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What Is It Like To Work For Avalon?

 
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wonkavite62



Joined: 17 Dec 2007
Location: Jeollanamdo, South Korea.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:28 am    Post subject: What Is It Like To Work For Avalon? Reply with quote

I am going to apply to work at Avalon. So, what is it like to work with Avalon? I understand that it's a chain of hagwons. Some time ago, I read a fairly positive comment about Avalon, on Dave's ESL. Positive comments are kind of rare here, and so I wanted to follow it up.

So what are the good points (if any) of Avalon? Do they have any kind of a set curricullum? Do they pay on time? Do teachers usually complete their contracts at Avalon, or are there lots of horror stories? Is the work manageable? Can you save money? Does the school provide accommodation?

What are the problems? If Avalon fires a teacher, is the teacher presented with bills to pay? I know of someone who taught at another famous chain of schools. She had been successful in China, but was fired in Korea. She was asked to pay the school a hefty housing deposit. I await your news, both good and bad.
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PREEST



Joined: 20 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked at Avalon for 18 months. The problems I had with Avalon became game breaking in the end for me.

There is a complete lack of creative ability for the foreign staff. they have a set curriculum and you are not to deviate from it. This would be fine, except that the text books are a nightmare and are completely out of sinc with the students needs. The books are boring, uninspiring, and rather difficult to teach from. We were told all the time however, to always teach these books and nothing else. It sucks because you can see the kids hate it. We even got in trouble for implementing our own more creative lessons.

At Avalon, if a parent calls up and has a problem with something, they will usually come and blame you for it rather than defend the teachers. We would get complaints that our classes were too boring, so they would tell us to make them more fun...I was pulling my hair out!!! We've been wanting to make them fun all along but you can't teach the boring curriculum and make it fun at the same time.

Basically, it was always about appeasing parents and doing what you are told. The textbooks are a nightmare, and if you try and do something a little more fun and creative, you are quickly discouraged not to.

Avalon is a big franchise, and only cares for making money. Directors are constantly being laid off by the CEO for not making enough money (saw this happen several times in my time there) and there is real pressure to get enrollment up all the time. They don't really care for quality education...But hey, it's a business after all...


Sorry about the long winded reply, just thought I would let you know of how I found the Avalon environment to be.
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Wiltern



Joined: 23 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is Langcon the same as Avalon? I think they are affiliated somehow. But, what is the difference, if any?
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Dodge7



Joined: 21 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what was the name of the books, OP?
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ytide



Joined: 26 Jul 2009

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dodge7 wrote:
what was the name of the books, OP?

I have over a year's experience at an Avalon franchise.

I can tell you that Avalon books are produced by Avalon HQ, and are amateurish. They sell writing books that are literally mostly-empty-paper. Why have books at all, in that case? I could go on, but suffice to say that all Avalon Speaking and Writing books tend to be amateurish, hard to teach, confusing, and boring. Like PREEST wrote above, we foreign-teachers (and I myself) usually felt we could do better without using the books at all, but of course we have to.

Avalon-HQ forces every Avalon (core and franchise) to use these worthless textbooks. That is, they force Avalons to compel students' parents to buy the books at some grossly-inflated price (inflated not so much in terms of production-cost [that too], but more in terms of value received, which is minimal). I doubt you can find Avalon textbooks in any bookstore that is not associated with Avalon, anyway, except maybe in an ironic "worthless books" section, if such a thing exists.
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ytide



Joined: 26 Jul 2009

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:14 am    Post subject: Re: What Is It Like To Work For Avalon? Reply with quote

Re: OP
It depends entirely on whether you will be at a core-Avalon or a franchise-Avalon. The nature of the latter would be entirely dependent on the character and whims of the actual owners.

The Core-Avalon family of hagwons was once very successful -- I think it started at one location in Bundang around year 2000 and now has dozens of campuses across the country. Clearly, something went right, back over a decade ago now. The "Avalon Brand", its image, has been on the downward slide for several years now, though. That is according to a friend-of-a-friend recruiter who knows the industry well. The downward trend began around 2009. Core-Avalon is now in the position, it seems, of managing its own decline, perhaps of trying to force itself to stay profitable "just a while longer", before the coup-de-grace of the entire business closing down and a sell-off occurs. It seems this will likely occur to Avalon at some time during this decade, probably sooner than later, judging by the buzz. Avalon's downfall was that its success corrupted its core-value -- It became too focused on moneymaking, and not on creating a good educational environment. This is a perennial conflict in Korean ESL, one that is almost always won by the "money" side, of course...which causes institutional decline, and finally the money dries up, anyway. Ironic.

