The upshot seems to be that if you can sell classes (via a demo), fit their ideal of "good teechah", and more or less shut up and do what you're told, the owner can be great to work for...helpful and generous.
However, if you don't induce enough signups, are perceived as "bad teechah", or question or complain about anything, he'll fire you, have you evicted, revoke your documents, attempt all manner of fines and penalties, and have you duct-taped and summarily shipped back to Kansas, whether you come from there or not.
All right, so, I’ve worked there, and I agree with Raoul through and through. You have to sacrifice the notion of a personal life OR the notion of career advancement; at Hong N’ you simply CANNOT have both … unless you are prepared to relentlessly kiss bossman’s (Mr Ma’s) ass.
The problems at Hong N’ all stem from this one man. He is power-hungry and slimy. He has his hands so deep in so many pockets, and will not refuse any offer to dig in a new pocket. I mean this in the sense of new schools and, thus, will over work you; I mean this in the sense of guanxi possibilities to make connections with gov’t officials or police.
Should you make the mistake of saying “No” to Mr Ma once – just ONCE – you will be treated poorly until you say yes to him 10 or 12 times. That being a task I never wished to undertake, I was progressively treated worse and worse to the point that I was given no information (per time, amt of students, level of student, or text) about a new class, and then punished for performing poorly in said new class.
You will be asked to do classes you are not trained, comfortable, or even legally allowed to. As an example of the latter: I was asked to teach at an IELTS certified school, IELTS certificate classes, from an IELTS certified text, as an IELTS licensed teacher. Am I trained, comfortable, or licensed to do so ? NO. It was ILLEGAL for me to teach at that school, those classes, from that text, LYING about my credentials, and it was wrong for Hong N’ to “ask” me to do so. They did not, in fact, ask me to do the class. It was merely placed on my schedule, without description.
Information does NOT flow freely at Hong N’, as – to Mr Ma – it is dangerous for the employees to be informed. If you were informed even slightly about some the classes you would be asked to undertake – you would either of course say no, or be masochistic.
«My contract stipulates that I work 18 hours a week OR I will receive overtime pay. I was approached and “asked” [which, refer above, means “told”] to accept a “group of classes” totalling 30 HOURS A WEEK, for no overtime pay. I, naturally, told them “I do not think I am the proper person for this job, and may cause the school to lose face should I be the teacher chosen for the position.”»
“Coincidences” are abundant at Hong N’:
1. To work at Hong N’ I had to leave another school, which they were making slightly difficult. The process was going well enough, though, until the night I was looking at a contract with Hong N’. I made the mistake of updating them on my old school. Mr Ma has guanxi with my former principle, so he decided to call him “on my behalf.” The next day, the old school said they were going to revoke my visa. Panicked, I ran to Hong N’. The FAO came with me the following week to school, and it was all magically sorted in 15 minutes of Chinese conversation.
2. As he was looking at the contract for the first time, another teacher was switching flats, and made the mistake of having the FAO call them to arrange certain things, which he did not have the language ability to do himself. The next day, while signing papers, he was called by the landlord and told that he would not be able to move in after all, for unknown reasons. The FAO then stepped in with her guanxi and found him and his flatmate a new flat. Hong N’ still – 3 months later – have never finished signing a contract with him.
3. Two other teachers were having issues with their flat; they were being evicted. The FAO found them a new flat, but they began to have issues there; they could not register with the police at that address. Mr Ma approached them and explained: “You cannot register there, but I can call my friends at the police department and have you illegally registered under your old address. You will be able to continue to work.”
How are these coincidences ? All of them happen at crucial times of need; all of them indebt the recipient to Mr Ma.
If it is decided that Mr Ma does not like you, you will be punished in such ways as:
1. Horrid scheduling. Coincidentally, the same week I was trying to find part time work elsewhere to supplement income lost from being ill, I was scheduled block days from 8:30am till 9pm. I was scheduled with breaks, but not breaks that were long enough to find work. I wasn’t, however, scheduled enough hours to be in overtime, and thus, no reimbursement money was made to fill the time lost from illness.
2. Pay docks. Mr Ma is notorious for finding reasons at the end of a contract for not paying the due fees of Travel Stipend or Days Off. As noted above, I was unfortunate enough to fall ill, missing enough work to be cut from Days Off pay, and even enough so that they claimed they had the right to dock my final pay. Other former Hong N’ teachers have had their entire stipends yanked, for reasons they’re still unsure.
3. Negative reinforcement. For a number of months, I was convinced “I think you, uh, baaaaaad teecha’ !” was Mr Ma’s favourite saying. Nobody at Hong N’ will ever tell you you’ve done a good job, which simply isn’t true about China, or it being “Chinese culture.” The TAs have been so whittled that they cringe, and look at you suspiciously when you compliment them on a class. This, honestly, breaks my heart as most of the TAs at Hong N’ are wonderful.
All in all ? DO NOT WORK THERE ! That is all I have to say about Hong N’ at the moment.