Canadian Language School

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  • Unassigned
    14 March, 2011 at 14:56
    • Total posts: 37

    I finished my contract with the Trnava branch near the end of last year, and wanted to warn any future applicants as I saw their advert on this site! The reason I didn’t post sooner was mostly because I forgot. :oops:

    This school is located in a smallish town around 50km from Bratislava. It’s not a completely bad school (but definitely not good!), but the management are terrible. The ‘director’ expects a lot from his teachers, but the curriculum is outdated and often hard to teach. Any suggestions of change are met with the response that ‘it’s worked for 8 years and we’re not changing it now’. Very frustrating I’m sure you can imagine. The students go through six levels of teaching and take a final test at the end of the course. The director is happy to alter results and pass students who actually fail this test.

    Most employees are from the UK, US or Canada. If you are applying from outside the EU, you will have to pay for lots of paperwork and you receive no contribution to your plane tickets. You are also often pressured about when documents will arrive, even though it is something that you cannot control. I, luckily, am an EU citizen but my fellow colleagues had those problems.

    The wages of €400 per month are offered as ‘high for the Slovak economy’. This is completely untrue as minimum wage is something around €300, and the average is about €600-€700 per month. I didn’t go there for the money and I found I could easily get by on the wages (they were higher when I started working there), but it’s the fact that it’s a barefaced lie about it being ‘high’. The only plus is that you are given home-stay accommodation, but an English speaking family is not guaranteed. However, I was put in house a couple of kilometres away from the town, where there is only an unreliable bus connection. It was only after I said that I might leave if no better accommodation was found, that I got a room in a flat (but I had to contribute to the rent).

    Wages include health insurance (as is the law), but teachers are not given their insurance cards – something that is against the law. Unless specifically asked for (in my case I had to badger them about it), teachers also do not receive payslips – something else illegal. Wages are paid in cash so you must often walk around town carrying a couple of hundred Euros on your person…not too safe.

    Working at the school was often annoying, boring, frustrating as I previously mentioned, but most of my problems have come now that I finished there. After my contract ended, I went to work at another language school in the town. The directors have resorted to underhand tactics to try and scare me out of the town (surprise inspections and using someone at the head office to phone me pretending to be from the insurance company). I am not happy because it’s just childish. Also, the boss’ wife told the new teacher that my friends and I had ‘drug parties’ at the weekend. I mean…what?!

    Just avoid the Canadian Language School (they also have a school in Zilina and Trencin, as well as a connected school called EduPoint in Bratislava), it’s not a good place and I didn’t enjoy my time there at all. I am writing this because I don’t want other enthusiastic teachers to waste their time and money getting to this school! Slovakia is very nice though. :)

    Sarah Goodyear, worked at CLS from October 2009 – October 2010.

    21 May, 2011 at 8:26
    • Total posts: 37

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    Now I’m being threatened with legal action because I posted ‘negative information’ about the organisation. Nice!

    21 May, 2011 at 9:55
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    I can confirm this. I worked at CLS from September 2008-February 2009. I have worked in 3 countries, at 3 different schools and CLS was the worst school. They treat teachers horribly and don’t pay correctly.

    CLS hires ESL teachers with no experience. It is easier and cheaper for them. The books are out-dated and you are not encouraged to bring in any new information. You are thrown into a class room and told to "teach". You either sink or swim. If you have trouble you are told you are losing money for the school and you should never teach. There is no constructive criticism. They are no examples of what you did wrong or how things can be improved.

    In the months, I worked there I was never once paid correctly.

    In addition, do not believe you will get your visa with in a month. Non-EU can be in Europe for 3 months without a work visa. It is illegal to work in a Schengen State. There was a "mistake" made on mine and I had to leave Slovakia for 6 weeks. This was ridiculous expensive, but I was promised my job back. Three working days after I returned they fired me. They said students complained, but I firmly believe that it was because I knew my rights. In Slovakia, the government gives you meal tickets. The directors were keeping mine and another coworkers for themselves. That’s just the kind of business they run. I knew my legal rights as a worker in the country and they wanted me out.

    In addition, a girl after me even worst visa issues. She complained about her pay and then was fired. They told her she had to be out of her house immediately and there was nothing she could do because she was there illegally.

    If the school tries to deny this ask them about Janice, Marissa, Gabriela and Theresa. These are all teachers who have been mistreated by CLS.

