I am just finishing a job teaching English in China. Unfortunately, it turns out that I was hired by a nightmare employer. I won’t go into all the details, but by reading my suggestions you can guess what kind of problems I ran into. I would like to make some suggestions so that you don’t make the same mistakes if you decide you would like to teach English in another country.
1. Be suspicious of applications that are too easy.
Our job hired us using an application from LinkedIn Easy Apply. They did interview us, but they didn’t check any references. This should have been a red flag that they were desperate.
2. Likewise, be suspicious if you are offered a position with more responsibilities than you applied for, particularly if your qualifications are not related to this extra position you are being offered. (For example, you have no administrative experience but they offer you an administrator position with extra salary as a “surprise” when offering you your contract.)
3. Ask to speak to current teachers
I should have done this, then I would have found out that all their current foreign teachers had quit, and that my husband and I would be the only native speakers of English teaching at this school.
4. Walk away if they start doing fishy things with your work visa
If they tell you it is okay to come over and start working on a tourist visa, but they will get you a work visa right away, walk away. Even if they tell you it is no big deal, and they do this all the time, still, walk away. It is not worth the trouble not having a legal visa to start with, or perhaps at all.
5. Don’t sign a contract that makes you give huge amounts of notice, or fines you for quitting early.
Ours required 90 days notice, and we had to work for 6 months otherwise we owed money.
6. If something seems wrong, quit as soon as possible, don’t wait.
We wish we could have quit sooner than we did. Looking back, this job always seemed wrong in a number of ways. It took us a whole semester to really realize it and realize we had to quit.
7. If it goes wrong, don’t blame yourself.
Likely you picked a bad employer. You are probably a great teacher, so don’t let them tell you otherwise.
8. Don’t feel bad if you have to quit early. Don’t let them guilt you into staying. As long as you follow the terms of your contract, you are under no obligation to stay the whole time.
What did I miss? Any other ESL teachers out there who’d like to share their experiences or advice?