EF English First Reviews

Updated August 25, 2014
Updated August 25, 2014
45 Reviews

3.7
45 Reviews
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Jacob Toren
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Working with EF has been a growing experience in which I have developed a very diverse skill set.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Director of Studies
    Current Employee - Director of Studies

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Being able to use a great product really enables teachers to develop students and really see their progress over time. Having a strong academic support structure also helps to improve teachers' abilities and promote their self confidence as well as their avheivement.

    Cons

    Sometimes flexibility is required when dealing with parents and center intiatives. Events and activities can often be put through with little notice. Cultural differences when dealing with management also need to be understood well for best results.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Ensure product launch deadlines are met as well as all of the resources with the products. Small Stars Second Edition didn't have the pronunication videos for a while after the product release. This is felt with every academic staff member across the world that uses this product and generates the same discontent.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Not a bad entry level job.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    Teaching can actually be quite rewarding. The job itself is not difficult and the pay is good relative to the work.

    Cons

    Frustrating management decisions and tedious administrative work. Conflicts between foreign staff and local staff. Extremely bratty kids that make you want to strangle them, then strangle their parents for raising them.

    Neutral Outlook
  3.  

    A great way to settle into China and develop as a teacher

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - TEFL Teacher  in  Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu (China)
    Current Employee - TEFL Teacher in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu (China)

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    EF is full of people who are passionate about education, and it's a great place to either develop professionally or to cut your teeth if you're new to the profession. There are really supportive materials with plans provided and loads of supplementary content, but you still have the freedom to get creative and teach your students, not just the syllabus. The onboarding is excellent; you know you'll be taken care of in terms of getting into the country and setup safe and sound and get on with exploring the country. Particularly in smaller cities, the salary is more than enough to have a very high standard of living and travel extensively. I've learnt so much, have had so many opportunities to develop and grow, and the vast majority of my colleagues over the past few years have extended their stays, moved up through the network of schools or taken up senior positions at other educational institutions, none of which would've been possible without EF's support.
    You really do get back what you put in - if you expect to come for a holiday, this isn't for you. But if you're motivated about starting or developing a career in education in a new country, EF is an excellent choice.

    Cons

    While everything was spelled out very clearly before I arrived, having to work weekends was certainly restrictive in terms of socializing outside the network of teachers at our school. Summer intensive periods can be very challenging, though you can see great progress from your students which is very rewarding. A comparitively low salary compared to public/international schools, particularly in larger cities.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Promote the development opportunities within the network - teachers moving between schools at the end of the year should be much more common.
    Provide more financial incentive to retain the best teachers long-term.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Good but could be better

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior English Teacher  in  Shanghai, Shanghai (China)
    Former Employee - Senior English Teacher in Shanghai, Shanghai (China)

    I worked at EF English First full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Work environment varies from school to school, but it's generally relaxed, fun and enjoyable. Avoid franchise schools and you'll usually be okay. Decent opportunities for growth after one year. Pay is fair. Training and classroom materials are getting better. Some school have a separation between local and foreign staff, but others, like mine, have great relationships between the two.

    Cons

    Summer course is rough - expect long hours and an exhausting schedule, and the bonus pay is a joke.
    Management is not always sympathetic, and quality varies widely from school to school.
    Difficult to take leave time, especially for more than a week.
    Schools always feel understaffed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus more on teacher retention. Push for better support for teacher, especially in the summer. The training opportunities for CELTA, etc. are a great start.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Take the bad with the good.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - English Teacher  in  Beijing, Beijing (China)
    Current Employee - English Teacher in Beijing, Beijing (China)

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

    Pros

    It's one of the more legitimate employers for English teachers in China (if you go with the main branch and not the franchises, I can't speak for them). You always get your pay on time. Your visa is 100% legitimate and your fees for acquiring it are reimbursed.

