Anyone ever done the Gotoco Teaching in China Course? Watch

Ceo_11
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Hi all! Has anyone ever done the Gotoco Teaching in China program? It seems too good to be true as it provides free and funded TEFL training but I can’t find any proper reviews online which automatically makes me suspicious! However it was promoted at my university and I’m assuming that they wouldn’t promote a company that wasn’t legit! Just wanted to know if anyone had worked with the company and if so, what was your experience like? Tia x
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CoolCavy
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Moved to Teacher training, teaching and education jobs
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AFAIK
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Heya! I took part with a group of students from my university (Oxford) last summer. It was a great experience and completely legit - the TEFL has proved very useful in picking up nicely paid tutoring jobs in Oxford aswell. I remember I also thought it sounded too good to be true, actually it is 'free' because they make the school cover the training and accommodation as part of a cultural exchange scheme. When we were there Gotoco sent a camera crew to our school, there is a video on youtube that shows you more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHCRbae-hXU

Have fun if you do take part!

Jx
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Carala
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Hi Tia, I participated last year at one of their projects in the south of China. It was so much fun - probably the best summer of my life so far! I heard about the opportunity at my university's freshers fair at the beginning of the year and thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to apply. I went alone which was very scary at the beginning (my parents told me I was crazy and tried to convince me not to go haha) but the other participants at my camp were amazing and I had a lot of fun with them. The Gotoco team was also very helpful. Definitely a legit thing - do apply! Caroline
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millymoo112
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Hi Caroline,my daughter has applied to do this next year. I'm just looking at the T&Cs and wondered if you would mind giving me an idea of what you had to pay towards this that wasn't covered by GOTOCO. I just want to get an idea of what costs are involved. many thanks Dawn
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millymoo112
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Hi Caroline,my daughter has applied to do this next year. I'm just looking at the T&Cs and wondered if you would mind giving me an idea of what you had to pay towards this that wasn't covered by GOTOCO. I just want to get an idea of what costs are involved. many thanks Dawn
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millymoo112
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[QUOTE=AFAIK;76999054]Heya! I took part with a group of students from my university (Oxford) last summer. It was a great experience and completely legit - the TEFL has proved very useful in picking up nicely paid tutoring jobs in Oxford aswell. I remember I also thought it sounded too good to be true, actually it is 'free' because they make the school cover the training and accommodation as part of a cultural exchange scheme. When we were there Gotoco sent a camera crew to our school, there is a video on youtube that shows you more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHCRbae-hXU

Have fun if you do take part!

Hi J, my daughter is looking to do this next year. Would you say that even if she isn't training to be a teacher this would still be a good thing to do? I'm a bit worried that the expectation from the school she goes to will be expecting her to teach english with no formal qualfication or experience and may feel out of her depth. Thanks Dawn
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AFAIK
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Heya - while a few people on our team wanted to be teachers, most of us were excited to have a chance to explore China and do a kinda 'gap year' style experience in our summer vacation. For me it was more about travel and cultural exploration than teaching practice, but it is what you make of it too. The schools hosts were really very nice and hospitable, and you learn alot very quickly. I had a great time and am now planning to go back with them in 2019, so I do recommend it. She will have lots of fun, we all did.
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jeminite
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(Original post by Carala)
Hi Tia, I participated last year at one of their projects in the south of China. It was so much fun - probably the best summer of my life so far! I heard about the opportunity at my university's freshers fair at the beginning of the year and thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to apply. I went alone which was very scary at the beginning (my parents told me I was crazy and tried to convince me not to go haha) but the other participants at my camp were amazing and I had a lot of fun with them. The Gotoco team was also very helpful. Definitely a legit thing - do apply! Caroline
Hey, I really want to participate on this programme but my parents are really against it because my mum saw one review saying it was dangerous and they were forced to work extremely long work hours. I would be grateful if you could answer a few questions How much support did you have while in China from gotoco, and did you feel safe? What were the work hours like and where was your accommodation? Thank you!
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cherrypiez
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(Original post by jeminite)
Hey, I really want to participate on this programme but my parents are really against it because my mum saw one review saying it was dangerous and they were forced to work extremely long work hours. I would be grateful if you could answer a few questions How much support did you have while in China from gotoco, and did you feel safe? What were the work hours like and where was your accommodation? Thank you!
Hi! I'm planning on participating this year! I've already applied and am waiting to get assigned a placement. I've read many reviews online and although there were 1 or 2 negative reviews, most of them were really positive. If you're still planning to apply, please let me know! I haven't met anyone applying yet so it would be nice to chat online with someone who's going too.
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hownwbrowncow
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Hi everyone! I've done my application for this but am so hesitant about handing over the deposit bc although it sounds amazin,g it almost doesn't seem real.... Any advice?
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JTR__
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Hi hownwbrowncow,

