ?

Students are super nice, work staff is friendly, have a cafe with free coffee and cheap food that is really good actually. Smoking balcony where you can smoke between classes with students.

ALLLLLLLLLLLL material must be made by you, and that is not paid for. They have a very…unique system.
Classes are 45 minutes each. There are 3 shifts a day (morning, afternoon, night) with 3, 45 minute classes back to back that have a 15 minute break between them.
You mus arrive 15 minutes before your shift starts to clock in. You must also clock out. If you forget to do either of these, you get docked pay.
You actually end up arriving MUCH earlier than 15 minutes, since, with their system, you must teach a NEW lesson to every single student. This means if you have a class of 6 students and ONE has seen one of your lessons before…you cannot teach that lesson. When you come in you can see your schedule, which levels you are teaching, who will be in your class and who, in that class, has seen which of your lessons. So maybe there’s someone who has been coming to the school for 10 years, you will end up prepping a new lesson EVERY time you have that person in your class, since they have already seen everything you have taught before.
Pressure is very high. I was there for a few months and they went through 3 managers. People also get reprimanded left and right for any complaint, but the staff usually try to soften the blow.
They may have new computers, but when I was there, half of the computers in the staff office would literally take about TWENTY MINUTES to open up MS word or Open Office, so you would end up having to arrive about an hour earlier just to make sure you could even print your lessons out.

You MUST work Saturday…mornings. Not afternoon (you can too, if you want to), but you must work Saturday mornings, period. The only people who do not are those who have been there forever. This handfull of people also make about 200nt more than you an hour, since the pay was cut to 450 a few years ago, after this group had already been working there.

They offer ARC

GJUN 巨匠美語
Type: Chain, Island wide
Facilities: Nice, but old slow computers with no internet and no projector (except for tv classes).
Pay: 600-650 (depending on negotiating skills), weekend classes are paid for at your usual rate +50nt an hour extra
Experience: 2-5, depending on branch and branch manager’s attitude

All materials made, not the best, but not the worse. No need for prep. Opportunities for extra hours, lesson writing (paid), special events, bonuses given for completing classes without absences. Some classes are super fun, like the tv show “Modern Family” class.

Boring. You teach the same books, over and over and over and over and over (you get the idea) for years. No real room for innovation. If you go off schedule, you can get scolded, but usually not a big deal to get back on schedule. 1.5 classes-3 pages. Some pages are boring and useless, on mortgages and refinancing, or on memorizing state abbreviations for ALL FIFTY states of the US. But you can just quietly skip those, make photocopies from the supplementary materials and all is well in the universe. Just log that you are on schedule in the book and no one will notice (and they don’t really actually care, unless you have a stupid manager, which depends on the branch).

Sometimes offers ARC

Wells English 威爾斯美語
Type: Chain, island wide
Facilities: OK. Some rooms a tad ghetto, some rooms like posh movie theatres.
Pay: 650. If you have 2 years of experience and an MA is 700.
Experience: 4.5-5

All branch managers have amazing English, are really warm people and there to help you. Materials are provided, BUT you can also teach “elective” courses from your own materials (prep not paid for, but if you’ve been teaching a few years you got tons of material to wip out in 15 mins for a 2 hour class at 700/hr).

Not so many classes.

Does not offer ARC

Dell 戴爾美語
Type: Chain, island wide.
Pay: 550-700 depending on your negotiating skills.
Facilities: OK. Many rooms have a smart whiteboard, awesome overhead projector and not toooooo slow computers with internet.
Experience: 3


They provide texts, but they are useless. Typos that are not corrected, just highlighted (actually they write “should say…” next to the typo, so the students think the editorial comments are part of the text!). But this is not really a big issue…since the students do not usually even buy the book. So you go there your first time, no one has the book, then they refuse to make photocopies…you say you were expecting them to have the book, they say they expected you to prep even though there is a book. You say thats cool, but I prepped AROUND the book…so they let you make photocopies the first class but never again, so you end up prepping for every class without any extra pay and getting complaints from about 5 out of 30 students who bought the book.

Does not provide ARC

Cambridge 康橋外語中心
Type: Local to Tainan with several branches.
Pay: 550-600
Facilities: small nice rooms, with no computers, internet or projectors, so back to the lugging old cd players that hardly work.
Experience: ?

All materials made, pay and taxes are legit, opportunity to write lessons for 500 a pop. Have morning and day time classes during the week (hard to find in adult schools).

Must teach Saturday mornings…on a revolving basis…meaning every month one teacher has to teach the Saturday morning classes, after all teachers have done it, it is your month again.
Owner is honest, but can be moody. I had a class that was cancelled after 2 sessions since it only had 2 students. After that, I filled that time slot at another school. The “semester” is 8 weeks, after that semester ended the owner wanted me to teach the class that had been cancelled. I informed him I could not, since he cancelled it and I had filled that time with another school. He said “teach that time or you’re fired”. I said “Are you flipping serious? YOU CANCELLED THE CLASS!!! If you are serious, OK, when is my very last day of class then?” So you might get bullied there.

Offers ARC

Jeda 職達外語
Type: Local to Tainan, with tons of branches everywhere.
Facilities: super nice rooms, but no computers, so clunky CD players.
Pay: 600-800+ depending on class style.
Experience: mixed feelings

Materials all made, no prep needed. Have morning and day adult classes all the time.