    Cons

    They underplay the amount of administrative workload in the recruitment process, stressing how they have lesson plans already set out. However, once you're there they expect you to make your own and you're constantly grading tests, homework, and doing progress reports. You also have PTMs (parent teacher meetings). Your weekends are especially long, you work 10-11 hrs (although you get a decent lunch break) and your teaching for 6 of those hours. (this is all for the children's schools, I did not work at the adults' centers).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Give appropriate time for administrative tasks/work on a better class time to office time balance. Be more upfront with the expectations during recruitment, this will reduce the amount of resentment among teachers who currently feel they've been misinformed (purposely)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  7.  

    VERY DEFINED AND CONSTANT PROS AND CONS

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign English Teacher  in  Tianjin, Tianjin (China)
    Current Employee - Foreign English Teacher in Tianjin, Tianjin (China)

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

    Pros

    GREAT KIDS! Teaching materials are wonderful and resources available to serious teachers (who take the job of being a teacher seriously) are easy to work with. New teachers get very good development and can learn a lot in the first year. It's a good place to get started as an ESL teacher.

    Cons

    Too much work! Hours are too long. Senior manager is too controlling and nitpicking and aggressive. Summer and Winter Courses are too long and the expectations on a single employee are overwhelming. The admin is insane. Admin is done online, on paper, in a folder, in too many places. Experienced teachers get little professional development. Some new managers are untrained by senior managers. New managers have little or no teaching experience…how can they train me if they aren't as experienced as me? $ talks in EF. It's a company that is BUSINESS and very focused on SALES. No bereavement clause in contract - family dies and you don't get enough time off to grieve.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop being so aggressive. Remember that we are people. Schools need teachers more than teachers need schools. Don't try control everyone. Communicate with us like we are human and not just slaves to your to do lists.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Good first job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - English Teacher  in  Shanghai, Shanghai (China)
    Former Employee - English Teacher in Shanghai, Shanghai (China)

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

    Pros

    -Relaxed work environment
    -Friendly co-workers
    -Great opportunity to learn Chinese!
    -The students can be a lot of fun
    -Great opportunity to develop your teaching style in a relatively low stress environment
    -Management is flexible and open to changes, very cool!
    -Opportunities for promotion if you stick with the company
    -Occasional opportunities for extra work from within the company
    -Free online Chinese classes
    -Opportunities to do work in other parts of the company (voice acting for the online courses/class material)

    Cons

    -Low starting salary, and it goes up slowly
    -Teacher evaluations should be more frequent
    -Work on weekends and evenings
    -Managers at some centers act tyrannical, and there is not a good system in place to put checks on them. If you have a good manager, your life will be great, if you have a bad manager, your life will be horrible.
    -Management can be disorganized and has problems communicating throughout the organization, sometimes changes things too much or too often!

    (One communication issue: I was told that the work week is 40 hours, then I found out that our 1 hour lunch was not counted as one of those 40 hours, so you are actually required to work 45 hours a week, 9 hours a day, not 8 hours a day. It's a little thing, but it should have been spelled out more clearly, and I was a bit annoyed that I didn't find that out until after getting to China)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -Work on communication
    -Make it easier for employees to report on misbehaving managers, and deal with professional misbehavior in a professional and prompt manner.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Career building potential if you want to realise it.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Suzhou, Jiangsu (China)
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Suzhou, Jiangsu (China)

    I have been working at EF English First full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    There is a lot of potential to hone your TEFL teaching skills and learn real transferable skills for your CV. The company actively encourages and rewards entrepreneurial spirit, so motivated people have the opportunity to flex their academic and/or creative muscles and make a real difference for both learners and the schools, whilst adding value to their portfolio of achievements. (Remember the interview question - 'Tell me when you were able to improve your work....'!) For those who want to teach and travel, with the emphasis on teaching, there are great resources and support both academically and socially, and of course travel in and around China is relatively cheap! Two consecutive weekdays either side of a weekend makes for quieter shopping and moving around the city!

    Cons

    China can be a challenging place to work and live, so proper support from your school is essential. Cross-functional communication and cooperation can be a little tricky because the business and social culture is so different. The competition for schools is fierce in China and parents and children are under a lot of pressure to perform, which puts pressure on the staff and kids to show results that are sometimes unrealistic. Working weekends are the norm, but it's when the kids' are free to come to a private language school and therefore a business necessity; just check the schedule to make sure of start and finish times on weekends. (We are usually free by 6:00pm so can still socialise.) Six days a week in summer is difficult, but it's the busiest time for the school. You need a good DoS and senior management to make it fun and rewarding. Sometimes the local Chinese management will make poor decisions not realising the effect on international teachers and/or students. This can be difficult. Finally, the local management need to learn to plan! It can be really frustrating to be told of a new academic event within a day or so of it happening, only to realise it's been discussed and planned by the local Chinese management for weeks!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Encourage your local managers to support their DoS in balancing a work/life load for the teachers. Add a definitive extra bonus for summer six-day weeks. Encourage and/or arrange for your international teachers to have travel opportunities; there are enough EF schools in China to offer a travel support network! Listen to your academic managers and resolve the little things that irritate teachers!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Good place to go from rookie to pro

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign English Teacher  in  Tianjin, Tianjin (China)
    Current Employee - Foreign English Teacher in Tianjin, Tianjin (China)

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

    Pros

    Great people, very good training and support from management, pay is comparable to other schools. Challenging environment with lots of career opportunities and fantastic teaching material. You will always get paid, no need to haggle. This is the best job I’ve had in a long time.

    As a bonus, the kids are really really cute!!

    Cons

    This is a real job. If you expect to make some money while taking it cool in another country, this is definitely not for you. Work load is heavy, specially in the summer and during the first three months, and expectations are always high. Management styles vary from one center to another (you’re working with human beings, remember?) so choose your center carefully and interview a few bosses if you feel the fit is not so good.

    Also, I'm working in a big Chinese city. If you've never traveled and are closed-minded, culture shock might be brutal. No one speaks English here and the signs are all in Chinese. This is the same for any job in China.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep it up! So far, I only have good things to say from everyone I'm working with. The support and communication have been top-notch, expectations are clear and goals are achievable.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    A good entry into TESOL teaching but it's no holiday job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - International Teacher  in  Shenzhen, Guangdong (China)
    Current Employee - International Teacher in Shenzhen, Guangdong (China)

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

    Pros

    From my experience the whole beginning process from application to the first day of work was professional and painless. (Having said that I know it's not been the case for everyone especially where visas are concerned)
    The pay is okay, the students are great and also willing to help you. If you want to take the initiative there's opportunity for professional development. EF is a Trinity Dip TESOL course provider and they also run various distance learning courses throughout the year.
    The teaching material works on a cycle so it's easy to get used to and the adapt as the cycle repeats. There's scope to be a little creative with that, and also other types of classes that have no fixed lesson plan for you to follow.
    Working with Chinese teachers is a definite advantage and management in my city seem to listen to staff.

    Cons

    From my perspective the hours suck and everyday I go home drained. That days are too long as you're expected to be in the office for 9 hours (including lunch) especially taking into consideration that it's also a late working day finishing at 9:30pm on weekdays. There can be some flexibility depending on your centre but smaller centres get hit hard as there aren't enough teachers. Being on the opposite schedule to everyone else in the world means you'll probably only end up socialising with other teachers if you hadn't made friends in China before and learning anything but survival Chinese is but a pipe dream for those who hadn't studied before.
    You're likely to come up against the usual gripes for working for a large company and maybe some additional ones because of cultural differences but these are largely manageable.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    35 hour working week please. And if visa laws won't allow that seriously consider going back to fewer contact teaching hours. 4 classes a day seems a happy medium. It's a large factor in why many international teachers who still want to stay in China leave to start working for schools with much better working hours, holidays and work-life-balance

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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