    Marissa. CLS-September 2008-February 2009

    21 May, 2011 at 11:05
    • Total posts: 1

    *** Post removed at the request of the poster ***

    21 May, 2011 at 13:16
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    I also worked for the Canadian Language School in Trnava and can honestly say that many things Sarah talks about confirm my own experiences. I worked there for only two months from January to March 2011.
    My main problems were the total absence of development opportunities, complete lack of support from the owner of the business (no DOS of course) and the absence of any published teaching material. The teachers are supposed to follow a ‘book’ which is a heavily modified photocopied version of a very old book which was published in Canada many years ago. We were actively discouraged from supplementing the material, every photocopy was frowned upon, paperclips were given out singly, clear pockets, folders or access to a stapler were deemed unnecessary. There is no staff room, so nowhere to sit and work to prepare a lesson. You are expected to teach without preparation on the assumption you simply follow the book without variation. However, the book is full of factual mistakes, lacks any kind of pedagogical input, has such bad illustrations that the students often think it’s a joke, and is in its rewritten form mostly illogical and impossible to follow, especially at lower levels. The students are not level-tested, so most classes are mixed ability. The school does not have any academic ambitions: I was told by the director that there is no such thing as mixed conditionals, and even if there were, he couldn’t understand why I don’t just teach what the book says. With 32 to 36 teaching hours a week being the norm, there is little opportunity for preparation.
    I was told there were a staff of eight, but didn’t realise that this includes the owner, his wife, myself, one other full – time teacher, three part time Slovak teachers who come in for very few lessons, so I practically never saw them, and the cleaner. Although the school is a franchise, the teachers have no contact with the other branches. Contact to previous teachers is discouraged. I also still don’t have my last wage slip, and I only got my health insurance card after insisting on it, and never received my residence card. All of these (admittedly minor) problems are exacerbated by the fact that Trnava is a small and conservative place, with few other expats (I didn’t meet any in two months) and I had to rely on my employer for everything as English is not widely spoken. There are no Slovak classes available in Trnava and my timetable with daily split shifts didn’t allow me to attend one in Bratislava. I never crossed him personally, so I have no experience of any personal attacks, but have witnessed him behaving in a bullying fashion towards another teacher. And, if you are easily offended by overt racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes, you’re in for a hard time. The management claim to be very reasonable and accommodating, but there is no room for discussion or negotiation.
    In essence, if you are looking for a first job with opportunities for professional development, including learning to use published material, want to be creative in your teaching, care about pedagogical principles, are keen to apply techniques learnt on your Celta, want a supportive academic environment in the school, avoid the Canadian Language School in Trnava. If, on the other hand, you would like an easy life, simply turn up in class, talk about whatever you like without any preparation at all, don’t need colleagues to share ideas with, then this is the right place for you. The wages are average for the area and the students are very pleasant and undemanding. It is not the school from hell, but you need to know what to expect. Listen to what you are not told at the interview.

    Uta Zeller, CLS January to March 2011

    23 May, 2011 at 19:36
    • Total posts: 37

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    I also wanted to add something else.

    From the (terrible) website,
    [quote]After being selected to work with us, a teacher still cannot enter a CLS classroom until they’ve completed an intensive training program with a senior member of our Education Training Staff. Initial training is followed by a series of in-house workshops and developmental observations designed to enable teachers to hone core skills and make their teaching more effective and inspiring.[/quote]

    My ‘training’ was watching lessons for a few days and that was it. Theresa was told at the beginning, "you haven’t had any training!"…he wanted to tell her how to use the photocopier. As well as this, my classes were NEVER once observed in the time I was there.

    Also, I had a particularly difficult student who, although lovely, was completely in the wrong level and out of his depth. I told the director this and was told back something along the lines of "deal with it". I asked many times for help, but it was like talking to a brick wall. Eventually, after I had tried everything, the advice I got was "say things in a different way and slower". I don’t think the boss even has a teaching certificate!

    28 June, 2011 at 22:55
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    I had a brief encounter with the Canadian Language School, I didn’t find them too awful at all. The students who had more experience of the school than I had all seemed very happy with the program, also, the fact that the school were willing to take on so many foreign teachers, organize visas, pay for the process and get them into accommodation of some kind is great, I know 1st hand the difficulty of obtaining a working visa for the EU.

    4 July, 2011 at 21:50
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    I taught at Canadian Language School a few years ago. I am a bit surprised at the criticisms being levied by some of these other teachers. Of course it wasn’t perfect, it never would be in a small private school such as this, but it was OK and we had many interested and successful students. I handled many ages and skill levels and developed several good friends who I stayed in contact with after returning home to the US. The other teachers were helpful as we talked and shared ideas. There was a large amount of individual discretion for the teachers although we did use the 6 part guides mentioned by others.

    They were not lesson plans on the level one would find in a British or American public school. But they served well to standardize between different teachers and to provide a rough plan and pace of instruction. They were adequate to preclude developing detailed lesson plans although I still needed to plan specific exercises and methods to get across some concepts. I created tests for each level, and in some cases sub-levels, so I could gauge student progress. The school did not resist this, although they did indicate the tests were not to be used for the purpose of pass/fail; rather they were for gauging progress. Consistent with this, I reviewed the results with my students. I know many other language schools require their teachers develop lesson plans. At the Canadian Language School we augmented their guides with details.

    When I was there the school did not provide housing nor food stamps. But they assisted me to obtain satisfactory housing. They also took care of my medical insurance which worked out fine. I communicated with the school a lot before I committed and relocated, perhaps this helped to smooth the way. Everything wasn’t perfect but the major issues were handled OK. They explained the work visa process, which I initiated in the US long before I got on an airplane. That cost nearly $200 but that is not the fault of the school, it was a Slovak government requirement. Once I was in country, the school ‘finished’ the process and I got my visa about four weeks later. My pay was as promised – we had a signed contract which was honored.

    One other teacher made the comment that the school used an old Canadian method developed a long time ago. My understanding of the school ‘signature’ was to use a total immersion method developed in Canada for French learners by the original owner of the company. Hence the title Canadian Language School. The total immersion method and the 6-part guides are adapted from the French schools in Canada. Nothing wrong with that.

    My teaching time with the CLS was interesting and rewarding and interaction with the owners, staff and other teachers was good.

    by Paul

    Rachel Wells
    11 July, 2011 at 2:10
    • Total posts: 4

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    it’s hard to know if this school is good or not! :roll:

    4 August, 2011 at 22:39
    • Total posts: 1

    Reply To: Canadian Language School

    My name is Miriam Ionica, I live in London, UK, and I worked as a teacher of ESL and Literature for 13 years.

    One of the places where I had the opportunity to work was the CLS in Trnava, Slovakia.
    Slovakia is a colourful and interesting country, and maybe thought of as small in size, the richer in number of nice and friendly people it is. If you like small towns, beautiful countryside and peaceful and warm people, go to Slovakia, you’ll definitely love it.
    I lived and worked as an ESL teacher in this country, and I can only recommend it to every keen either experienced or a teacher – gonna – be person.

    I think it’s enough to say I worked there twice, in the years of 2005 and again in 2006/2007 both times fully enjoying my stay from the first day to the last one.
    If I ever had a chance to go there again, I’d happily do so.

    As to the school itself, it was a place where I taught students of different ages, groups of young ones as well as adults. Working with them was great experience. Most of them really tried hard and were open to basically any activity.
    I find Slovak students keen learners, although a bit uneasy when it comes to speaking, which, however, depending much on the teacher’s skills, too, may be overcome more or less easily.

    Here, I can only say, thanks to the school’s management openness I had all the support I could, starting with all the teaching material and classroom equipment, to the personal interaction with both the students and the staff. I’ve never heard “no” as an answer to any of my requests. Unfortunately, I must admit I found the books slightly outdated, however, I accepted that as an issue of agreement within all the CLSs branches and their curriculum – and, of course, besides those, I could use all the other material supplied by the management, or simply use mine, which is a thing I liked above all – the freedom of choice, as long as it worked with my students, helping them in their achievements.

    Overall environment, considerably good school facilities and friendly staff came up to almost everything I had expected.

    Another thing I’d like to mention is that the school administrators were really helpful in dealing with all the necessary paperwork relating to my residence and employment in Slovakia. I believe the fact I am a European citizen made it a bit easier, but I was grateful to accept any help offered.

    At first I didn’t want to, really, however, after reading some posts in this forum, I eventually have decided to respond at least briefly.
    I cannot say what difference those few years can make, as far as I know it’s still the same management there, but I have never ever had similar problems mentioned here by some of the very few people. Honestly, I did not. Maybe it was just the short time they spent in Slovakia, or maybe the lack of experience.

    Strangely, I haven’t noticed them mentioning much about their own work. Of course, it’s the right of every person to have his / her say, and so be it, it’s their own opinion and experience..

    Maybe it’s all about the fact I actually came to teach to Slovakia.
    Call me old – fashioned, but teaching, in my opinion, is about giving in a first place. The main idea is to give and help your students – because teaching is about them.
    Maybe I was just lucky.

    When it comes to teaching at any school, a little rule can be applied – first make sure you know what you can do and offer, only then develop your own expectations accordingly.
    To go and teach in a foreign country, Slovakia just so, is not only a challenge of the moment, but important decision that affects not only you but others as well, especially your students.

    With best regards,
    5th August 2011, London

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