Reach to Teach Jobs: Principal

If you want to teach English in Taiwan and make the mistake of applying for a job with Reach to Teach, there is a good chance you will be entering into an illegal contract. Reach to Teach Recruiting  works with a school called Principal Language School, with locations in Tucheng, Xinzhu, Taoyuan, Linkou, and Zhongli, all smaller cities in Taiwan. Their contract, a sample of which Reach to Teach sent me when trying to sell me on Taiwan schools, is completely illegal and Reach to Teach knows this. After she sent the information about this school, Carrie Kellenberger called me to talk about the contract in one of our phone conversations and there are at least three things I found that are totally illegal.

The first thing that violates Taiwan law is written explicitly in their contract. Principal will withhold 20,000NTD (about USD $610) from a teacher’s first pay day as a deposit. If a teacher leaves the contract early for any reason, Principal keeps the money. Every part of this is against Taiwan’s labor laws. First, no employer can withhold money from a teacher’s check for anything but taxes or insurance. Second, they cannot hold deposits. Third, they cannot fine people for leaving early. So every aspect of this directly violates employee labor rights under Taiwan law.

How does Reach to Teach Recruiting explain this? They admit that it’s totally illegal and then they promise, if for some reason you have to leave early, they will help fight your case with Council of Labor Affairs in Taiwan to get the money back that the school shouldn’t have in the first place. Carrie even told me they once had a teacher who left early and they helped her fight to get her money back, which took a few weeks and happened only after a mandatory meeting between the school, the teacher, and the government. You have understood correctly- Reach to Teach thinks this is all quite reasonable even though the government has informed everyone this is illegal; years later, teachers’ deposits are still taken from that first paycheck and only returned at the end. What happens if a teacher has a true medical or family emergency, needs to leave early, and is unable to pursue a case with the government? Nothing, because you can only bring a case against the school with the government yourself; despite what Reach to Teach might promise, there is nothing they can do to help you if you must leave and you would be out hard-earned money.

The second thing Principal does is force teachers to work illegally without a work permit or correct visa. Most country’s citizens get 90 days visa free entry on arrival to Taiwan. That 90 days is for tourism, not for work. You can look for a job, but you can’t work until the work permit is approved, which takes about 3 weeks (that’s how long it took mine when I was teaching in Taiwan). Nowadays, most schools just have people wait until the work permit is approved. Not Principal- they would rather force teacher to show up a few days before school begins and work illegally for a few weeks. A simple solution would be to have teachers arrive a few weeks early so that they do not need to work illegally- that would take a bit of effort on their part, though, so no dice.

An acquaintance of mine worked at one of their schools (Zhongli if I remember correctly) and told me about a meeting with the manager where they were going over procedures for what to do if the government showed up in those first couple of weeks. There were escape routes and hiding places and the teacher was told to be on guard, ready to run and hide to keep from being fined and deported.

Finally, Principal is a full time kindergarten. For some strange reason, it is completely illegal for foreign workers to work in kindergartens in Taiwan. It’s a dumb law, but it is the law and the internet is littered with stories of people being deported for only this. In other words, the entire business model, which relies on using foreign teachers to entice parents to enroll their children, is an illegal one. No wonder they don’t care about the rest of the law and have no intention of stopping requiring deposits from teachers. No reputable recruiter would work with such a school, but Carrie Kellenberger told me “Principal is one of our oldest and best schools.” If this is one of the best, imagine the rest!

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Reach to Teach TEFL

I think this blog has already made it clear: Reach to Teach wants to make money off as many people as possible. After applying for one of their advertised Reach to Teach jobs, they have told many applicants they must have a TEFL. Do you need a TEFL to teach abroad? The answer to that should always be a firm maybe, even when Reach to Teach tells you yes so they can make money off you.

Does the school you want to work for require a TEFL? Then yes, you will need it. Is it needed for a visa? Usually not, but it may be needed for the work permit, which is required for a visa. In China, for example, this depends on which government agency is issuing the work permit. There are places in China where you definitely do not need a TEFL (and some you do) and in Taiwan, the government does not in any way tie a TEFL to getting a visa for teaching. This did not stop them from sending me a TEFL link after they sold me on teaching in Taiwan.

So why does Reach to Teach tell people they must have a TEFL? Because every TEFL program they promote pays them for every teacher who signs up. I contacted a couple of the TEFL companies Reach to Teach Recruiting recommends to see what they pay and it’s anywhere from 30 to 50% of the cost of the TEFL given to affiliates who advertise. Every TEFL program on the Reach to Teach website has an affiliate program. That coupon code they give you? That’s how the TEFL provider knows to pay Reach to Teach for the referral (one provider told me that’s how they guarantee affiliates get credit).  You think you are getting a nice 10% discount, but Reach to Teach is making much more than you are saving.

It seems Reach to Teach Recruiting has even gotten themselves into the MA in Education business. On first look, you might think there is a no way a major US university would pay a company like Reach to Teach to advertise their programs. If you look at the Reach to Teach link to the USC education program, the link has this line in it: reachtoteachcplsite. The “cpl” stands for cost per lead, which means Reach to Teach is getting paid for people who apply or enroll in their program. It seems there is no program Reach to Teach won’t recommend, for a price. The average person might find it odd that of all the MA TEFL, MA in Education, and related programs all over the world, Reach to Teach only recommends one. Whose best interest are they serving?

When looking at the Reach to Teach TEFL page, it’s clear that they get paid for every TEFL course they recommend, until you reach the mention of the CELTA course. While they admit this is the best course to have, they provide little information, no links, and no way to sign up. They aren’t getting paid for begrudgingly admitting a CELTA is the by far the most respected course, but they certainly aren’t going to give the reader links to more information.

Reach to Teach Recruiting is designed with one purpose in mind: to make money off of people who want jobs teaching abroad. They will never have your best interest in mind, so if you ask them any questions, don’t be surprised when the answers just happen to make them money.

Interviewing with Reach to Teach

People usually get excited about receiving an interview for a job, but this is where recruiters like Reach to Teach snag the applicant. You think you are being interviewed, but they are actually beginning the long con. Looking back, my conversations with both John and Carrie Kellenberger at Reach to Teach contained many red flags. Their interview is a sales pitch primarily. They wanted to convince me they have the best jobs, the only jobs, worth taking. But during the interview, every concern is met with an answer. Every pitfall is covered. Nothing bad will happen, but if it does, they will handle it. Lies, lies, and more lies.

Conducting an interview with applicants makes Reach to Teach Recruiting seem legitimate. Don’t be excited when you are offered to schedule an interview- be wary. The best way I can illustrate the difference is to compare them with a recruiter I later used and trust*:

  • Reach to Teach minimized my concerns and told me not to worry about anything. A real recruiter discussed my concerns, told me stories about real things they had seen happen to their teachers, and how they handled it with concrete examples. No fluff.
  • Reach to Teach told me they had never had any complaints (lie). A real recruiter talked about complaints they had seen and what they had done about it. They told me under what circumstances they had stopped working with a school. They also told me about their criteria for screening and working with schools.
  • Reach to Teach told me they would handle things for me if I had any problems (lie). The real recruiter told me they would help where they could but they were honest that their power over many things in a foreign country was limited. Honest.
  • Reach to Teach told me I could talk to a teacher at the school, but never set this up even though I asked twice. A real recruiting company actually set this up for me.

Not all recruiters are bad, but you have to approach this as if you are screening them, not as if they are screening you. Ask them questions about how they do things in a friendly way and if they clam up, hang up. My real recruiter was very open about how they did things, what they said fit with what I wanted, and I’ve been very happy in my current job.

* I will not name the other recruiter I used here because I don’t want them mixed up with a blog that’s purpose is to describe how I was scammed.

Reach to Teach Application Process

Applying at Reach to Teach Recruiting

Before even applying for Reach to Teach jobs or starting the interview process, you have been scammed by their website and advertising. Reach to Teach Recruiting would have you think they have jobs all over the world. They list jobs teaching English in Chile, Hong Kong, Georgia (the country, not the state), Thailand, Russia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, and more. At any given time, though, they might have jobs available in two or three countries.

Back when I applied, they only had direct jobs in China and Taiwan. I asked about some of the other countries and their response was basically “we just haven’t had time to update our website.” Months later, the information is still on their website as if they have jobs in many countries.

This is how the scam goes: applicants looking for a job in one of the other countries listed (but not available) will receive a response saying positions in that country are filled and a “suggestion” to take a job in one of the other countries (the only places they actually have jobs). The suggested countries will be just a fraction of what is listed on the website. At any given time, one might apply for Taiwan (for example) but if there is nothing available (even though they have Taiwan jobs listed on their job board), the applicant will be pushed toward China. They keep the ads up, they keep the articles about different countries up, but they do not have jobs in the locations they are promoting.

Another way they might “suggest” you go to another country is to play down the jobs in one place to build up another country. This is what happened to me in my phone conversation with Carrie Kellenberger. She played up Taiwan and played down China, although later she was very willing to offer jobs in China. It depends more on where they have the most chance of making money off of your application. This is a classic bait and switch, which I fell victim to when I applied to Korea but was pushed toward Taiwan.

Why do they advertise jobs they don’t have? The more content they have online, the more visitors and the more applications they receive. So while Google and other search engines drive people to Reach to Teach to apply for jobs in Chile, for example, you will not get a job in those countries. This is quite clever, but also very dishonest. They might be dynamiting the pond, but make sure you are not one of the people caught in the blast.

Official Launch of this site

Hi Readers,

I have started this website so that you can obtain important information about teaching abroad. Please have a look through all of our pages! Everything is for informational purposes only: the decision of whom you chose to teach with is ultimately yours! Use my past experience with Reach to Teach Recruiting to better educate yourselves about the possible pitfalls of putting your trust in a scam recruiter!

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