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Not a new topic but....I Can Read - Anything Positive?
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Joined: 16 Feb 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An honest opinion from someone who has been in Singapore 7 years.
It was supposed to be a year...

I started off at ICR back in 2006 and taught for 2 years. There was a bit of trouble getting my Employment Pass application accepted at first and it was stessing me out. My boss was the kindest, sweetest lady who fought tooth and nail for me. My male boss gave me an advance to find accommodation and arranged for my salary to be paid every 2 weeks at first so that I had enough cash on me. The key is communication.

I worked at a big centre and saw many teachers start with me and finish their contracts with me, so teachers DO stay the full two years.
However, I also saw many teachers leave after a couple of months, do a runner in the middle of the night (seriously, is this Thailand?) and come to blows with the bosses. The most common bones of contention being holiday allowance, sick leave, bonuses.
Holiday allowance - teachers were not happy about only taking holiday in the course breaks. I was told this at interview.
Sick leave - some teachers had ridiculous amounts of sick leave which not only inconvenienced the other teachers who would have to take on the students but the parents and students too. Some teachers saw their 10 days days sick leave as rightful "holiday", in addition to their paid annual leave.
Bonuses - I never had an issue and those teachers who were let go, were not let go before just before their contract was up. In fact, a couple of teachers resigned and the boss actually prorated their bonus.

This "School" is a business and student population is a big factor in the sucess of it. Some might say education and business don't mix and I agree, though the bonus was that we were rewarded for doing well. I was given a half month bonus when our centre reached 1000 students for example.
The curriculum works but doesn't - allow me to explain.
The reading programme does what it says on the box. It really is 'teaching for dummies' - no prep time, you are literally just delievering the programme. The phonics programmes have been developed in order to prep for the reading programme though I feel that these programmes are not well written and not enough teaching resources are supplied. The primary school programme (based on Singapore's English syllabus) is very weak, though I feel that if teachers actually did their research into what was expected in Singapore, you could make this programme your own and really deliver it to the best of your ability.

ICR is not an ESL position - please be aware that your experience will be quite different from one in the rest of Asia. ESL positions are available in other schools like Dimensions, British Council, etc.
Singapore is a clean, organised city state and NOT suited to those who prefer chucking about a beach in Thailand or having complete culture shock in South Korea and China. Those countries offer something different entirely and you should consider working there if you want "real Asia".
Singapore is not for everyone. I love it, I have had a fantastic experience here and love it for what it is. British but not, Asian but not. Singaporeans (and their faults) drive me to despair some days and have me in hysterics the next. I would say for every bad experience, I have at least 3 good ones. Something happens every day that makes me happy to be here.
"Singlish" is as unique as the people. It annoys me to hear expats make fun of Singlish as the whole population is (at the very least) bilingual and come on, I have trouble understanding Geordie accents, strong Aussie accents and numerous others! Wouldn't you be MAD if I said you weren't speaking proper English? Dialects are inevitable and you have to be understanding that everyone speaks differently. Expats can get too big for their boots and have an "us" vs "them" patronising attitude. Please remember that you are in Singapore, if you don't like it, go home.

In a nutshell, ask yourself why you are looking at a job with ICR? Why Singapore? I hope I helped. This company has many things wrong with it but my experience was 80% positive.
I decided not to renew my contract with ICR because I was bored with the curriculum. I stayed in Singapore and I moved onto LCentral (ICR's competition) and had a fantastic experience with them and have had good experiences with British Council too.

It is unfortunate that so many teachers have had a bad experience with ICR as mine was positive overall. Please do note that people are more eager to write about bad experiences than good ones so I have tried to be honest.
Good luck with your jobsearch!
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Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:55 pm    Post subject: ICR Any thing positive Reply with quote


You wrote all about your experience and some is fair enough. But, you did not address the real problems; How many days per week did you then work and how many days a week do new teachers work?

What were the hours and what are the hours per day as of today?

Salary is paid by cheque or straight into the teacher's bank account?

Internet connection is a contract of how many months? When i was there it was an 18 month contract. Phone contracts were similar unless it was a land line.

Are new teachers asked to come in early to do "student assessments" if called upon? This was a bug bear if one was expected to come in early in the morning to apease some parent who thought that the white skin was there to do their bidding and too bad for the teacher. (Little Johnny or Johanna is far too important in comparison to the teacher and their daily acitivities.)

Tax: You did not mention any thing about tax or accommodation.

Any one thinking of working in Singapore especially for ICR do your homework and think hard about if it is worth the anticipated problems.

Should you have any apprehensions then PM me as I have only touched on a few of the real problems at issue.

Finally: Caveat Emptor

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Joined: 16 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Krakatoa,

Thanks for highlighting the commonly asked points about ICR and Singapore. I shall answer them from my point of view for anyone who is interested.
This thread is ICR - Anything positive? So I aim to let you all know that yes, there are some things positive about this company and let you all know any difficulties I faced.

I also wish to say two things:
1. ICR is a franchised business so your experience may differ depending on your franchisees.

2. Singapore is NOT a well known country for teaching ESL, therefore you should expect a different experience in Singapore to those countries you would traditionally associate with ESL. No accommodation allowance or help searching for a place, for example.

Krakatoa (and anyone else interested) here are the answers to your questions from my point of view:

What were the hours and what are the hours per day as of today? I started off with 1 day off and midway through my contract this was extended to 2 days. This is still the case for all teachers today.

Salary is paid by cheque or straight into the teacher's bank account? Mine was paid by cheque. There was one time when the cheque bounced but other than that if the money was to be in my account on 1st of month, the boss put the cheque in a few days before. I DO know in other centres teachers complained about their owners giving them the cheque on the day they were supposed to be paid - obviously I don't consider it payment until it's in my account. I think you need to speak to your franchisee about arrangements.

Internet connection is a contract of how many months?
I signed the ICR contract for two years though I only intended to stay for a year. I am still here 7 years later. All ICR contracts are 2years in duration so an internet contract for 18 months is no problem. Personally I currently have a cable TV/internet package for SGD$80 per month for 2 years.
You are able to transfer contracts so if you are leaving, you can transfer your contract into the name of the teacher replacing you or anyone else interested.

Are new teachers asked to come in early to do "student assessments" if called upon? This was a bug bear if one was expected to come in early in the morning to apease some parent who thought that the white skin was there to do their bidding and too bad for the teacher. (Little Johnny or Johanna is far too important in comparison to the teacher and their daily acitivities.)
Never had this problem. I was never expected to work outside of my hours - indeed I was scheduled (and signed a contract) for 35 centre hours (30 of these being teaching and 5 admin) but if there were no classes, I didn't need to come in. So I was quite often working 4 - 9pm on weekdays.

Tax: You did not mention anything about tax or accommodation.
Tax was deducted at $250 per paycheque and I had to pay the bill. Once paid, I received the $250x12 months back by cheque. Tax is usually around SGD$1800 for a full year's work on an ICR salary.

ICR deducts $250 per month because if teachers do a runner, the company is left with the bill. This bill is substantially higher than $1800 if the teacher has been working in the country for 183 days or less.

You are required to find your own accommodation (this is Singapore, not Korea/Japan/China), it's just how it works here. I had a fantastic boss who helped me out and great colleagues too. So no probs there.

Hope this helps - doesn't sound particularly negative does it? Res ipsa loquitur Krakatoa, thanks for raising these issues.
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Joined: 24 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:53 am    Post subject: ICR any thing positive Reply with quote


You wrote of your own experience and there can be no doubt that each and evryone's own experience could be different.

For my personal experience I also had pay originally as an automatic payment to my bank account then changed to cheque and paid on the due date of payment.

This then meant that as the bank did not deposit the value of the cheque to my account for at least 7 full days I was getting paid a week or more late. Other teachers may have had the same experience as either yiourself or myself. We will never know unless they write truthfully of their experience.

Accommodation: I did not read in your post dealing with accommodation cost etc. You may well had help as I did but the cost of accommodation in Singapore was and could still be very expensive.

If I was a new teacher looking at ICR or even Singapore, I would be very cautious as what you have written can be interpreted as both positive and negative. Personally, I read it as quite negative but enlightening.

There is one other point I would like to bring out as I did not have the time yesterday to bring it to attention to prospective teachers, that is airfare. Do they pay airfare these days? I was not paid airfare where Korea does. Possibly Japan does.

However, I do know that some colleges in China also pay the airfare of new teachers and they also pay return home airfare so their teacher/s can return home for family re-union.

Too all prospective teachers I once again say emphatically; Caveat Emptor. (Yes, let the buyer eware!)
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes indeed, Singapore is not everyone's cup of tea. I am the first to admit that!
Additionally, the company (and colleagues) you choose to work with will be huge factors in your experience.

What I wish to stress is that ICR is given a very bad rap. I concede each person would have a different experience based on:
a) Their franchisees/colleagues
b) Their own expectation of the place
c) Their previous experiences in other countries - Don't compare SG to these experiences, it is not a "traditional" ESL teaching package here.

AND I have no doubt that some teachers have been less than satisfied with their experience at the company. I am not one of them and I am writing honestly.

