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Maple Leaf Educational Systems in Tianjin (TEDA)

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Joined: 12 May 2010
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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:49 am    Post subject: Maple Leaf Educational Systems in Tianjin (TEDA) Reply with quote

This is for anyone interested or offered a job with Maple Leaf Educational Systems and would like some information (or an opinion) about the experience.

The majority of this info is about the Tianjin/TEDA campus. I have been teaching here for a year. I do have friends from other campuses in Dalian and Chongqing and could inquire as to any questions if needed.

The Tianjin campus, like most schools, has both positives and negatives. This campus is almost two years old now and is just starting to work out the bugs. On the elementary side there was little to no curriculum to follow which made office hours nearly twice as long as class time. However, the "English Zone" books have been adapted which has made for an easier time lesson planning. If you're on the ESL side of the school (Grade 1 -9) then be prepared for a large divide in levels within a class room. I have native English speaking students from Canada and the U.S. as well as students who can barely say "hello, how are?" So, if you are interested in teaching then it is a great learning experience, but if you're looking to for an easy ride and partying in China... You won't last.

If you are a certified teacher, the high school side has just as many challenges, but of a different sort. It is a B.C. principal, but like all the campuses they are powerless to the Chinese owners; discipline, budgets, and most activities are controlled and decided by the Chinese owners who have visited the campus twice in two years and only understand the campus in terms of monetary value. Both ESL and B.C. teachers work the same hours however if you are certified (with a degree) your compensation is equal to a new teacher in British Columbia Canada (and I think a bit more.) The compensation is decent for ESL by comparison to many ESL schools in China, but be ready to earn your money. The ESL side demands a lot from it's staff both foreign and Chinese, there are several bosses to answer to and a whole lot of micro-managing. For example, this morning everyone was sent out an email to remind them to always have a pen/pencil and paper with them during our weekly meetings. It doesn't seem like much, but it adds up.

The area is expensive, if not more than Beijing. It's a Mecca for foreigners with thick wallets. The bonus of this is almost all foreign food amenities are readily available. I enjoy going for Indian food on Thursdays and have great pizza delivered to my door every couple of weeks. It does sometimes feel like you're not in China which for some people can be a good transition and less of a culture shock. Nightlife is decent - your standard dance clubs, some foreign pubs, and the always KTV, but in terms of art and The plus side is there is a bullet train (70RMB one way) to Beijing South station which now has a subway line connected to it. This means you can get almost anywhere in Beijing easily. From my door step to the Forbidden City took me 1 1/2 hours... Not bad.

I will leave it that. This is posted because I tried to find any info I could about this campus before I came and there was virtually nothing. If anyone wants to add info that would be greatly appreciated.

Hope this helps someone.
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Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 2372
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:08 am    Post subject: Re: Maple Leaf Educational Systems in Tianjin (TEDA) Reply with quote

Just stumbled on this while doing a search ... not bad, the information here is spot on, and really helpful. I worked at the Dalian ML school for about 3 years, and then Wuhan for a year.

FYI that employer is expanding rapidly and currently has campuses in Dalian (head office), Tianjin, Wuhan, and Chongqing. There are plans in the works to expand to Beijing and somewhere else in south Jiangsu province, maybe Nanjing, but at this point it's all speculation.

One thing to pay attention to is the locations of these school campuses, and where they are relative to the downtown core. Due to the large size needed to sustain these campuses, they are all far away from downtown and located in development zones or industrial parks -- this is surely going to be an issue if you're a city person.

The public transport is available to get to/from downtown, using bullet trains (in Tianjin) or the light rail (in Dalian), but it doesn't run very late at night. In Wuhan they don't have any transit like that to the school, and the heavy traffic jams make going to/from downtown a major hardship. The situation in Chongqing is even worse, due to the fact that the "city" is very large, and the school is very far away in the countryside. It needs about a 2 hour bus ride to downtown.

Given the heavy workload needed at these schools, commuting downtown isn't really much of an option anyway. For better or for worse, living in the city center is ruled out, and teachers more or less build their lives around areas close to work in the suburbs. Dalian and Tianjin are somewhat of an exception to this as they have 'kai fa qu' or 'development zone' nearby which functions somewhat like a city.

Not that any of this is bad, as the experience can be fun regardless of the locaiton --- it's just that any ideas of living or working in an urban environment can be ruled out, even though the recruiters would say that the school is located in the respective "city" it is named after.
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