STAY CLEAR OF KUNMING COLLEGE OF EASTERN LANGUAGES (KCEL)
I enrolled in one-on-one lessons at KCEL in Kunming for 6 months. In total I have been to 5 Chinese language schools in China, and KCEL was by far the worst (and I say this with the authority of being a qualified second language teacher at the master's level). Reasons are set out below. In summary, if you want value for money, no drama and a relatively high degree of professionalism, enrol at Keats instead.
1. THEY MISLEAD
Before I signed up with KCEL, I had a verbal agreement with the boss of the school that he would offer me a special rate of 75 yuan per hour. After I flew from Australia to Kunming, the boss sprung on me that the special price was conditional upon buying a minimum of 6 months worth of hours upfront.
2. THEY LIE
Before I signed up with KCEL, I had a verbal agreement with the manager that every 4 weeks I could take 1 week off for rest. After I flew from Australia to Kunming, the manager claimed she never agreed to rest periods and I would have to study for 6 months straight without rest weeks. Another significant lie the manager told me was that, before I leave China, I would have to pay a 160 yuan cancellation fee of my visa. I found out later from the Chinese Embassy in Australia that there was no such fee.
3. THEY TEACH INCORRECT GRAMMAR OR NO GRAMMAR AT ALL
The first teacher I was given taught me incorrect grammar nearly 100% of the time. Fortunately I'm very good at pattern recognition and would be able to work out the grammar for myself. After 4 weeks of crappy teaching, I finally confronted my teacher about the situation, to which she went on the offensive, claiming I had made no progress all month so I must stop studying the grammar in my textbook. The boss of the school also told me I couldn't study grammar in classes any more because he knows what is best.
4. THEY DON'T LET YOU ASK QUESTIONS
One day the boss of the school pulled me aside to talk with me privately. He said that my teachers had made a complaint about me - they had said I ask too many questions in my one-on-one classes. He directed me not to ask questions anymore in class.
5. THEY GASLIGHT YOU
When I first approached the school, I had a textbook I wanted to study from, I wanted to study topics that interested me, and I wanted to play language games. The manager and my indoor teachers rejected my requests, and imposed the typical Chinese teaching methodology on me (i.e. rote learning). Despite the fact that I didn't resist their imposed methodology, the boss, the manager and my indoor teachers would regularly say to me that I had made no progress in my Chinese because I always reject their methodology.
6. THEY WON'T LET YOU TRAVEL
I had checked with the manager months in advance if I could spend one week travelling in Dali and Lijiang at the end of my 6 month contract before returning to Australia. I had informed the manager that I had two friends flying from Australia and one friend flying from Japan to meet me for the trip. The manager said this was fine. Three weeks before the trip, the manager sprung on me that I'm not allowed to travel in China on a study visa and she was going to cancel my visa while I was travelling.
7. THEY COME TO YOUR HOME TO TAKE YOU TO THE POLICE STATION
In order to try to protect my visa while travelling, I walked away from the last 3 weeks of my tuition at KCEL and bought 4 weeks of tuition at the Keats language school. This was done with the clearance of the Chinese Embassy in Australia. For some reason this infuriated the boss and manager of KCEL, despite the fact that they got three weeks of my money for nothing. They sent me half a dozen threatening text messages, claiming I could not transfer schools without them cancelling my visa. They finally turned up at my house demanding that I must go with them to the police station to cancel my visa. Fortunately I wasn't home, but my dad was who is professionally trained in negotiation tactics. He spoke with them for one and a half hours (standing in the hallway the whole time). By the end, my dad managed to get the manager to concede that she had lied about many things, including that she had no authority to cancel my visa, and that I indeed had the right to transfer schools.
8. THEY STEAL YOUR MONEY AND TIME
Many times during my lessons, my teachers would be on WeChat, take phone calls, do administrative work, turn up late, and take extra long breaks. They also would not turn up at all to some of my classes. I was never refunded for those lost hours.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I had to endure much more.
P.S: Beware of comments that say my review is fake. Given how manipulative and deceptive the staff are at KCEL, I would not be surprised if such comments were directed by KCEL. I am in no way affiliated with Keats. I'm simply leaving an account of the horrific experience KCEL put me through because I don't want any other foreigner to go through what I went through. If you want more detail, feel free to email me at [email protected]