In the past few months, I’ve tried to research various schools on Forumosa, and with each I’ve found it to be a tedious process of reading page upon page of a vaguely-related thread to pick up a couple of tidbits about the school itself.
I’d like to start a single comprehensive thread where people can post details about their current/past/potential jobs. This should be specific details about the contract, the school’s policies, schedules, pay, prep time, and generally everything else you get out of a school when you go for an interview with them.
I think it would be best for the quality of the thread to keep arguments and tangents to an absolute minimum. If someone has had a different experience than you, then write about your own experience and let someone else draw the conclusions (as opposed to denying the truth of someone else’s post).
Make sure you post which branch(es) of the school you worked at, as we all know things vary a lot from branch to branch.
You may also wish to volunteer yourself as a contact if someone wants to ask you more questions about the place where you worked.
I’ll start with two schools I’ve engaged with recently. They’re both in Banqiao, and they both focus on adult education.
Banqiao Branch (中山路）
I went in just today and applied at the Banqiao GV today (on 中山路, next to Fuzhong MRT) because I found out one of my neighbours works there.
Here’s the rundown I got from them:
- 14 hours a week
- $450/hour (“That’s our policy”; the hardline answer that says “non-negotiable”)
- You pay 30% of the national health plan cost ($236/mo)
The schedule works like this:
- Nobody works at just one location. So, two or three at least. They want me to work at Banqiao as my primary, Sinjhuang one night a week, and probably some more at one of their two Taipei Main Station branches
- The schedule is prepared in advance and remains consistent for long periods of time (months with little or no change). You teach X level class at Y location at Z time, and you do that every week. (An Aussie I met there has had the same schedule for 18 years)
- There are no set levels like other school. The students literally just go to whichever class they feel like every day. Interesting idea… they choose their own difficulty level. So, it’s up to the teacher to just teach the class at its designated difficulty level, and the students adapt or pick a different class.
- This is also how the school tells which teacher is good (and deserves more hours). If students are climbing over each other to get into your class, you’re a winner and they give you more/better hours
- Generally the bottom-of-the-totem-pole hours are evenings. If you’re worthwhile, they start scheduling you on days.
- Work is Monday-Friday (again, evenings), and you DO NOT have to work weekends unless you want to for the extra hours. They offer Saturday and Sunday classes.
- My neighbour confirmed that nobody supervises or observes your classes.
- Every teacher I met there seemed to be friendly and in a good mood. I get the feeling it’s very low-stress (like others here have mentioned).
[Edit: I went back to the school today to read over the contract.]
- The contract at this school is less than a single page. There’s also a one-page list of Teacher Rules as an addendum to the contract.
Contract (shorthand version):
- Follow Taiwanese law
- Taxes will be deducted as per standard Taiwanese law
- $20,000 contract cancellation penalty, unless you give them two months’ notice, then it’s fine.
- 2 months before the end of the contract you need to tell them officially whether you’re going to renew or not.
- Teacher Rules (see next section)
- Arrive 15-20 minutes early for prep. If you’re 10-19 minutes late, $50. 20-29 is $100. 30+ minutes late and “all students have” (have arrived?), $150.
- If no students show for your class, clock out after an hour. You only get paid for the first hour.
- Call in sick at least 4 hours before class. Bring a doctor’s note next time you come in.
- Only absences that are absolutely necessary are acceptable. You can take a leave of not more than 1.5 months if you write a letter as to the reason and receive permission to do so by the school.
- If you get bad reports on your behaviour, they can fire you.
- Must wear an acceptable standard of dress.
- If teaching methods are found to be inappropriate or lacking in effort, they can fire you.
- 2 months notice before resignation, or they can penalize you and report you to the relevant authorities. They are not responsible for difficulties in attaining work or visa after your employment with them.