Do not compare Singapore teaching opportunities to South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia or Indonesia. I cannot stress enough that ICR is NOT AN ESL JOB.
Pursuant to this, it makes good sense that in each country, the packages would be different. Generally schools in Japan do not offer what they do in South Korea and vice versa, packages in China and Thailand differ substantially too.
You are paid a hefty salary in Singapore - this is to compensate the high cost of living here.

Teachers coming from South Korea are usually suitably impressed with Singapore. Those from China, not so much. Coming from Japan you may find Singapore a little watered down and if you are used to Thailand you may hate the fact that it is a city.

Answering Krakatoa's questions:

1. In Singapore you may get help from your bosses in finding accommodation, but it is not paid for you. This is not part of the Singapore package. You can expect to pay anything from $800 for a room in a shared flat to $1400 for a room in a shared condominium. If you are a couple it is possible to find a 2 bedroom at about $2300 and up. There MAY be agents fees of a month or half a month's rent and also a $500 deposit for utilities. In short, the first month in Singapore you will be living on the bones of your ass. Best case scenario, you know someone here who can put you up for a while or your franchisee and colleagues go out of their way to help you settle in.

2. Your airfare could be reimbursed depending if you were employed IN Singapore or were flown in. This is usually only reimbursed upon completion of your contract.

3. I mentioned already that I agree with Krakatoa in that if I was to be presented with a cheque on the day of my salary being due, I would not consider this as having been paid. It is only paid once the money is cleared and in my account. COMMUNICATION with your bosses is key. Explain your need for the cash due to rental payments/contracts. I don't think it would be a problem. My experience was that I was always paid well in time.

Again, hope this helps. If you're a new teacher in SG, PM me and I will take you under my wing, show you the sights and sounds of my "home away from home". Smile

Krakatoa, negative but enlightening = realistic I hope? That is what I was aiming for.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:19 am    Post subject: ICR Anything positive? Reply with quote


If I was a new teacher looking at Singapore and indeed ICR I believe that I would put on my running shoes and look for alternative employment opportunities.

First we have not discussed the 3 month probation period and those teachers who leave either by their own volition or are sacked. If they are sacked then why?

Lets now look at some problems which you have tried to cover with a facade.

Payment: I was first paid by direct deposit but then paid by cheque on the due date. For those looking at ICR communication is not the key as I was threatened with the sack if I did not bend to the (dare I use the word) franchise's autocratic dictum; caveat emptor!

Airfare was not re-imbursed in my case. This may have changed but get it clarrified before booking a seat to Singapore.

Colleges going out of their wat to help you settle in? Nothing like that for me. Things may have changed, but Caveat Emptor.

Accommodation: If one wants to reside by themselves then it will be rather an expensive exercise as you will be paying about 60% or so of your wages in rent. Agents fees I ahd forgotten about. Thanks for bringing this to my attention once again. Caveat Emptor.

Living with others may be of some beneifit for some but others like their privacy.

Taking others under your wing. I strongly suggest that new teachers place a pm to myself and I will give a full check list for them to beware of the prospective pitfalls of working in Singapore and possibly ICR.

Realistic? May be but yiou can write all you like but there is nothing positive in any of your writiings.

There is a lot more I could write but time is of the essence and I must go for now but to all I strongly write, Caveat Emptor.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I chose to write in this thread because of the title - it is my intention to let all know about my (mostly) positive experience. I didn't expect to be defending myself and I won't be, Krakatoa.

It is clear you want all to know that you had a crap time of it in Singapore and at ICR, I think you have succeeded in letting everyone know. I don't see how calling my experiences a "facade" is going to help anyone.

You had a bad experience, I didn't. I have answered all your questions, though if you wish to throw more at me, go ahead. I will continue to answer truthfully whether it be a positive or negative reflection on the company.

Again, I invite anyone who wishes to move to Singapore or work for ICR to PM me or post in this thread if you wish to know more. By all means, PM Krakatoa too, it is clear you will get two very different opinions. I will be honest, unnbiased and answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.

The only new issue in K's post was that of a probationary period: It is true there is one (although I haven't worked at ICR for 4 years so could haven changed). It is not in the best interests of the students to keep changing teachers, so the company does not look to sack you. If you have been doing a crap job, it is only fair that they tell you before they hand you notice. Obviously I didn't do a bad job, so I wasn't given my notice and as I said, completed my contract, received my bonus and moved on to other teaching opportunities.

Again I stress that people tend to mostly write about negative experiences, not positive ones so consider my posts realistic.
Good luck with your jobsearch! Very Happy
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