EF English First Foreign Teacher Reviews

Updated 7 Aug 2020

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2.8
31%
Recommend to a Friend
10%
Approve of CEO
EF English First President 	Jacob Toren (no image)
Jacob Toren
5 Ratings
  1. "Good People Questionable Management"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Foreign Teacher 
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    EF is one of the biggest leaders of education in China so you know it’s gonna be safe legally and financially. The people at my school were super nice and the kids were cute. My Director of Studies was amazing and always put her teachers first.

    Cons

    Communication is really not great between departments. Things always seem to be done last minute and the division of work was always unequal, with local Chinese teachers having more work thrust on them than foreign teachers. The pay is smaller than if you were to work at a kindergarten or other school but worth it for the security. Also there’s a bit of unfair treatment with hardworking staff being overlooked for less competent staff that are friends with management.

  2. COVID-19
    Helpful (4)

    "I wouldn't recommend this job to anyone, specifically for this city"

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

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

    Pros

    Pay was pretty good. The cost of living contributed a lot to that. The kids actually kept me at that job. I didn't go to that city or country because of the pay but rather, the experience. The kids were the best part of my experience.

    Cons

    Location, management, HR & Admin, work-life balance, favoritism, basically everything else. The location didn't have exposure to many foreigners so, everyone was very curious about you. IN MY EXPERIENCE, people were pretty rude / ignorant in terms of personal space, questions/ assumptions about you, and taking pictures. It was a constant battle of patience. Management was not great. The atmosphere was always intense to the point that at my school, there was a pretty high turnover rate. People were always frustrated with management due to lack of communication or unrealistic expectations/ pressure to break your back for the job. There were also higher ups who created a very unwelcoming environment for everyone. There was a lot of confusion for tasks but teachers were expected to just quietly complete them. Anyone who challenged/ questioned the higher ups was seen as problematic. IN MY EXPERIENCE. HR & Admin were pretty disorganized. Things that should have been stated (like bills and other payments) before signing the contract kept coming up throughout the duration of the job. It was already stressful at work. Having problems pop up at home and not having anyone who knew how to solve them was too much. If the teacher pointed out the lack of communication or incompetence, they were looked at as complainers. Specific things should have been handled before hand or, someone in HR/Admin should ask for clarification before sending the teachers on some fool's errand (not necessary for solving the problem) because they didn't have the answer and just...guessed. IN MY EXPERIENCE. Work-life balance. Or imbalance, I should say. You 're working even on your days off. IN MY EXPERIENCE. It seems in the city I was in, guys were more favored than the girls (mainly among foreign teachers). There were plenty of female teachers who did spectacular jobs and had great relationships with parents and students. However, the males (especially the problematic ones) were always raised onto pedestals. Even if they had negative affects on working environment. IN MY EXPERIENCE. Among the foreign teachers, there was always drama happening. Even when people wanted to solve the drama, it kept going. People who didn't want to be involved would be drawn in as well. It also didn't help that some of the local staff were involved in the drama (which also created favoritism/ positive outlooks towards the problematic individuals). IN MY EXPERIENCE The local teachers were paid a quarter of what the foreign teachers were. While there was a lot of hearsay about the salaries of local teachers, it was very noticeable that they were paid substantially less and had to do a lot more. This created hostility between locals and foreigners. Foreigners would voice their complaints about management or lack of work to do but locals just took them as complainers who got paid more while they did "all the work" and were paid less. In reality, they got paid less and had a lot of work and in my school, foreign teachers were not given as much work or told that, "the local teachers will do it,"/ "only for local teachers". Even if the foreign teachers wanted to help. IN MY EXPERIENCE. They are looking for "yes" people who didn't challenge whatever they say. Those are the people who get put on pedestals. They also get burned out because they are few so a lot of the tasks will go to the "yes" people, overworking them for the same pay. IN MY EXPERIENCE. Did I mention we got kicked out of the school for working illegally ("breaking the law" as my supervisor rephrased it) during covid-19? Honestly, a majority of MY EXPERIENCE was a mess and brought out horrible sides of me.

