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

Flight of the Conchords

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Wall Street Institute Istanbul, Turkey

Posted on the Wall Street Institute, France section, but I've it placed under "Turkey". Any comments? It's very well written and totally credible.

"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."
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Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was not employed with WSI in Istanbul, but I did interview with them. Here's my take about WSI in general - I didn't like two things about the structure of the teaching system, which is why I didn't take the job: 1.) There is too much technology involved, the teacher appears to be secondary, and the technology seems to be heading in the direction of, ''eliminate the yabanci in 5 years''. The computer lab at all of the branches I visited houses about 30-40 computers in one room; I could see all of this switching to internet based instruction in the future with only a virtual instructor and headphones. 2.) The teachers are expected to keep doctor's hours. This means you may never have the same student or group twice. You are required to show up at certain hours and teach whoever is in the center. All of this gave me the impression of McWSI; so despite having a great affinity for the Turkish people and the great Istanbul culture I decided to say no. As most Turkish school owners they appear to be afraid of male management figures, hiring young Turkish women or ex-pats who are married to Turkish men; to the experienced this can be quite a drag being caught up in the British ''nanny'' mentality, instead of providing a culture of progressive business planning. I was most disappointed because I did want to stay in Istanbul but Berlitz seemed to be the best of a bad lot with WSI running a distant second. Any serious teacher should avoid English Time, which we in the teacher community affectionately called, ''English Crime''. Its like a high school taught by the most immature and inexperienced with the worst written books you will ever see in ESL; it is truly shameful having to explain to your students why their books have 10-25 spelling errors per page. The head teacher was by far the worst ''nanny'' in the Istanbul yabanci community. Her interest went beyond instruction into creeping into every aspect of your personal life. It was by far the most creepy experience I have ever had in my life. While Berlitz Istanbul will lie to you about everything, they are the best package you will get, and most importantly they will leave you alone in your personal time. However, if anyone tells you from ANY Istanbul school that the housing is good, that medical insurance and pension are included, or that your teacher permit is coming - they are lying! This simply doesnt happen.

Anonymous said...

I worked for WSI Turkey for quite a long time and I agree with the original poster's comments. When I began working at WSI we were being paid 1500 YTL a month, which at the time was OK. They didn't raise this much and in the past few years, that starting salary was a JOKE when we tried to hire new teachers. So the quality of teachers/teaching went down drastically during my time there. As the most expensive language course in Istanbul (and Turkey!) you'd think that they would be able to pay their teachers (Native and Turkish staff) a decent, respectable salary. However, even with the current raise, it still puts WSI far under many of the other schools in Turkey. Istanbul, in particular, is getting to be an incredibly expensive city to live in. Living on the salary of WSI and being expected to work 6 days a week (and try to teach privates on the side) is not an easy feat.

Regarding the teaching method, yes... it's different and easier than classical teaching. Students spend hours doing listening, reading, and repeating exercises in a computer lab or at home. After they finish a level, they have an "encounter" with a teacher. The teacher is then leading them through some exercises for 50 minutes and evaluating whether or not they learned and can use whatever the target language was in that lesson. Is that "teaching"? Yes and no. I found that only the people who were really disciplined made real progress. A lot of people thought they could just "plug in" and English would somehow magically enter their brains. We were teaching though and our Service Manager (Head Teacher) gave us a lot of freedom to do the lessons in the way we wanted. Our SM also encouraged us to create our own classes and outside activities, and really supported us and tried to keep things interesting for the teachers as well as the students. That SM is gone now though.

My main problem with WSI was with the sales team -- completely agree with the original poster -- and the Turkish management. They are out of touch, rude, arrogant, and don't give a sh*t about the Native staff. The sales staff LIES and always get away with it. They pay on time, but that's about it. If you don't have a good Service Manager in your center or Director, then good luck.

Good points: small classes and great relationship with students. With the small class size, after a year I felt like I knew everyone in the center. You easily get to know "the regulars" and a lot of former students are now really good friends. Paid on time, work permit (although you have to pay 1/2) for those who want to jump through the hoops, and then health insurance if you get that.

It's not a bad place to spend your time, but don't expect to be able to save money and live the life of a king in Istanbul. It's a good place to get some experience and then move on to something better.