There are newer employer reviews for ELS Language Centers

 

A good short-term experience, a little too unstable to consider for a long-term career.

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Former Employee - Associate Instructor in Berkeley, CA
Former Employee - Associate Instructor in Berkeley, CA

I worked at ELS Language Centers part-time (less than an year)

Pros

The center management (AD, CD) at ELS Berkeley was pretty great. The students were really fun and definitely more motivated than other private language schools I've worked at (and even some universities and CCs). ELS is the most put together ESL curriculum I've seen, and that comes from their long history in the field. The fact that passing their 112 class can be used as an alternative to TOEFL should tell you how legit they are. The materials provided were good, and teachers are given a lot of freedom to contribute their own lessons and materials. I really like the in-service training they provide--I have my MATESL, but their online modules are good refreshers, and the in-person meetings were very helpful. The compensation was very fair...better than any other private school that I've seen.

The best thing here is the community. The other teachers were very helpful with giving advice about students and lessons. People share materials and ideas in the staff room, and it built a good sense of solidarity.

Cons

Because it's a for-profit company, the copyright restrictions on materials in the classroom can be a bit constraining. Teaching at ELS falls under "commercial use," so you can't use TED talks and podcasts and videos unless they've already been approved.

Also, the 4 week session calendar is pretty rough if you're new there. Depending on enrollment, you may or may not have a job after four weeks. I definitely don't recommend moving to a new location for this job unless you've got another one in your back pocket, because there are no guarantees. You find out the day before classes start if you have a class (or classes), and if so, what those levels are. It would be pretty stressful as a new instructor. But for someone who either has a more constant afternoon/evening job, or for someone who just wants to start in the field, it's a great crash course in teaching.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Create some sort of test bank for teachers. We're not experienced test developers, so it would be beneficial to have some examples for the quizzes and tests during the session, especially for the Masters Level RW classes.

Recommends
Neutral Outlook

69 Other Employee Reviews for ELS Language Centers (View Most Recent)

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  1. 3 people found this helpful  

    Teachers are not treated very well ...

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - ESL Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - ESL Teacher in Los Angeles, CA

    I worked at ELS Language Centers part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    There is a great community of ESL teachers that are achieving a common goal. There are wonderful students from all over the world that will enrich your teaching experience and make it a great cultural exchange. You will make friends.

    Cons

    ELS does not pay the teachers for the amount of work that is required - and the amount of work is ENORMOUS. It is a very intensive language program so you are preparing your lessons and grading exams and papers every night. You have little personal time. In addition, to all of that - you have to fill out paperwork and forms like you would not believe! They have not taken advantage of what technology has to offer! They are stuck in an archaic system for calculating grades. They have this big fancy website to attract students and they have a grandiose website that shows their partnerships with universities throughout the U.S. But for some reason they have nothing that the teachers can log onto to record, manage and calculate grades!!!! It's a time consuming process that is just a waste of your precious time and energy.

    There is an insane system whereby students have to complete an extremely difficult workload in four weeks. Four weeks is one level. You will have to tell many of the students that they failed a level - not an easy thing to do. You will feel bad and the students will get depressed.

    The teaching material is completely outdated and the subject matter is questionable and embarrassing to teach. There are so many interesting, relevant and worthwhile topics that can be used as a vehicle to teach English. It's clear to me that some terrible, terrible decision making was involved in the process of creating the texts. The senior management is out of step with the modern world and the current generation of students. This material may have worked for an ESL classroom in the 1970's and 1980's - but not for this current generation of young people!

    ELS does not want to genuinely train its teachers. There is no program so that you can refine or expand your knowledge or teaching skills. If the results of your surveys are good then that is enough. It is true that you do learn how to be a good teacher by consistent, practical classroom experience. But there should be a system in place or some kind of training or workshop that is tailored to the teaching staff and its particular needs. For example, It would be great to have a forum on the many ways that one could teach the future perfect tense. There could be some method to explore what works and what might work and what doesn't work. This way, the teachers can really master their teaching abilities and tailor their teaching skills to the ELS world.

    The popularity contest - exit surveys. Some teachers and staff get a lot of mentions and some get little, if any. Just because you're not the most popular teacher or didn't get mentioned does not really have too much meaning but emphasis is placed on it. I am glad that other teachers get mentioned so many times. But this is not an indication of some kind of weakness on my part. The surveys are enough for me to think about - I don't need the added stress of the exit surveys. Our Academic Director and Center Director would show these exit survey results to us at the staff meetings. We would also see all of the comments that students made about staff and teachers. Most of the comments were nice but sometimes a particular teacher was singled out and an unkind comment was made. Did everyone on the staff have to see that insulting comment?!!!! My message to the Academic Director and the Center Director: Just show it to the teacher if you think it's that important!!! Don't let everyone else see it and humiliate the teacher.

    Because ELS only cares about making money, they are not too particular about the students that come to their school. The program is very difficult and students are graduating from the school totally unprepared for what awaits them when they go on to their degree studies. There is a lot of cheating on exams and there is a lot of plagiarism on written essays. Students don't want to do the work that is required. You will have to deal with these hassles and be very strict with the students. Students don't really understand that this is preparation for their future college and university studies.

    There is even more but I'm going to stop right here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get in touch with the modern way of doing things and leave the 1970's and the 1980's thinking and way of doing things behind.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  2. 3 people found this helpful  

    So much paperwork for so little pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Instructor in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Instructor in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at ELS Language Centers full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great students and awesome teachers! Health benefits for teachers working 20 hours a week.

    Cons

    Badly managed. Fearful middle managament constantly dump on the teachers. Crazy system of giving teachers their assignment the day they start teaching. Antiquated textbooks. Teachers are expected to fill out massive amounts of paperwork - company mantra "numbers don't lie". Forms for everything. Expectations for students to progress from one level to the next in 4 weeks is unrealistic - a recipe for disappointment. No guarantee of hours for teachers - not a good job is you are the sole breadwinner. More teachers than hours available - keeps everyone on their toes. Teachers are treated as disposable cogs in the machine. Pay is low. Teachers are expected to spend a lot of unpaid time generating tests, typed lesson plans, and grading. The 1/4 hour of paid prep time could be used just filling out forms!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Spend one month a year teaching a full load and see what conditions are really like for teachers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
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