Whilst I've not applied for this programme, they did advertise at one of the refresher fayres my university puts on. I talked to them there and personally felt like they were a legit firm. In addition, a student newspaper (The Oxford Student) did a profile on them this year: https://www.oxfordstudent.com/2019/0...al-enterprise/

That's just my opinion though! If you are unsure please make sure to do a lot of research until you are confident. Best of luck!
(Original post by hownwbrowncow)
Hi everyone! I've done my application for this but am so hesitant about handing over the deposit bc although it sounds amazin,g it almost doesn't seem real.... Any advice?
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cherrypiez
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Hi!!! I've applied too! Super excited. Have you heard back from them yet?
(Original post by hownwbrowncow)
Hi everyone! I've done my application for this but am so hesitant about handing over the deposit bc although it sounds amazin,g it almost doesn't seem real.... Any advice?
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jeminite
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Hey, unfortunately I didn't apply as my parents were concerned since it would be my first time solo travelling. I'm sure it will be fine for you, it looks like such an amazing experience. I'm thinking about doing it next year when I'm more experienced in solo travel. Let me know how it goes!
(Original post by cherrypiez)
Hi! I'm planning on participating this year! I've already applied and am waiting to get assigned a placement. I've read many reviews online and although there were 1 or 2 negative reviews, most of them were really positive. If you're still planning to apply, please let me know! I haven't met anyone applying yet so it would be nice to chat online with someone who's going too.
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Joshd12345
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(Original post by cherrypiez)
Hi!!! I've applied too! Super excited. Have you heard back from them yet?
Hey I’ve also applied, the last thing I did was the video recording for which I had to upload online. I have not heard back about any confirmed destination/dates. Have you?
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Marbo
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Hi. I know there are a lot of very positive reviews above, but it really depends where you're placed. You are responsible for flights and insurance and any costs afterwards, possibly including the cost of travel to Yangshuo, all of which may cost over £1000. I was placed with an American company in Beijing, and as soon as I got there I realised that the camp I was 'volunteering' on was actually a sports camp for very privileged, rich children who had all paid through the nose to be there. Other people on the camp had come from a different organisation and had their flights and insurance paid for, and others were actually being paid. We were forced to work 24 hours a day 6 days a week, with less than 24 hours off on the seventh day. Originally, we were made to pay our own way to organise and go on any excursions, and none of the promised cultural excursions or lessons were provided. After a lot of complaining and arguments we got a couple of paid excursions, and our travel to Yangshuo subsidised, but the camp organisers had absolutely no respect for us and clearly saw us just as free labour. Most people stayed to the end because they couldn't afford to leave and so they could at least get the TEFL, but I am now trying to apply for jobs with it an honestly it's pretty useless for most UK based summer camps, who want something more legit. We also didn't get any experience or training in teaching English, and I'm honestly pretty surprised by this thread because everyone I've spoken to had a pretty awful time. It really does depend who you're placed with, as Gotoco is just a middle man, and they make their money by placing some people with big international companies who pay them in exchange for free labour. They justify it by placing other people with genuine projects who really do need volunteers. In conclusion, I wouldn't recommend it or do it again. My advice would be to know your worth and even if you feel underqualified realise that you always deserve to be paid for your work, unless you are volunteering for a genuine charitable cause. If you decide to do it make sure you have enough money that you can leave early if you don't like the camp. But honestly, I'd recommend organising any placement direct with a camp and not through a middle man like Gotoco, that way you know exactly what you're getting into, and there's no way they can shift the blame. There are so many organisations and individuals offering to pay flights, insurance and an allowance as well as providing a TEFL and full board, definitely look into au pairing as well. Best of luck to anyone applying and I hope you have a better time than I did.

Edit: Gotoco has a campus ambassador role and they reward anyone who can get 10 new applicants with free flights, so be wary of positive reviews, particularly on campus.
Last edited by Marbo; 1 month ago
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Cr stark
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Hi ya. I'm going to China through the gotoco program in 10 days and I've been placed at a camp. Do you have any recommendations on anything I can do to prepere my self before going? Is learning some mandarin nessesary?
(Original post by Ceo_11)
Hi all! Has anyone ever done the Gotoco Teaching in China program? It seems too good to be true as it provides free and funded TEFL training but I can’t find any proper reviews online which automatically makes me suspicious! However it was promoted at my university and I’m assuming that they wouldn’t promote a company that wasn’t legit! Just wanted to know if anyone had worked with the company and if so, what was your experience like? Tia x
I
(Original post by AFAIK)
Heya! I took part with a group of students from my university (Oxford) last summer. It was a great experience and completely legit - the TEFL has proved very useful in picking up nicely paid tutoring jobs in Oxford aswell. I remember I also thought it sounded too good to be true, actually it is 'free' because they make the school cover the training and accommodation as part of a cultural exchange scheme. When we were there Gotoco sent a camera crew to our school, there is a video on youtube that shows you more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHCRbae-hXU

Have fun if you do take part!

Jx
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Cr stark
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Hi ya. I'm going to China through the gotoco program in 10 days and I've been placed at a camp. Do you have any recommendations on anything I can do to prepere my self before going? Is learning some mandarin nessesary?
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Gotoco
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My name is Richard Lloyd – I am the director of Gotoco, this negative comment was brought to my notice today so I am making a quick response now. For a fuller chat, please send an email anytime to our support team (we aren't allowed to post an email address here, but you can find it on our website, www.go-to.co).

The poster of this comment, Miss Martha B joined our Camp Greenwoods Beijing programme in the summer of 2018. At the end of the programme, we sent a questionnaire to all of her colleagues on the team and the feedback score was good at an average of 7.3. A number of participants scored it very highly at 10/10 but owing to the points raised below others gave it a lower score, the instances of low scores led us to review whether to continue working with that programme. We are very committed to make sure everyone has a wonderful experience with us, which is why the vast majority of hundreds of reviews online are 5/5stars, I wouldn't want to be the director of this programme if it was any other way! I am proud that we have now got a great team of 450 Gotoco-ers on projects around China all having a great time, and that we hosted over 1000 people on free, fee-less and funded projects since 2011. We are all proud of our great feedback each year and our support team are well placed to help If problems ever arise, in minority cases people run into difficulties which can usually be quickly resolved. In instance of issues, we usually send a senior manager or director over to visit the programme, in this case I attended. After my investigation, we quickly wrought lots of changes to scheduling, negotiated numerous perks such as free travel to Yangshuo and weekend trips in Beijing, and arranged programme swaps for anyone that wished it - most people were happy with the changes we made and chose to stay. During our annual review where we carefully look at all feedback received for a programme, we opted to permanently cancel our co-operation with the Beijing and Shanghai Greenwood camps but retained our partnership with their highly reviewed flagship Qiandaohu camp. We are committed to providing excellent support and only working with the best programmes in China so while this camp was highly rated by some people, the spiky profile in its feedback reports forced us to decide to cancel it as a matter of policy. I will now address a few of Martha’s comments below, there were clearly a few misunderstandings, for example she mentions payment but unfortunately it would be completely illegal to be paid on these projects without a work visa (but if you have one, then you are welcome to apply for a paid role in the leadership team) and other things to such as how the TEFL works. Please read on if you are interested in a full response or reach us at the email above. If you are a current participant with queries such as those above, or simply interested in applying for future, please email us and our support team can help.


