Experiences for English Language Teaching

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Work For iTutorGroup

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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.

This was the email that I had received from iTutor urging me to accept ‘the new agreement soon and this scheduling priority’ which is code for ‘if you don’t accept this undated contract, you will have no classes’

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.

The new pay structure is wholly unprofessional

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.

6 Comments

  1. CH

    I avoid all companies based in China / run by Chinese owners for this reason. The rates are far too low, you’re often treated poorly and real teaching isn’t appreciated.

    I dislike working for online companies because I am yet to find one that truly has education at the heart of what they do or the platform isn’t good enough. They’re all amount making money and it’s so disheartening.

    I’m sorry you’ve had such an experience, and you are definitely worth more than that!!

    • Martin Sketchley

      Thank you for your reply and I really appreciate your advice. When I first started teaching for iTutor, they were a Taiwanese company and had over 17 years experience with online English education.

      Unfortunately, they were recently acquired (indirectly) by a Chinese investment firm and this is when things changed for both teachers and staff within the organisation. Staff were made redundant and longstanding teachers were sent packing. The representatives for teachers were demoted and morale was hugely affected.

      Moving on, I would like to work freelance for an organisation that values their staff, supports them and provides further opportunities for development. I am grateful that my primary employment is with an institution that supports and helps their staff.

      Perhaps, more needs to be done to regulate and support online English teachers. Maybe connections with affiliates and TESOL organisations might be the right step forward.

  2. I was interviewed by them a year ago and | did not get the job despite my MA, BA, CELTA and CPE and 30 years’ experience. The person who interviewed me was a native speaker and I am sure she did not have all these qualifications. Nor they let me know why I was not accepted to go to the next phase of the selction process. In fact, I am gald I was turned down. And I ‘d like to thank you and congratulate you for your post.

  3. Janet

    Thanks very much for sharing this. I don’t teach for an online company, only for myself, but I have a friend who works for at least one and teaches students in China, so I’ll be sure to warn her about the company you mention.

  4. Jennifer Love

    Hi, thank you for sharing this. I work now for iTutorGroup and couple weeks ago, they cut drastically my hours, coming with the excuse of complaint form some student for inappropriate comments on a progress report /which do not exist, it is made up/ or from new platform lounging called “Regular Match”. I do not know what is the reason, as I work my heart out for them. I live in a foreign country, supported only by this job and I take care my own kids, so they are forcing me now to leave, No income coming:( Very frustrating!

  5. Eggnog

    I also bailed out of this greedy outfit. 3 years of consistent working, doing every conceivable type of lesson, racking up high ratings but always treated like an expendable cog in the money machine. I was on my way out anyway as I was sick of the cynicism of their communications and dubious policy changes at every turn. At its height we could get 24 dollars for 50 minutes on a fixed pay contract but it was always never going to last. The company was such a mismanaged labryinth at one stage, that doing demos was basically like sitting next to a cash machine spitting out free money. I would have 5 or 6 hours of demos booked, with 3 possible in every hour, and for a good stretch of quite a few months, I would basically sit there and do nothing and get paid for all those full hours…0 to maybe 3 out of a potential 18 classes. This is what they were doing, just throwing money away. Of course it couldn’t last. They told me to sign for 40% less or go, So i did the dignified thing and left. Couldn’t be happier away from it all, sometimes the kids were great but most of them were forced into it, playing games with their camera off, or just going through the motions. It is not a rewarding long term career.

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