Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

BKC ---- All Bad?
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Russia & C.I.S.
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
ibasiram



Joined: 24 Mar 2003
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:03 pm    Post subject: BKC ---- All Bad? Reply with quote

Hi everyone,
I'm just thinking about BKC...I know that a lot of negative things are said about them, but is it all bad there? Are there any good things to say about the place? Has anyone had good experiences there?
Ibasiram.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should admit at the outset that I am a DoS for BKC-IH so you might not consider me an impartial observer. However, I feel obliged to point out some of the good things about BKC:

Commitment to teacher development-Regular observations, monthly seminars, workshops, and a large senior staff show that BKC is committed to training and improving its teachers.

Teacher training-BKC-IH has an active teacher training centre and you have the possibility of doing the CELTA, DELTA, IH Young learner courses etc. Profit has never been a priority for the Teacher Training Department, thereby illustrating the schoolís commitment to teacher development again. In contrast, our main competitor (Language Link) are about to close their CELTA programme because it wasnít profitable. And as for English First-well...

Reasonable Salary-I admit the salary it canít compete with the British Council or the salary of a state school teacher in Britain. In fact, it canít even compete with the salary of a bus driver in London! However, it is equivalent and in some cases higher than the salary offered by other language schools in Moscow. Moreover, itís over three times the salary of a state school teacher here, so you can live quite comfortably.

Furnished accommodation-OK, so itís not the Ritz, but after 6 years teaching in Spain I still find the idea of a school providing you somewhere to live free of charge an incredible perk.

Support Staff-BKC employ an enormous number of Russian personnel. Many, if not most of them, are there to assist teachers in one way or another.

Medical Cover-Unlike many cowboy schools, BKC does provide medical cover and will look after its teachers in need.
International House Affiliation-BKC-IH is part of the International House network and therefore complies with International House regulations. Also, working for BKC-IH allows you to take advantage of IH seminars and their transfer system.

Re Bad Press
If you look closely at the bad press BKC has received (and all schools receive bad press, by the way) youíll find the following items are usually mentioned prominently:
Split shits
Travel time
Quality of accommodation
Cover classes
However, you should note that these problems are a feature of all language schools and not something unique to BKC. To be honest, I canít help feeling that most of these complaints are written by inexperienced teachers who have never worked in the EFL industry before and simply donít know the facts of life i.e. Teaching English abroad may be the best job in the world but it isnít a paid holiday. You do have to work for a living.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip,
This is a comment on your post in the JIJ, rather than the post you made above.

I'd just like to say I really liked the non-teachery stuff in there about Russian culture. Very insightful, I thought. Mezhdu prochim, I work for a rival school Wink

Did somebody spell shifts wrong? Or has Dave's censorship software finally cracked? Smile

PS Am I the only one annoyed by all the irrelevant hormonal gibberish posted on the JIJ by that 'Winston' character? I really think it ought to be deleted, it's got zilch to do with teaching.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philip,

Having you here is kind of like a bunch of employees hanging around the water-cooler and talking about their jobs while the boss is standing behind a partition and every now and then poking his head around the corner giving responses to gripes about work. It's like an invasion of privacy.

Actually I'm just kidding. In fact, I'm glad you're here so that you might answer some specific questions that people have.

For example, why is the split shift such a necessity? I mean, if you have hundreds of teachers working for you, surely you can find a way a manage them so that their hours are more grouped. To me, it seems to be the biggest turn-off to working directly for a school as opposed to doing your own privates, which to me seems to pay better while managing your own schedule. Honestly, I can't seem to justify working for a school when you factor in the management (or mismanagement) of teachers.

CS
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nexus



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 187
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Communist Smurf wrote:
Philip,

To me, it seems to be the biggest turn-off to working directly for a school as opposed to doing your own privates, which to me seems to pay better while managing your own schedule. Honestly, I can't seem to justify working for a school when you factor in the management (or mismanagement) of teachers.

CS


As Smurf says, self-employed / hourly paid teachers in Moscow can. and do, earn a hell of a lot more than contract teachers - there is a lot of money in Moscow and a lot of opportunities for native speaker teachers. However, visa and registration rules are tightening up and accommodation in the city is over-valued. Without a place to stay and friends who can help you find your feet it would be very difficult to just get a plane ticket here and set yourself up.

I'd recommend coming as a contract teacher, have all these problems taken care of for you, and then take it from there. BKC is probably the best of the bunch if you've got to choose one of the private language schools here. I felt put off by a lot of the bad press I'd read on the JIJ before coming here but, as Phillip mentioned, for quite a few people it's their first job ever (not only first teaching job). You inevitably get conflicts when you work for a boss - you sell your labour, they exploit you. However, I think I had just as many gripes working for bosses in the UK as I had while working for one in Moscow.

