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Communicorp in Chile
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john_n_carolina



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 700
Location: n. carolina

PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

....sounds legit then. kylie's post seems sincere and honest (if you read between the lines). sometimes you get people posting propaganda, but this post seems real.

anyways, if you're heading for Chile you have to be 'in country' ..so you might as well stop over and talk face to face with Diane Greenstein. then, maybe a few teachers, and you should have a good idea.
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mike30



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 67
Location: Santiago, Chile

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 5:56 pm    Post subject: I would rate Comunicorp a B...... Reply with quote

I worked at Comunicorp for about 5 months and I would say that it was a decent place to work if you are looking to work for an institute. They have a great resource base, you're always paid on time, and I think that the majority of the negative aspects of working there are true in any of the institutes.

That being said, I would recommend to most anyone that the best way to teach in Chile is to contract directly with the companies. After going independent I tripled my salary and actually work less hours, most importantly you don't have to take classes at hours you don't want or have to jump around from one part of town to another....when you're at an institute you're more or less under their whim as to when and where you will teach, so 6.000/hr might not seem like such a bad wage until you realize that you've got one class downtown from 8-9, another at El Golf from 1-2, and a third at Los Leones from 6-7....so you're gone for 12 hours but only get paid for 3.

Anyhow, that's my 2 cents worth....but if you're willing to sacrifice freedom and salary for ease and stability, then Comunicorp is a good choice.
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john_n_carolina



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 700
Location: n. carolina

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that's interesting...what visa do you use as a 'contractor'?

think you could do this in the Vina area with the hotels??
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mike30



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 67
Location: Santiago, Chile

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject: Visa for independent contracting... Reply with quote

You can either get a Visa Temporaria, or even use your Visa Sujeto a Contrato and just work a minimum number of hours at the institute....I went with the former.

After you have your visa you go to the SII office www.sii.cl and sign up to get a password, all you need to bring is a photocopy of your Chilean ID card, and then they'll call you with your password in a day or two....then on the SII website (Internal Revenue Service) you can create invoices for your clients...the real beauty is that in Chile an independent contractor doesn't pay their own taxes, legally your clients will have to pay 10% of the invoice total to the SII for you! So you pay no taxes and then actually get to apply for a tax refund at the end of the year since 33% of your income is an automatic deduction.

Of course this process is easier if you speak Spanish, but it would still be relatively straight forward even if you didn't, someone would just have to explain exactly how to create the invoices on the web-site.

Classes are really easy to sell because you can offer them at a fraction of what they'd pay an institute and this is still triple what the top institutes pay....for a company it is nothing to pay 15.000 pesos for a group class of 4-5 students, and you'll gladly take 15.000 tax free over the 6.000 pre-tax that the institutes pay you. So even if you're a terrible salesman, you'll be way better off working 1/3 of the hours for the same pay that you work all day for now....the key is that you have to sell only group classes (both because it is a better deal for them and then you really cut back on cancellatons), but for the price savings the companies get they'll gladly bend a little bit, meaning you have much more control over when and where you teach.

It isn't necessarily the case in every country that working for an institute is a rip-off, but in Chile this is DEFINITELY the case....mainly because the majority of your students want private classes, or that a group class constitutes 2-3 students....in somewhere like Vietnam, for example, you have 20 students per class, so even though the local wages are much lower there, the school is collecting a far greater total for each class and can afford to pay their teachers reasonable wages. Whenever you're teaching a 1-1 class through a middleman you're bound to be wasting your time.
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Frank1980



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:28 am    Post subject: Freelance Reply with quote

Mike is actually right about working on your own. Some people use their contracts to work privately with companies. I do know that it is illegal. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, Chilean law doesn't allow for employees to work for more than their employer. I had a friend that did this and got into a lot of trouble - so be careful!
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mike30



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 67
Location: Santiago, Chile

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:34 pm    Post subject: Private contracting isn't illegal... Reply with quote

It may be illegal to have 2 different employers....but it is not illegal to have 1 employer and then work as a private contractor.

If you go to the SII office they will give you a password and an account to create invoices even if you only have a Visa Subject to Contract, which means of course that you already have an employer. If it were illegal to do this then they would request that you have a Visa Temporaria before allowing you to work as a private contractor....the difference is that you don't work FOR the companies that you teach at, instead they are merely your clients.

Personally I would skip the whole mess and just go Visa Temporaria, then you don't have to pay any taxes, any medical insurance (unless you want to), and don't have to mess with the pension fund either....not to mention that you'll make much much more money. Working for 6.000 pesos/hour is a waste of time.
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Frank1980



Joined: 13 Feb 2006
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:41 pm    Post subject: Be careful: Grey can become very black! Reply with quote

Mike might be right. I do know of people that had problems with the Interior Ministry, the one that issues visas. It seems that the Interior ministry is somehow connected to the international police. SII or impuestos internos (the local IRS) seems not to be connected to the ministry.

