Warning Signs of Bad Language Schools
Nov 25, 2008 Other 1965 Views
All schools have good and bad things about them. Not every school is perfect, even the best schools may have some of the items listed below. But, if a schools has a lot of the items mentioned below, chances are that it's a bad school.
- Pressure. Some places will want to convince you that you'll never find another job anywhere and that you're lucky that they'll hire you. Don't believe them.
- There's no sign out front. A language school should prominently display the name outside of the building. If it's not there, be aware.
- Bad first impressions. Peeling paint, dilapidated furniture aren't good signs.
- Learn English in 6 months. Is it possible? Sure it is, if you study 6 or 8 hours a day or are a language genius. But for schools to make this their main advertising campaign is like cheating the public. The majority of people aren't going to learn English in 6 months. Good language schools aim for about two years.
- New teachers. Teachers come and go but if all or most of the teachers have been there for less than three months, that's not very good.
- No material. They want you to create everything and don't follow a structure. Supplementary material is great, but you need to follow something.
- Mixed classes. Sure, mixed classes are a bit normal, but if you have people with basic English thrown in with those who are advanced, that's a sign that the school's after money.
- Disgruntle teachers. If everyone's complaining, it says something about the school.
- Late pay. Talk to the teachers and ask if they get paid on time.
- No specialisation. Large language schools can cover a lot of ground, kids, adults, exams, remedial. Smaller ones usually dedicate themselves to a couple and make it their area of expertise.
- Everyone's afraid of the boss. Respect is one thing, fear is another.
- Threats, sexual harassment. Threatening to fire you, for no reason is bad enough. Another is when you're on a tourist visa and you want to quit and they threaten to go to immigrations. (First off they'd get in trouble for hiring you). Lastly, sexual harassment, follow your instincts.
- Lots of changes, tons of cancelled classes, changed times, salary differences, shouldn't be put up with.
- No receipts, even if you're working on a tourist visa, you should sign some receipt that shows that they've paid you, even if it's just a piece of paper.
- Dangerous places. The institute is located in a bad neighbourhood or they want to send you to classes in a bad neighbourhood, walk away.
- Hello, you're hired. You should at least have an interview, and some places are asking for demo lessons. If they want to hire you once you walk in the door, that shows they're desperate.
- Mandatory Student Social Events. They might be fun to go to once in a while, but if you're required to go, watch out. Student social events can be fun, but they can also be mentally draining because everyone wants free English practice. If it's mandatory for you to go to them, that means they're trying to squeeze free teaching out of you.
- Same advert week after week. If you see an institute advertising again and again, it's probably because they can't get or keep teachers.
- Salary's vague. You should be told exactly how much you'll make per hour.
- Living with your boss. Don't live in the same apartment complex, or worse, house as your boss. It's necessary to separate work from your life.
- Classes in your house. The employer needs to provide space for lessons whether it be at their office or the students' houses or the students' work.
- Paying for copies. They should make them for you.
- Visa promises. There are a few language schools that can get teachers visas, but most of them can't. That's just the way things are in Lima. If they promise you a visa, make them prove it to you by talking to the teacher that has a work visa and see if that teacher is happy or just there for the visa. Also be aware that a work visa is tied to an employer, you leave that institute and good-bye visa.
- Asking you to pay. You shouldn't have to pay the employer for them to get you a job or a visa.
- Contract penalties. Don't sign a contract that has lots of penalties when you quit (such as not being able to work for any one else in the same city or country, or you having to pay a fee). Likewise don't sign one that only has info about how they can let you go, but nothing about how you can quit.
- Lots of unpaid training and meetings. Some are ok, but be aware of those that have excessive unpaid training and meetings.