I caution anyone against working for Tian Shuo (天硕) in Changchun. It is a family operated business that places foreign teachers in mainly public schools around the city and province of Jilin. They have other business interests including selling imported wine and exporting car parts. A few years ago, they were charged with corruption for using the passports of foreign teachers working for them to buy cars with a tax break, to then sell at a profit. They used those passports without the owner’s knowledge or consent. The girlfriend of the son at the company did time for her boyfriend’s and that family’s actions. They placed the blame on an innocent woman rather than face up to the prison sentence for their crime. The daughter, Maggie, is dishonest and deceitful. She is the manager of foreign teachers in Changchun, and the face of her parents company. She was groomed for the job with English and Business studies in Singapore.
The company supplies poor quality accommodation for its teachers, and has no proper training and orientation system in place. The Chinese staff are by and large incompetent, and generally once they gain some experience they later leave Tian Shuo for a better job. This is because the company it too tight to pay them a proper wage. The result is that teachers that rely on them doing their job are often hurt, recently for me it was financially. One employee there, Alisa, has no background in English, business, or anything else directly related to her job. That job is to act as an agent and intermediary in visa applications. Her error recently cost me the expense and time for a trip out of the country to undo her mistake. Maggie refused to reimburse this cost, incurred due to the incompetence of one of her staff members.
If you are thinking of working and living in Changchun, then I recommend you do not work for Maggie nor her family’s company Tian Shuo. They are dishonest and unprofessional. You would be much better off working for EF, Joy, Pattison, New Oriental or Perfect English. These schools are part of an institution. They look after their teachers, and ensure that they enjoy their time in Changchun and live in comfort. Whilst working for Tian Shuo, I had a broken toilet for over a month. Maggie refused to have it fixed. Every morning I would have to defecate into a plastic bag before going to work… the second best primary school in the city… this is the neglect they bestowed on that teacher.
At one point I was asked to come and give a demonstration class in arguably the best kindergarten in the city (that connected with Dongbei Shida). There were two positions, and three teachers trying for those jobs (relatively few foreigners elect to live in North-East China). Though I was waiting to begin work at the before mentioned primary school (Number One Experimental), Maggie asked me this favour. It was my understanding that I was to teach there until she had a suitable replacement. Not so, she used me as a means to secure that job, and yet I did no teaching there. The whole thing was a ruse, misrepresentation using me for it. This kind of deception is common at Tian Shuo. In the office, staff will use Maggie’s QQ or other instant messenger application, pretending to be her. Legally, in China, foreign teachers are required to be University qualified. At Tian Shuo, they Photoshop degrees for teachers without those qualifications.
Changchun is a hard place to live. It is an industrial city with a hideously cold winter. You need to find a place to work, with people that properly care about their teacher’s welfare. It is little wonder that Tian Shuo has such a high turnover of quality people. It is well known in Changchun amongst the expat community that Tian Shuo, as well as having few decent Chinese staff, also does not have many good teachers amongst the hundred or so on its payroll. Those that foolish do sign on with them, usually change employers as soon as they realize their mistake. Don’t make their, nor my mistake. Do not work for this company. Do not sign with Tian Shuo.
These are just a handful of my experiences with Maggie and her parent’s company. I have heard many more, similar stories from other teachers working there. Some of which you can find online. If you have had suffered at the hands of Tian Shuo too, please voice your experiences online and save others from a similar fate.