Shanghai Meiji (China Teach)

My experience with Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) was not a positive one. Though what they do may not be illegal, I felt that their actions were at least unethical.

Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) is a company whose services bridge the gap between the qualifications and experience of those who want to teach English in Shanghai and what the law requires – by negotiating “teaching internships” with schools and language centres. It may seem like a win-win for everyone, but working through them means you’ll be sacrificing an enormous chunk of what you could be earning if you dealt with a school or language centre directly.

Since I had zero teaching experience, I thought that I’d stand to benefit from first doing a teaching internship as it obviously would’ve been in the best interest of my future students to have a teacher who at least had a good few months of solid classroom experience behind him, but it has meanwhile become clear to me that the majority of these language centres are in it for the money mostly and that the quality of education provided takes a huge backseat to profits. So, in the end, experience or no real experience, it wouldn’t have mattered much.

Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) is basically a recruitment and placement agency with a stiff service fee that you end up paying. If you are job-hunting from outside China, you may feel that it is worth the pay cut and programme fee having someone arranging everything for you and helping you settle in. If so, then great: by all means, go for it. They have a partnership with a Chinese language school in Shanghai through which they will arrange a student visa for you that will allow you an extended stay so that you can do your “internship”.

This “internship” will consist of doing the exact same work that the other often equally inexperienced teachers are doing and getting paid between 17,5 to 35 percent of what they earn. Sounds outrageous? Here’s the text from a WeChat conversation I had with a Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) representative. They were “generous” by offering me 67% of what my would-be colleagues were earning. I’ve blacked out some of the text I don’t feel comfortable sharing. Also, I’ve trimmed the rest of the text where I talk about my future plans, but the conversation immediately resumes thereafter.

Where do I get the 17,5 to 35% from? On their own website (not linking to them!) they state that after your internship you’ll sign directly with the school or language centre and earn between RMB 10 000 to RMB 20 000 a month, yet the amount paid during the “internship” is a RMB 3 500 pittance.

I’m not saying that Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) will be pocketing the full 65 to 82,5% of your earnings. I’m guessing that a more likely scenario is that the schools and language centres they work with are in on the exploitation and pay salaries that are far below the norm for the duration of the “internship”, of which Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) then takes their cut – over and above the programme fee – before handing over the rest to you.

Neither the language centre who offered me the job nor Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) made any attempt to justify the discrepancy, though. The language centre could have told me that they pay less to Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) for supplying them with “interns”. They didn’t. Likewise, Shanghai Meiji (China Teach) could have told me that the schools and language centres they work with pay less for supplying them with these so-called interns. They didn’t either. The attitude was pretty much take-it-or-leave-it, so I felt that it was best to rather leave it and do my own thing.

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