(Original post by Marbo)
1st COMMENT:
"I was placed with an American company in Beijing, and as soon as I got there I realised that the camp I was 'volunteering' on was actually a sports camp for very privileged, rich children who had all paid through the nose to be there."

RESPONSE
We are not actively seeking to operate voluntourism projects, and are anxious not to be considered as such a programme, with the post-colonial development-mission mindset that entails. It simply isn’t in our mission, while there are great projects out there we generally steer clear in order not to fall into the pitfalls alluded to in this great Guardian article:
https://www.theguardian.com/news/201...tually-do-harm

China is a rapidly growing economy, and a middle income country, we strive to offer cultural exchange opportunities there because our directors all studied Chinese to a high level so are passionate about sharing knowledge of the place, (or in the case of one director and many in our team, they come from there) we want to let the world see China by providing university students – leaders of the future, a chance to undertake work-travel programmes in undiscovered parts of the country and then join us for travelling to some of the popular Lonelylplanet destinations. China is a highly complicated misunderstood place that is already a vital partner economically, culturally, diplomatically for most countries in the world - so we see this cultural exchange as very valuable. We also find that people have heard so much about China that isn’t true, the simple fact of coming out here can teach them an enormous amount about the limits of knowledge and thereby open their minds drastically. We are also passionate about travel and so vowed to run a gap year style summer work/travel organisation that charges no fees whatsoever to participants. We have never said otherwise and at no point said to Martha that her host was a non-profit so it could be that her preconceptions about China rather than info we provided would have influenced her somewhat. We try to make it clear in our pre-departure information about how projects work. Owing to the global balance of power and post colonial attitudes, now and then participants believe they are coming to join a project as a kind of mission to help develop China, but this isn’t what we offer. We are firmly committed to offering a programme that is valuable by doing these two things:
1/shows people something about China by offering an unrivalled opportunity to explore, get under the skin of a part of the country, meet great people along the way, travel and have introductory Chinese lessons and cultural excursions
2/gives them a work/travel opportunity with incredibly useful work experience, life-changing career insights and the chance to get a TEFL

We are a social enterprise, committed to cultural exchange, it is the case that we work with for-profits and non-profits, but we don’t define our work with non-profits as the valuable mission of our organisation. We believe the two points above are worthwhile aims to promote in themselves.

Regarding work with non-profits, please note that generally it is rare for foreign organisations to work significantly with charitable projects in China owing to the new NGO laws that limit this. We work with a number of non-profits for whom we have official backing, and also social enterprise village schools that are somewhat in the for-profit sector, along with general businesses across China such as language schools and outdoor camps, in the Camp America style. There are some organisations that do solely operate with non-profits, (though in China I haven’t heard of any owing to the laws against foreign involvement in charities) those that offer this globally usually charge participants hefty fees (we are against ever levying a fee and charge no fees at all.) Our projects have no fees and are very affordable, salaries cannot be offered legally unless people are on a work visa, so instead we offer a package to cover meals, accommodation, TEFL, and a 1 week holiday in Yangshuo and all other costs are minimised (usually around £600 flights, £150 visas and £100 or so for internal train travel if you wish to visit our Yangshuo base.)

2nd COMMENT:
"Other people on the camp had come from a different organisation and had their flights and insurance paid for, and others were actually being paid. "
RESPONSE
The programme hosted two other groups of international participants. There was one group that had paid a fee to participate, this fee was then reimbursed to them over the course of the summer, any other salary would have been in violation of China's visa law. There was another group of experienced camp education experts, these people were eligible for a short-term work visa (which requires that you have a bachelors degree, in most cases also two years of post university work experience and also a TEFL if the job is in teaching English). Anyone being paid a salary to do a short term work placement like this, but not holding a work visa, is breaking the law in China and could face serious legal problems (most likely: a fine, two weeks detention followed by deportation.) We don’t permit payment to our teams unless they are on a correct visa, every year we also are able to arrange paid employment for those who are eligible for a work visa.

3rd COMMENT:
"We were forced to work 24 hours a day 6 days a week, with less than 24 hours off on the seventh day. Originally, we were made to pay our own way to organise and go on any excursions, and none of the promised cultural excursions or lessons were provided."

RESPONSE:
Gotoco ensures reasonable conditions during placements, in a language school context that would never exceed 6 hours per day, and on an activities camp like this one then the hours can be longer because the activities are generally considered very fun and people like to get engaged in them – such as kayaking, climbing, arts & craft etc. The comment about 24 hours work per day above ofcourse is exaggerated but we take feedback like this seriously and after following up closely during the summer (myself, one of our directors went to the camp in person to followup) and after reviewing this project carefully in our review period, we decided to cancel our co-operation with them. We did our best to make it a great opportunity at the time, anyone that wasn’t happy with it was offered to be relocated to our other projects, and anyone that stayed was followed up closely by our support team.

We run 100 projects each summer in diverse parts of China. If a participant ever feels they should be doing fewer hours, they need only liase with our team who can then step in and speak with the schools. Our language school projects are obliged to provide frequent cultural exchange activities and Chinese lessons, our camp projects are busier and keep the teams engaged through diverse fun camp activities. Gotoco also arranged for diverse trips for this group and helped cover their transit costs to travel 2000km to Yangshuo.

4th COMMENT
"Gotoco has a campus ambassador role and they reward anyone who can get 10 new applicants with free flights, so be wary of positive reviews, particularly on campus."

RESPONSE
This has no relevance to our reviews, those are just left by happy past Gotoco-ers. Reviews are only posted by those that undertook our programmes, campus ambassadors do not post reviews, they are provided with part-time paid jobs on campuses attending fairs for our marketing team. We also have a campus presence in some universities through partner societies, these are non-profit, unpaid organisations populated by passionate past Gotoco'ers. The campus ambassador role is offered to those that took part in our programmes and wish to help and possibly find a future career in our Beijing office. A campus ambassador is provided with a link, anyone that applies through it is then added to the ambassador's tally of applicants - you wouldn't see this link via word of mouth or in online reviews - you might see it when someone posts an advert about our programme. If you wish to be involved with our campus teams, please email us with the contact details on www.go-to.co

RESPONSE to TEFL related comments:
Our TEFL certificate is very useful in any teaching English as a foreign language context, jobs in UK camps might need additional training in safe-guarding and pastoral care roles which could be where Martha ran into difficulties - these awards can be provided through the National Citizen Service in the UK's The Challenge project (we are one of their community support partners and can fast track applicants to their final round, please email us if you have queries, its a great project!) Our TEFL is an entry level TEFL that opens up opportunities in language schools the world over. Those among the Gotoco participants that go ahead and apply for our TEFL go on to do all sorts of jobs around the world in the TEFL sector. Our TEFL is globally applicable and has been used by our previous 1000+ participants all over the world. Another perk is that it was it was designed with the needs of the Chinese sector in mind so it includes information that is particularly relevant to the Chinese sector, it also meets the Chinese government’s working visa requirements so is great for anyone wishing to seek full time paid employment in China. It is however important to note that more senior roles might require the sort of TEFL that needs 1-3 months intensive training and fees over £1000 (e.g Trinity TESOL, Cambridge CELTA), but in most cases we recommend people first do our TEFL and if they intend to stay for some years in the TEFL sector then they can upgrade later. This project was clearly defined in the pre-departure pack as a camp, however the fact of leading diverse activities in English provides sufficient experience to support the work experience segment of our TEFL training - the rest is provided through a course of units provided in remote training.


I hope that helps to give some clarification on the above points. If you have further queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes,


Richard

Richard Lloyd

Gotoco Director
www.go-to.co
Last edited by Gotoco; 1 week ago
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