Working at EF English First | Glassdoor

EF English First Overview

Shanghai, Shanghai (China)
10000+ employees
Company - Private
Education Training Services
Unknown / Non-Applicable
Our mission and our passion are one and the same.

For almost 50 years, we've been opening the world through education. Our cultural exchanges, educational travel, language training and degree programs have helped millions of people become ... Read more

Mission: Opening the world through education.

EF English First Reviews

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Jacob Toren
134 Ratings
  • Helpful (14)

    "Beyond just teaching"

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Teacher
    Current Employee - Senior Teacher
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at EF English First full-time (More than a year)


    Amazing opportunities for upward development. ESL is a tough industry and it's something you age out of, if you choose to, at EF you have more than a few directions into which you can develop and be promoted. I know people who started off as teachers with no previous relevant experience who are now senior content developers as well as Regional Managers etc

    As far as annual leave goes: For your second year you'll get 12 days, 3rd year about 15 and after 5 years, you'll get 20 annual leave days per year.

    As mentioned if all you are looking for is to teach for a year or so and not worry about Visa arrangements, EF is a good starting block. You get paid on time, and Visa's are on the up and up which is more than a lot of other schools can say.

    EF also partners with Cambridge Trinity and you'll be able to sign a development contract to obtain the CertTesol, DipTesol, DeltM as well as distance learning courses which focus on Grammar, Teaching Phonology, Coaching, Reflective Practice etc.

    Annual leave is pro-rated so if you start early in the year you should get between 8-9.5 annual leave days for the year, this is excluding Chinese New Year, Summer Course Break (usually about 5 days) and other Chinese festival days off.

    Obviously, I am a bit biased as I am currently still employed by EF Kids and Teens but I can say that I have past experiences teaching in all facets of the industry and that EF weights heavily on both sides of the spectrum, you can either keep your head down and just teach for a year and get paid to do so whilst being provided with all possible resources or they will actively try to develop you should you show an interest in staying around for a bit. EF is a global company and they have HQ's and schools in China, Indo, Russia as well as offices in Aus, the US and UK, this makes travelling around a bit easier.


    If all you do is teach you might find the job a bit constraining as materials are overdeveloped to better assist new teachers so it will be up to you to adapt and change materials to suit your own style. It might at times feel like you are being spoonfed but again, more experienced teachers will probably be able to easily adapt materials and lesson aims to depend on student needs.

    Another con, especially, if you are a first-year teacher with dreams of a 40K Shanghai job and lots of time off, you'll find that you probably won't have weekends off, however once you've stuck around for 2 years or so, you'll probably be able to negotiate at least 1 Weekend day off, an example, Sunday, Monday or split days off, ex: Saturday, Monday.
    In general, you'll have two consecutive days off during the week. A working day starts at 2 PM until about 8:15 PM during the week, weekends are 9AM-6PM. When it's summer or winter course you'll have a few days during the week where you'll teach morning or mid-afternoon classes outside of your regular schedule, but again, you usually get a bonus for every week of additional teaching you do and you'll get another bonus if you go over your contracted hours.

    As mentioned in other reviews on this site, your Dos and regional management will play a large part in how you experience your time here. If you have a manager who is intent on developing their teachers you'll be fine, unfortunately, that's not always the case and you might end up at a centre where you feel like your needs aren't being taken into consideration and that you are not being managed in a constructive way.

    The pay for a first-year teacher isn't super great, especially in a city like Shanghai where the cost of living is quite high, but it's still manageable and they are generally quite good about helping new teachers with cash advances for renting apartments. I should mention that all my comments only refer to the Kids and Teens Product as I don't really have any experience in the Adult's, Teens only, and Online products.

    Advice to Management

    Keep focussing on teacher development and make sure you set expectations during the recruitment phase. Don't promise prospective teachers things which a CD or DoS can't deliver on. Also, make sure that PM's keep track of teachers satisfaction with management as unaired issues tend to build up and that causes some people to leave or to become disengaged.

See All 386 Reviews

EF English First Photos

EF English First photo of: Teaching in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.
EF English First photo of: Team building in Guangzhou
EF English First photo of: Our Leadership Panel at the teacher's forum
EF English First photo of: Team building in Shanghai
EF English First photo of: CEO Jacob's visit a school in Shanghai
EF English First photo of: CertTESOL training in Guangzhou
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EF English First Interviews



Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview




  1. Helpful (5)  

    Intern Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Tarrytown, NY
    Accepted Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Easy Interview


    I applied online. The process took 5 weeks. I interviewed at EF English First (Tarrytown, NY) in May 2008.


    Interview was just one phone interview. It took 5 weeks for them to call back with an offer. I had almost given up on hearing from them. Very little thoroughness, they had never met me in person or asked for transcripts or a drug test at all when I arrived to work for the summer.

    Interview Questions

    • Describe a situation when you wore many hats at a job and had to juggle tasks?   1 Answer
    • If a student who you knew was quarantined for illness walked into the cafeteria and you saw him, what would you do? (Apparently happened at the school previously)   1 Answer


    I negotiated to live on the campus and get a stipend. I was told that I would be a "combined intern" since I lived on campus, working 40 hours per week but some days doing nights and some doing normal 9-5. When I got there they changed it so that I was working 40+hours during the day each week, then ALL WEEKEND on 24/hr RA duty once per month. They eventually added nights to all of that as well, asking me to devote 2 evenings per week in addition to the weekends and normal day-job hours. I negotiated $100 more per month and one hour extra off per day, but that's all. I was supposed to be "half" an RA and "half" an office worker. I ended up working MORE than the normal RAs and just as much as the office workers, and while RAs got their room and board for "free" on top of a $200/month stipend, my stipend for RA + Office work was only $700 because room and board was deducted from it. Basically, they will do anything to skimp on employee pay and repair work at their school, even when it makes all their customers angry (some even went back to their home country rather than stay for the summer due to the chaos)

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EF English First Awards & Accolades

  • World's Coolest Office by,, 2012

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