I have to admit that after seeing all the posts from CFTU and the links to various pages i was a bit upset and disappointed at how China is being portrayed and some of the things which are being said which seem to be just made up.
I am a TEFL teacher from the UK who has been living and working in China for nearly 9 years now. I have spent time in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Hangzhou and also Nanjing. I have kept up to date of the visa rules and expat life in general as it is key to do so when living here.
Firstly, CFTU does a very good job of scaring people away from teacher agents and making them sound evil. The fact of the matter is that there are some very good agents / companies working in China, some of which i have friends that have come out with them and also one which i came with. For somebody to leave their home country, find a job, arrange their own visa etc etc to come to China is a daunting and difficult process, at least with a company they can offer support and assistance and help along the way. Dont get me wrong there are some scams and dodgy people around which should be avoided but it is wrong to say that all companies and agents operate in the same way because they DONT!
Secondly, as a foreigner in China you have to have a realistic view of the lifestyle you are going to have and realistic expectations. You are coming as a TEFL teacher, something which nearly anyone can do if they wanted to, so dont expect to be paid huge amounts to do it. Also keep in mind the wages which are paid to non foreign teachers, why should you be paid more than them just because you are foreign? Accommodation is not going to be a palace unless you work for a multi national company as a GM, director or CEO and are willing to spend over 30,000RMB per month on rent. This is China, not the USA or UK, adapt your expectations to suit.
Thirdly, just because you are a foreigner does not mean you can do what you want in China. If you frequent massage parlous or places of that nature and get caught you will be punished. If you get drunk and do something stupid in the street or at school you risk loosing your job and visa! Just because you are in China does not mean you can behave however you want, respect the country you are in.
Finally, visa’s! Lets get one thing right, a Z visa is a 30 day visa which allows you into the country to apply for a residence permit which then allows you to stay for a year and enter and leave as your please. Z VISA IS NOT A WORKING PERMIT OR RESIDENCE PERMIT! You are also allowed to work in China on a tourist / business visa providing you are not employed within China. For example if you are employed in the UK but carry out your work in China you do not have to have a residence permit if you dont want one. It is a loophole granted but it is one used by even the biggest of companies, take it from someone that ACTUALLY knows!
CFTU do a very good job of scaring people and making out that you will be treated badly as a TEFL teacher in China, however if you are sensible you will be fine and have an amazing experience and there are ALOT of people here that do! Obviously the members of CFTU have been damaged in some way by their experience in China and have decided to victimize their selves and blame everyone else.
Follow these simple steps –
1. Do you research before you travel, have realistic expectations!
2. Go with a reliable company!
3. Be sensible when you are there!.
I am sure there are plenty of other good tips out there so i wont post anymore here but i can guarantee it will cause you more harm than good to listen / read all of what CFTU post.
I agree completely, all i can see from their posts and links is scare tactics. There are a few tips and things in there as well but all they have done is focus on the negative. There are so many good points to teaching in China and being a TEFL teacher, there are plenty of good agents and companies that you can travel with. I did and i have never looked back since.
I think what ELTIC have said is right and that is about expectations, you have to adapt to being in China and everything that goes along with that. It is not as scary or hazardous as CFTU are making out.
CFTU? Never heard of them and from what i have read on their posts and links they dont have a clue what they are talking about! China is not like they are making out and all these scams and so on, there are not as many as that! It is very safe providing you use your brain!
I would recommend using a company to come to China, i have been here for 5 years now and came out with a company based in the UK and never had a problem. I would recommend using a company based outside of China such as in the UK, US etc and make sure they have foreign staff and not just Chinese staff. Also do your research, make sure they have a website, that they have a good employment contract and you can see it before you travel. Visa’s are not a problem in China, the reason the embassy dont say anything or give advice is because they are aware of the loopholes and various ways of getting around things. You will not be arrested or deported unless you have been stupid about your visa. If you have a tourist visa make sure your contract of employment is not governed by Chinese law, any payments you receive in China are personal payments, not for work etc etc. It may sound weird or dodgy but that is how the country works!
Also dont expect to be treated like a king, unless you are in the big cities you are not going to be paid over 10,000RMB per month, the average salary in China is around 6000 – 7000rmb with accommodation included, maybe more if they dont provide accommodation. It is more than enough to live on and enjoy yourself, just live within your means. If you want to be paid lots dont be a TEFL teacher. I have been teaching TEFL for over 10 years i know what im talking about and i know about China, dont listen to CFTU who simply have no clue.
Any posts that are either extremely negative about a school/country/agency/whatever OR extremely positive should be treated with caution.
People who have something very bad to say have very often had a bad personal experience with the organisation they are defaming. CFTU’s website is, in my opinion, quite extreme – I would guess that something other than pure altruism may have provoked the creation of such a site.
Likewise, when people spontaneously post extremely positive things about an organisation, it may well be that they just wanted to share the good news, but it’s equally likely that the post is by someone working for that organisation.
The point of this post is to advise people to take individual opinions with a pinch of salt – to this end, you should also view my opinions in this post as just that – opinions! I have nothing against the CFTU or any individual that is making postive posts to promote their organisation, I’m just saying what I think is the motivation behind many posts like this.
Absolutely agree with Phil, everyone thinking of travelling abroad to work as a TEFL teacher should do their own research. Although CFTU have extreme views, they should be treated as much, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As long as you do your research and know exactly what you are getting and what to expect you should be fine.
Hello friends and thank you for your comments about the CFTU which are much appreciated and did not go unnoticed. First, if you do not already know, the CFTU does not sell nor endorse any product, service, nor advertisement, and our entire staff is 100% volunteer. We have no reason to lie and we have no hidden agendas.
Now then, as for the comments above, be advised that everything we publish is factual based on historical events and issues that are documented. But let’s put things in perspective… Indeed, the vast majority of schools operating in China are licensed, legitimate, and honorable. Of the 19,000+ schools operating in China today, only 317 are blacklisted as "problematic" – a very small percentage. Most all the public schools and universities and 400+ international schools are seldom ever a problem. As you will note at our blacklist and those of others, the big problems seem to emanate from privately-owned Chinese schools. And it is these problem schools that get most of our attention.
But the biggest threat to foreign teachers in China is not so much the schools but the self-proclaimed "agents" and greedy recruiters. In all of China there are only 362 registered agents and employment recruited at the SAIC and even less with the Ministry of Education. Yet there are over 7,000 such entities advertising online – and most misrepresent themselves as "direct employers" hiding behind anonymous email accounts, disposable cell phone numbers, and seldom ever using their real names. 20% of these agents have proven to be "fronts" for identity theft rings.
We have only echoed what has already been said by the CTA, ChinaScamBusters.com, CleverChinaCheaters.com and many ESL forums and message boards. We may be more vocal or active, but honestly, would you rather not know that your real salary is 18,000yuan and not the 8,000 you were told? Would you rather not know that release letters are not allowed to be sold but are mandated by law? Would you rather not know that if you work for XYZ school you will not collect your last pay check? Would you rather not know about the Hepatitis epidemic in China that is concealed by the government? Would you rather not know that the PSB visa squad is now on an active campaign and the fines and reentry bans have doubled? Would you rather not know that a certain agent is a fugitive for fraud in 3 countries?
Please do not confuse our posts and comments with those made by other parties. We speak for ourselves under our own name, even though some of our views may align with hose of others.
Furthermore, the CFTU does a lot more than just expose crooked agents and disreputable schools. We provide many free services like free Chinese lessons, free cross-cultural workshops for new arrivals, free newsletters, free English proficiency reviews, free contract reviews, free grievance arbitration, free copies of China’s labors laws in English, etc.
