Istanbul, Turkey-A WARNING

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Istanbul, Turkey-A WARNING

Unread postby Pink-Lola » 22 Jan 2012, 17:11

I wanted to post a warning for anyone interested in teaching in Istanbul, Turkey. I have spent a couple years teaching English as a means of traveling the world and I must say, after teaching in Turkey, I may never return to that country again.

First of all, I was hired by SDM, a school in Istanbul. When I arrived in Istanbul the owner put me in contact with one of his teachers so I could stay with her while getting my apartment. She filled me in on all the shady details of working at that school (the owner hires females and then makes life extremely difficult for them if they don't sleep with him. Also, illegal activities such as building construction, cameras, and not paying employees take place.) After choosing not to work for SDM, the owner made numerous threats to both of us and kicked us out of her apartment (which he owned) with only 4 days notice. Later I found out from a friend that the nickname for this school is Sado and Masochism... wish I had known that before I was hired!

Because I love the history of Turkey and really wanted to stay, I next worked for ALTA (English 5). I also warn teachers not to work there- both SDM and ALTA participate in illegal activity. They will find every excuse NOT to pay you bonuses or your salary custody (1500 TL) and they won't give you the hours you negotiate in your interview. I was left scraping together everything I could for rent and food, because you don't know if you'll be working from week to week and you don't get enough money to save so you can have something to live off of while looking for another job.

If you are a single female like myself please avoid Turkey (or at the very least, avoid SDM and ALTA - English 5.) You will be manipulated and exploited by almost every person you meet. No joke. It sounds outlandish, I know, but it's the truth. I am extremely fortunate to have escaped that country (and that's exactly what it feels like, an escape.)

I have loved every country I've traveled to and lived in (China, Poland, Czech Republic...) EXCEPT for Turkey. Honestly, if you have an opportunity to go somewhere else, I highly recommend taking the other job. If you decide Turkey is where your heart is, then at least work for a university. Remember that a lot of schools in Turkey will make big promises but most of the time, your employers will be deceitful.
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Re: Istanbul, Turkey-A WARNING

Unread postby lizzie » 23 Apr 2012, 14:13

I just wanted to say to teachers thinking of working in Istanbul that I had the best year of my life there. I worked for a school (now sadly defunct) called The English Centre in Osmanbey. There were around 40 teachers from the UK, Ireland, America and Australia and we were fairly paid and had a brilliant social life.
Istanbul can be a wonderful place to work but you need to do some homework.
When you apply for a job ask to be put in touch with other native English teachers already working at the school (skype/phone). If the school doesn't have any native speakers to recommend it then you should probably avoid it.
If you arrive in Istanbul and are looking for a job then try not to be dependent on a school for accommodation as soon as you arrive. Having enough money for a budget hotel for a couple of weeks will allow you time to look around, visit schools and chat with ex-pats.

I'm sure that there are many other teachers who had a good time in Istanbul. In my experience one year was enough though. To get away from the incredible hustle of the city I decided to join a hotel spa/gym which had a pool on the roof. It was a quiet, chill-out place to read a book and worth the money. Like me, most teachers loved the markets, coffees shops, cinemas and taking ferries across the Bosphorus. The trick is to live near your school so that you don't have to commute and to save up for flights to the beach resorts in the South when possible.

Unfortunately, I'm out of touch with current schools in Istanbul, but maybe other teachers can recommend good current schools?
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Re: Istanbul, Turkey-A WARNING

Unread postby experienced » 10 Jul 2012, 00:55

I would like to second the post above regarding SDM.
I worked there, albeit briefly, and I found the exact same things.
The owner of the company is Akin and he is one of the biggest slimeballs I have ever met. 95% of the native teachers that he hires are female. If you do not respond to his advances he tries to make life difficult for you.
On the Skype interview he tells you how it is the best language school in Istanbul and how all of the expats have been there for over three years and the reason he is hiring is because someone that has been there for a long time has decided to go back to their native country.
I have been a teacher for many years, in many different countries, and never have I had to deal with problems like this.
His 'wife' dealt with the scheduling while I was there. I say 'wife' because this is a marriage of convenience. They are both very open about their other partners.
Ayse, the 'wife', is just as bad as Akin and will spring classes at you at any given moment. Students will cancel and she won't bother telling you and I even know of her calling one of my colleagues and making her go into work on a Sunday morning with five minutes notice.
People cannot argue with either Akin or Ayse as they control the money and always hold two weeks worth for 'insurance' as they put it.
Students pay over 60TL per hour and they only pay their teachers between 12tl and 18tl. That's when they bother to pay at all.
I'm still in contact with a couple of teachers there and they have informed me that Ayse has taken a back-seat and they have got a guy doing the schedules now. I believe his name is Yaris? I cannot be sure of this. He is just as bad by all accounts.
Finally, on a legal note, they tell you that they will sort out the visas and required permits but when you have been there for a few weeks, and are therefore owed money, that you must pay for all this yourself and they will not aid you at all.
I dread to think what would happen if the authorities decided to call by there.
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