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WARNING: STAY AWAY-- APOLLO HAI PHONG, VN
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cb400



Joined: 27 Sep 2010
Posts: 274
Location: Vientiane, Laos

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ended up jaded after 10 years, returned home once an opportunity presented itself and never looked back.
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half moon



Joined: 17 Jul 2007
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cb400 wrote:
I ended up jaded after 10 years, returned home once an opportunity presented itself and never looked back.


IMO, this may also be Burnout.

Burnout is real and happens to some teachers and often occurs around the 10 year mark.

Teaching takes a lot of mental energy IMO, and the way the schools are run and such it adds to reasons why some teachers move on to new things.

I believe....no, I know....that I am close to leaving teaching (for a spell or permanently) to do something different.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 514
Location: Phaic Tan

PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

half moon wrote:
cb400 wrote:
I ended up jaded after 10 years, returned home once an opportunity presented itself and never looked back.


IMO, this may also be Burnout.

Burnout is real and happens to some teachers and often occurs around the 10 year mark.

Teaching takes a lot of mental energy IMO, and the way the schools are run and such it adds to reasons why some teachers move on to new things.

I believe....no, I know....that I am close to leaving teaching (for a spell or permanently) to do something different.


Many schools in Asia are run as a business with no real concern for educational outcomes. I know the schools are there to make a quid, but in general, the people running the show have no idea about education and students are seen as income streams, rather than students who in many cases actually want to learn something.

What is equally as bad is when foreign teachers who have no HR or management skills are suddenly in charge of other people. Often they are given these jobs as they have stayed at the one workplace for two or more years and have no real idea what they are doing. As a result, decision making and man management is poor.

Burnout often happens when you're teaching too many hours, feel trapped, have bad management or dislike where you're living. Hanoi again? Never!

It's best to suss out where you want to work beforehand so you know what you're in for; both professionally and day to day living.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 476

PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

15 contact hours used to be full time. That was a long time ago now but it was like that in the beginning. In the 1970s?

Pay was actually higher too in proportion compared to today.

Then it became 20 hours a week and now 30 is the norm in a lot of places. Pay has stagnated or even been reduced.

Schools tended to be run by people interested in the ideals of TEFL. Some were cooperatives. A lot of these people came from the internationalist movement that was a post WW2 reaction to Fascism. These ideals were different to mainstream education. A lot of weird hippy stuff back then, some was utter BS but a lot had merit.

This old guard is dying out - literally. The influx of shysters started in the 1980s and has only got worse. It is a race to the bottom.

That said, I still believe it is possible to carve yourself a niche if you are smart, work hard and enjoy some good fortune.

TEFLs problems are shared by most industries. Mainstream education is just as bad if not worse in it's own way.

It's all capitalism's fault!
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 837

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
less thorough testing of students, who then are not appropriately placed, causing issues in their class (either because they are too high or too low for the level) and then they need to be PT’d again.


In my opinion, poor placements are the biggest single problem in ESL here in VN. My take on it is that the schools are just filling classes the best they can (to maximize profits) without caring too much about students’ outcomes.
Quote:

This sounds like any language school in the world.


Funny! I do agree it sounds like 90% of the schools in VN, but maybe not every single one. For the purposes of discussion, you might as well say “any language school”.

Quote:
I've been doing this for 21 years and haven't worked for 1 for more than 3 months in the last 19 years.


Also very funny. I would hope that is a bit of an exaggeration, but again, I do not dispute the generality.

Quote:
I just don't think it is possible to run a good EFL program in Vietnam, especially for adults. The parents/students cannot pay the price needed. The BC is supposed to be good but I know it is beyond the reach of nearly all Vietnamese. If you are trying to make it affordable for middle class professionals and their kids then you have to cut corners. You hire underqualified and inexperienced staff. You don't do any training. You skimp on resources


I would put forward a slightly different argument. I think one can run a good program, however, I also think that the reason you cannot is the same reason you cannot do almost anything else properly here, and it is not about ESL, it is about the systems that businesses must follow in order to stay in business. But even that does not mean you cannot do things properly inside your own business (like a school). But as you soak in this system, it colors your mindset. I cannot imagine what is must be like for the people that have lived here all their lives. I can see how it even changes us, who have spent our formative years in a relatively professional and clean work environment. So it must be very difficult for the natives to even conceive of working any way else other than what they have grown up with.

Quote:
coupled with the fact that Hai Phong is the most corrupt city in Vietnam,


That is what I have read, and tend to believe, though others may do it more effectively and keep it more well hidden, so…
Quote:

with a bright-eyed, newbie teacher who thinks coming to teach ESL in Asia is going to be a fun vacation.



Those are much better and seem to be a smaller number than the bleary eyed riff raff that has been coming over from other locations where visas are no longer so easy to endlessly extend. Plus the general nature of so many of the folks that come over here OR start off over there then bring their wonderful selves here as the next stop. Exhibit A – backpackers area.

Quote:
If you come across as 'difficult' they will usually hire someone else.

What an employer wants above all is compliance.


I think this is a very interesting topic. I mostly agree. Rare indeed is the school that is hoping for someone with such skill and knowledge that they can make a true impact for the students and also help the school improve its own system. Instead, the business system here, well, you all see what it is. They do not need our help pointing out what is really wrong here. As someone said in one of these posts, some of these guys are borderline criminals. Hell, to run a business here, it aint borderline. You could be Mother Theresa and you would still be out there giving “blessings” to the guys who come by and want to tag you for anything imaginable, just to keep the “business systems” operating “normally” . Yeah. So we expats are just part of this deal, it may be better if we are pretty faces and newly arrived and maybe more focused on our drinking every night than something like, uhhh, student outcomes. To hell with THAT. Just shut the hell up and be happy, and there are still things to be happy for, and not just cheap beer.


Quote:
The better employers [and Apollo is not one of them] will treat their staff well in the hopes of retaining/recruiting motivated professionals who will in the long term secure and grow their business.

Alas, most don't look that far ahead.



AMEN about 3 times to all of that, and then some. I would just quibble that I am not dead certain that every Apollo location is rubbish, I cannot guarantee that to be fact, but you guys know more about them than I do.

Quote:
What I would like to see is more teachers in charge of schools. Too often you have some borderline crook with a background in god only knows what running a school. They don't even have a clue what to do beyond count the money and skimp on wages, materials, etc.


Right, but then, honestly, the powers do not truly want expats running things. If they truly run things, either they have to accept the “systems”, or they come into conflict with them, and we aint gonna win that battle.

Quote:
I work at a place where I feel valued. I suppose I do forget that it's not the norm in Vietnam


How can anyone forget what is the norm here? Even if you have a police escort 24/7, you still see out the windows, right?

So, ideally, you have to have management/ownership that accepts these “processes”, but then turns around and does not accept an unprofessional mindset inside the workplace. I guess it is possible, but once you get used to accepting all of this, it is hard to then justify a different set of expectations from the employees, who also have to compromise their principles every time they crank up their motorbikes.

Quote:
Many schools in Asia are run as a business with no real concern for educational outcomes. I know the schools are there to make a quid, but in general, the people running the show have no idea about education and students are seen as income streams, rather than students who in many cases actually want to learn something.


Totally agree, though instead of MANY I might have written MOST, other than that, TOTAL AGREEMENT.

Quote:
What is equally as bad is when foreign teachers who have no HR or management skills are suddenly in charge of other people. Often they are given these jobs as they have stayed at the one workplace for two or more years and have no real idea what they are doing. As a result, decision making and man management is poor.


It may just be that again, these are the folks who are compliant, who will put up with anything.


Quote:
It is a race to the bottom.

That said, I still believe it is possible to carve yourself a niche if you are smart, work hard and enjoy some good fortune.

TEFLs problems are shared by most industries. Mainstream education is just as bad if not worse in it's own way.

It's all capitalism's fault!


I think that last one is a joke, right? Really, the central feature of capitalism is market decisions being made out of self interest. Even nations that are supposedly communist have to bow down to the dictates of self interest. Some of these communist systems are creating more degradation of culture and the planet than capitalistic systems.

Self interest is why you see most of the terrible behavior here in Asia (and everywhere), be it the driving, the polluting, corruption, cheating, you name it. Self interest has driven us to our mastery of the planet and is driving us to kill this same planet.

I would take it a step further and say it is all the fault of human nature.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 743

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kurtz wrote:

What is equally as bad is when foreign teachers who have no HR or management skills are suddenly in charge of other people. Often they are given these jobs as they have stayed at the one workplace for two or more years and have no real idea what they are doing. As a result, decision making and man management is poor.


It's not uncommon practice in any company to promote from within. In most cases, it's a sign of the company's health when they can do this and don't have to bring in someone else just to fill a specific position.

I don't think I would take a position at a school that didn't have opportunities for advancement in the future. I know many ESL teachers have a nomadic nature, but that's not always helpful when building a career. I mean, how much higher of a salary can you negotiate for yourself if you have 10 years of teaching experience vs. 20 years?

Now, of course a school should offer training or send you to management workshops...
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half moon



Joined: 17 Jul 2007
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="kurtz"]
half moon wrote:
cb400 wrote:
I ended up jaded after 10 years, returned home once an opportunity presented itself and never looked back.


IMO, this may also be Burnout.

Burnout is real and happens to some teachers and often occurs around the 10 year mark.

Teaching takes a lot of mental energy IMO, and the way the schools are run and such it adds to reasons why some teachers move on to new things.

I believe....no, I know....that I am close to leaving teaching (for a spell or permanently) to do something different.
Many schools in Asia are run as a business with no real concern for educational outcomes. I know the schools are there to make a quid, but in general, the people running the show have no idea about education and students are seen as income streams, rather than students who in many cases actually want to learn something.


Indeed.

I've always chosen schools that were on the "caring" side or things or at least cared somewhat and avoided the schools that didn't give a rip.

Sometimes, it's not easy to avoid the garbage because of schedules, length of commute, etc.

You end up in the flea bag mills, and some of flea bags are the "better" ones.

Quote:
What is equally as bad is when foreign teachers who have no HR or management skills are suddenly in charge of other people. Often they are given these jobs as they have stayed at the one workplace for two or more years and have no real idea what they are doing. As a result, decision making and man management is poor.


Boy, I've seen this.

The skill sets needed for a manager are different than a teacher.

Lately in Hanoi I've noticed that there are manager/DOS positions advertised (no, I'm not looking but some of my friends are) and they tell me that the work load is set too high and the pay is a low to mediocre salary. No one who is a potentially good candidate will take the job, so a competent but bad manager will eventually be hired or a dysfunctional person will end up as DOS.

It's the Wonderful World of EFL.

Quote:

Burnout often happens when you're teaching too many hours, feel trapped, have bad management or dislike where you're living. Hanoi again? Never!

It's best to suss out where you want to work beforehand so you know what you're in for; both professionally and day to day living.


Fortunately for me, I've also been reasonable with hours. I've loaded up at times, but only done that for 1-2 months. For me, it's not worth it.

And luckily, I've never been trapped or felt trapped.

It can happen to some people, and they often make decisions that puts them into that situation. Not happy, don't like the job, but don't want or cannot make a change.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 837

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Lately in Hanoi I've noticed that there are manager/DOS positions advertised (no, I'm not looking but some of my friends are) and they tell me that the work load is set too high and the pay is a low to mediocre salary. No one who is a potentially good candidate will take the job, so a competent but bad manager will eventually be hired or a dysfunctional person will end up as DOS.


Let me share something one of my more advanced students sent me about a presentation she was working on for a class. I had also noticed this from the conversations I have with students, and felt her insight as an HR employee was quite revealing.

One of my former students (Ngoc Dung) works in HR, and she has some very interesting insight. She thought her knowledge on the topic was limited. However, I believe that most of this important information is hidden and not taught in schools, and that her insight was of great importance.

This is from her letter to me: I will share with you about the Job Market topic, as I think it's really interesting for students about the difficulties they have in getting an opportunity. How about the companies? They have difficulties too - they pay a lot of money to advertise and take time to interview for some positions (not expert positions) like assistants, sales, and translators. They get a lot of CVs but it seems the candidates are often not suitable. Sometimes they get some good CVs but they want to transfer the candidates to another position or pay a lower salary than the job seeker expects (the candidates have high qualifications or special personality but no experience yet). However, maybe more than 80% of these student and job seekers do not accept the salary and the new position.

I remember that when we find a Receptionist, we had a lot of university graduates with CVs which showed good performance, and they required a salary that was too high (7 mil to 8 mil) but for this position, the majority of companies only pay 4 mil to 6 mil. In my point of view I know the candidates who require a high salary have a good education in college, maybe even they are in the top of their classes, and they want to have a good salary, but they can't get an opportunity if they don't accept something which is below their expectations.


I kept her letter and include it in one of my lessons. Here are some of my comments I include in the lesson as well:

it is hard to believe young people with university degrees are being hired for $200 – $300 per month. I honestly think that companies can afford a lot more than that, but since they can find average people (or sometimes above average people) at those lower rates, they hire those people, and accept that they may be getting a lower quality employee because of the very low wage. They then get to keep the extra money that they could and should pay for the better candidate.

I am hearing that during the interviews, these hiring managers will often ask the candidate some difficult, technical questions that the candidate could not possibly answer correctly. Then they point out to the candidate that he has no experience in the specific task. They find ways to try to make the candidate feel he is not really qualified, that he will be lucky to get asked to go to work, and should accept a lower wage. We had a great example of this with one of our recent business students who was treated this way. She was one of the most capable young people I have met in this country and would be highly sought after in the western job market. She felt bad after an interview with a VN company. They asked her some questions she could not possibly answer, to try to make her feel inadequate. She came and told me about the interview, how depressed she was. I told her she was an outstanding job candidate and that she was better than the employer actually deserved. So she continued to look for a better job. Eventually, she interviewed with a very successful foreign company. They recognized her special talent and gave her a great job with a much better rate of pay.


I would just also add, this girl who got hired was like one out of 1,000 in terms of skill, and for the other 999, tough luck.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 743

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

half moon wrote:


Lately in Hanoi I've noticed that there are manager/DOS positions advertised (no, I'm not looking but some of my friends are) and they tell me that the work load is set too high and the pay is a low to mediocre salary. No one who is a potentially good candidate will take the job, so a competent but bad manager will eventually be hired or a dysfunctional person will end up as DOS.


Agreed... the Academic Manager and DOS positions I've seen advertised lately are a bit ridiculous. The number of job duties border on the insane..

Sadly, it seems a common way of thinking in Vietnam that you have to completely overload someone with work to ensure you're getting your money's worth for paying them. They don't realize that if you pay at a reasonable rate, set reasonable expectations, and then stop meddling, the employee can do a much better job. Less is more. Except, I've yet to meet a VN director who understands that, because typical VN employees cut every corner possible unless they're incredibly micromanaged.

Even many of the Western managesr seem like they're either so overwhelmed with work, or so tied down to bureaucratic red tape they can't do much. I applied for an AM position at ILA a year ago. The only response I got was that I was unqualified for the position because I didn't have a DELTA, even though I have 4 year TESOL degree. Then over the course of the next year I saw 3 AMs come and go from the same school...

It really goes to show, that if you manage to find a place where you're reasonably happy, paid reasonably well, and feel like you're valued and have a voice in decisions, you should stick with it. Accepting a "better" position at another school is a gamble.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 476

PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting.

I notice that in Vietnam a lot of people are employed to do quite a small amount of work. You go into a shop and see a lot of people just standing or sitting around doing nothing.

This is only possible because pay is so low.

I think it is not a 'job market' as we would understand it. Most younger people do not rely on their wages to live. They live at home and what they earn is fun money [or maybe they save it]. By the mid point of their career they have 'side income' of one form or another and their salary is only a baseline.

Later they inherit or have their own business.

This of course only goes for middle class and higher people. We don't meet working class people or the really underprivileged as a rule.

I read recently that there is a plan to raise farmers income to over 2000 USD a year. Many people here live on 1-2 USD a day.

Above I blamed capitalism and it is sardonic. But, I don't accept the lie that capitalism is the answer and it can solve everything with 'markets' and rewarding risk. It just doesn't work that way. Too often they socialize the risk and investment and privatize the profits. If any country tried truly unfettered capitalism their economy would crash inside 10 years.

I favour a much bigger role for the state/society than has been fashionable lately. I am not alone in this but we are still the minority.
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ian808



Joined: 12 Oct 2016
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was there when this happened and I've been teaching for a while across a many language schools and places, and this one is the worst one I've worked at. It came to light that all the work done at the Haiphong school was being sent to all other schools so only the Haiphong school was doing this and Hanoi and surrounding areas were being paid for all of this. The DOS lied constantly to any new teachers stating that anything they wanted would be in Haiphong and that it was such a well oiled machine. While I didn't buy that and knew some to most of it would be lies, newbies might not. I also had someone working there to tell me the truth about the place. When I first got there it seemed like any other language school I've worked at, not quite as good as some places but then the problems for others started. One teacher was charged for a mistake HR made on her visa, one teacher's contract was not honored because of a mistake made on it, again by HR and was short changed by around 10,000,000 VND. It would have been far worse and they used the fact that she was leaving to save the money they owed her. HR at the school was a joke.

As for the IT department, yes photocopiers breakdown, computers stop working but when yours truly is better IT support than IT, its a problem. It got so bad that local members of staff would ask if I was in rather than check with IT. Any problems that did exist were never fixed, I liken it to working at EF which I did for far too long, but Apollo is worse. I witnessed similar things in both schools but so much more in a shorter space of time at Apollo.

As for the 'bad lazy teacher' she worked really hard for the short time she was there, she also witnessed HR being negligent beyond belief with peoples visa times, leading to charges, and contracts being ignored so that they could avoid losses. That was the main issue everyone took, the legally binding contract was ignored because it was inconvenient and costly. All of the teachers that left in the space of 3 months said the same thing, One cared enough to warn others. HR can't be trusted and the DOS lies to get people to Haiphong.
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