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EF English First International Teacher Reviews

Updated Mar 29, 2020

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3.6
82%
Recommend to a Friend
67%
Approve of CEO
EF English First President 	Jacob Toren (no image)
Jacob Toren
11 Ratings
  1. "It was a great experience"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - International Teacher in Daqing, Heilongjiang

    I worked at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    They help with you transition

    Cons

    A lot of down time

  2. "Engaging and fun."

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - International Teacher in Shanghai, Shanghai
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    The people that you meet at EF, be it the children, or your work associates, are a big part of what makes EF a great place to work. There is an atmosphere of community and friendship in which people will gladly help each other when it is needed. Centres arrange meals, activities and group training regularly through which you can make some strong and rewarding friendships. EF take care of their employees from arrival to in centre work ensuring that the new recruits settle in quickly at their new centres. This makes the transition to a new country with a different culture smooth and exciting. Furthermore, EF hold monthly events for which teachers can apply for and be selected for. I myself attended an event where a large group of EF teachers were afforded the opportunity to try rock climbing free of charge. This was an enriching event where we were able to network with our colleagues, and make new friends from other centres. This was an amazing activity, and there were many more that i could apply for. I recommend getting involved with these as much as possible. All in all, my experience with EF has mostly been fun, engaging and has promoted personal and professional growth.

    Cons

    Although my time with EF so far has been great, there were a few issues with in centre induction, though my personal experience of this may have been due to restructurings and people being away when i arrived. However, because of these things, many of the induction stages were foregone or overlooked, essentially meaning i had to find information myself, or ask a lot of questions to eventually get simple answers that i should have been informed about. Though this was not great, it did not impact my overall enjoyment of the process.

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    EF English First Response

    December 8, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your detailed review. We are happy to hear that your overall work experience at EF has been fun and engaging and has also promoted your personal and professional growth. We agree on the importance of having a strong induction for new teachers. You will be pleased to hear that we are currently implenting a new learning management system (LMS) to ensure that all teachers have access to the most up-to-date training and information.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Massive disconnect between management and staff."

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - International English Teacher in Shanghai, Shanghai
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Set Schedule Limited Hours Career Progression Lateral Movement Diverse Work Force

    Cons

    Disconnected Management Corporate structure is flawed

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    EF English First Response

    November 3, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for sharing your EF experience. We are happy to hear that you would recommend EF as a company and appreciate our career opportunities and a diverse workforce. We understand that work experience can differ from center to center, and this is an area that we are continually working to improve. We would love to hear more about your EF experience and ways we could improve the workplace for teachers. Please feel free to reach out to us at teacher.welfare@ef.com

  4. "Overview of being an international teacher at EF"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - International Teacher in Shanghai, Shanghai
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - VISA process is super easy, to a point that all you need to do is provide what they need and it will be done for you - opportunity to learn the local language - career mobility within the company - initial teaching certificate provided and then if you want to advance, you will have a 50% off in the more advanced certificates - lots opportunities to travel - great healthcare and employee benefits and perks - very supportive recruiting team to help before your arrival

    Cons

    - salary is not the best - work hours can be long if you work at kids school (not teens school, and not sure about adults and online) - not being able to have saturday and sunday off, but instead you get two days during the week off

    EF English First Response

    June 3, 2019Vice President

    Thank you for sharing about your experience at EF. We are thrilled to hear about your positive experience relocating to China and that you've felt supported through the certifications, training programs and benefits provided. We take pride in this and ensure teachers receive ongoing development and opportunities for career growth. We know that teachers work very hard at EF and we value everything they do. We understand not having Saturday and Sunday off work can be unconventional for some, however, weekends are our peak hours due to the nature of our business. We do make sure everyone gets two days during the week as you've highlighted in your post.

  5. Helpful (2)

    "Some good people but the company SUCKS!"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - International Teacher in Beijing, Beijing
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at EF English First full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    There are some really nice and capable people. A lot of lesson support with handout materials. Good on the "front-end" and getting people in, but ...

    Cons

    Really bad on the back end ... providing follow-up and help. You can be fired at the drop of a hat and abandoned in China. Teachers don't really teach, they're more like slide-show projectionists. And you are not permitted to go beyond the 3 to 5 word new vocabulary for each class ... even if the students are advanced and already know the words. Teacher turn-over is about like an American McDonalds ... I went by my old center about a year after I left and there was about 90% new teachers.

