Job Search Guidance
Quality of the Course
Submitted by Neil N - Canada Canada | July 26, 2017
Sink or swim?
When researching the course there wasn't very much information I could find aside from a few different websites and reviews. Recently the company has done a re-haul on their website and social media. There is quite a bit of good information provided now. When contacting the admissions the staff was very quick at responded and if selected very helpful with the entire process. There are 2 initial interviews that need to be completed and a few tasks.
The company sets up a group chat with all of the students via Facebook. This is great for figuring out how to get places, where to stay and splitting accommodation. Arriving at the course was an absolute mess. The company was very disorganized. It was the complete opposite of how the company conducted itself via email and Skype. Be prepared for a rough first day.
Throughout the course some staff have been very helpful and other staff members have been utterly useless. This will all depend on which campus you go to. Certain campuses are very well run and organized and others are a complete mess and headache. Several of the input sessions are a waste of time. Other times you are made to wait around for 3 hours just to be told you can leave and there will be no input. The staff that actually do their jobs are lovely. Very supportive and informative no matter how many questions you ask. I do know that the company is re-training most of the staff and changing the way things are run. While being on the course I would say 50% of the staff have quit. Many things went wrong; however, the company is putting serious effort into improving.
The course itself is easy. Don't get me wrong it's very tedious and you will answer a similar question 10 times. This will take a large chunk of time to complete but once you brush up on English itself the assignments are straight forward.
The teaching days are very long. The drives to the schools can be close by but usually there are at least an hour and a half away. Sometimes across the country or in other countries. Plus full days of teaching on top the drives and then course inputs after you get back. In addition to the homework you will be doing or should be doing each night. I would say an average day is a minimum of 10hours. Towards the end of the course it gets much easier to balance as you get more free time. Travelling on work days isn't really possibly but on weekends and over holidays it is. Things are relatively close and cheap enough to travel to. Work during the week and party on the weekends if that's your style.
Communication overall has been awful across the main campus. Certain aspects that are in place to help such as welfare are just a mess. It has to do with so many staff members leaving and everyone having to do more work. My experience with the course has been very bumpy. Several of my colleagues have quit the course and if my group hadn't switched campuses most of us would have quit as well. All this being said the company is working on improving this for the next course to avoid these things from happening.
The accommodation videos are misleading. Some info from admissions will be wrong as well. The course has recently expanded on how many people are allowed to enter the course. This means bunk beds for everyone and very close living quarters. Vorchdorf is the best accommodation; however, it is the worst run campus. Pressbaum is very nice if you are a female. If you are a male the accommodation is dirty and really poor as there is 0 communal space. The kitchen is awful. The company yet again is working on this, at least adding in another kitchen. Don't expect welfare to help when you message them either. You can send emails for weeks and never get a response back. This is one of those things you just need to deal with. I was never on the Wolfsberg campus but I hear it's not the best but it's not awful either.
Overall the course really preps you and sets you apart for jobs in the future. The CT's you've bonded with provide very good references. All of the teaching experience you gain from working with many different students and in many different schools really sets you apart when it comes to Behavioral Management. The Lesson Plans you have to create for Trinity are really thorough. The communicative work that one gets a vast amount of practise in looks very good to employers. This sets you apart because it introduces fun, and practical forms of teaching.
Additional comments on living expenses and money while living abroad - Austria overall is a medium as far as expenses go. It's not expensive but it's not pennies either. I'm not sure how many people can fun not being paid for 5.5 months; however, the 3.5 month course was more reasonable.
This is a good company just be prepared for poor communication skills depending where you are.
I hope this helps.
Host School or Placement
Compensation & Benefits
Day to Day Life
ABCi - An absolute joke
Submitted by Kate - Washington United States | July 08, 2017
I'll try to touch on just the main points because I could go on for pages on the concerning/disturbing things that this program does.
In my intake (Jan 2016) our entire group was lied to and told we would be receiving accredited certifications upon completion of the course. It came to light in the first week that this was false. At the end of the program they claimed the testing facility made a mistake and no one was able to take the exam. ABCi promised to pay for trainees to take the exam in their home countries however more than half of my fellow teachers have yet to receive this. ABCi is famous for never returning emails, something you will learn quickly upon signing up.
Within the first 2 weeks about a quarter of the trainees jumped ship. The continuous lies you're told and the fact that your day starts at 5am and usually goes until 5pm is a good reason behind this. They claim they are a volunteer based non profit when in reality it's simply slave labor that you're agreeing to.
Accommodation: How awesome that this is provided! Yea... right. In Gmunden my group had the 'nicer' of the two flats. Our shower broke the second week and wasn't fixed until the following. When we asked how we were expected to shower we were told to walk down to the other flat to do so.. in the middle of 3ft of snow.. in January.. with wet hair. GREAT idea! In the flat in Vienna there were disturbing cracks along all the walls and ceilings. After googling, we discovered part of the building had actually crumbled away a few years prior. Our first week we had no working radiators (so no heat or hot water). We were told to use lots of blankets and 'shower at the gym across the street for a charge' if we wanted to shower. This was while they took their sweet time having various instructors come and poke and the units to see if they could save money by having staff fix them.
While going 90+mph on the Autobahn our acting 'senior teacher' whom was one of the very upper level staff, fell asleep at the wheel. We nearly collided with the barricades but the front passenger woke in time to yell and wake him up. This same man often got drunk with and shared drugs with trainees. Very charming, ABCi. (Photos available to anyone interested!)
Most of the staff are 20 somethings from the UK who are looking for an escape for a bit. Most recognize how ridiculous the program is as far as functionality. ABCi has looped a few 'alumni' to work for them, most of which whom had never taught prior to this program.
