Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Problem With ESL Contracts

The company I work for, LL, is generally a good place to work. Many of the teachers employed with this large company have been so for years, and students return each September. They haven't messed around with my pay and I've seen my colleagues receive their end-of-contract payouts without hassle.

The problem I have with LL is that I am treated like an army recruit sometimes. I have no choice in anything, and what I think doesn't matter. Sometimes I believe that they don't think I'm human: instead I'm just an English-speaking machine.

For example, the school in Mytischi is closing down for the summer at the end of this week (a fact which nobody told me until two months ago...I was under the assumption that work would simply continue over the summer months). I was then told that I would be working a summer camp in Turkey for the summer, as my contract ends in September.

That was fine with me. Then, a few weeks ago, I was told that I won't be going to Turkey, but to Bulgaria.


Yes, Bulgaria.

Okay, so Bulgaria could be interesting and I like seeing different places, but what about Katya, my fiance?

Oh, she can't go and you will be there until September.


Then a few weeks after that, I received another email that told me that I won't be going to Bulgaria but maybe Turkey. I was getting frustrated but the very next day I received another email from the bureaucrats at our Moscow central office informing me that I'm not going anywhere for the summer. I'll be teaching at central school in Moscow.

That was horrible for me. When I did my telephone interviews last summer and they asked me where I wanted to work, I said "Not Moscow" because I don't like big cities (and Moscow is 7th largest in the world). Well, here I was, assigned to work in Moscow.

Then, a ray of light. They offered me a summer camp position in the country outside of Moscow! I could come home on weekends! Ms Australia and Gem taught at a similar camp last summer and they loved it. Okay! Sign me up!

So, ready to hit the summer camp and a good compromise between Turkey and Moscow established, I was happy and looking forward to the summer.

Then, last week, an email that read "We need you to teach in central school beginning June 15"

That was two weeks away and they were still fucking around with this. I asked if I was still going to the summer camp and they replied that I wasn't. Then they told me that I had to MOVE to Moscow! They were ditching this apartment in Mytischi!

I was getting incredibly pissed off by that point and started looking up flight information back to Canada to get the hell away from these incompetent idiots. I realized I only have 3 months of this contract left so I decided to stick it out.

They told me I had to vacate the apartment on Friday June 11th at 6 pm, so I began packing my things up and cleaning and kept two days of clothes out. Then, today, with 24 hours to go before I move, they told me that I can't move tomorrow but in two weeks time!

The moral of this story is that when you sign a contract with a language school in another country, you are effectively signing away your freedom of choice for a year. If you refuse to do something they tell you, they can fire you, thus revoking your visa and forcing you to leave the country. That is always hanging above your head. I have a fiance here and I love Russia with its history, culture, geography, people and architecture and I don't want to leave yet, so I have no choice but to do as they tell me.

Still, it would have been nice to go to Turkey.


  1. You got to be kidding, LL a good school, wait until RG gets pissed off at you and has you called into the police to be questioned for stealing students, then tell me that you still thing Language Link is a good school. Ron G, is the biggest asshole I ever had to deal with.

  2. Bummer. Not too pretty the ESL contract business. It's like they own you. I'm hoping that things get a bit more settled for you (and your fiancee) in the coming weeks.