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    EF English First Response

    June 10, 2020Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your feedback. We're sorry to hear that you experienced difficulties with communication during your time with us. We will make sure to pass along this feedback to management. In regards to salaries, they are reviewed to make sure they keep in mind cost of living and competitiveness within the market. With regards to salary packages we do acknowledge that there are differences for local and international staff. This is not intended as a preferential treatment but takes into consideration the startup and ongoing costs of relocation to a foreign country. Your feedback however is appreciated.


  3. Helpful (3)

    "Not terrible, but there are many better ESL companies"

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

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

    Pros

    -The visa process was very professionally done, very smooth and I was kept well informed and given clear steps on what to do. -The onboarding was fairly good. It was a lot of talking and PPTs, but had some useful parts, like observing lessons. Also, EF assigned a day of our onboarding to travel arround the city, to help us feel comfortable in our new enviroment. -I've heard many teachers were given a full schedule when they arrived, but I was eased into my schedule and classes, given lots of opportunities to observe lessons. -EF provided a very nice shared apartment to stay for 3 months, then helped with finding a more permanent place. Most companies only provided a temporary apartment for 2,3 days. -Pay was always delivered on time. -Will help you to settle in: will set up a bank card, help you get a sim card, etc.

    Cons

    -As mentioned earlier, we were given a temporary apartment for 3 months until we were told to find our own place. However, when i was advertised this, I was told that we would be provided an apartment, or we had the choice to look for our own. When I arrived, I was told we could only stay there for 3 months. This would be fine, but EF shouldn't lie to us about this. -There is a discrimination of the teachers based on there colour and background. If you are white, and have 'foreign features', then you will be peraded around almost like a circus animal. A lot of life clubs and events were given only to white teachers, regardless of their experience. -We have 13 days 'annual leave' in our contracts over the 15 months, for holdays and breaks. This isn't bad, we are essentialy told when we can and can't use this. I had applied for multiple annual leaves, only to be told I couldn't go. -The pay is very poor compared to other ESL companies, it's about 1/2 or 1/3 of what most ESL companies will pay. -There is a massive discrimination between Chinese and foreign staff. I mentioned that the pay is low, but the chinese staff are paid about 1/2 of what the foreign staff are paid. Also, in the first contract, which lasts 15 months, local teachers are allowed no annual leave. If they sign a new contract, then they are allowed 5 days of annual leave for 15 months. -The lessons were primarily in the evening, and on the weekend. These times made it hard to socialize and go to different events. -Although the teaching hours are relatively low, there is so much admin to complete that the actual working hours are really high. Lesson planning, preperation, test marking and other admin meant that most weeks I would work over 45, sometimes over 50 hours. -The summer course and winter courses is a really difficult time. We would have our summer course lessons in the mornings, then our regular classes in the evenings. We were told we could relax during this time, however, the lesson planning is compulsory, so between these lessons, teachers would do lesson planning and preperation. This meant that during summer courses, we would work often 12+ hours-a-day. -EF were very focused on the cleanliness and presentation of the schools, but never seemed to take much interest in the teaching conditions. When I moved to the center, I was told the AC had some problems and would be fixed soon. During the 15 months I worked there, the most they did was to buy very very cheap fans for the classrooms, which did nothing. Temperatures in the classrooms would often get 30C+, and sometimes I even had to run to the bathroom to vomit during classes because of heat exhaustion. I mentioned this often to management, but the most that was done about this was buying those extremely cheap fans, which did nothing. -The teaching resources we had were poor. There were two primary websites we used, one for taking attendance, test results, etc., and one for storing teaching materials needed for the lessons. Both of these were almost always crashing, or not working. I was told when I arrived that these websites were new, and may have a few problems to start with. In all my time there, I felt nothing was done to fix these issues. We had very little to use in our lessons, pretty much some balls and a couple of stuffed toys. -We made to sit through various compulsory trainings. These trainings were nearly always pointless and a waste of time. -EF seemed to act more like a business than a school. They often seemed to prioritize the parents often ridiculous demands than the treatment of the employees. Often the management would do nothing to stick up for their employees. I heard that a parent made a complaint because a teacher stepped on a flashcard during a lesson, and the teacher was then given a warning because of this. I also heard one parent yelling at a PA, making her cry, but no action was taken against him. -Like many people have said, EF makes it very difficult to find a new job if you leave their employment. For example, EF wont give you a reference if you leave before two years (the standard contract is 15 months). Also, EF will refuse to transfer your visa to another company if you want to work for a different company in China. -Whilst the majority of students were amazing, there were some exceptions. For new students, most sign up after going to a 'demo lesson'. In these demos, I've seen some students push other kids, push over chairs, run a round the school, only to hear that they later sign up. These students are a risk to other children and shouldn't be allowed to sign up if they have these behavioural tendencies. Also, I've had lessons with students who had been violent, punching, kicking, pushing other students and continuously interrupting. In these cases, these students should not be allowed to carry on to the next level, but they let them. The teachers have very little they can do about their behaviour. We had a three tier, yellow, amber, red warning system, where if they were given the final red warning, they would fail the course. However, almost always the PA would be unwilling to give these warnings to parents, so the warnings wouldn't be processed.

