Every year, thousands of would-be EFL teachers arrive in Bangkok, Thailand to take a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) certification course. A few certification schools in Thailand offer the CELTA but one of the most studied at school is ECC in Bangkok. ECC (English and Computer College ) is one of the largest language schools in Bangkok, but has a less than stellar reputation for the way it treats its teachers. But, as a teacher who only needed CELTA certification, I decided ECC was as good a place as any to get it. Boy, was I wrong.
Taking the CELTA at ECC Thailand – ECC in Thailand has several branches throughout the country, but offers the CELTA at only three branches – Phuket, Chiang Mai and the Big C Rajdramri branch in Bangkok. When I signed up with ECC to take CELTA certification, they were running their course at the Siam branch of ECC – a more centrally-located location to get to than their current one.
Sign Up For CELTA at ECC Thailand – The sign up to take the CELTA course with ECC was easy. All I had to do was take a short grammar test, which I emailed to an ECC representative. This was graded and then I received an email saying I’d been accepted on the course. Several e-mails back and forth followed as I had a few questions about the possibility of rescheduling my training course (which I’ll explain about later), and I was asked to send credit card information so ECC could charge my card and guarantee me a place on the course.
I was also told an interview would be needed once I got to Bangkok, just to ensure I understood what the course was all about. This is when the alarm bells should have started to ring for me, as it’s odd ECC requires you to pay a deposit, or the full fee for the course before you take the interview, which is always going to be the case if you’re outside Thailand. But, I wanted to get CELTA certification so I pressed on. I paid the full $1,600 fee as, at that time, they required payment of the full fee before you could get a place on the course for the date you wanted, and I was ready to start.
ECC Interview – I arrived in Thailand on a Wednesday and had arranged to have my ECC interview on the Friday. The CELTA class I was originally planning on taking began the following Monday, so when I had scheduled the interview, I made sure I had enough time to interview.
When I arrived at ECC, I was greeted pleasantly by a couple of Thai women who worked there, then shown in to meet the western man who would be my trainer. As soon as I met him, my “don’t trust this guy” vibes went off, as he was rude, condescending and obviously wanted to get this interview over as quickly as possible.
As soon as the interview started, I showed him several emails I had received from ECC representatives. During my emails, before I paid the $1,600 fee, I had checked twice to see if it would be a problem for me to reschedule the CELTA course to a month later if, once I arrived in Bangkok, the business I had to deal with took longer than expected. In a couple of emails from ECC reps, I was told there would be no problem in rescheduling the course, as they had courses running all the time. This was the reason I signed up with ECC and paid the full fee.
Imagine my surprise when the rude man I interviewed with told me in no uncertain terms, not only with this not possible, but I would lose my entire $1,600 fee if I chose not to begin the course the following Monday. He then went into a tirade about unreliable teachers in Thailand and how if I thought I could be one of those unreliable teachers, I might as well give up now.
Shocked beyond belief,with no way to take the course the following Monday due to business obligations, and having been lied to by ECC just so they could get my full $1,600 fee, I left ECC’s offices. I contacted my credit card company and filed a complaint against ECC, telling them I would not pay the $1,600 fee, and I did not show up for the CELTA course the following Monday. Lied to by an immoral company, I certainly wasn’t going to take their course or allow them to keep my money.
The following week, I signed up for a TEFL course with Text and Talk in Bangkok. A company that told me I could start on any date convenient to my schedule, and stuck by their word, and one where I was treated respectfully from the first time I walked through their doors. I completed their TEFL on their six week program and took a wonderful teaching job in Bangkok. I haven’t looked back.
Since my experience with ECC Bangkok, I would never take a course through them, not teach for them and not recommend anyone take classes with them either. If a company is that immoral, they’ll lie to a prospective client (and that’s what I was), just to get their money, there’s no way I would ever have anything else to do with them.
If you are, however, looking to do a CELTA course in Bangkok, I recommend International House. They have an excellent reputation. Several friends, who took their CELTA course, have given them glowing recommendations and two went on to work for them. International House also has a good reputation for treating their teachers well.
International House, Bangkok – Excellent school to take CELTA certification, with a good reputation