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The Pros and Cons of Working for English College (Radom)

 
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dexterity



Joined: 16 Nov 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:31 am    Post subject: The Pros and Cons of Working for English College (Radom) Reply with quote

If anybody is considering a job with English College in Radom, this is a good thread to help you make an informed decision. There is a lot that the company won't tell you through either the paperwork or the interview unless you ask specifically about it -- and even then they might try to avoid the question entirely if they don't like it.

If you have worked for this company before, feel free to relate your experiences -- the good, the bad, or the downright ugly. But please, both sides of the coin as much as possible.
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dexterity



Joined: 16 Nov 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:41 am    Post subject: My Experiences at EC Reply with quote

About English College

1. If this is your first teaching job, don't come here. They expect you to know what you're doing from the start, and the work environment isn't nearly as supportive as they say it is. For a new teacher who doesn't have the pool of resources and ways of finding things experienced teachers have, this place is Hell.

2. You end up working more hours than are promised in the interview and the contract.

3. They say you're supposed to be a "conversation teacher:" they seem to be a little confused on the definition.

They expect you to do way more than that...first they give you this massive stack of textbooks that you work out of with the Polish teachers, and then they expect you to organize your lessons around your half of the book. THEN they get angry with you if you deviate from the book, choose the wrong exercises to cover, OR TRY TO ELICIT TOO MANY ANSWERS FROM YOUR STUDENTS.

4. On the subject of textbooks: even if you have three classes of roughly the same age and proficiency level, chances are they are all using different books.

I'm not kidding. It's fairly normal to have twenty five classes and twenty different books. It makes planning from day to day a nightmare.

5. In the ad it mentions fully equipped facilities and extensive resource libraries. This isn't entirely true.

Their definition of a resource library is a shelf in each of the main schools where students can check out movies and books in English, and a few companion manuals for the texts, games and CD's for the teachers in the staff area.

As for fully equipped facilities, this is also not always true. The "schools" in Jedlnia and Iłża are rented classrooms in the local public schools (I'm not sure about some of the other smaller centers). You don't have access to an interactive whiteboard (unless you can manage to borrow a projector from one of the main schools), a printer for worksheets (you have to talk to one of the secretaries at either the school in Radom or the school in Kozienice to print them off beforehand), or the internet. If you want to play a cool video you found, make sure you can download it to your computer in advance.

You may also want to make sure you have a laptop before you go there.

6. As I mentioned earlier, there isn't really a lot of professional support for the native teachers.

First, they're not all that forthcoming about their expectations when they hire you. When they hired me they made very little mention about the online register (it's an insane amount of work).

Secondly, the schedules aren't distributed very fairly from one native teacher to the next. Some have far more hours than others, and some have a less varied age/proficiency range than others.

Also, if it is normal to have decent breaks during your shift, English College clearly didn't get the message. There was one day each week where I worked 7 hours straight with only 5 minutes in between classes.

Thirdly, there aren't a lot of professional development opportunities for the native teachers. And by "not a lot" I mean none. Aside from one orientation session where the one boss spends 5 hours lecturing you about building rapport and making sure your lessons are fun, you don't get much unless they are dissatisfied with you when they observe your lessons.

This doesn't mean that you get a great deal of feedback when you do have to discuss your performance, and you rarely hear anything good from them when you do do something well.

On the other hand, the Polish teachers seem to have pro-d meetings every week to share new techniques and ideas.

7. The online register: it's brilliant in theory, but a mess in practice. The interface isn't very user friendly or efficient, so you spend a lot of time entering your lesson plans.

Because it's so finnicky, they didn't even give us access to it until 3 weeks of the term had gone by ("waiting for the schedule to settle"), which just meant we had to enter a total of 60+ lessons (each) in order to catch up.

8. The way they handle their business is entirely determined by the clients. I get that they're running a business, but really.

First: the schedules and groupings get determined by when individual students can make it to class. I don't just mean when school-aged children are done classes, or when working adults can make it. They're also determined by when the adult responsible for the aforementioned children finds it convenient to bring them to class.

Second: sometimes this "client is always right" approach can create some problems in the classroom. One example is a class one of my co-workers had in which some students were below the level of the materials being covered in the book purely because the parents of said children wanted them in the same class as their older siblings. The younger children didn't understand the material, and started disrupting the older students.

9. NATIVE SPEAKERS REALLY SHOULDN'T BE TEACHING CHILDREN BELOW 10 ON THEIR OWN (without experience) but it happens and they expect you to come up smelling like roses, no matter what. They don't care that your students don't understand what you're saying half the time, or that you have no idea what they're trying to say to you because you don't speak any Polish. If there's a serious problem with one of the students (or in the case of one of my classes two boys started fighting for a reason that wasn't really apparent to be due to the language barrier), you're helpless.

10. They promise you that you will have time to travel, and even take Polish lessons if you are interested, but you will not have the time or the energy when the weekend finally comes.

11. All the reimbursements and bonuses they promise you don't come until the end of the contract. You may not see them at all if they are not satisfied with your work.

12. If they feel that you owe them money when you are ready to leave, they expect it up front.

13. DON'T GET SICK!!! I'm not kidding. If you have to miss a day of class for whatever reason you will be expected to make it up on a day you wouldn't normally work, such as government holidays or Saturdays.

14. When your students need to be disciplined you are expected to go through their Polish teachers.

15. Most of the support staff barely speaks English.

The Good Things

1. Even though they are often behind in the coursework, the Polish teachers are lovely people. The bosses not so much. This is why when they give references for the school they typically give the names of native teachers who worked at the two schools where the bosses generally weren't (Zwolen and Pionki).

2. They supply you with a sim card for the "Play" phone network on arrival unless you are already going through a different supplier.

3. The provided apartments are actually pretty decent, though most of them are far away from the centre of town.

4. If your flat needs repairs during your contract they will take care of it for you...though you may be expected to pay for anything that isn't basic wear and tear.

5. If you need a doctor for any reason they will take you. However, it is still on you to pay for the visit depending on your healthcare package.

6. Most of the classes are organized according to age group and language proficiency, but not always (see entry in the "bad" portion of this message).

7. The "Talent" system is a great way of motivating younger kids to excel, but it doesn't always work on the older ones.

8. If you do end up working more than the contracted hours, they will pay you for it at the end of the contract.

9. The students (mostly).
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Post Mortem



Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ A very nice summation. Thanks for your effort.
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dexterity



Joined: 16 Nov 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If there's anything I missed, feel free to add it. There isn't a lot available to help someone make an informed decision about working for this company and they're not very good at making sure that everything is on the table.

From what I've heard this year in particular has been a particularly bad one in terms of staff retention with 2 teachers dismissed and 3 resigned.
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Post Mortem



Joined: 01 Apr 2014
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ I'm not familiar with the school but, gosh, does that ever read like...
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