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    EF English First Response

    May 29, 2020Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your detailed review. We're happy to hear that you had a pleasant and supportive onboarding experience. Hours and annual leave are discussed during the recruitment process and in our contracts for your review before accepting an offer to join the team. In regards to salaries, they are reviewed to make sure they keep in mind cost of living and competitiveness within the market. We acknowledge that there are differences in packages for local and international staff, this is not intended as a preferential treatment but takes into consideration the startup and ongoing costs of relocation to a foreign country. EF is under no legal obligation to assist with a visa transfer, however depending on the city requirements certain documents will be provided back to staff. We are concerned about your comments regarding discrimination and encourage you to reach out to compliance.china@ef.com for the matter to be further investigated. We are also concerned about the teaching conditions and the lack of resources provided to you, please email us at teacher.welfare@ef.com in order to further look into this. Your feedback is appreciated.

  4. Helpful (2)

    "Predatory Employers"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Foreign Language Teacher in Ningbo
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at EF English First

    Pros

    Literally the only ‘pro’ is that the work visa they provide is valid, albeit conditional.

    Cons

    Where to start? I’ve lived all over the world and worked in a myriad of work environments- I’m not adverse to hard work, but everything about EF is ‘predatory’. They actively recruit students right out of university that have little to no idea about what they want to do in the future. They promise them relatively decent pay vis-a-vis the current living cost. They additionally swear ‘up and down’ that new recruits will positively ‘love’ China and that they’ll be supported! The reality is starkly different. I found myself in China after my BA for no other reason than I wanted to learn Mandarin- I already speak several other languages and thought this would round me out. I began teaching classes after just one week of observation, which should’ve been the first red flag. As we were so short staffed due the ever-growing number of people that did ‘midnight runners’ because of the poor work environment, I easily worked 50 hour weeks from the start. This was later compounded by mandatory summer and winter schools that added another 12 hours and reduced my time off to just one, singular, solitary day. Were we compensated for the extra time in the class room? Hardly- we were given just 600 kuai per ‘camp’, which translates to just €80 or $85 at the time of writing. If you think that €6 to $7 per hour sounds bad for a college graduate, JUST WAIT! The regular salary is abysmal- positively abysmal. I’ve been paid better for internships. For a 50 hour work week I was paid just €1.190 or $1,290 per month. Which, again, averages out to an almost WHOPPING €6 or $6.50 an hour. If that wasn’t horrific enough, any halfway decent apartment costs at LEAST €400. And that living stipend they promised you? That covers maybe half, if you’re lucky. You aren’t able to save, in fact, you just barely scrap by. Which brings me to my next point. If you want to break your contract for any reason, you have to pay them- 30,000 kuai (€4.000) to be exact. Given the cost of living and the salary they pay you, you could maybe, MAYBE, afford to do that after 10 months if you’re prudent with your money, but even then that’s incredibly difficult. They’ve got you exactly where they want you. But why would you want to leave? If being paid a slave’s wages wasn’t discouragement enough, perhaps the work culture might be? Whilst working 50 hour weeks and consistently covering for other colleagues that had left or taken ill from the stress that came with the job, I was asked to repeatedly stay longer to decorate classrooms and just generally put in more time that was necessary. If you called in sick (because frankly, working with kid’s really tests your immune system) you had to qualify your sickness with the DOS. I had horrific gynecological issues whilst in China and despite my embarrassment, had