I don't know... just be careful - it is certainly not black and white - very grey!

Unfortunately, if what is right or permitted has to be interpreted by individuals, grey can become very black rather than white.
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chunkyrice



Joined: 16 Feb 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:50 pm    Post subject: Comunicorp, Chile Reply with quote

Having just completed my contract at Comunicorp, I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to work there.
I received professional support during my time there and felt that I could ask Diane Greenstein for any help that I required. My visa was paid for and I was always paid on time. The staff room is well stocked with teaching materials and the computerised administrative system was straight-forward to use.
The staff are friendly and helpful and there's a nice community feel to the work place. I would definitely recommend working there.
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Minny



Joined: 20 Jun 2009
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I don't want to personally attack the Director of Studies because I found her to be a nice person, I don't have much praise for her managment style and some of the companies management decisions and contract clauses.

After a fews weeks with the company I decided not to sign the contract, I'm not advising you not to work for the company it really depends on what you are personally looking for but here are some interesting facts you might like to know before making your decision.

1 - I was asked to start work on the 1st of June I arrived in the country a week earlier to get over jet lag and sort my accomodation out. On my arrival I was picked up by a driver and taken to my hostel, after speaking on the phone with the DOS she asked me to come into the office to complete 3 hours of training less than 10 hours after landing after a 36 hour flight. This was all unpaid

2 - I was asked to come in to do various dinky administration things pretty much everyday the week before my offical start date, which hampered me looking for accomodation. About another 3 hours all unpaid.

3 - I was actually working for the company 2 weeks before the visa application date. I did not see a contract until the actual day the visa application process started at which point I was constantly being hurried to sign the contract and provide visa information.

4 - I worked an average of 3 hours a day but I started at 9:30 worked for an hour worked another hour between 2:30 and 3:30 and then worked another hour between 7pm and 8pm.

I didn't like the full-time salaried contract conditions and the fact that they were scheduling me to work for 3 hours over a period of 11hours, so thought I would ask to drop down to a part-time hourly contract and block out my afternoons from 4pm

Now to some interesting details about the contract.

The second clause in both the salaried and hourly contract:

Pharaphrasing this clause basically says they can work you whenever they want and you have no say in the matter.

Now I was told in the interview that classes were never scheduled before 8am and never after 8pm, my classes were currently within the promised working hours but several people had classes outside of these hours with no extra pay. And this didn't change when we agreed to block out after 4pm for me.

The fourth clause in the hourly contract:

Long story short, the contract says it guarantees a minimum salary but in effect you are told verbally that there is no such minimum hours guarantee and that this section is just in the contract to secure the visa.

If a student legally cancels 24hours before a class you do not get paid.

Also we had to guarantee giving a mimimum amount of hours per month to the company, meaning we had to give them the time if they wanted it, but they didn't have to promise us anything.

Part b of the fourth clause

states that you must spend 24mins of perparation time on each hour taught and this time is unpaid. You are also expected to participate in staff meetings and administrative tasks all unpaid. (You do get pizza at the staff meetings though.) I thought it was rather checky to expect it if they aren't paying for it, but honestly any good teacher out there knows you can't teach a class without preparing it first.

the tenth clause in the hourly contract:

if you stay past the initial contract period you are required to give 7 weeks notice or pay a fine of 100,000 pesos and if a new visa has been purchased you are liable for the cost of that too. It is unclear what resignation procedures are if you wish to leave before this, only that you have to pay a fine of 100,000 or the cost of the visa which ever is more.

The problem with this is that once a teacher resigns they stop assigning you new classes this means if a number of the courses you are teaching finish within your notice period you can be left earning almost nothing.

Transportation bonuses

Once arriving in Chile I found out that the 333pesos promised as a transport bonus for classes taught outside of the school does not even cover the cost of a oneway trip on the subway.

Most outside classes are close to the school but the odd one is miles away some teachers were travelling up to an hour each way with no extra pay, however they were reimbursed more for travel costs, but not enough to cover the extra 2 hours of their time wasted on a bus.

Sick leave and annual leave in the salaried contract

I was told that we would accumilate annual/sick leave at a rate of 1.25 hours per month, there was no mention of this in the contract. But I do believe they honoured this with other students who worked there.

Travel stipend in the salaried contract

I was promised a travel stipend of 500US at the completion of my contract the part where this is covered in the contract has a confusing paragraph giving the choice for a ticket to Buenos Aires or the travel stipend whatever was agreed to but no clarification is given in the contract as to which is promised.

