EF China: A Serious Warning
EF China

EF China: A Serious Warning

I applied to teach with English First China in August 2009. I’d actually been browsing jobs teaching English in Japan when I saw a sidebar ad that read “Teach English in China.” I clicked it and arrived at the EF home page.

Unlike the majority of ESL job postings online, language school English First’s website was organized, informative and beautifully-designed. It explained in crystal-clear detail what I could expect from the application process, upon my acceptance as a teacher, after my arrival in China and on the job.

I didn’t hear anything for the first several days after submitting my application, but within 48 hours of EF’s response, I had a job offer and placement in Shanghai. I hope this isn’t too good to be true, I thought as I clicked the “Send” button.

As you can probably guess, it was indeed too good to be true. Although English First Shanghai is far from the worst place I’ve ever worked, little about the company separates it from any of its multinational competitors.

Need help getting an ESL job that doesn’t suck? Hire me as your Teach Abroad Coach!

The Good

I like to start with the positive whenever I can, so I’ll begin by telling you what was good about my experience teaching English in China with EF. Overall, English First’s strong suit is that it has money, which it uses to make sure teachers’ bare necessities are covered.

English First was always on-time direct depositing my salary into the Bank of China account the school set up on my behalf. By contrast, many smaller English school pay teachers late, or not at all. These school sometimes even cease operations without prior notice.

As promised, EF promptly reimbursed me for expenses I incurred during the application process, such as obtaining my online TEFL certification and Chinese “Z” work visa.

English First also facilitated the conversion of my work visa into a residence permit. The school provided me with a work permit, medical examination and a chaperoned transfer to the office where I had to submit my paperwork. EF paid all associated costs.

Furthermore, EF’s “welcome package” was excellent. My liaison Apple met me at Pudong Airport and escorted me to the four-star Rayfont Nanpu Shanghai Hotel, where EF had prepaid a two-week stay for me.

Before Apple left, she provided me all the materials I’d need to start with the company the following Monday, including instructions as to where to meet her colleague, who’d be taking myself and my future colleagues to orientation.

The Bad

EF offered teachers a salary of 12,350 RMB (or about $1,850) per month as of November 2009. That’s enough to live well in Shanghai or other large Chinese cities, but it isn’t enough to both save and spend. Allow me to explain.

First of all, China taxes expat employees in this income bracket at a rate of 20%. In other words, my take-home pay was only 9,880 yuan per month.

EF does not provide you with an apartment or compensate you for yours. Instead, I paid about 3,000 yuan (~$450) per month in rent, and 700 yuan, or $100 in utilities. I spent 200 yuan ($30) per week on groceries, 50 (about $7) on lunch at work and 100 ($15) filling up my Metro card. My recurring expenses totaled 4,050 yuan (~$625) per month.

EF China also doesn’t reimburse you for your flight up-front. Rather, it pays you monthly installments of a set, 8,000 yuan ($1,200) employee transportation allowance that doesn’t come close to covering the actual cost of a round-trip ticket from anywhere in North America or Europe to China.

The Ugly

EF China Work Environment

You might notice that I haven’t mentioned much about my work environment yet. You know what that means: It sucked.

As a disclaimer, I will say that I loved my students more than you can ever imagine. I taught adults, so many of my students became friends. They showed me parts of Shanghai and China I’d never have been able to see otherwise. For this alone, I am forever indebted.

That being said, EF is surely not the only English school in China with good students.

EF China Management

Unfortunately, EF is one of the worst managed places I’ve ever worked. I’m speaking about my work location in particular: The EF “Megacenter,” the company’s national headquarters in Shanghai’s People’s Square district.

Friends who worked in other English First centers throughout the city and country, teaching both kids and adults, had varying reactions to their workplaces. The vast majority of them were as disappointed as I was.

This was particularly true for kids’ teachers, who were unwittingly forced into working two six-week sets of seven-day work weeks during EF’s seasonal “Summercourse” and “Wintercourse” modules, without overtime pay or time off in lieu of worked weekends.

EF Professional Development

Several job-related irregularities irked me. First and foremost was the issue of “Feedback.”

About half of a given SMART teacher’s schedule is composed of four-person “Face-to-Face” classes.  The primary benefit students reap from taking these classes is individualized instructor “Feedback” within 72 hours of class completion.

Being the overachiever and generally good worker than I am, I made a point of entering feedback immediately after each Face-to-Face class. I got zero recognition for my promptness. By comparison, all but a couple of the other teachers were chronically late.

To add insult to injury, I was also made to stay in the office during unpaid “office hours,” even though I was finished with my work. Because of this, I ended up being “at work” approximately 50 hours per week, while getting paid for just 25.

My supervisor used his quarterly conferences mostly to remind me that he didn’t personally like me very much. The subject matter of these conferences only tangentially related to teaching or learning, and usually focused on matters of office gossip.

He also frequently criticized my wardrobe. This was curious, since I was the only male teacher in the office to adhere to EF’s dress code, which requires a belt, tie, dress slacks and a shirt tucked into them.

Hate sales? I don’t, but it got really fucking old have to put the EF logo on every piece of content I produced for my students, as well as having to use official product and course names whenever I mentioned any linguistic concept even nominally related to them.

Technology at EF China

Technology-wise the Megacenter was also lacking, a problem I imagine is much worse at English First satellite centers. Computers both at teacher desks and in classrooms were sluggish, resulting in regular delays in class starting time for which teachers usually took the blame.

Alternatives to English First China

EF’s main competitor in China is Wall Street English, a decidedly more corporate-oriented language school that have at least as many centers as EF nationwide, if not more.

Wall Street English has a reputation of working its employees even harder than English First (34 classroom hours per week vs. 25), but also pays significantly better, in addition to a rent-and-bills stipend each month. Like EF, Wall Street is a multinational company, so it’s conceivable you could take your job to another country if you make it long enough.

Once I’d finished with English First, however, I had no desire to work directly for someone again. By virtue of my friend Kyle, who worked for British Education Ltd. at the time, I was able to procure several high school-aged students as private clients, eventually making as much per month as I’d made with EF working only half the time.

Teaching private English lessons is ideal if you’re experienced enough that you don’t have a problem making lesson plans from scratch. It’s also important that you be OK with working under the table, since you might not have your residence permit any longer.

Canceling Your English First China Contract

If you’re unhappy working English First language schools, you’re probably worried about being “under contract.”  First thing’s first: The only thing you need to do to get out of your EF contract fair and square is to provide your supervisor written notice at least 30 days before your last planned day of work. End of story.

But what about my residence permit? What about it? Although company drones will tell you otherwise, you are under no obligation to allow EF to cancel your residence permit, regardless of whether or not they paid for it as they did mine.

Thanks to the China’s Stone Age information technology infrastructure, Chinese authorities are unable to cancel any entry document without physically having it in their possession. To be sure, Chinese immigration officers are usually too busy with other issues to bother tracking down teachers who quit their jobs a few monthly early.

Although your residence permit will eventually expire, you can remain in China if you so please. Simply obtain a Chinese tourist visa in Hong Kong.

After you’re out of EF’s grip, Shanghai (or wherever in China you’re based) is your oyster. Ample opportunities are available both within and outside the ESL industry. Or, if you’ve managed to save money, you can get on the next plane out and never come back.

About The Author

is the author of 668 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


  informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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  • What a thoughtful, helpful comment! Thanks a lot.

  • Natalia

    Preachin’ to the choir!

  • lol

  • Stephen Ford

    THANK YOU for voicing the unrealistic expectations of expats looking for work in China. I’m currently applying for a position in EF Qinhuangdao, hopefully to move to China and begin teaching immediately after I graduate college in a few months. From everything I’ve read, I have no expectations for quality treatment and resources in the position. But the fact that I can move to the other side of the world, with little classroom experience and only an online TEFL certificate, and make more money than the local standard is still an incredible privilege many people in the world would never have. Keeping your perspective in check is the most important thing in any experience living or working in another culture. I am sorry that so many people have had horrible experiences with EF, but I can’t help but hear the whining of people still living lives and having experiences many people could never dream of.

