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I have been teaching English online for the past four or five years now with experience teaching students located in South East Asia. This week I received a suggested update to my employment contract which made me rethink working for this company. The company that I had worked with for such an extensive period of time is iTutorGroup.
Recently, they were acquired indirectly via a Chinese investment firm and the Taiwanese CEO was forced out with a Chinese replacement. Over the past year, since iTutorGroup was acquired by a Chinese investment organisation, I have witnessed many things which concerned me.
In the video above, I share some of the things which are worrying and why you should be apprehensive working for an organisation based in South East Asia. The first thing that I noticed was the random firing of teachers (no matter their length of service) with iTutorGroup. They removed many many teachers during this round of firing in June 2020, during the height of the pandemic.
Next, teachers delivering demonstration classes to potential students were denied their rightful bonuses for sign-ups. Last year, I lost over £150 in bonus due to a ‘technical error’. I kept my head down and decided to make a note of this. After this issue, new contracts were being thrust upon current teachers with iTutorGroup suggesting that they improved opportunities for current teachers and bookings. They were finally included in December 2020.
A month later, in January 2021, I received an email from iTutorGroup to say that I had an update to my contract (which had been updated the previous month) with additional improved competitiveness for bookings and improved scheduling with a price to match – a salary reduction. For my usual 45 minute class, which I was earning £15 per class, they were offering a hugely enticing offer of £8 per class – almost 50% reduction. For 25 minute classes, which I was earning £8 per class, they were offering £6 per class.
Why the reduction? Well I assume, since an investment company has acquired this company which has no idea of running an educational organisation, they are getting rid of the most costly teachers and replacing them with cheaper alternatives. However, they are offering a final opportunity for those that are willing enough to work for peanuts. The remuneration that they are offering is absolutely infuriating and questions the profession.
I have spent many many years investing in my career, studying towards an MA, completing numerous qualifications and the most that I am worth is £8 for a 45 minute class (with another class booked after 15 minutes so £8 is for an hour). On top of this absolutely ludicrous rate, I am self-employed and have to pay tax on all earnings regardless whether it is below the national living wage in the UK or not.
Finally, I can see that working for an organisation that is more concerned about profits and return on investments has no interest with their staff so it is time for me to move on and seek pastures new. If there are any organisations that are seeking an experienced teacher, both with remote learning experience and face-to-face tutoring, then please do get in touch. I feel that I will have a lot more time now than before.
Where does this leave the ESL online profession? How can teachers ensure that the online English teaching industry supports their teachers? What can be done to improve prospects for online English teachers?
Please share your comments and thoughts about this.