Conclusion

Basically what it came down to is that the company wanted the employee to take all their business risks. For the most part most people seemed to do ok with the company but there were a rare few for whatever reason were getting a bit of a raw deal. For me there were too many verbal agreements and I had to rely too much on verbal agreements being honoured when in reality the contract leaves the door open to completely screw you over if they ever so desire.

Also for the amount of hours you have to put in and you are expected to put in with unpaid prep admin ect. the actual hourly rate that the company boasts is the best in town actually isn't. (I calculated my actual hourly rate at half of what was being paid i.e hours paid vs actual hours worked and I had classes with mimimal travel distances.)

For the most part you need to think of what your goals are and if the company fits in with that. Obviously when you come to Chile you are not coming to earn bundles of money you are coming for the experience to learn about culture and or language, if you wanted money you would be in Japan or Korea or Saudi. But I found under the contract conditions I couldn't achieve any of my language or cultural goals and so working with the company was completely unbenifical to me.

Their cheques do cash.

I hope you find the info helpful before making your decision to come to Chile. [/b]
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ghostdog



Joined: 13 Mar 2004
Posts: 119
Location: Wherever the sun doesn't shine

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would second everything Minny wrote. Communicorp strives to keep you as close to them as possibly legally but keep themselves as far away from you as possible. I also had assurances made to me from a long distance which disappeared once I'd actually turned up. There is an element there of "we're the best in town [or so they tell themselves] and therefore you have to prove to us that you're worthy to work here," meaning lots of busy work and "when we say jump you ask how high" sort of attitude to show them what a team player you are.

The checkerboard pattern of a new teacher's work schedule seems to be something of a test that management gives as a matter of course, as well as insisting that teachers need to turn up immediately upon arrival for "training," which largely consists of someone reading you a handout that you could have just as well read yourself. It's not a situation for everyone.

That being said, in fairness, some people seem to like working there. My impression is that it was something of a clique and for those in the clique, it was fine.

It should be mentioned as well that most contracts that language schools hand out in Santiago have objectionable language that forces you to give them most, if not all, of your peak hours no matter how many hours they actually assign you. There is a simple way around this, as other posters on this thread have discussed: instead of getitng a "subject to visa" visa which will tie you to one school and force you to embrace the onerous conditions previously described, get a "visa temporaria", which essentially establishes you as an independent contractor and allows you to work for whomever you wish.

The catch is that you probably need a contract from a school in order to get this visa (not legally necessary but it makes the approval process easier), and most schools don't want you to work this way because they lose their leverage over you. (Ironically, the moment you receive your visa temporaria, you can stop working for the school which gave you the contract without any problem from Migra, whereas with a "subject to contract"visa if you leave the school you have to find another school to offer you a contract within 30 days or you lose your visa.) That said, a few places will do the visa temporaria because it's easy for them -- very little paperwork on their part, since the visa is your responsibility -- and because it makes it easier to justify that most of their positions are part-time, and only at peak periods. But if a school needs teachers badly enough -- and Communicorp does; they're always advertising -- they will give you what you're looking for.

It's worth sorting out which problems have to do with teaching in Santiago in general -- pay, hours, travel, filling in a schedule outside of peak periods -- and which are specific to Communicorp. One other point: since the government cleaned up the system which regulates training institutes, most places will probably pay you on time, assuming they have the ISO 9001 certification which is now required by the authorities. If they don't have it, steer clear.


Last edited by ghostdog on Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 580
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Santiago doesn't sounds like a fun place to teach English. I haven't heard anything good from anybody about it.
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ghostdog



Joined: 13 Mar 2004
Posts: 119
Location: Wherever the sun doesn't shine

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have learned well, Grasshopper Spanglish.
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spanglish



Joined: 21 May 2009
Posts: 580
Location: working on that

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you master ghostdog. I will now teach you the ways of Bogota...
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Fergison



Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 1
Location: Trapani, Italy

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked for Communicorp a few years back and thought is was a very well-run school. They always paid on time, you knew what was expected of you, and there were plenty of resources available for planning. There was also a very open and social environment in the school. I've been in the TEFL world for about five years now and I have to agree, sometimes it really feels like schools are taking advantage of teachers, but I never felt that way at Communicorp. The Academic Director, Diane, was always accessible and reasonable as far as I could see.

Ghostdog made a really good point in that some of the issues listed are true of any school in Santiago (and often of TEFL schools in general). The split shift work schedule is a fact of life with teaching Business English. They all want their classes before work, at their lunch break, or after work (it's a trade off as the students are generally really interesting and motivated). The contract sounds pretty standard to me, too, as I'm sure most of those clauses are in there to protect the school against flakes, rather than to screw over the good teachers. I certainly didn't have any problems with it when I worked there.

Ah well, my two cents...
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Lunkey



Joined: 20 Jan 2008
Posts: 66
Location: Santiago

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

so minny - what are you doing now?
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