  • Ryan

    I applied to this program before I had the chance to check out this page and now I’m having second thoughts. Because a large amount of these posts were made 2-3 years ago, I’m wondering if things have changed or if this is still an opportunity it would be best to pass by. I’m currently working for a small university in Hebei and although there are some issues it doesn’t seem near as bad as what workers at EF are describing. I think I may look into finding another university to work at when my contract expires.

  • I wouldn’t. There are tons of local teachers. Even thouse from Hong Kong.

  • lordblazer

    I’m working with EF right now and am in probation period. EF gave us only two days to find a place. Likewise, I found out we get paid significantly lower than our counter-parts. they keep our schedule too busy. I’ll probably find something else soon, EF is good if you are low on funds and need a way to get back on track. Otherwise, it isn’t a career job. It feels more like a McJob than anything else.

  • lordblazer

    those are normal questions to ask when you receive a job offer. I’m with EF right now. I didn’t have this experience, but it is interesting to see. I have a cousin who is about to quit and go work in Turkey for a bit. I might head out in that direction sometime soon. Maybe to UAE.

    Anyway during orientation HR flat out lied to our faces about our residency visa. regarding having to give them our passports to cancel the visa. they state it’s their policy to not assist us in transferring the visa to another employer. I found out all they really would have to do in that case is issue the employee a letter of release stating that the employee is no longer employed with them. IE: they give this to you ANYWAY. So lying to you and telling you that you cannot transfer is a lie, you are able to do so with that letter as everything else will be on the hands of the new employer. They rely upon people being new to China, and having no prior contacts in China and no social life in China prior to arriving. By getting those types of people you can ensure they are able to control the information a lot more tightly. And they ensure it by making sure our schedule is too busy to do anything else.

    With that being said I am glad to have contacts here, and am happy to know I have friends here too. If something better comes along I have the support to take it and not worry. The rest is smokes and mirrors. With that being said, EF does invest a lot in their employees. So They’re not the evil corporation that everyone set out to make them seem like. It is simply put, people can get a much better deal outside of EF which makes EF looks bad. Which to be fair, yea it does and it should. As long as you don’t get exploited by EF then you’re fine. But don’t let EF trap you into their cocoon.

  • lordblazer

    it’s a fair comparison. though it stops right at the numbers. lifestyle. being able to afford a certain type of lifestyle. even Expats who cannot eat at local joints. then yes it becomes more expensive to be an expat.

  • lordblazer

    it comes from ASians feeling like blacks aren’t good enough. I mean Jim Crow America was like this. businesses didn’t want blacks inside because the customers felt nervous around black people or didn’t like them. those businesses were only trying to meet consumer demand. you can’t blame them can we? /s

  • lordblazer

    I think working above the contracted hours is a big deal here. to require it is a bit insane. Just include those hours into the contract so people know what they’re getting themselves into.

  • lordblazer

    having worked at a school in dallas with cutting edge tech like that. it’s just the pitfall of working in a classroom or work environment dependent upon technology. when it doesn’t work, you can’t work. luckily in education the show can still go on. which is what EF is, a show.

  • lordblazer

    yea my friend told me that EF will keep you busy during the weekends mostly because that’s their busiest times. it’s when people have free time to take lessons. hence the weekends. though EF does give you days off. I Dunno. I am working for EF now. I am about mixed about certain things. AS HR did lie about the visa thing, and gave us only little time to find an apartment. they wanted me to use an EF approved agency. I instead said “okay that sounds good” then went and did exactly what I Wanted to do which was get in touch with a few friends who helped me find a place that was reasonably priced, foreign friendly landlord, and no agency fee or agents used. pretty much the plan is to save money and find a new place first so in a few months I’ll be moving. But I’ll stay at EF for the one year contract. Then move on to brighter horizons. Having taught at an inner city school in America before. I can tell you the bad and the ugly on your life IS NOT NEARLY AS BAD AS IT CAN GET. Trust me dude, working in China is paradise compared to being a teacher in America, especially if you are a teacher in a GOP state that’s hell bent on making life impossible for teachers. being a teacher in China is more respected, and also puts you in a position to save. Don’t take it for granted even if you are working in a language mill. You could be teaching in America where I was and have a student threaten to shoot you and get attacked physically by a parent for giving their child a bad grade. teaching in america = everything you say is not to be taken seriously. You are to be held accountable for things completely out of your control.