All in all, Moscow's a great place to live and it's a good time to be a teacher here.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:44 am    Post subject: Split shifts and working off-contract Reply with quote

Re split shits and why we have to have them.
Firstly, I donít know why the word Ďshiftsí in my entry has been censored. It is a painful fact of life, but itís hardly obscene.
To be honest, Iíve never worked in a school where there werenít split shifts. I think theyíre necessary because there simply arenít enough morning and afternoon classes to go around. In an ideal world, one group of teachers could work from 9 to 2, a second group from 12 till 5 and a third group from 4 till 9. However, there are very few classes between 10 and 1, 2 to 4 and 5 till 7. Timetabling (in all schools) therefore have to fill up the available classes with the available teachers, and split shifts are almost always the result.
It would be wonderful if we could force students to study at times that are convenient to us, like in secondary school and university. However, any school that tried to do this would very quickly go out of business because students would go to a competitor school where they could study at times convenient to them..
To be fair to timetabling in BKC (and all other schools), they do make an incredible effort to block teachersí timetables as much as is humanly possible, and believe it or not, many of our teachers (especially those that arrived in September/October) do not have to do split shifts.

Re Working off contract
Communist Smurf is correct in saying that you can make a lot of money off contract and you are your own boss. You can choose to teach whatever classes you want at whatever time you want. However, Nexus wisely points out that itís not as easy as it first appears. Visa Regulations, and registration of visas in particular, are becoming more and more difficult-in fact, Ďtortuousí might be a better word. Moreover, it takes time, effort and contacts to set up private classes. You canít just sit at home and wait for someone to call you with a full schedule of classes, as a contract teacher can do. You have to be a certain type of person to succeed as an off-contract teacher-very pro-active and organized. Needless to say, you also have to be an competent and professional teacher, as you will be competing for work with experienced professionals.
Finally, if you are thinking of coming here and working off contract immediately, youíll also need between two and three thousand dollars for all the paper work and deposits on flats etc.
To sum up, working on contract may not be as financially lucrative as working freelance, but is a hassle free way of living in Moscow and improving your teaching skills.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip,

I recently came across an opportunity for a NON-qualified native-speaker to come over to the house of a rich Russian and play with their children from 10am-2pm 5 days per week speaking English. The pay was $1200 per month. Let me say that again. $1200 per month. I'll also point out this wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime offer. I see offers like see all the time.

Isn't it true that the majority of the apartments you provide to teachers are shared? You can easily find a room, even in Moscow city center, between $300-500 per month. So... if you take your part-time job of playing with kids, pay rent of say... $400, you're still making out with $800 per month with a *part-time* job. Although I'm not an English teacher yet, I know a few that have done jobs like this and they say it's great. One told me that when his client canceled on him, he was not only still paid -- he was even paid a little extra.

For clarification, I'll point out that 10am-2pm isn't a split shift.

Now, please don't think I'm trying to convince you that you're wrong. I'm hoping you can sell me on the idea of working with a contract. But there are only a few reasons I can think of to work for a school rather than rich Russians with nothing better to do with their money.

1. I like the idea of working with other teachers, feeling like I'm part of a community (Note: Communist Smurf *hint* *hint*).
2. Medical coverage.
3. Job security.

CS
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nexus



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 187
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 2:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Split shifts and working off-contract Reply with quote

Phillip Donnelly wrote:
. You have to be a certain type of person to succeed as an off-contract teacher-very pro-active and organized. Needless to say, you also have to be an competent and professional teacher, as you will be competing for work with experienced professionals.


Although I like to think of myself in these terms Very Happy , I don't agree 100% with Phillip. I have spoken to and heard many unprofessional and incompetent teachers talking about the money they get paid from rich students. It's a bit of a misconception I think (may be put about by well-off contract teachers) that the more money you earn, the better the teacher you are.

Any native speaker teacher can advertise themselves in Moscow for 20 - 30 USD and they'll get plenty of replies. A busy schedule of private students, coupled with travel time means that there often just isn't time to plan so a lot of lessons either get winged or are just spent turning pages in the coursebook (I've even heard of people getting top dollar for asking a student to read magazine articles out loud while he just explains a few words on the way). I'm sure Phillip wouldn't like this happening in BKC classes but a lot of private students wouldn't know the difference. They're often happy to just get a native speaker round, have a bit of a laugh and a cup of tea and maybe learn a few words. I know because it's happened to me since I've been hourly paid and I know my teaching has got sloppier. In fact, I can say I've hardly learnt a thing over this hourly paid period but at least my bank balance is a bit healthier.

Teachers should also bear in mind that in summer months the work really dries up while the rent keeps increasing.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nexus



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 187
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 9:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Split shifts and working off-contract Reply with quote

[quote="Nexus"] It's a bit of a misconception I think (may be put about by well-off contract teachers) that the more money you earn, the better the teacher you are.

quote]

Just to correct a typo, that should be: well-off off-contract teachers.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re Rates of Pay for off-contract teachers
I again admit that off contract teachers can make a lot of money. The figures I usually hear are between 1500 and 3000 dollars per month. And yes, I suppose you're right in saying that some of them manage to make these enormous sums of money with unprofessional and perhaps even incompetent lessons. I also agree that as standards are not monitored through observations, the quality of teaching may be far below the acceptable level in BKC or other language schools.
However, I think the thousand plus dollars per month example for playing with babies is really exceptional. I hang out with a lot of off-contract teachers and none of them have ever had an opportunity like that. If it really was THAT easy to make that kind of money, there wouldn't be a single contract teacher left in Moscow.