Gjun / JuJiang MeiYu / 巨匠美語
Banqiao Branch (中山路）
I’ve had one interview with Gjun at their Banqiao branch. I did a 15-20 minute demo lesson for four staff who pretended to be students (definitely ‘more’ legal than demo lessons required at some other schools). They liked me and offered me a full-time job that didn’t exist an hour earlier when I asked. They’re currently trying to schedule me for a second demo lesson at their Taipei Main branch, which is apparently required of all full-time teachers. Here’s what I’ve figured out with them about the position:
- A full-time position is 24 hours per week at $50,000/mo
- Schedule: Monday-Thursday 6pm-10pm, Fridays off, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sundays off
- Sometimes you work a half-day on Friday (to cover someone, or for a PTA/event day), in which case you work a half day Saturday to keep the total hours consistent. (Likewise true if you work an AM private class for them; hours are dropped elsewhere).
- Everybody works every Saturday, no exceptions. When I asked about the flexibility on this and whether it would be possible to work every second Saturday, the woman who manages the Banqiao branch actually threw her head back and laughed. Disturbing moment in an otherwise pleasant conversation.
- Nobody works in just one location. Gjun wants me to go one or two days per week to Taoyuan, and maybe some other day to Taipei Main Station. They were okay putting in the contract that I would work away from the Banqiao branch a maximum two days per week. They were not okay putting in the contract that I would work at Taoyuan for the next three months, in order to give them plenty of time to find a proper full-time teacher to fill the gap there.
- Attire is “smart casual” most of the time (jeans okay, sandals and shorts not okay). Occasionally nicer button-up shirts for business classes.
- Must show up 20 minutes early for work in order to prep class materials.
- Not paid for time spent grading tests / papers. All other out-of-class stuff is done during regular work hours, and as such is ‘paid’.
- Major bonus in my books: The contract is 15-months long. The first three months represent a trial period where the contract can be terminated without penalty. As far as I’m concerned, that’s three months to keep an eye out for a better job while getting paid and testing the waters at Gjun.
- Other bonus: Free Chinese lessons from the other teachers.
Gjun’s salary works out to just $480 an hour. (24hrs per week x 4.34 weeks in a month = 104 hours/mo. $50,000 per month / 104 hours is $480 per hour.)
Factor in the unpaid time grading, and you’re probably making about the same as you would at the infamously-underpaid (according to Forumosans) Global Village.
[Edit: Contract details for Gjun]
I spent a full 30 minutes reading Gjun’s contract and Teacher Guidelines book. as a whole it’s at least a 15-page document.
My notes alone for this contract are two pages (double-sided) long, so I won’t go point-for-point like GVO’s contract. Instead, some abbreviated snippets:
- Gjun can fire you if:
- Your teacher rating drops below 88%
- Your class is down 60% of its students, or below 6 students
- You are absent for more than 10% of a class’s hours
- Teacher doesn’t finish scheduled classes
- Inappropriate behaviour
- Whoever breaches the contract pays $10,000 (I didn’t see any way Gjun could breach the contract)
- 2 quizzes per class minimum, or $500 fine
- Call in sick at least 6 hours before class (must call b/w 10am-10pm). Bring a doctor’s note or $10,000 fine.
- Call in one day before any other absence, or $2000 fine.
- If you’re late, according to the computer sign-in system, $1000 fine.
- If absent with “no proper reason” and without contacting the supervisor, $10,000 fine.
- If leaving the country for visa, studying abroad, or other reasons, must give 1 month notice and proper documentation or $10,000 fine.
- “Fulfill all teaching responsibilities” or $10,000 fine and abandon rights of appealing.
- If you don’t complete the course properly and on time, $10,000 fine.
- Customer complaints may incur a $10,000-100,000 fine.
- No sandals/flip-flops/shorts or $1,000 fine.
a. $2,500 for a 60-hr group class completed with full attendance (yours, not the students), 90%+ eval score, 85%+ school score, and more than 10 students. This bonus is $1,000 if it’s a 30-59hr class.
b. $500 for recruiting someone else
Hopefully this post will be useful to those who are looking into these companies later on down the road.
I don’t understand why, with all the English teachers on Forumosa, it’s so rare to find any detailed reports on different schools’ policies, scheduling, environment, or any aspect other than pay.
Here’s hoping more people come back with info about their own schools! Let’s get this rolling!