to brief the management team when I asked to take a day off. I was once only allowed to leave my post after being sick in a trash bin. But, that’s only the metaphorical ‘tip of the iceberg’. Whilst working for EF I experienced sexual harassment, threat of violence and, to a less important degree, workplace misconduct. I had a colleague yell harassment at me at a work event, telling another colleague that I was a ‘whore’ and a ‘slut’, despite the fact that we were only talking about 90s pop. This continued into the workplace, when he frequently made comments of a sexual nature to me. My DOS, Carmel’s, response was that I shouldn’t be so provocative, despite the fact that I was wearing the company issues navy blue polo and ankle length khakis. Who would’ve thought that golf is the sexiest sport? A few months later, a 13 year old came to my class with a switchblade. He threatened another student that often made jokes at his expense. I stepped in between the two boys and managed to wrestle the knife away. I went to my manager directly and said I would no longer teach the child as I didn’t feel safe and didn’t want to feel unsafe in my work environment. Her response was to send a note home with the offending teenager, which was obviously ineffective. He remained in my class until I left my post. Lastly, my DOS was sleeping with a Senior Teacher, who was arguably promoted because of his personal relationship, not because of seniority. She would regularly come to our office and sit in his lap or just generally throw herself at him. When I tendered my letter of resignation to my DOS’s boss, I received an exit interview. Who should be in this interview, but my poorly behaved DOS? She proceeded to effectively try to ‘rip me a new one’ mid-interview. It had the opposite effect, I believe. TLDR; Don’t work for EF, you will regret it.

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    EF English First Response

    April 13, 2020Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for reaching out. We take allegations of unfair or improper workplace treatment very seriously. Please contact us at compliance.china@ef.com so that a fair and thorough investigation into your claims can take place.

  5. Helpful (1)

    "EF English First 1 Year Review"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Language Teacher in Hohhot
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good training available to all new teachers and easy to follow curriculum. Co-workers work very hard and are very pleasant to be around in the office, but this could vary from location to location.

    Cons

    Very long hours on weekends that are demoralizing and only 15 minutes between classes to prepare and gather materials which is not enough. I was promised free Chinese lessons before I arrived, but they were only made available after 1 year of employment. Lack of foreign staff and foreign teacher retention seems to be a critical issue for this company.

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    EF English First Response

    January 17, 2020Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for sharing your experience, and for acknowledging our easy to use curriculum. I would be interested in learning more about your first year at EF. I can also help connect you with EF's online Chinese lessons, which you may enjoy. Please reach out to me at 'teacher.welfare@ef.com.' Mario Bermeo

  6. Helpful (1)

    "EF Baotou is a great place to work"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Foreign Teacher in Baotou, Inner Mongolia
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great curriculum Awesome co-workers The students are amazing

    Cons

    Work weekends Not enough holidays Need more career development

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    EF English First Response

    December 1, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your positive post and acknowledging your awesome co-wokers and amazing students. In terms of Career Development, we have implemented a number of new career development inititaives over the past 3 years, including our Academic Career Ladder. We understand, however, that more work could still be done in this area. We would love to hear more about your EF career aspirations and how we could better support you. Please feel free to reach out to me at Mario.Bermeo@ef.com.