Anyway, a long story short -- Considering its state of steady slow decline, a Core-Avalon is going to have worse conditions, I'd expect, than the typical Franchise-Avalon. They are making some pretense of tightening-up, which will mean worse conditions. I have to wonder if anyone at Core-Avalon expects to actually pick themselves out of their rut, and proceed as a solvent business into the 2020s.


wonkavite62 wrote:
So what are the good points (if any) of Avalon? Do they have any kind of a set curricullum? Do they pay on time? Do teachers usually complete their contracts at Avalon, or are there lots of horror stories? Is the work manageable? Can you save money? Does the school provide accommodation?

Perhaps the strongest "good point" is that most Avalons I've heard of have more than one foreign-teacher, so they'll help you get adjusted and so on. Maybe you don't want that setup, though, as this can create a "foreigner bubble", with little interaction between foreign and Korean teachers. This was the case at our Avalon.

Curriculum -- Bad. Perhaps your managers will give you leeway to do your own thing. We had a bit of that, in fits and starts.

Pay -- It depends on the branch, I guess. In my experience, "Base pay" was on time all except once (when the person in charge of money was "on a trip" for a few days, inexplicably, at payday, and apparently it had not occurred to that person to make arrangements for our salaries to be paid in her absence!). Our franchise-Avalon was known to do all kinds of tricks to "save money" (read: pay us less than we were owed). Nonpayment of pension [a 4.5% bonus on every penny you make] was a big one. When one of us discovered it, several weeks of management refusing to pay it ensued -- until there was essentially a foreign-teacher rebellion about it, and they caved in -- they were clearly breaking the law, which is why they relented, lest they be brought to court. There were also other "gray area" corners-cut against us, as foreign teachers, when it came to pay. This is not exclusive to Avalon, of course. It is just part of the way many Koreans see business: They see cheating their own employees, out of $250 here, $150 there, as "being a smart businessman". It adds up to lots of money out of our pockets and into theirs. General advice: Be careful, and make sure you are paid what you are owed. Be informed. Don't assume good faith. Just don't!

Workload -- Generally, this is not a problem in terms of classes per week. However, getting vacation days was aggravatingly difficult. I think I finished one year having gotten a measly six paid-vacation days, plus working two 'red days' (with overtime pay) in that time. That wore us all down.

Saving money and accommodation -- Of course, yes. This is generally true of any hagwon job in this country.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I am going to apply to work at Avalon. So, what is it like to work with Avalon?"

Hopefully by now you can see how backasswards these sentences are! FIRST you find out what it is like to work somewhere, which means asking not only people working there directly, but also inquiring on boards such as this. THEN you consider applying and maybe even do so.

A great number of problems voiced on Dave's stem from the fact that people mix up this simple process; they get an offer, sign, get over here, and THEN ask the questions! Cue Homer Simpson...'Doh!'
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRagic wrote:
A great number of problems voiced on Dave's stem from the fact that people mix up this simple process; they get an offer, sign, get over here, and THEN ask the questions! Cue Homer Simpson...'Doh!'


The mental image .....

ROTFLMAO......

Gotta love slow days in Feb.

.
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DaeguNL



Joined: 08 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have worked for both AValon, and Langcon. Langcon is a different curriculum that is geared towards younger kids (grades 1-4)
whereas AValon was more in the grade 3-6 range. You will be expected to follow the curriculum to the T, which often presents problems because the books are poorly written and sometimes you will have about 10 minutes of material for a 50 min class. however , i guess it is better than nothing.
At Avalon it is quite difficult to get vacation time. You will have to fight for it, and if you are lucky they will let you have a couple 4 day weekends. overall avalon and langcon alike are micromanaged. You will have a head teacher, supervisor, director, regional director, owner etc all watching over you.
Basically the place is OK as a starter school to get some experience, but by the end of the year you will not even consider the option of staying for another term.
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PREEST



Joined: 20 Jan 2013

PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DaeguNL wrote:
I have worked for both AValon, and Langcon. Langcon is a different curriculum that is geared towards younger kids (grades 1-4)
whereas AValon was more in the grade 3-6 range. You will be expected to follow the curriculum to the T, which often presents problems because the books are poorly written and sometimes you will have about 10 minutes of material for a 50 min class. however , i guess it is better than nothing.
At Avalon it is quite difficult to get vacation time. You will have to fight for it, and if you are lucky they will let you have a couple 4 day weekends. overall avalon and langcon alike are micromanaged. You will have a head teacher, supervisor, director, regional director, owner etc all watching over you.
Basically the place is OK as a starter school to get some experience, but by the end of the year you will not even consider the option of staying for another term.


This.

Avalon is a brand, nothing more. The way things are conducted are often irrational and backwards. Decisions are made for sake of business, NOT what is best for the kids.
Another thing that used to drive me crazy was the lack of support. If you are struggling with a noisy and disruptive class, the Korean teachers/directors, don't give a damn until a parents complains saying that their child told them the class is too loud. Countless times I asked for support from the Korean staff, and they did nothing. Then I got told off for a class being to loud.

Each Avalon may be different but the curriculum is the same and it is horrible.
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