If you are not one of the 52% of expat foreign teachers who were cheated by agents or schools last year, consider yourself lucky and continue to enjoy your stay in China. But our job is to reduce that 52% to 10% by 2015 and 1% by 2020. And we can endure any and all criticisms that may emanate from a dozen agents we have already exposed, some of whom use fictitious identities on forums to attack or attempt to discredit us. We have decreased their scam incomes and they are angry for sure. This is to be expected and it will not deter us. When you see posters attacks us that only have 1 or 2 posts on that forum, they are usually ticked off agents or private school owners who now have a hard time fooling people about their scams because of our work. We take their remarks as a testimonial that foreign teachers are finally doing some due diligence and being selective in who they work for and with. If every teacher did this, we could focus on more important issues like minimum wages for foreign teachers in China – another one of our three priorities.
Every teacher in china knows a colleague who did not get the z visa that was promised to them, or their last paycheck, release letter, or who is forced to work unpaid overtime hours that grow every month. We receive hundreds of "Thank Yous" every day from the people who we have already helped to get their last pay check or release letters, and from those who averted working for disreputable school because they saw one of our posts and did some homework.
We have never told any teacher where to work or who to hire as an agent and we never will. Everyone is free to make their own choices in life. We only help teachers make intelligent choices based on factual and historical information. We offer tips like these to the many foreign teachers abroad who are being lured by agents under false pretenses to come work in China. They deserve to know the good, the bad, and the ugly truth BEFORE they spend money on an expensive flight and then find out the hard way that they were deceived.
Until the government starts regulating the agents and enforcing laws related to frauds against foreigners more diligently, we will continue to suggest to all foreign teachers that they find their own jobs for the very same reasons others have stated.
In response to the OP I have to say this… Unless you actually worked in China you have no idead how many scams are being run here that target foreigners – especially teachers. Just google the situation and you will find no less than 50 articles all "warning" expats about China’s problems.
I have taught here in China for many years, and I truly appreciate the black and whitelists the CFTU puts out every month, or getting a free copy of China’s labor laws in English so I know what my rights and limits are as an employee in China. This is good stuff to know.
If people are "scared" by their info as you say, I think they should at least be "alarmed" that 52% of all foreign teachers in China claim to have been cheated either by their school or an unscrupulous agent. Facts are facts no matter how they are packaged and delivered and when the facts prevent people from becoming a victim, I as a teacher/professor am grateful. That is why I now volunteer 1 hour of my time every week to help spread the word that if you are cheated in China you now have someone who actually cares about helping get some relief and remedy.
Questions about contracts, expat labor rights, teachers requirements and visa laws for China are found at http://chinascamwatch.org
I guess the people who appreciated the CFTU the most are the people they helped get their last pay check or release letters. I know three teachers who had to use the CFTU to do this so their opinion may be much different than the OP’s.
Personally, I am for fairness and justice and since there is no way for a foreigner to get either in China, I will support any group who lends a hand in this regard.
I also support the work of the CFTU and question the real motives of the OP who admits in other posts that he/she operates a school/training center. Obviously if a school has something to hide or has questionable licensing, or screws teachers on their pay and visas, they will not like the China Foreign Teachers Union very much.
I am not a member but I did attend two CFTU meetings and was impressed with their determination to expose crooked agents and principals. As to how they deliver their message, I guess it works because most of my teaching buds in China use their blacklists and I myself attended one of their free cross-cultural communication workshops and got a great free book from them called "Think Like Chinese" which has really helped to lower my frustration level in China.
My sister was recently ripped off by a school in South China and had she seen the CFTU’s blacklist she would never have even worked there. So yeah, they are doing something that is badly needed. I have not seen anything they posted anywhere that is not factual and documented so what’s the problem? I sure don’t see any teachers complaining – only schools and agents.
I googled the China Foreign Teachers Union and got over 300 links. The government should be doing this job, but since they are not, I am glad that someone took the initiative to warn people.
I really don’t care how they deliver the warnings so long as we get them and they are timely. There are many blacklists online that have not been updated in over a year! The CFTU gang seems to be on the ball and keeps their stuff current. But frankly I am amazed the government of China has let them operate so long. I guess they are smart enough to avoid political issues?