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    EF English First Response

    April 14, 2019Vice President

    Thank you for sharing this feedback on your experience teaching with us in Beijing. It's great that you got along well with your coworkers and felt supported by the materials provided. However, it's disapointing to hear that you felt unsupported during your time with us. We value teachers' hard work and committment to their students, and we want our teachers to grow, develop their skills and stay with us. We encourage all teachers who have felt they've been treated unfairly to send an email to compliance.china@ef.com so we can follow up and address the issue accordingly. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

  6. "My review"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - International Teacher in Guangzhou, Guangdong
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at EF English First full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Meeting local and international teachers. Weekends or different from regular weekends.

    Cons

    Last minute changes to productions. Had to cover classes without knowing 10 minutes beforehand. A lot of favoritism towards white people (especially male). Not a fair playing field. Sometimes the classes are not equally split, so I personally felt overwork.

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    EF English First Response

    March 24, 2019Vice President

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We're so glad you enjoyed the international experience of working with people from all over the world. That's one of the things we love about working in the ESL industry abroad, where we have the opportunity to bridge the gap between countries and cultures through language. We're sorry that you experienced a last-minute production swap, it's not always easy to adapt at the last minute when things change and are out of our control, but we truly appreciate you stepping in to assist your team members. We hope this was only a one-time incident. We are very concerned by your allegations regarding the unfair schedule split, this is not in line with our employment practices, as we aim to create a fair and equal working environment for all of our employees. Please contact us at compliance.china@ef.com so that we can conduct a fair and thorough investigation. And again thank you for reaching out.

  7. Helpful (1)

    "Falsely advertises travelling time/pays you next to nothing"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior International Teacher in Guangzhou, Guangdong
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

    I worked at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    - live abroad fairly comfortably - you’re in an international community - company handles all documents once you’re there - you can progress within the company. Slowly.

    Cons

    - they won’t help you find accommodation - they pay you peanuts compared to other schools - YOU WORK SO MUCH. You barely have any time off and when you do, they’ll tell you a week before. If even that. - you have to work summer and winter courses, which sometimes means 9-9 days, 6 days a week. You’re only given an additional 300cny for each week. Peanuts. - the stress of retaining falls on you and your local PAs will hassle you for open lessons (parents watch you teach) - public demonstrations (you can’t opt out) - you’re essentially a foreign face selling a product. Emphasis on sales rather than teaching - you need to do a lot to progress in the company. The way their review system works is to bump you up a pay scale just as your contract ends. Essentially they’ll offer you more money to re-sign a contract. - if you hand in your notice to leave early, the company will stop giving a toss about you and you’ll have to figure out paperwork and reclaiming taxes then. - there’s no sense of workplace community. Locals will only care about you if you push for sales and retention of students. - there’s no diversity training - in order to progress they push you into paying to do a CERTESOL/DipTesol - which doesn’t mean anything, anywhere else. They work out a scheme that after doing it, you have to stay with them for two more years. - Management aren’t often management material. They’re just people who stuck it out in China long enough to get promoted. I.E. weirdly racist old white men. - even management complain that they haven’t built anything, savings wise etc. - health care only covers bare minimum at terrible, obscure local hospitals. So don’t get sick. - TERRIBLE work life balance. You live only to work. You work Monday to Thursday 3 - 8 pm Friday 1 - 8pm (it used to be 9:30) Saturday and Sunday 8:30am till 6:30pm You get two weekdays off. You work through the holidays. Only a week off for Chinese New Year when it’s too busy and expensive to travel. One day off for Christmas Day. Even when there’s no production, you still have to go to school. - They just want as many people to work as possible, so they don’t throughly vet people (you end up working with some unstable people, it causes a lot of stress) - you will have quite a heavy teaching schedule. It becomes manageable but you’ll find other people in the centre with nothing to do. There’s no equalness. - the Chinese way is to not complain but they’re paid under HALF of what foreigners get. - other schools in China will offer 18,000rmb rather than the starting salary of 10,000 that Ef offers you. That’s including accommodation, which you’re already paying more for as a foreigner. - if you’re Caucasian, get ready to be treated like kings. If you’re anything else, get ready for racism and stereotypes.