  7. "EF Baotou is amazing!!"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Language Teacher in Baotou, Inner Mongolia
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    Working at EF Baotou is great, you have endless opportunities for growth, the staff are friendly and ready to help you with anything. There are variety of classes, so you get to practice your skills with different types/age of classes.

    Cons

    The only con is the language barrier

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Don’t do it there’s better companies"

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

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

    Pros

    Visa will be legal. And there’s a decent work expectation.

    Cons

    Management is terrible. Everyone is a liar aboutbeven the most basic things. When you try to leave they threaten you with legal action. Overworked and make half the salary if other schools.

    EF English First Response

    October 22, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your post. Due to the nature of your post, we ask that you reach out to us at teacher.welfare@com to discuss your experience.

  9. Helpful (3)

    "Overworked and Underappreciated"

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

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

    Pros

    The salary and benefits are good, and students are eager to learn.

    Cons

    Everything is catered to the parents. Teachers are not allowed to run classes efficiently because parents always complain about one thing or another, and the school gives in to them. All they care about is a good performance, not the students actually learning. Especially with summer and winter courses, the teachers are massively overworked and held to unrealistic expectations in terms of lesson delivery and student retention, all the while being treated like they're disposable and unimportant. At one point, I was vomiting and very sick, but was not allowed to take the day off because there wasn't anyone to cover my classes, and the school refused to cancel classes to please the parents. Then, when I got sick in class and had to run to the bathroom, the parents complained about me leaving class. I was also reprimanded for this by management later on, as though it were my fault for being sick. I also experienced many health problems due to the unhygienic conditions the school was kept in, and raised complaints about it.

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    EF English First Response

    July 19, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your post. We are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience at your school and felt you were treated unfairly. We take any allegation of unfair or improper workplace treatment very seriously. Although you are no longer at the school, we would still encourage you to reach out to us at compliance.china@ef.com so that we can properly look into the matter.

  10. Helpful (3)

    "Low salary not enough benefits"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Teacher in Jiaxing
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No Opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Offer opportunities to further your career. They promise you a lot of things

    Cons

    Long hours on the weekends. We didn’t have any office hours before but the management pressured us to be at the school at 40 hrs a week since few months ago and implemented a fingerprint system. Now this is fine if only it was mentioned in our contracts. When i got interviewed the DoS actually said we never expect you to be at the office you’re not teaching but things changed so quickly after i signed the contract. As a training center that doesn’t offer nowhere near as high salary as other centers, the only benefit of working at EF was the no office hours rule but now that’s gone. We’re expected to be at work like full time public school teachers who are getting paid twice our salary. Not to mention the peak seasons such as summer and winter course, then we have to be at work from morning till night 6 days a week with no additional pay, no overtime whatsoever. The center i worked at constantly put pressure on teachers, made them compete w each other when it comes to demo sales, retention, summer course sales etc. There is a big board in the office where each teacher has their target number for summer course and retention. Whenever a student of a teacher signs up they add it to their target to ‘motivate’ teachers when in reality it puts so much stress and pressure on teachers. It haunts us everytime we look at it. The management team looks at teachers as assets, means to make money and only that. Never as humanbeings w feelings. You’re only as good as your numbers. That’s how i felt all the time. Also there is a referral system where when you refer someone and they come and complete the probation period you get certain amount of money. I referred someone a yr ago and this person has come and completed their probation 3 months ago. I still haven’t gotten the referral payment and the person who is in charge of this stopped answering my emails so after a lot of unanswered emails i contacted them on their wechat and was left on read. My contract with them is up this weekend and i’m not sure if i’m ever gonna see that referral bonus.

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    EF English First Response

    July 12, 2019Teacher Welfare Director

    Thank you for your detailed post. Our recruitment team works hard to set clear expectations, particularly when it comes to teaching schedules and office hours. We regret if this was not the case for you. In terms of your referral bonus, we are happy to look into this for you. Perhaps we could schedule a call to learn more about your experience? Please reach out to me at Mario.Bermeo @ef.com

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