Re ease of getting classes
I again agree that itís easier to get students here than most other countries and they pay more than in most other countries. However, I donít think itís quite as easy as you make out. Yes, you can place ads in the Moscow Times and advertise on websites, but any discerning student will look at all the teachers available and choose the most qualified and experienced.
Moreover, there is a still problem with reliability. Private students (especially the bored housewife and busy businessman types) often cancel classes. Moreover, from what Iíve heard, it is VERY unusual for a private student to pay for a cancelled lesson if they give more than 6 hours notice. I have never heard of a private student paying more for a cancelled class. And as you point out, during the Summer months, work is thin on the ground.

To sum up, I am not claiming that off-contract teachers are worse than contract teachers and I am not claiming that can't make a lot of money. The point I want to make is that there is an insecurity to it, professional development may suffer and not all teachers who go off-contract suceed as freelance teachers.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nexus



Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Posts: 187
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip Donnelly wrote:
The point I want to make is that there is an insecurity to it, professional development may suffer and not all teachers who go off-contract suceed as freelance teachers.


I won't argue with that. I once had a week when all my private students decided (for one reason or another) that they wanted to cancel their classes until further notice - virtually my whole income ws wiped out. However, one week later my schedule was full again. I've been lucky, but it's plain to see what will happen if you're not so lucky.

Anyway, people who are thinking of coming to Moscow and want to read what expats and Muscovites are saying about stuff could also have a look at the forums on the following board:

www.expat.ru

of particular interest would be the folders on 'accommodation' and 'lessons'.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I'd kind of like to have other teachers around and have access to training seminars and books and stuff like that.

Also, I'm not totally sold on the idea of working 4 straight hours 5 days a week with a couple of kids as being easier than a split shift.

Working with kids can be really exhausting. Parents sometimes have this idea that they'll hire a native speaker and presto their kids will be native speakers, too, in 3 months or something. In reality it can be very disappointing, it sometimes takes a long time to see progress. It's kind of hard to see yourself as a professional, or even as an adult. Can be rewarding of course, but not easy money.

Doesn't split shift also mean you have a nice long break in the middle of the day where you can eat, take a nap? Or am I being naive?

I'm not sure about this high figure you have to arrive in Moscow with in order for deposit and stuff. In my experience things aren't that formal here. It isn't Germany. My experience is mostly outside of Moscow, but still, I think that is a high figure. I think the poster's natural bias is coloring it a little. I'm not saying it's a false figure, but I doubt if it's absolutely necessary.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm certain the high figure for a deposit is correct. Although I've "arrived" in Moscow only once (got an apartment), I believe almost all flat agents want 100% of a month's rent. Now he's a *really* crazy part about it. On top of paying 100% of the first month's rent to the flat agent, my landlady apparently had to pay 100% of a month's rent to them also. I used Miel. Evil or Very Mad

I don't consider a split-shift a break. I like the idea of getting off work and have "the rest of the day" off. But... to each his own.

I think you do bring up a good point about the four hours of playing with kids though.

CS
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2004 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started to say that I've never actually worked a split shift, but on thinking it over I guess I have, just not one assigned by someone else.

Being freelance doesn't guarantee not working split shifts. Same market pressures apply as for schools, really.

Yeah, that time during the middle of the day nevers seems to get used very well. And it doubles your commute if you go home to relax.

When I came to Moscow I had some contacts already. That made a huge difference. But here, as in America, there are group student houses. And students are open interesting people (mostly). The days of Western fever have cooled a little but being a foreigner and an English speaker is still a door opener of sorts. It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult, if you had some kind of contact to start with, to find a place, at least for a month. There are lots of western organizations operating in Moscow. Find one that you have some kind of connection to through a family friend or something. Maybe a friend from high school that did a trip to Moscow. Get some kind of personal contact or introduction and work from there.

Not that I recommend it for just anyone mind you. Of course, the option for the faint of heart (or just normally sane) is to go with a school and have everything taken care of. I had lots of hitch-hiking and couch surfing experience in the states, and I realize it takes a certain mindset and personality.

Things are changing fast, I guess. My first visa all I needed for registration was the address and name of the friend I was staying with. The last one required an afternoon of paperwork, running around to various offices, and paying money in various places, that's just for the registration.

Moscow's the center of a former empire. Some people in the west view Russia as a fringe, but for a lot of people Moscow's something of a center. Lots of people pouring in.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Fri May 07, 2004 7:03 am    Post subject: back to BKC Reply with quote

In an effort to return to the topic:

I did my CELTA at BKC. The staff were cool and easy to work with. I've been meaning to go say hi to them again some time. There were some examples of what seemed at the time gross disorganization, but now seem completely normal. Everything was fine in the end. I didn't end up working for them because I was bound for other places. I don't think anyone from my CELTA group stayed long term.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Russia & C.I.S. All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC