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

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

United English in Queretaro, Mexico

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

"United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit. The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry. Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience. The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious. Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program. Teachers receive no training. Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme. TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English"

_________________________________________________________
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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2 comments:

bluspagetti said...

Inspector McHammered: "United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit. The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry. Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience. The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious. Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program. Teachers receive no training. Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme. TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English"

Bluspagetti: I saw this post and I just had to reply, as I’ve been working for United English for almost nine years now (March of 2000 start date). I usually don’t subscribe to posts of this nature but this one is particularly well written and it would be a shame if someone were to actually believe it.

Before I start with any rebuttal, let me first explain the basic business model of any private educational institution and, for those of you new to business in Mexico, what you can expect when you come to this generally pleasant country.

In any private academic model, we have two interdependent, yet polar opposite aspects: academia and business. Neither can survive without the other, but – like supply and demand –each pushes on the other until equilibrium is reached. Which does a manager concentrate on? Which gets more attention? Both answers are subjective and based on numerous other factors like season, market and economic conditions. It is the successful school manager that understands the constant fluctuations of these factors and responds to them quickly. Sometimes, the manager has to make decisions that, to the layperson, fly in the face of what seems to be good for the students. Mr. K. knows this and much more.

Now, I think the most efficient way of dealing with Inspector McHammered’s post is to take the arguments one by one. His remarks will be labeled with an “IM” and mine with “BS” (no pun intended).

IM - United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit.

BS – You could not be more right about that. God bless capitalism. Profit is what gives a school existence. Like I said, it is a business and without profit, none of us would have a job.

IM - The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry.

BS – Giving no specifics on what IM considers “unethical”, I can’t comment. In my time at the school I’ve never seen anything that I would consider unethical. I might do some things differently, and they might even be better. But the boss is always the boss, albeit not always right.

IM - Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience.

BS – I don’t even understand what IM means here. What is a “predatory” approach to recruitment? But for those of you who think you might not be qualified to teach, by all means apply at United English. I’ve seen teachers who didn’t have much experience do very well because they respond to the students well and the students respond to the teacher. Basically, anyone is given a chance to do well. Some do, some don’t.

IM - The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious.

BS – I’ve never seen that. In fact, teacher contracts usually slant in favor of the teacher rather than the school. As far as the non-existent schools, the company is actually a franchise and some fold, just like any other franchise. But testimonials are still used from schools that no longer exist.

IM - Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program.

BS – What’s wrong with that? Yes, the visas are under a student category but this is due to the fact that Mexico has a law that says that only 10% of the staff of any company can be foreign. This is impossible for a school that boasts that all of the teachers are native speakers. True, Mr. K is clever. I don’t know how he figured it out, but he did. True as well, Mr. K pays for these visas. Most other schools don’t. Kudos for Mr. K.

IM - Teachers receive no training.

BS - Not following the visa specifications. But teachers do receive training for their jobs.

IM - Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme.

BS – Not only is this false, but it’s impossible. A Ponzi scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises (and pays) require an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going (Wikipedia, 2008).

United English is a sole-proprietorship. There are no investors.

IM - TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English.

BS – I’ve never seen that, either. UE gives the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) three times a year to give the students and idea of how they’ve progressed. Some students score lower the second time they take the test for whatever reason and that is communicated to the student. I’ve communicated it.

Let me iterate that this post will do absolutely nothing for me personally. I will not benefit from spending the 30 minutes doing it. I just have a problem with these quasi-transparent blogs where someone who was actually fired from a school (oh, he didn’t mention that, did he?) can say anything he wants with total impunity.

Reference

Ponzi Scheme (2008). Wikepedia. Retrieved September 24, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme

bluspagetti said...

Inspector McHammered: "United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit. The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry. Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience. The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious. Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program. Teachers receive no training. Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme. TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English"

Bluspagetti: I saw this post and I just had to reply, as I’ve been working for United English for almost nine years now (March of 2000 start date). I usually don’t subscribe to posts of this nature but this one is particularly well written and it would be a shame if someone were to actually believe it.

Before I start with any rebuttal, let me first explain the basic business model of any private educational institution and, for those of you new to business in Mexico, what you can expect when you come to this generally pleasant country.

In any private academic model, we have two interdependent, yet polar opposite aspects: academia and business. Neither can survive without the other, but – like supply and demand –each pushes on the other until equilibrium is reached. Which does a manager concentrate on? Which gets more attention? Both answers are subjective and based on numerous other factors like season, market and economic conditions. It is the successful school manager that understands the constant fluctuations of these factors and responds to them quickly. Sometimes, the manager has to make decisions that, to the layperson, fly in the face of what seems to be good for the students. Mr. K. knows this and much more.

Now, I think the most efficient way of dealing with Inspector McHammered’s post is to take the arguments one by one. His remarks will be labeled with an “IM” and mine with “BS” (no pun intended).

IM - United English in Queretaro, Mexico is the epitome of education for profit.

BS – You could not be more right about that. God bless capitalism. Profit is what gives a school existence. Like I said, it is a business and without profit, none of us would have a job.

IM - The school’s Swiss owner, Mr. K, is truly a leader in unethical business practices in Mexico’s growing TEFL industry.

BS – Giving no specifics on what IM considers “unethical”, I can’t comment. In my time at the school I’ve never seen anything that I would consider unethical. I might do some things differently, and they might even be better. But the boss is always the boss, albeit not always right.

IM - Mr. K takes a predatory approach to hiring teachers with no certification and no experience.

BS – I don’t even understand what IM means here. What is a “predatory” approach to recruitment? But for those of you who think you might not be qualified to teach, by all means apply at United English. I’ve seen teachers who didn’t have much experience do very well because they respond to the students well and the students respond to the teacher. Basically, anyone is given a chance to do well. Some do, some don’t.

IM - The school’s website uses fake testimonials, non-existent schools, and falsified certifications. Teacher contracts are more devious.

BS – I’ve never seen that. In fact, teacher contracts usually slant in favor of the teacher rather than the school. As far as the non-existent schools, the company is actually a franchise and some fold, just like any other franchise. But testimonials are still used from schools that no longer exist.

IM - Work Visa applications are carefully orchestrated and paid for my Mr. K himself who has cleverly found a loophole within the local immigration office. Teachers are usually issued Student visas, participating in the UE teacher training program.

BS – What’s wrong with that? Yes, the visas are under a student category but this is due to the fact that Mexico has a law that says that only 10% of the staff of any company can be foreign. This is impossible for a school that boasts that all of the teachers are native speakers. True, Mr. K is clever. I don’t know how he figured it out, but he did. True as well, Mr. K pays for these visas. Most other schools don’t. Kudos for Mr. K.

IM - Teachers receive no training.

BS - Not following the visa specifications. But teachers do receive training for their jobs.

IM - Moreover, the school’s “European System” curriculum closely resembles an educational Ponzi scheme.

BS – Not only is this false, but it’s impossible. A Ponzi scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises (and pays) require an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going (Wikipedia, 2008).

United English is a sole-proprietorship. There are no investors.

IM - TOEIC exams scores are manipulated to show incremental increases and give the appearance that students are learning English.

BS – I’ve never seen that, either. UE gives the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) three times a year to give the students and idea of how they’ve progressed. Some students score lower the second time they take the test for whatever reason and that is communicated to the student. I’ve communicated it.

Let me iterate that this post will do absolutely nothing for me personally. I will not benefit from spending the 30 minutes doing it. I just have a problem with these quasi-transparent blogs where someone who was actually fired from a school (oh, he didn’t mention that, did he?) can say anything he wants with total impunity.

Reference

Ponzi Scheme (2008). Wikepedia. Retrieved September 24, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme