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Ukraine, American English Center
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BeatRippa



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Missouri, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey everybody..I've worked for AEC for over a year and I don't think it's as bad as some of these other posts make it out to be. Your experience really depends on your location and school director, however. I know some former AEC teachers who had really bad experiences due to conflicts with management. For me, however, I really haven't had any negative experiences. Let me break it down into pros and cons:

Pro:
-I've always gotten paid on time...every two weeks..same hours each week...... I work for some other schools right now and they're more inconsistent..one month I'll work a lot, next month I'll have lots of free time

-Great Students: I can honestly say that after 14 months of teaching, I've never had a student that I didn't like. Most of the students are in the 18-30 age range and are motivated and have a good sense of humor.

-Easy lessons: The lessons are pretty uniform which is a good and bad thing. Little to no preparation time but they get quite dull after a couple of semesters. It's up to you to make them interesting for the students which might be good for you if you like a challenge.

-Decent Pay: Although AEC isn't the highest paying, they're not the lowest either....and I can live relatively well on the salary. If you want to earn some extra money, it shouldn't be hard to find some private students or work part-time in another school.

-Vacation time!: I love to travel, and the AEC schedule gives you lots of time to do it. Every seven weeks you get a one-week vacation which is nice. There's also a bonus system for each semester which helps cover your absence of hours for this week.

Cons:

-Training isn't paid....on top of that, you have to wait until the end of your 4th week teaching to get paid. Therefore, it's about a 6 week wait until you get paid...so be sure to have cash in your bank account

-dull material- I mentioned it before

- Accommodation - The accommodation isn't bad...but I would just use it as a temporary place. Once you decide that you want to stay in Ukraine, find yourself your own place. For 100 grvynia extra per month, I now have my own modern 2 room apartment near the center. This is compared to sharing a Soviet-style flat with another person in the AEC apartment. After a semester or two, you should have a few friends/students/fellow teachers who speak Russian and can help you search the advertisements.

-Visa situation - I know that AEC says that all you need is a business visa..but that situation is a little "iffy" right now. I haven't heard of any problems yet, but in the future it might be a different story if the border guards start enforcing the 180/365 rule. In addition, you need to pay for the business visa yourself (about 160 dollars if you go to Krakow). I don't think there's any chance of AEC issuing work permits in the near future.

Hmm..that's all I can think of right now. Overall, I would say that AEC isn't a bad place to work and I don't have any regrets. It can be very redundant, however, but I haven't found it hard to find work in other places after my full-time contract ended. I still teach there, though, just because of my students. If you need any advice about Dnepropetrovsk or other schools in the area..you can message me.
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Fred_Garvin



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a few things to think about when you consider AEC.

First, user jonpernick is a recruiter. I heard mentioned that someone thought he was the owner. He is a recruiter, plain and simple. And he is paid a commission for each teacher he hires. He's not in Ukraine, he's in Kosovo.

Second, the rent they charge you is often equal to the rent they pay for the apartment. So, when they charge ONE teacher 1600 UAH for a flat, it's usually the cost of the flat. But when they have 2 teachers in the flat, they are making 1600 UAH.

Third, much of your "salary" is based on bonuses. The bonus system has been changed a number of times, and they look for every excuse NOT to pay your bonuses. "Oh, the moon was blue on Tuesday, No bonuses this month" Wink

Fourth, they do not have permission from the Ukraine Job Center, or any other branch of the government to hire foreign workers. Each and every Native English Teacher working for AEC in Ukraine is illegal. With the exception of those who are permanent residents.

Fifth, the "letter" they will give you to take to a Ukraine consulate in another country to get a visa isn't worth the paper it's printed on. In every case, the latter has been rejected. Why? Because it's not the correct format of letter and they don't have permission to hire you in the first place. In the end you will have to get a standard tourist visa or private invitation visa. Which means you will still have to make more than 1 trip out of the country during your 1 year contract with AEC.

Sixth, in addition to working illegally, you are also living illegally. Under Ukraine law it is the responsibility of the company to register you with OVIR. But, in order for them to do this they have to have legal permission to hire you in the first place. (see note four)

Seventh, they will tell you it is your own responsibility to register with OVIR. you cannot register with OVIR unless you have a valid employment contract from a company with legal permission to hire foreign workers.

While they do have a good program, from the students point of view, most of it is ripped off from other teaching books, and their treatment of Native English Teachers leaves a LOT to be desired.

User jonpernick once said he was scrapping the bottom of the barrel and was having a hard time finding teachers. But the attitude in the Kiev office is that Native English Teachers are a dime a dozen. An easily replaced commodity.

And their turn over of staff tends to prove this.
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pangley



Joined: 15 Jan 2006
Posts: 17
Location: here

PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread has been going strong for about 4 years.
There is a lot of good information and I am SERIOUSLY considering applying for the position.

My question to Old Lion and others who have lived and worked in Ukraine; if the pay is that bad, are there places where a person could work part-time to make up for the lack in pay?
I taught in Japan for several years (off-topic; Japanese language schools could be notorious as well) and the pay was crap (the foreign ESL teachers' salaries haven't gone up much there since 2000). But I was able to find ample part-time work to make up for low pay I made.
The same went for a friend who worked in China.


I feel this school is similar to Nova or YBM; it is a stepping stone for those who want to get their foot in the door in Ukraine and add something to their resume if they want to continue their ESL career

My question is; are there opportunities to teach part-time for someone who is as industrious as me if I applied and got accepted into this school?
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Clark Montange



Joined: 24 May 2010
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:52 pm    Post subject: American English Center Ukraine (AEC) Reply with quote

American English Center Ukraine (AEC)

I have been viewing Dave's site's posts for many months. His has a great web site!! I did not see a need to post until now, however. I stumbled upon this F. Garvin post, and felt it was an ethical obligation to join. I want to be as brief as possible, yet accurate.

This writer (Garvin) seems correct in some instances. In my case, a consulate in a bordering country completely rejected AEC's visa documents, the ones necessary to secure legal employment with American English Center in Ukraine. The consulate cited, among other reasons, that AEC's documents simply did not comply with standard Ukraine consulate requirements.

The visa application documents, I was told by the consulate representative, did not clearly address exactly what my job was to be, what the job title was, what I was being hired do to, the purpose of my employment with AEC, etc. I was also told the school's official "license verification," was inadequate, and third, that the consulate never accepts electronic copies (only originals), and that AEC should have known this. These documents were written in Russian, so I had no way of knowing what they said. I flew thousands of miles from the U.S., preceding getting my visa, because there was not a Ukraine embassy anywhere near where I live. AEC advised me to go to a particular embassy bordering the Ukraine.

If you want to apply to this school, pause and perhaps ask: Why would a legitimate school not be eager to call the consulate and sort out the mess (I had a current phone number, with a "real" person to talk to - - a person who was helpful to me)? Why would a legitimate school also, not from the very start, send original documents, knowing this is the requirement? Applicants may be informed by AEC, as I was, to try a different consulate, and then enter the country on a tourist visa. But, one could likely find that they cannot obtain the proper work papers at all, to legally work and live in Ukraine. This is all very confusing and difficult to understand.

I am not a negative person, nor "trouble maker" type. I want to help prevent someone from the nightmare I was caused. Put your energies into constructive avenues. Everyone's time is precious, and the present job market is shrinking by the day out there.

Take care my Internet colleagues. [/i]
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alalexander



Joined: 18 May 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this:

http://www.ukraine-english.com/aec
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The writer made a fair few spelling/grammer mistakes for someone who has all those qualifications...
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eltie



Joined: 06 Dec 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've met Charles, who wrote that post. And I've worked for American English Center.

I spent about 20 minutes speaking with Charles over a year ago. My impression was of a normal, decent guy, not likely to make up stories about somebody. I didn't end up working for him, so I really don't know him well. I know two people who have taught at his school, and a friend of mine was a student there. All speak well of him. By the way, ancient-dweller, what grammatical and spelling errors did you find in his post?

I met Olga, the owner of American English Center, last autumn when I went to Kiev for the mandatory training for teachers. She came across as a professional business woman. And she looked us in the eyes and lied to us, twice. She told us that we were permitted to work with a business visa, and she also said that the fine for overstaying by one day is the same as that for overstaying by a year - perhaps to discourage us from doing the required border runs? Both not true, and I'm sure she knows it.

We (the three trainees that session) also met with Olga blond, who may be a part-owner of the school. She told us about some of the benefits for working at AEC, including free Russian lessons, a retention bonus if more than 60% of your students return, and health insurance and taxes paid by the school.