The male trainees are held to a much different standard than the women. We were told we absolutely could not wear jeans. The male trainees did constantly. Some male roommates often would not shower, wore no antiperspirant, did not brush their teeth, and hardly ever washed their clothes. ABCi felt this was completely acceptable and took no corrective action despite being told numerous times by the house managers.
One of the most absurd things ABCi spews is just 'how many thousands of people are applying for this very RARE opportunity'.... Uh huh. They would also threaten that if you leave that would be fine because there were plenty of people on a waiting list. Only one of these supposed 'waiting list' people ever showed up and he took off within 2 days. Has this changed since I was there? NOPE! A woman from the current intake group has said she was one of 14 that has already left the original 60. On top of this they threaten that if you are to take any time off for being sick that it will be noted on your certifications. This resulted in me working an entire day with a high fever and horrible cough.
While I was there they brought on an intern to handle social media and things (if you've done any research on reviews you'll have noticed that they are now being responded to by ABCi staff and explained away). I eagerly look forward to whatever response will come to my own review. Especially since the upper administration said wanted to make sure we all wrote HONEST reviews. Yes of course, nothing less.
I will note that the curriculum for this program is great. Ben Stone was amazing the few times I met him. His heart in genuinely behind the program which is about the only positive thing I can say for this 'college'.
I left with one month remaining to spend my last 4 weeks exploring Europe instead of remaining slave to a faulty program. While the organization has expanded they are not properly run. Please do EXTENSIVE research before signing on. And please do take the negative reviews seriously, I wish I had. I came away with some incredible friends and learned that next time I'll sign on with a REPUTABLE program.
The English Teacher Training College responded to this review July 19, 2017 at 10:36 AM
Thank you for leaving feedback, 18 months after joining the program. I am glad we are still in your thoughts.
I was not with ABCi in January 2016 but by all accounts things are different around here nowadays. I would like to take your concerns point by point, and attempt to give some clarity or updates for you and anyone else reading.
I am sorry that there was a mistake made with the testing of your intake at the end. I can understand that it is more than frustrating to go through a course expecting an accreditation exam at the end and then there being problems with that. You say “half” of your fellow trainees have “yet to receive this”. However, since you chose of your own free will to leave the program well before the end, I can only assume this actually didn’t affect you. Of course I am sure you appreciate we cannot pass out world-renowned TEFL qualifications moderated by Trinity College London or Cambridge University to people who leave after less than ¾ of the course.
From the records I can see on our system, 6 people besides you out of a total of 31 dropped out of the course you were a part of, with two of these trainees not arriving until the third week, meaning that your assertion that “within the first 2 weeks a quarter of the trainees jumped ship” would seem not to be the case, as 4/29 is around 14%. Obviously, we don’t wish anyone to come and not complete the course but this is not a high number of non-completers.
Maybe it was not made clear to you that your days would start early (many schools in Austria begin at 07:30 – there is nothing we can do about this) and would end around 5pm, in which case I apologize. It is now made very clear to anyone interested in our program that these lengths of days will be possible and they should prepare themselves to work hard.
Again, I can only retroactively apologize for the condition of your accommodation when you were on the course. We have since moved to a different town (Vorchdorf) with better accommodation and are currently (this is hot off the press) negotiating to rent an even nicer, better built, more spacious building for our Student Teachers in Vorchdorf. We have a new campus in Wolfsberg which to be honest still needs some TLC but is nowhere near “crumbling away” and is again spacious and has a great outdoor space for BBQing and chilling out.
If you had a staff member act as inappropriately as you claim, then I hope you followed the proper procedures and had the authorities involved. Getting drunk with student teachers is absolutely not policy, sharing (or even using) illegal drugs is obviously a matter for the police and any staff member proved to be doing this would be dismissed immediately, and reported to the police. We work with 100,000s of children every year and we will not tolerate this kind of person in our organisation: we simply can’t afford to even if we wanted to “turn a blind eye”.
Since your time here, we have professionalised quite a bit Kate. Blue jeans, ripped jeans etc are not acceptable for either gender to wear in school. Our dress code, which we do strive to enforce, is business casual or smart casual which means a polo shirt/blouse/shirt and “proper” trousers/skirt e.g. chinos, dark trousers, knee length skirt. Male and female student teachers should not be treated any differently in any regard and if any student teacher feels this is the case, they are encouraged to put his in writing and bring it to our Welfare or HR specialists.
The laws in Austria are very clear as regards “sick leave”, and actually very in favour of the employee/worker (as most things are here). We appreciate that our Student Teachers are not employees, but they are holding positions of responsibility both to their Austrian pupils in class and to their peers on the program. If one is sick, one informs the College as early as one can and visits the local doctor to receive a signed piece of paper saying they are sick and cannot work. Depending on the severity of the sickness, this might be one day, one week or whatever. Once this is handed in to the College, that is the end of the story. If anyone is “threatened” with their legitimately documented sick leave being noted as a negative on their certificate then that is unacceptable, obviously.
We have definitely expanded, we have opened a new campus and will welcome our biggest ever cohort of student teachers in August. We have expanded because the Austrian schools love working with us (we are now an official partner of the Austrian Education Ministry); and we attract more and more student teachers who wish to work hard and make some sacrifices to help others while looking to the future benefits for themselves. With expansion comes growing pains and we have absolutely not got the magic formula – far from it. We hold our hands up to mistakes made previously and we do encourage, even mandate immediate, honest feedback from all of our Student Teachers now. I do apologize that your experience here was not what you hoped for and you feel let down. Like you, I encourage potential applicants to read as much information and as many reviews as they can before they commit to applying here. It’s not for everyone, but those who it is for will come out the other end great teachers, with a wealth of new skills in and out of the classroom and friends for life.