I have been a teacher in China for 3 years now and do not have a problem with CTFU exposing scam agents or schools. But, I do question placing schools on a blacklist just because some person wrote a bad review about the school. The person who wrote the bad review could have done so because of their own experience at the school and not the experience of the other teachers. I feel that if you are going to have a proper blacklist, then you should do your research about the school and not take the opinion of one individual. To some schools, especially schools in parts of China that some expats consider undesirable, the bad review could prevent that school from ever getting a teacher that is needed. To condemn a school for one persons opinions could have some severe effects to the school and the students.
I am not saying that the persons comments about the school may not be justifiable. But, should that one persons comments be the sole reason to blacklist a school without further negative comments from other teachers? Just like a person writing a positive comment about a school should not be a reason to place the school on a whitelist. I feel, that unless there are 3 or more people making negative or positive comments about a school, then you have a basis for placing them on a black or white list. But this is my opinion and it may rub some people the wrong way. I also know that some people do not write comments about schools that they may have worked for unless they have had bad experiences with that school. And, the ones who make good comments about schools in China on forums, get labeled as someone who was paid to make the comment. I personally know several teachers around China who tell me that they would never make a good comment about their schools because of the criticism that they would get from teachers who have had bad experiences here in China.
Actually Stron – we agree with you! If there is a school or agent on our blacklist it means that three or more people (teachers, students, or parents) have filed a complaint that went unresolved (or ignored) for 30 days or more.
When you visit our blacklist page at http://www.ChinaForeignTeachersUnion.org you will only see the links that were authorized for publication. Some people fear being retaliated against (blacklisted themselves) so they do not want their situation/problem publicized. We respect their request for privacy.
Keep in mind that less than 20% of the complaints we receive go unresolved. Most school care about their reputations and will try to resolve matters amicably. Also remember to put things into proper perspective…Over 90% of the 19,000+ schools operating in China are honorable and do not cheat teachers. Unfortunately, it is 10% of the schools that create all the horror stories.
Actually CTFU – I work for one of the schools on your blacklist and know first hand that there was only one teacher who was not satisfied with the school. And if the purpose of your site is to resolve matters amicably, as you say, then you would have been in contact with the school’s owner and management. And, from what I can tell, no one from your site has done this at all. Plus, it seems to me that if a school blacklisted say 2 or 3 foreign teachers, then the local SAFEA office would be curious on why. In the 3 years that I have been working for my school, I have never heard of them having any reason to blacklist a teacher. Any problems that the teachers had, could always be resolved amicably between the owner of the school and the teacher. That is unless the teacher did a runner, and then it to me was the teachers own actions that caused the situation to be unresolved and not the owner of the school.
I would also like to point out that everyone has their own opinions about things. And for the record, these are just my opinions. I would also like to point out that even in the US, there are small and large companies that have treated me with less respect and far worse then the school that I am working for. I have always lived by the rule that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the time. And anyone who plans on teaching in China and expects things to be like they are in their own countries, should wake up and do their research before signing any contract. Unless you live in one of the larger cities, that have a big expat community, your life in China is going to be more or less like living in the country side in your own country.
Regretfully, we just now noticed this post from sstron or we would have replied sooner for sure.
None of the agents, schools, and recruiters that are on our blacklist are there by mistake, nor because of a single complaint. If they are listed it is because 3 or more complaints were received in a single year and the complaints went unresolved for more than 30 days.
If you want to mention the school you are speaking about, I will check our records and provide the dates of complaints received and the nature of the complaint.
Also keep in mind that we do not publish every complaint – especially when the person filing it is afraid of repercussions or specifically asks us to provide strict confidentiality.
Lastly, both our black and whitelists are updated every 3 months. It used to be a monthly affair but that task became overwhelming. This last June for example, 7 schools came off the blacklist and 9 were added. There will be an other update coming soon on Labor Day. It would be nice if we did not need such a list, but when you are a victim and get cheated out of your wages, visa, or release letter, you may better appreciate this public service. In China, we never know who the Greed Dragon will try to eat next, and at least expat foreign teachers in China do not have to be totally defenseless. We hope you agree.
The CFTU has a strange website, but I found the information, especially the white and blacklists of agents and schools to be useful. I think we cannot expect too much from volunteers for free so I can tolerate the strange web site.
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