    I’ll say EF is reasonable. There are better options out there too if you’re more than qualified, but if you are new to China and need to figure out the market (no matter the industry) then EF is a good way to get your foo tin the door and get on the ground here in China and discern things for yourself. Nothing is wrong with seeing your time there as temporary. Just do your thing. EF is bringing in teachers by the truckloads it seems. which hints to me that turnover is quite high.

  • lordblazer

    look into Fullbright.

  • lordblazer

    dude EF china pays atleast $15 an hour. which was how much I was making as a teacher in America.

  • wifienabled08

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m having this EXACT issue right now.

  • I’m going back into the fire to teach English in China again. I’d like to set up a business to make more money though. 5,000 RMB after taxes and rent doesn’t sound too good.

  • henrietta slain

    I am currently doing a part time job as an online English tutor and I will have to say that indeed working for such does have lotsa, well, unpleasant”ness” there. The boss is often inconsistent with his words though he is a well- tempered man. Another thing, salary is ALWAYS late and in fact not in full. Yes and yes, you are not paid fair and square for all your rendered hours and all those statutory benefit they are obliged to pay is not given. And yeah I have to add that my students are the only precious stones I have in this company I am working for right now other than me needing money.

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  • Thanks for your feedback! Sorry you’re experiencing this, though.

  • lordblazer

    I ended up leaving EF because the CD in my center kept interrupting my classes to yell at me. he was chinese. and apparently he doesn’t want black teachers at his center. EF did nothing to help me. and they have harassed other black teachers out of their positions before.

  • lordblazer

    also I am keeping in mind that expats have bills back in their home country to pay especially Americans with student loans to pay back.

  • Pam

    Thanks for honest feedback about the perils of teaching ESL in China and EF in particular. I have a read a few websites and comment boards and I notice that they are overwhelmingly negative about places to work and all the lies and scams of recruiters and schools. Although I’m grateful to have this honest info I wish I could find all the alternatives and great opportunities that people talk about listed so that I have somewhere to go. I know Wall Street English was mentioned here but what about some good recruiters or other small schools or training centres or universities or middle schools were people found good people and at least a decent work environment free of lies and scams.

  • Honestly, if you are looking for a “sure thing” with hiring and job placement in advance, Wall Street Journal is your only other realistic option.

  • Red Panda Paws

    I am having so many problems with EF ! I want out of the contract but they want to cancel my work visa and make me pay for everything they paid for, even though they owe me reimbursements. What can I do?

  • That’s a tough spot to be in. Technically, they are not supposed to be able to cancel your work visa.

  • It’s a big chain school. I walked into one of those schools in Shanghai and walked right out. I don’t like the vibe of working for those big chain schools. They are too corporate for me. I saw on their contracts that they expect you to work 40 hours a week teaching like 20-25 hours and the rest office hours.

    Just my advice… if you want a good job teaching abroad you need to talk to the teachers at the school where you are applying. A lot of the big companies and programs in Asia won’t allow that. But if you don’t that’s the risk that you take.

  • coldhearted_k

    Hi I was wondering if you would mind emailing me on your experience. My fiancé and I are both black teachers and we were both offered a position at EF China starting on Jan 24! And I feel as if the reviews on line have clearly been filtered and monitored by the company due to the fact that they are all positive.

  • coldhearted_k

    Hi, would you mind emailing me about your experience. My Fiancé and I were both offered positions to begin on January 24. We have not signed contracts yet, but I am am overall concerned about our safety, travel, and expenses. It is just common sense to not fully trust a company we have never worked for before and have limited knowledge on.

  • Red Panda Paws

    Absolutely. If I can save just one person from my own misery, I feel that I have done some good. Now I kept hearing that EF schools really varied from place to place but it doesn’t seem to be true if I am to trust my experiences and the experiences of people I know. My husband and I needed a new school and they sounded really nice. They said they want their teachers to be happy, well-trained, and just well-taken care of. That was for maybe the first few days. Then we went through a really fast management change. We didn’t receive the training we needed at all, but we worked it out and survived for a while just fine. We loved our apartment and everything was dandy. Except the manager kept treating me differently than everyone else. I would get in trouble for things I either didn’t do (but others said I did!) and things that everyone else was doing. I was getting called into the office every day for unknown things like no jeans during office hours (which no one told me and the office hours were my own time!) and not coming in early for meetings (which was never mentioned and was given no reason for) and at one point, for missing office hours because I had to go to the hospital to get an MRI because we though I had brain damage. (I love teaching and he made me cry several times in the office for making me feel so bad. That’s never, ever happened before) Both my husband and I did these things and he didn’t get in trouble like me. Although, it began happening after we explained that we were frustrated about their expectations that were never mentioned. Then we would get yelled at, cursed at, lied to, and eventually the manager physically threatened my husband! He would call my husband into the office to talk about my behavior. He would mess up the schedule then we would get in trouble for not being in class. He wouldn’t talk to me face to face and would instead message me when I left the room. He addressed all emails only to my husband when sending them, even though they were sent to my email address. I was given a formal warning for something I didn’t do. And he continuously broke the law and contract.

    First, we tried to talk things out. We offered to rework the contract to be more specific and come up with agreements but every time we offered he said no. We wanted to leave and they charged us for every single thing they could. Even our letters of invitation for some reason! And they tried their hardest to kick us out of our apartment, but we turned that one around and moved out before that could even get settled. We didn’t feel safe with him knowing where we lived. We had no idea why all this happened or why he seemed to have a grudge with us. Also, I believe that the only reason we weren’t tricked and somehow deported was because my new school lent me their lawyer and that seemed to make them nervous. The problem is, if you call the police or report them for hiring illegals (which they did) they just pay off the police, so nothing ever comes of it. If you decided to take the job, okay, just make sure your contract is really, really strong. And I can definitely give some tips on that because my new one is awesome.

    Hope that helps. Good luck! (Also, Shanghai can’t do you any good: we contacted them and I think EF paid them off because my claim was pretty darn good and she just decided everything was fine after telling me that the behavior was unexcusable and I could be helped.)

  • lordblazer

    I can tell you now. The difficulties of teaching in China while black is crazy high. I suggest you join the Facebook group Brothas&Sistas of China

  • There are indeed difficulties. I’ve found it easier to find employment in China than Japan, Taiwan, or Korea though. White worship and disdain for Blacks is prevalent in all of those nations, and it effects all aspects of life. That is why I advocate for Black folks in Asia to have a side hustle of some sort and try to build something. Also, pipeline a few people to set up friendships and romantic relationships before you get there. It is possible to attain both organically while living in the country, but hunting online first and doing a bit of “recon” makes things easier.

  • Esee8

    I read Robert’s article a while back while i was going through some issues with EF. I also asked him if it was ok to write about what it was like to work at EF now and as a result I wrote this blog post about my experience with EF.


    There will be grammar mistakes. After all, I teach English in China.

  • esee8

    I read Robert’s article a while back while i was going through some issues with EF. I also asked him if it was ok to write about what it was like to work at EF now and as a result I wrote this blog post about my experience with EF.


    There will be grammar mistakes. After all, I teach English in China.

  • EF DoS 2016

    I’m the director of studies for an EF franchise. Your experience will COMPLETELY depend on your management, the quality of which varies hugely between schools. Let me outline our current situation, as it fiffers hugely from what the OP experienced.

    Guys, this is NOT a pitch, so I’ll withhold the name of the exact school I work at and post anonymously. Just want you to know that centers DO exist that you’ll love!

    Currently, I’m lucky enough to have a solid, sensible, intelligent upper management team – the center manager (the ‘big boss’ in China terms) is from a teaching background, and understands the hardships teachers can face. For example, instead of milking the teachers dry to maximize production according to the contract, we aim for teachers to be on 26 x 40 min classes a week, instead of 30. Doesn’t sound like much, but boy does it make a difference.

    We also have zero office hours – I trust the teachers to get their work done to a high quality on their own terms. Soon, we will have 2 office hours a week each, at times when we would be at work anyway. This is just to make sure there are people in the office that aren’t super busy with lesson planning at peak times, as they might be asked to do a placement test.

