There has been a great deal of drama surrounding the placement of my peers during (and following) the TEFL training course. There has been an even larger dearth of professionalism throughout the process.
Overall, the placement process was rushed, expectations were poorly set, individuals were unprepared, and there was an utter lack of customer service. It’s really not my battle since I haven’t asked Entrust TEFL to place me in a job, but let me explain so that those of you thinking of enrolling in the Entrust TEFL program or teaching in Thailand will have some background that my peers in the program and I did not have. (Thank you for your questions and emails.)
“Good news…you’ve all been placed in jobs already. Some of you are leaving in the next two days!” This is what we heard on Friday evening of Week Two. We are supposed to be in class doing our 120 hours (yeah, right) of training until next Friday. So how is it possible that we are leaving for jobs a week short of the TEFL standard 120 hours of training? (most of us got 50.75 hours.) And how is someone supposed to be prepared to hear such news?
Now, if someone had said to the class very early on, “it’s important for you to know that we may ‘graduate’ you early and place you in a job well before the end of class. If that’s a problem for anyone, let’s talk about it.” And, “when you are placed, you will have less than 48 hours to transport to a city and school that you know nothing about and may be at the other end of the country.”
Instead, what we were asked was, “does anyone have any special requests with respect to their placement?” and nothing more. Hell, we don’t know what to ask for or about. We’e only been in the country for two weeks. People now are quickly learning to ask very specifically about contracts, accommodations, costs, services available in potential placement cities, specifics about the schools, other teachers they can lean on in those locations, etc.
As foreigners in a foreign land, we have “entrusted” our care and guidance to Entrust TEFL. They represent to us that they are working ‘for’ us…that makes us the client. And clients are entitled to proper expectation setting, documentation, full-disclosure, and legitimate, factual, and timely answers to questions.
They have supposedly placed over 1,500 students in Thailand. If the preparation and coordination we are seeing now is a reflection of all that ‘experience’, I wonder how the students that came before us survived. The process is completely devoid of customer care and feels entirely self-serving. Entrust TEFL points fingers at the Agents, the Agents point fingers at the schools…..it’s all bullshit. There is only one organization with primary responsibility for the satisfaction of the client and that is Entrust TEFL.
The two most prominent figures in our time here at Entrust TEFL are Cap’n Jack and Rueben. These are the people that we see or interface with on a daily basis. Naturally, they are the people to whom we pose our questions. The sad part is that they generally have no answers when asked about job placement, status of transportation or accommodations, or “why hasn’t anyone called me back regarding this job I supposedly have waiting for me 500km away”, for example.
On the first day of class, everyone noticed a palpable tension between Jack (our instructor) and Patrick (the Managing Director of Entrust TEFL). Now, I think, we know at least part of what was behind that.
It’s not Jack and Rueben’s fault. It’s the organization standing behind them or providing ammunition. Entrust TEFL’s lack of planning, sophistication, and communication leaves them on a proverbial island. No data, no answers. So, they look bad and take the brunt of the questioning.
I feel deeply sorry for Jack and Rueben, good men, both of them. It’s horrible to be a soldier on the front lines knowing your general is not standing behind you. And they know it too. All of us can see it in their faces every time they have to respond, “I don’t know” or “let me make a call”.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of the problems some of the individuals have had because those are personal situations. But, I do feel the need to share this general information because of the emails I’ve received from around the globe asking me questions about teaching in Thailand and specifically about Entrust TEFL. My peers also know that they can post to this blog with their own opinions and perspectives, including disputing me.
If someone were coming to my country and didn’t speak the language and was relying on me for training and job placement and living arrangements, I would go out of my way to ensure their comfort and complete understanding of the process and potential bumps in the road (and how to deal with them). I would prepare my charges for every possibility. Most notably, I would give them a complete package of materials and review it with them.
That package, at minimum, would include:
- a contact sheet with all relevant parties and their email and phone numbers (staff at Entrust TEFL, Agent, School)
- pictures and a description of the school to which I am sending the teacher
- picture of the Agent that I am supposed to meet so I make them feel more comfortable when coordinating a meeting in a remote town at a supermarket, for example.
- a copy of the contract that they are expected to sign when they arrive at the school with ALL job duties, terms, and conditions included
- a description and photos of the accommodations that have been arranged
- a copy of the rental contract that they are expected to sign when they arrive to move in (including all costs – rent, security deposit, etc – terms and conditions) (don’t tell someone, “try the job out for a month and if you don’t like it, find somewhere else to work” yet expect them to sign a year lease on an apartment when they arrive.)
- a description of the city in which they will live, including a map, photos, and a list of available services.
- a list of people (if there are any) that speak English as a local contact to help get settled in
And I would give this to them at least a week ahead of the ‘move’ date so that any questions or outstanding issues can be resolved. I submit that if we are educated on the trivialities of the classroom, like how to take attendance, then we should be enlightened as to how to survive when dropped in an unknown location. People should be armed with knowledge, not a blind faith that “everything will work out” with a pat on the ass and a “make us proud”.
How about someone (that is making money off of me for many months to some) to meet me, show me around, make sure I am comfortable, get me settled in??? If someone doesn’t know how to get from their flat to work in toe morning, why not make suer you are there to help them….we are, after all, your paycheck. Get me to work on time, introduce me around (to the place and people you supposedly know so well). make me feel comfortable
I can’t help but feel like Entrust TEFL is trying to move the ball along quickly to save on the cost of a couple nights’ hotel costs (which we’ve legitimately paid for).
I don’t begrudge anyone for making money for legitimate services; in fact, I expect it. It’s my insurance policy that I am going to get the services and attention I am ‘paying’ for. But if the Agent and Entrust TEFL are making money off of me, that intrinsically makes me their client. And they have a duty to me.
I find myself utterly amazed at the lack of preparation given to my peers. I am so thankful for the couple of placements that have worked out successfully. But the standard should be 100% success, not ‘a few’.
So, to those of you considering a move to Thailand to teach, be aware, it takes some preparation and information. Ensure you have an “advocate”, not just an agent.
As always, if anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out and contact me directly. I will be happy to share the perspectives I have and help in any way I can.
To read more about my experience in the Entrust TEFL program, here are a list of links: