Some clips of Flight of the Conchords. "Business Time" and "Jenny" are partcularly great. Two very talented and funny Kiwis!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wall Street Institute, France

A few comments from happy employees of Wall Street, safely archived from the web for openers:

“You should clear about 11 euros an hour. That might hold you over till you find a real teaching job.”

“So they only pay 11 euros an hour, but you get to have "encounters" with the students? Shocked on company time or your own? Wink”

”Wall Street in my experience are just slick businessmen in suits and beneath all the clever marketing are basically cowboys. They regularly go bust around Europe (many recently in Spain and a few in France - Lyon, Paris, Rouen). Avoid them like the plague. ”

”Although I've never worked in one myself, I've yet to meet a former WS employee with a good word to say about them. I love their marketing on the metro: "98% pass rate" i.e. our own internal test. ”

”Calling Wall Street an 'Institute' is like calling McDonalds a 'RESTAURANT.'

”I see from their ads on the metro that you can take their diagnostic test absolutely FREE and without committing to a course. Now that's what I call a special offer!!! ”

”Does this mean WSI are now borrowing marketing techniques from the Scientologists and the Hare Krishnas? ”

”No, they are way better then Scientologists or 'would you like a free book' Krishnas. They don't call student's limited time with a teacher a lesson - it's an 'encounter.' Really. ”

Inspector McHammered of the Lard


Anonymous said...

To be fair, some of the comments on the thread you pull are mine and are aimed at their marketing methods. I can't give any first hand knowledge of what they're like as employers. I just think that ads like Take our level test absolutely FREE , as though they were doing you a big favour by not charging you just to sit a preliminary test, and 98% success rate when they set their own tests, are a tad disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Aah, if only EVERY lesson could turn into an 'encounter' -
I'd be a very happy man!!

It used to be the case, you know, but now that I'm married, the wife has put a dampener on my 'privates', so to speak.

Or am I barking up the wrong tree??!

Anonymous said...


I went for an interview, wsi milano is so unprofessional. I would never work for them. as the interviewer was so unprofessional, it was a joke. I was even offered a glass of water, and had spent so much money to attend the interview.
It was so disappointing, but has made me realise that my past jobs for government schools is much better. Plus i have declined the job.

be careful applying to milano Wall Street .....

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this but I AM contracted by Wall Street Institute... and I really want to clear some things up.

98% pass rate... that's true... but not from OUR internal tests... but from the TOEIC test.

And yes.. allowing people to test their English free... yeah. Real wolf in sheeps clothing that.

Inspector Mchammered of the Lard said...

And you know absolutely nothing abut TOEIC or is this just more marketing nonsense from one of the great white sharks of TEFL.

As you surely must know, there is no pass mark with TOEIC but a scale of results showing a gradual progression, or possibly in your case, a regression of level over time between 10 and 990.

Wow - a 98% pass rate when there isn't even a pass mark!

Should the Inspector really be so surprised by such marketing nonsense, especially when you admit you work for the infamous Wall Street Institute who have gone bankrupt countless times in different countries?

The TOEIC is literally a test you can't fail, so where does the 2% failure rate come from? These are presumably people that didn't even get 10 out of 990! Perhaps you enter sheep for the exam. Wolves are a tad more intelligent and would surely score higher than 10.

Anonymous said...

I just interviewed at WSI Lyon. It would be my frist job teaching english so Im not too picky at this point, but it was worrying that "salary" was the last thing discussed and I had to be the one to bring it up. Also, the owners of that particular franchise dont seem to speak any english.... They told me the going rate for "most english teachers in France" is 10.50 and hour, but I dont know what that would be after taxes. Any ideas? And does anyone know what kind of vacation time I would be offered?

Inspector Mchammered of the Lard said...

Salaries and holidays in France are regulated by the French Government so you're pretty well protected. Check out "" regarding taxes.

Anonymous said...

i have worked for WSI and i am currently a teacher in the state sector in london.

so, fixing pass grades (98%) doesnt happen in other educational 'institutes'? i think so. i work in the English state system and in many schools it's common place for some or all of the following to take place; students not being put in for exams if the school thinks they will fail and effect the school's overall pass rates, or using 'softer' subjects like citizenship to carry the same weight as maths, english and sciences to keep a schools 5 A-C passes up, or spoon-feeding students to pass GCSE, A-level and SATs so when they go into the work place or university they have no actual skills at all, or helping students produce coursework...i could go on. and this is done at the taxpayers expense, not at the expense of individuals that can spend their money on whatever they wish.

you make a comparison between WSI and mcdonalds, and to a certain extent i agree, although strangely whenever i pass a mcdonalds in paris they are always packed and this in a city renowned for its cuisine!! what is wrong with these people!? they should be exterminated for their taste in food, language learning and their support of a corrupt capitalist business model...

oh hold on a minute....people in paris are free to indulge themselves in whatever way they wish whether you, or i, or anyone else thinks it's good for them or not.

you seem like some bitter jilted boyfriend or something trying to turn everyone against your ex because she dumped you and you think its unfair! move on for goodness sake!

abyrd, london

Anonymous said...

The WSI Paris is WORSE than McDonalds- at least at McDonalds the management is paid similar to the lowly workers. At WSI, the 'management' (read: sales staff) reaps ALL the profit, while the 'lowly teacher' (who is the 'product being sold') gets paid barely subsistence for living in one of the costliest places in the world. Problem is, the French unions have screwed it all up by setting the national contract wages for this type of grunt work. Do yourself a favor- leave Paris and find a good teaching job in London. - Sign me: One-time WSI Paris teacher

Anonymous said...

Well i think people are being a bit unfair - wall street is a business trying to make money - fair enough, that's what all businesses do. they fiddle the statistics so only students who keep to all the 'rules' such as studying four hours a week and not missing classes can be included in the pass statistics, but why not? why should they include people who don't put in the hard-work and think that by paying their money they will magically be able to speak english? I worked for them and i enjoyed it in some respects - the students were great, interesting people and for an inexperienced teacher like me it was great that you taught from preplanned lessons but were also encouraged to adapt them to your own style. and the autonomy while teaching from the comfort of one base and not needing to travel around was great. BUT the problem is that this is a self-study method - people seem to misunderstand this - you are not taught by an english teacher, you teach yourself on computers and in books and you just work with a teacher and other students to check you are progressing and to answer any questions. Teachers and encounters aren't supposed to 'teach' anything. For some people this approach works and for some it doesn't but this is the method and you need o understand that before you start insulting them for not employing 'real' teachers, etc. I can see the appeal for people who don't learn well in group classes but cant afford private or who cant commit to regular hours (they can come when they want).
So my point - Wall street is just a big business but it isn't a corrupt one, at least not wall street paris. I've seen teachers and managers really trying to help students to progress. But no it isnt the best approach for everyone and yes there are a few people getting rich while the majority of the workers are paid peanuts. But if you want a low responsibility job, a starter job in teaching or only to work 4 days a week it's fine.
The big problem with wall street was the negativity there caused by the difference between what the very well-paid sales consultants sell to customers and what the receptionists and teachers are paid peanuts to deliver. Students are sold something wall street wasn't designed to deliver due to the commission bonuses for the consultants. Teachers and receptionists then have to deal with their unrealistic expectations. They sell a slick product at a high price, students then come to an encounter expecting a highly qualified teacher as they were promised. If sales consultants understood the product they were selling a believe a lot of problems at wall street could be avoided.
Having said that I would work for them again in the future.. but only ever for a short time due to the lack of challenge.

Anonymous said...

hey everyone,,,,
i work with wally street institute in italy. not saying where cos ill probably get sacked...anyway,,,i did the celta recently in Paris, top hard core month of teaching training. This is my first teaching post, thought the WSI would be as good a point as any to start. Im contracted till next april but i understand i can get out with a months notice. Meeting and teaching people is all good, sjust the pay that er, isnt. I think im on 5 euros an hour or something,,,is that even legal? Probably in this country it is...anyway. The hours are hard too. I just dont have a life. Ive forgotten what its like to be in control of my own choices. All i want is to do some exercise but im always in this school!!! Any free time in my apartment im sleeping...

Part from those two points, the work environment is nice... what are other folks thoughts? id love to share a few points of view.

Peace to all!

Anonymous said...

Junp, I also work for a WSI in the North of Italy and I make 15 eur an hour for individual lessons and 17 for all other lessons and encounters. 5 euros is totally illegal. take my advice and get yourself another job. or try another WSI in another city.
best of luck

Anonymous said...

I was offered a job at WSI -- 15 Eur/h. in Milan. I was told teachers make around 1000E/month. From what I gather, accommodation (shared flat)+ utilities are around 500/month; food would be around 200, I assume. My question is, can one save money or is that too optimistic. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Wall Street Paris for 15 months from 2002 to 2003. I made about 1000€ p/m at the beginning and 1100€ towards the end. There is no way anyone can live on that, so I had to do private lessons on the side. The manager at my centre was a complete bitch and pressured people into resigning after a year had passed. Wall Street's consultants do make a fair bit of money but it's commission-based so what they earn varies. The teachers were treated badly but the receptionists were really put-upon. Shit from the students when they couldn't get into a lesson, even worse pay than the teachers. The average amount of time a receptionist stayed was 6 months. Wall Street charges students A LOT for its method and I always had students telling me that they didn't get enough time with a teacher and they weren't progressing. WSI is OK for getting a foot in the door as a teacher but don't stay any longer than 6 months if you can possibly help it.

Anonymous said...

I currently work at Wall Street in Rome and I think that to balance didactics and commerce is a very difficult task, one which WSI have not managed to do. If the staff (including management) were chosen by the correct criteria (i.e. skills, experience and ability), there probably wouldn't be so many problems in the schools. Until those who make the decisions can be bothered to do their job properly, WSI will continue to go down.

Anonymous said...

I just finished a year in WSI in Istanbul in Turkey. You know, I have mixed feelings about it all.

I must say in terms of what they said would happen, did happen - pay was always always on time, and if the 1st was on the weekend when the office would be closed, then we would always get paid on the Friday before. I really don't think that any other school in Istanbul ever was so punctual.

My biggest gripe personally was the pay - it was a starting rate of 1500 YTL a month which is about 1200 USD a month, which was okay, but it was very difficult to save anything especially at the start of the year, but towards the end of the year it got a little tight because of inflation; and also it seemed a little miserly because of what some of the other schools - just this month it has been put up to 1850 YTL as a starting rate, and it goes up again if you have experience / qualifications.
There was none of the rubbish about if you get a no-show you don't get paid - I mean, there are international franchise rules about that and they should stick to them.

I mean, the contract stipulated that we weren't supposed to have private students, but I was actively encouraged by my manager to get some - we were being employed illegally by the company because nobody except one or two people had work permits because they took such a long time to come through and nobody from the government came and checked either.

What was annoying was the way the course was sold by the salesmen, one of the guys was a complete dick but he got paid the most, because he lied the most.
We didn't get too much mouth from the students as teachers, because in Turkish culture, it's like Chinese culture - the teacher is revered, but some people who were really paying a lot of money to be there, would complain to us, and I knew exactly who to send them to!

They would sell to people who could only come every two or three months, so would study English about six hours a month. One time I had someone come who hadn't been for six months, and had been studying like this on and off for two years thinking that this was perfectly ok for her English (because she had been reassured by the sales staff that it would be - that the system would allow for it) and she was really awful - I did a level check with her and she needed to be dropped down almost back to where she started two years ago; she was understandably annoyed and well, I didn't have to deal with it, because she was spewing off in Turkish, but the Turkish staff had to because of a really badly sold contract.

The pay they gave the Turkish staff at reception and the tutors in the lab was really crap - we had such a high turnover, and they got some really bad shit from students who were complaining to them about things not living up to their expectations - I remember one women go absolutely ape-shit (does that have a hyphen? anyone?) at reception because the salesman had told her she could get a lesson, anytime, with as little notice as she wanted; I mean she was crazy, and I think her English got worse with us but she was just a product of the course being badly sold because of the commisions they get.

Another incident that soured me with the Turkish management was one student was very late for the lesson, and I refused to do it with him, and directed him to reception to book another encounter. I mean he wasn't best pleased about it So far, so good.
Once he leaves, the centre director speaks to me and has a huge argument with me about not taking him in - he's the manager of a big company, he could get us lots of sales, he's my friend (five minutes of the lateness was because of having a cigarette with the Director, followed by a promise that he could do the lesson even though he was late), thus, you made me look a fool, he can only come every six weeks because he lives in another city (actually closer to four other centres than this one) blah blah blah. I was so annoyed at him, because I used to have some respect for him - I thought he would put the educational achievement of the students above money - but that event just made me really dislike him - because it was all about money, money, money for him.
And you know the student, came, two weeks later (miraculously bucking the six week problem), and he said that I was right, that it was pointless doing the lesson in thirty minutes because we needed the time to do it properly!

In our centre, I was really lucky that I had a sympathetic native centre manager who actually cared about teaching English, vociferously complained about the pay to the upper management. It was generally a really pleasant atmosphere to work in. At the end of 12 months there, I was absolutely sick of the same lessons again and again and again, and that's why I didn't stick around for another contract.
It is the McDonalds of English Language teaching; but you know, I saw some real progress there by some of the students, it was quick, but it was solid - it wasn't just going to fall away because they really worked hard; and I guess that made it worth it.

Every country is different- I can't really talk about France - I would recommed WSI in Turkey to a new young ESL teacher, to get some good experience, but it's not hard, and after about seven months, I was really getting bored in classes, and I used to dread certain units. It's certainly not mentally taxing. And the pay reflects that - but they pay on time. And sometimes that's more important.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone at WSI really spend 100% of their time doing encounters? I personally love my job at WSI (in France, but not in Paris), despite the low pay, but I only spend about a fourth of my time doing encounters, and the rest is face to face, small group or conversation classes with clients who don't feel that the WSI method is right for them.

If doing encounters was the only option the school proposed, it would be a nightmare - but options are flexible, and I teach a wide variety of types of lessons, both in-center and in companies, in addition to leading social activities, excursions, etc. The majority of students have also made real, concrete progress--I can't confirm a 98% success rate, whatever that means-? But the progress has been remarkable (ex: in two months, one student increased her TOEIC score by over 300 points).

I'm surprised that teachers at other centers haven't had such positive experiences. I guess I'm lucky to be employed by a center that offers a broad range of types of classes.

I do agree that the low wages at WSI don't reflect the amount of prep time required for each lesson or the amount of work we put in. But I love my job. So making enough to live on is good enough for me...for now.