Disorganized. You do not know what book, what lesson, etc you will teach, or if your class is cancelled sometimes till you go. I have heard plenty of horror stories about this place, but as I only taught there for a bit and did not have anything really bad, just annoyances due to substandard organization and communication between the head office and branches, I will not share them.

Offers ARC

If anyone has any other schools to share, just for
or their own experiences at these places, please share! There is a wealth of information on all the different kid chains and schools here, but the adult stuff is strewn all around, so thought I would start a thread that would be easier to access for people wanting to do the adult thing.

1 Like

Thanks for your detailed write-up. I might as well add GVO to your list – it is the largest adult chain school in Taiwan after all.

Type: Island-wide with branches absolutely everywhere

Facilities: Nice reception and seating areas at the front, classrooms are clean and comfortable but a little clinical, equipment-wise whiteboard pens are provided (it’s all you need anyway)

Pay: Starting at NT$500 p/h. GVO don’t really offer raises. They would rather give you more hours than a salary increase, but if you are a popular teacher you can squeeze a bit more out of them.

Experience: Mixed feelings. It’s an easy gig which doesn’t require a lot of prep work. Most of the students are really nice and the time in class tends to fly by. However it sometimes feels like a bit of a dead-end gig as you are not really stretched as a teacher.


Materials are all made and provided, no real prep needed unless you want to.

The so-called “Pink Ladies” at the front desk are pleasant most of the time, but you very rarely have to interact with them. Management is very hands-off and I don’t think I’ve ever met my supervisor face-to-face.


Boring – books go round and round in circles if you teach classes that use them. Magazine classes are more interesting because there are different articles each day. Teaching the advanced or superior level magazine classes can be challenge you as a teacher because they contain some more complex vocabulary.

No real incentive to try hard – I regularly see some teachers getting paid to sit and play on their phone because no students turn up to their class. The hands-off management approach can also be abused by some teachers who turn up looking more than a little worse for wear as the students and management don’t seem to care.

Most of the time it feels like a bit of a dead-end job that’s taking you nowhere. I doubt the experience obtained at GVO would land you a more prestigious position such as becoming an IELTS examiner.

If you want to work a lot of hours you need to spend a lot of time running around the different branches. I subbed for a full-timer once and only got paid 5 hours of salary for a day that lasted over 8.5 hours including all of the running around on a scooter. Not a pleasant experience.

No bonuses or benefits provided whatsoever. The Chinese New Year bonus is an A5-sized calendar.

That should be enough to scare away any good teachers. $500/hr is just insulting.

I went into Wells today and was told about these elective classes. The whole set-up seemed really strange. I had to double check when the branch manager told me that I could take a group of 20 students aged from 7 - 70 to a bar or KTV for an English class. :astonished: When she saw my astonishment at this she also suggested that I could teach how to use Powerpoint in one of their ghetto classrooms.

Overall I was not very impressed with Wells. Coupled with the fact that I was only offered 600 per hour without a fixed regular schedule I think they can go and take a running jump.

That should be enough to scare away any good teachers. $500/hr is just insulting.[/quote]

I’ve said it a bunch of times on here, but really, when other schools require prep, grading, telephone teaching, parent events, meetings, etc etc (I’m thinking of Hess here, which makes you do all of those things, often without pay, but it seems most jobs have at least one of those things) that 500/hour works out to be WAY more than you’re making at another, more labor-intensive school.
Of course I know some other schools don’t require outside work.

I worked at GVO for about 5 years and I agree with Milkybar_Kid’s assessment.
I did manage to get raises but you have to fight your ass off for them. My manager acted like I was making a really outlandish request. I think it was 7 phone calls and 3 emails and I had to threaten to quit several times. Apparently I was so aggressive I made the manager cry. :s (she no longer works there. Nice lady though.)

As far as the hands off approach, that’s exactly what I wanted. No hassle, no stress, just get my damn job done and go home. I adored 95% of my students. Some are now, still, close friends that I regularly correspond with now that I’m back in America. That’s another perk, teaching adults, you do get to learn a bit more about culture and you can make friends and a lot of students are willing to help you if you run into a language or culture snafu. It also helped me with some “racism” that I was experiencing (which I think is easy to fall prey to as an expat) because I got to meet educated, interesting people from all walks of life, so my interaction with adults wasn’t limited to shop owners and bad drivers and snoopy neighbors.

My take- get the minimum number of hours at GVO to get an ARC, take on more highly paid tutoring hours (or in my case teaching hours at a university), enjoy the fact that work takes up very little of your time and energy, get your APRC, and get out.
I very much enjoyed my time at GVO and am very grateful that I worked there.

The sage isn’t lying. I went in today to do a demo and this was in the first unit I looked at:


How about Time International Language Centre (TILC) in Taipei?
Anyone worked for them? What are the conditions like?
They are posting ads on the Craigslist currently - may be not such a good sign?

Jeda 職達外語 is terrible!! They sometimes pay the teachers late and you have to make your own teaching materials(Taipei branches). They do not respect their teachers. They are dishonest!

For example, they told me I would get 450 NT for teaching 2-4 students but in the end they assigned 9 students to my class and only paid me on the 450 NT/hr rate. It felt frustrating because no one there seemed to think this is ridiculous and this is super wrong!