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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hampson school in Mlada Boleslav, Prague, Czech Republic

Posted on the "nominate a school for blacklisting section". Any comments?

"Maybe this doesn't count as a nomination, because I haven't worked for the school, but I almost did.

Hampson a school in Mlada Boleslav, 50km from Prague. They use accelerated learning techniques based on relaxation and fun, and run intensive immersion courses. It's run by Pavel Sudik, who also has a sideline in organising corporate firewalking events.

I'm interested in accelerated learning methods so I sent a speculative note and CV. They responded in five minutes, saying "At the moment we have one opening for native speaker. Full time contract starting immediately. We would appreciate to know your decision about joining our staff. You could start to teach tomorrow."

So suddenly they have a vacancy, and they've just about offered me the job without checking my qualifications or referees, and they'd like my decision instantly.

They sent a brochure which mentioned that the pay is 120 crowns (after tax) per hour taught. There's no monthly wage - you get paid by the lesson, so if there's no students, there's no pay. Assuming 25 hours teaching a week, that's barely a living wage. The brochure said there'd be health and travel insurance provided, plus accommodation provided, but was extremely insistant that I must sign a years contract immediately on arrival.

I emailed again asking if they could refund my air fare to Prague (because I'm bankrupt), and they responded saying it wasn't company policy but they'd make a special exception in my case - because I'm so highly qualified with a CELTA, an MA and two months teaching experience.

Now, I'm in my first TEFL job - which I'm trying to leave because there's literally no students, hence my application to Hampson. Why should Hampson be so eager to get hold of an inexperienced teacher like me? Why do they want me to sign their contract so quickly? Why are they offering to pay my travel costs? And...why don't they want to interview me first? I offered twice, they declined.

The day after the first exchange of emails, Pavel Sudik's wife telephoned to encourage me to come. Her English isn't great, so she said she'd ask Hampson's one native English speaker to call me later so we could talk properly.

He called exactly on time...and it was very strange. I asked about wages, teacher turnover, course content and accommodation, and his responses were slow, vague, confused and noncommittal. Maybe he was being watched, I don't know. But...he honestly sounded as though he were drugged. His answers were not just perfunctory, they were drawling with long gaps.

I am, basically, freaked out by all this. There's no way I'll work for them because the pay just not enough to pay my debts. But am I imagining it, that there's something creepy about that place?"
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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Anonymous said...

Well, I worked for a different school in Mlada Boleslav until June 08 and I know some of the teachers at Hampson and they all seemed reasonably happy, nice flat, no money grumbles. Let’s face it – it’s difficult to recruit to Mlada Boleslav and they, like other schools, will give you your first job after your TEFL / TESOL course.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I have worked for Hampson for 5 months, please check the comment I left

After many months I can say the two owners are leeches. My girlfriend worked many intensives with them after I left, and they agreed on processing all the papers to her G. list (personal VAT number which would have allowed her to apply for a 2 years visa in CR).
After a while for no reason they pulled the offer!
Be really really careful working for that company. Everyone is fake, watch your back. For some reason Pavel and Iva (owners) tent to keep under a tight lid their workers.
I know the guy who probably answered the phone to the guy who posted the first comment. He wasn't drugged, he was just weird.