My initial impression of Ira, who runs the other school in Dnepropetrovsk, was negative, but I don't remember why. It got better, as she helped me in a couple situations. Then it got negative again, for several reasons: She told us all to come in early the next day because we'd have a meeting, and then she never showed up until well after the regular starting time. On several occasions, she carelessly gave me the wrong material for my classes, and I had to come to work without having reviewed the material I was supposed to teach, as the school opens only a few minutes before class is to start. When I asked her about registering with OVIR, she said not all landlords allow you to use their address for registration; when I pushed her for a flat with a landlord that did allow registration, she admitted there were none. And after I'd given notice that I would be leaving and went to pick up my last pay envelope, she asked me for some materials - ok, but why didn't she tell me earlier that she needed them? - she insisted that she'd tried to phone me, and when I showed her that there wasn't a missed call from her in my call log, she tried to blame Dasha (AEC employee who doesn't speak enough English to make a phone call) because, Ira said, Dasha should have called me. Yeah right.

The contract that AEC offers their native English-speaking teachers states what Olga blond had told us in Kiev - that AEC pays for health insurance and income taxes, and that the school provides free Russian lessons for their native English-speaking teachers. I had to ask Ira for two months about the Russian classes until she finally gave me Katya's phone number - which didn't work. I managed to find another number for her with no help from anybody at AEC. Then, Katya said that she was busy, and she could only teach me once a week, rather than the two 1-1/2 hour classes a week we were promised. After a few sessions she started making excuses for missing classes, and then stopped coming. When I told Ira, she said, AEC doesn't really pay her that well (as in, hint hint, you have to pay her). When AEC promises free Russian classes as a benefit for employees, I don't expect to pay for them. I know several other teachers at AEC who want Russian classes and have asked Ira about them, but they never materialized. I don't know any other AEC teachers who've ever gotten the promised classes. And, despite what the contract says, AEC does NOT pay our income taxes or health insurance.

AEC offers a student retention bonus if more than 60% of a teacher's students return the next semester - so they say. I had a similar problem as Charles with "ghost students" - students who were registered for my class, but whom I had never met. My student retention rate was shown as 57%, just enough for AEC to avoid paying me the bonus. But of the students I had actually taught, well over the minimum 60% returned to study. It's pretty obvious that these "ghost students" never existed, and AEC is just writing in names to make the percentage appear to be under 60%. The school charges over $100 for a course, in a country where the average monthly salary is $360. And they want us to believe that somebody would pay for a class and not attend? Even more unbelievable when you consider that the school offers a student's money back within the first week and these students don't show up on the attendance list.

I know somebody who worked for AEC a while back; he said that they cheated him on his salary. Charles also states that he had difficulty collecting, and that other teachers were cheated. I believe that AECs strategy is to offer you a contract that they have no intention of fulfilling, but then if a teacher can't comply with his end of the contract, AEC uses it as an excuse not to pay him.

It's really a shame that AEC treats their teachers so poorly. It's not a bad school from the student's perspective, the classes aren't difficult to teach, the materials are good, and the students are great. It could be a really good school to work for. But it's not. AECs books and audio are available free on the internet, or they can be purchased on CD in the book market, and as Charles says, they're not copyrighted. So why work for the school? Just use their materials and find your own students.
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beachguy69



Joined: 06 Nov 2009
Posts: 36

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AEC will not issue you a work permit. Therefore you will not be working legally in Ukraine.
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macan



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second the previous post, AEC does not issue a work permit and therefore you cannot legally be employed in Ukraine. You have no right to anything they offer you.

If you apply there ask them about the work permit and they will tell you the same. Also I believe you need the work permit to apply for the work visa (in addition to the invitation letter). Without these you are not legal.
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Jazziz23



Joined: 08 Apr 2011
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found this info about the owner of AEC, Jon Pernick.

It's under the "Teachers" topic, 2nd paragraph.

"Fresh western teachers, though, are always enthusiastic,
almost always professional (except one Jon Pernick who lied about his
credentials and tried to trade grades for sex, and was promptly fired when
found out)"

http://mooncore.eu/mimu/txt/wiuu.htm


Sounds like you should stay FAR away from this creep.
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