    Most teachers work around 25-30 hours a week, all in. Peak season (summer and winter course as OP mentioned) ARE 6 day work weeks, but we have incentive schemes to help compensate, and a holiday afterwards. It’s not a breeze, but I ALWAYS make sure teaching candidates know about this before they agree to come and work for us.

    We are totally transparent, and do not try to trick teachers, ever.

    We provide a free apartment OR 1,800-2,500 rmb a month to cover your own apartment. Apartments are fully furnished, cleaned before entry, and safety checked (appliances). This is ON TOP OF SALARY. The city is around 1,000,000 people only, so none of our teachers have ever had to pay over that, and all live in very nice, modern apartments, within 15 mins of the school by taxi. I personally view all apartments the school gets for teachers, and choose which are suitable. I have never had any MAJOR complaints about apartments, in 4 years, and believe me I would know if there was a problem! Any issues about broken things are dealt with by the school.

    Monthly bills are covered by the teacher, but are usually only 200-300rmb a month.

    Starting salary for zero experience (TEFL certificate and a bachelors degree in any field are a must, though, as we have professional standards to maintain) is 8,000 a month (7,500 for the first two months probation period, which has never been failed!). This is as well as the apartment. Salary rises each year if you stay.

    To be clear, other jobs with other schools OFTEN PAY MORE. For my own center, though, I genuinely believe we have a decent deal.

    All visa and health check costs incurred by the teachers are reimbursed in full, immediately. This can be a significant cost, otherwise.

    I personally arrange and schedule professional development and training of teachers. Our newest teacher to arrive has a year ESL experience, but even so he will not start teaching for nearly two weeks, as he is completing training, induction etc. and observing our teachers. As we are a training school (like all EF franchises), I genuinely care about helping the teachers develop as ESL professionals, whether it’s a career move for them or not. We also offer free Cambridge university-set ESL tests (called TKTs), which are voluntary.

    I always provide the email addresses of our current teachers to prospective candidates, so they can ask questions with full honesty. These are always confidential between the teachers and the candidates, and I encourage full honesty from current staff.

    Most teachers who come to our school, sign either an extension contract or a another full year.

    ANYWAY! Thanks for reading, as I said before, this is just an example to show that some EF schools are run well and are a pleasure to work in! Our current staff of 9 teachers includes 2 that will probably re-sign another year, three that have been here for over 2 years. Of the other four, three are still in their first 6 months and are enjoying it so far!

    Tldr – my center has a very solid deal for teachers, and is fully transparent. I do know that some other EF schools suuuuuuuuuuuuck, but if you do your research on the center you’re applying for, you’ll be fine. ALWAYS get the emails of current teachers!!

    Peace x

  • lordblazer

    they hate black americans the most at EF

  • lordblazer

    Japan is the easiest. they’re quite friendly to black americans

  • I dunno. While I have heard horror stories, I know quite a few Black folks working there.

  • lordblazer

    trust me. I got harassed out of my job for being black.. IT depends highly on the center you are assigned to. the centers that have more than one black employee tend to be the ones that are tolerable. the centers where there is only one black employee and the turn over rate of black employees is high. More than likely the director of that center is engaged in discriminatory practices. Also is harassing the one black employee. I taught in inner city schools in America dude. I know how to teach. So I know I Wasn’t being incompetent but the director would come in the middle of class and yell and berate me right there. it was stressful and emotionally draining. I had to leave because I didn’t fly across the globe to be berated and treated like crap. on top of that they didn’t pay me. so I had to fly to the closest country and that was Japan. I was stuck there until last month.

  • That is so fucked up! 🙁

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  • This is my plan now. The environment and hours suck, and although I have been able to get out of financial dire straights thanks to EF, I’m about ready to do something on my own here.

    The only problem that I have is finding private students to tutor, especially being a Black man.

  • EF dos

    Not all EF schools are bad – it depends if your director of studies has the balls to stand up for the teaching team. If they do, the school tends to have a more even balance between Teaching and Sales (I.e. Quality and Money-grabbing), and the teacher will be better paid, not overloaded, not given any office hours. If they are weak or a money grub, it will be hell. The center manager and sales team see you as a product. They’ll pretend to care about what you do in the classrooms – they categorically do not. As long as you don’t get bad feedback, you can be as mediocre as you like. That said, a good director of studies will very much care…bad ones are just the same as the sales staff. ‘Don’t fuck up, but I really don’t give a shit if you’re anything more than mediocre’.

    Find out everything you can before you accept a job. Skype with current employees and just be honest that you’ve heard mixed reviews. They’ll be honest with you.

  • Good point! My DoS was a fucking dick, so…

  • Which city are you teaching in?

  • Guangzhou.

  • Dumbledoge

    I have been working for EF (Zhengzhou) for the duration of one-year contract. This article is SPOT-ON. It feels like the author is taking words out of my mouth literary. It’s all true.My school has no management, aka, the people filling those positions are relatives/ friend of a friend of the “investor” who is an over-privileged-money-fallen-in-the-lap-no-sense-of-the-real-world Chinese elite, who appointed his wife to manage the three (soon to be four) schools in Zhengzhou. For the first 7 months of my contract, there was no DOS in my school. Later one of the senior teachers (an ex-marine and a notorious drunk) was appointed to be our DOS. Needless to say, he gave up after one month and the position of the DOS has been quickly filled by the most senior local (Chinese) English teacher, who’s credentials to carry out the most basic English lesson are questionable. I am quite shocked that there are people in the discussion below bashing the author. One thing that the author omitted is the degree of racism, however, I would accredit that to China as a whole.

    The good: Yes, never had problem with getting paid (low salary as it was) Always in cash, so there is no trace and EF can claim that they pay their teachers bellow the “taxable” amount, so that the government does not care much. For those who have multiple-year experience working in China, you know how UNUSUAL it is to get paid the contractual amount every month…nuff said.
    The Curriculum EF has is one of the best I’ve ever seen which makes the classes go smoothly provided the technology does not fail you. Considering there is never an IT on payroll, it will, with terrifying consistency.

    The bad: The concept of certain positions, such as DOS is lost, or misunderstood. Same is unfortunately true for HR (Human Resources). People given the HR position are people (mainly young Chinese girls, straight out of Chinese university where they rigorously studied mostly, just, English) who’s English level is not high enough to carry out LT (local teacher) classes. I had my HR book a train ticket for me once. This person booked my ticket with a wrong passport number which I realized at the train station, after calling her annoyed and confused I was blamed for being angry. The money I paid to this person for my train ticket was never refunded. On top of that I had to buy my own ticket on the spot. Thank you for your help, I learned my lesson. When my passport expired and I got a new one by travelling to my embassy in Beijing, I had to go to the local PSB (politburo for foreigners bla bla) to get a new visa. I was told all the documents are ready and prepared by my HR, who proceeded to escort me to the PSB at some point. We ended up going to the place 5 times, every time the governmental employee would point out obvious mistakes in the documents such as: misspelled name, old passport number, et cetera.

    What I believe is quite important between the author’s and my experiences with EF is the time. Year 2009 and as I am writing this 2016, things are not getting better, nor worse I would say. It is what it is in English First, in China.

  • I’m glad I could take the words out of your mouth, although it makes me sad that anyone would have the same experience as me.

  • MrK

    I agree with a lot of the comments here, but before anyone signs up with EF it is worth mentioning the health insurance they offer. They offer three kinds, cheap, average and expensive, equally split between you and EF. Can’t even provide health care like an enlightened employer. Lets say that with the cheap one you get even less than you pay for. Aetna for 300 RMB per month, split between you and EF might sound like a good deal, but they wont tell you they are utterly incompetent. There is no support outside regular shanghai office hours, no English support at weekends, no support at all on Sundays. It’s next to impossible to have them pay directly for any treatment. So basically if you need anything expensive done, make sure you have access to huge sums of cash cos thats the only concern of Chinese hospitals. And if you have anything life threatening and urgent, be prepared to die waiting for any help.
    Oh, and EF being the incompetent employer that they are take months to give you the insurance details which just adds to the frustration.

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