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    EF English First Response

    February 18, 2019Vice President

    Thank you for the detailed post. We understand that the extended summer and winter schedule can be difficult and does make maintaining a work-life balance challenging. We would love to be able to provide all EF employees with a traditional work schedule, but the nature of the EFL business in China makes this impossible. In terms of professional development, we encourage people to grow with EF and have many resources specifically dedicated to this area. We sponsor professional qualifications, including the CertTESOL and the DipTESOL, in turn, we do require a 2-year work commitment from our teachers. These, however, are both internationally recognised teaching qualifications that are widely accepted around the world.

  8. "Good Path Towards Teaching"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - International ESL Teacher in Hangzhou, Zhejiang

    I worked at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    I wanted to develop as a teacher and with so many hours (20-25 classes a week) my confidence grew loads. Atmosphere in the language center (Hangzhou) was great, made friends with many students (adults). But in class you expected to take the lead and know what you're doing.

    Cons

    Curriculum rotates so can be a bit boring teaching the same lessons again unless you are creative and look for new ways of bringing the material to life. Don't do the job if you just want to travel and have fun, the work is pretty intense, with little time to travel (though there is a 'flying teacher' thing where you teach in different cities and centers)

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    EF English First Response

    March 24, 2019Vice President

    Thank you for sharing your experience at EF. It's fantastic to hear that during your time with EF, you were able to grow and develop as a teacher and become more confident. It is also good to hear that you enjoyed your time at the school and were able to form strong friendships with students. We do understand that teaching the same lessons can become repetitive, but we also hope it creates familiarity, allowing teachers to focus more on their teaching and less on learning the content and developing new lesson plans each time. Our teaching schedules can be intense and teaching at EF is not for someone who is looking to just travel and have fun. Thank you for your recommendation for more teacher support, and settling into China assistance. We are constantly reviewing our training programs, including our new teaching onboarding. Thank you for your feedback and for your 2+ years teaching with EF. We appreciate the time and effort you gave to our students.

  9. "Awesomeness!!"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - International Teacher for Adults in Beijing, Beijing
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    *Living in a new country *Friendly local and international staff *Training opportunities *Team building events *Fairly consistent work schedule *The job is EXCEPTIONALLY rewarding *A clear description of the path for promotions *The company splits the cost of health insurance

    Cons

    *Things can be very poorly organized sometimes. *The pay compared to other places is low but it is made up by having lots of teambuilding and free events for the staff *Not a con for me but for some, the hours are pretty late. You normally work from 10 or 11 am until 8:30 or 9:30 pm. *You get two days off a week but they are usually during the week. (Again, not a problem for me)

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  10. Helpful (21)

    "Nightmare of a job. Incompetent company full of lies, coercion and illegal activity."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - International Teacher in Guangzhou, Guangdong
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at EF English First full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Amazing students Everyone gets a job regardless of ability. Visa obtained easily if you are outside of the country

    Cons

    EF's recruitment and retention strategy for foreign employees is essentially a human trafficking scheme with a friendly face that avoids anything overtly illegal. The experience at EF fits in the United Nations definition for human trafficking as people are recruited through deception and once in the position of vulnerability in a foreign country are maintained through coercion and abuse of power. Despite exploitation, consent to remain at the job is achieved through direct and indirect threats and deception with the knowledge that the foreign employee is unfamiliar with the local legal system and would not be able to seek help from authorities. Additionally, while foreign employees are free to leave the job anytime, they are deceived into believing that this would likely result in having to permanently leave the country that they have committed to living in. An option that for many is not feasible. The lies start with the recruiters who will give a job offer to anyone meeting the minimum government requirements for the visa, and make whatever promises needed for the employee to sign the contract. Everything seems professional, friendly and polished up until the moment the employees arrive in the country. At that point, the lies, mismanagement and incompetence start to be revealed. Within a day upon arrival, the employees are rounded up and given massive byzantine contracts to sign while still disorientated and jet lagged. Confusion and questions about promises and realities are either dismissed as recent changes in national law or company policy or just ignored. The company commits a great deal of effort to polishing its reputation to recruit new employees but once they begin working it seems everything possible is done to drive them away and ensure a miserable life on the job. Once the employee begins work at their assigned training centre, the situation on the job never ceases to seek new lows. Unbelievable incompetence is widespread among the management and staff. Rules and policies are made up on the spot by the administration, so the situation at each school location varies wildly. Despite the vast differences in working conditions at each centre, the policies are always claimed to be due to national employment law or corporate policy. The working schedule is with work on nights and weekends on top of long hours preventing any healthy work-life balance or slightest pretence of a life outside of work. Employees are required to work 9 to 10 hours a day and sometimes six days a week. In my case sometimes I worked 45 to 50 hours a week, and the overtime work beyond the 40 hours a week agreed in the contract was completely unpaid. When this issue was brought up, it was framed as a problem with the employee being unable to complete their required tasks rather than a management issue. Scheduled daily tasks include so much busy work and embarrassing drudgery that there was little time left for the actual job: preparing for and teaching classes. The company puts a tremendous effort into making the learning centres appear visually clean and impressive, but the actual conditions of the facilities are deplorable. Rats, roaches, mould, shoddy construction, and safety hazards abound. Some centres in first-tier cities don't even have proper restrooms with modern toilets. Even air conditioning was inadequate, and at one centre I worked at the a/c was turned off in the peak of summer heat during the busiest times of day assumably to save money. The teachers then were forced to work in sweatshop conditions, crammed into tiny, hot, unventilated rooms with many students. The technology provided, specifically the computers were continually inoperable, and the IT staff tasked with maintaining and repairing this technology were utterly unable to ensure the most basic functionality. While employed at the company for less than one year, I either personally witnessed or was directly aware of incidences of physical assault, sexual harassment, workplace safety violations, employment law violations and other horrors. When any of these issues or complaints about the facilities or working conditions were brought to management attention, it only became another opportunity for management to engage in power play antics against the complaining employee and nothing satisfactory was ever done to address the issues. It's almost laughable that one can immediately observe that Orwellian concepts are baked into the EF corporate culture. “Doublethink” is widely practised with management and complacent staff commonly expressing beliefs that they know conflict with reality. Meanwhile, employees working in deplorable conditions are expected never to express the slightest dissatisfaction which would reveal them as non-compliant “thoughtcriminals.” EF encourages employees to use their personal social media account to post unpaid company advertisements and enforces this activity via peer pressure. Parties and events are listed as “benefits”, yet these are actually required work and another form of physical and psychological control over the staff. Activities at these events emanate a cult-like aura with employees forced to perform song and dance like clowns, and despite the bizarre nature of these activities, peer pressure ensures most people follow along. The foreign teachers are often paraded like circus animals as a form of humiliation and subjugation in the presence of hundreds of people. Employees who refuse to attend such events are punished by having pay withheld or annual leave days revoked. Annual leave, like the other benefits that look impressive on recruiting material, was a joke. Compared to other jobs in the industry which provide adequate time off, the 10 days a year promised can hardly appeal to the majority of the target demographic willing to relocate to the other side of the planet for a TEFL job. Even worse, most employees were only permitted to take time off in small fragments on days selected by the centre management, preventing even a trip back to their home country to see their family. Other benefits such as health insurance were equally useless and provided just for appearances and in reality not usable for either routine or significant medical issues. Lastly, the pay is far below the industry standards for the amount of work required especially since housing is not provided. The recruiters offer a false impression about the low cost of living to make the corresponding low pay seem tolerable when in reality most employees will need to pull money from saving for months to survive. An apartment agent is provided, but the agent and the owners of the flats are all in consortium with EF. The properties are rented out at prices sometimes double or triple the market rate, and the recruits are deceived into believing these are the cheapest and only apartments available in the city. With only a few days to decide they have little choice but to sign a rental contract subjugating them to a year of grossly overpaying for housing. Additionally, EF instructs the landlords to force the employees to pay rental tax, something that is strictly the landlord's responsibility. In summary, EF is infamous as being one of the worst large-scale employers in the TEFL industry in Asia. Nearly every aspect of the job experience is deplorable, and while many of these issues are well known in the company, no effort is made to improve them. It should be noted that while it is possible for people not to encounter or not be bothered by the experiences described above, and therefore have a positive experience, EF uses various methods to coerce or entice employees into leaving a positive review. During my time an email was sent out encouraging employees to leave a review on Glassdoor and send in a screenshot to receive a prize.

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    EF English First Response

    November 4, 2018Vice President

    Due to the serious nature of your post, we request that you contact us at compliance.china@ef.com so that a fair and thorough investigation can take place. Your experience with EF does not reflect our core values and EF’s commitment to providing the best possible work environment for our employees. We are very concerned by your allegations and want to ensure they are addressed.

Found 24 reviews