TEFL teacher and my experience with Echo English Agency
I wanted to share with you my true experience with working with the agency Echo English Thailand. Here are the top 5 reasons you should not work with this agency.
Top 5 Reasons to not work for Echo English
lack of professionalism
no consistent communication
promise to help pay for numerous items and did not follow through
lack of support throughout working term
cases where they did not grant the workers pay
I had worked with Echo English Thailand in 2019. This company is based in Bangkok
Thailand and the founders are Sid (Thai man) and Kerry (Australian) Areamkaew. The founders of Echo English are a married couple, the husband a previous Thai fire performer, and Australian wife TEFL course instructor, previous TEFL teacher here in Thailand. The person who really runs the majority of the company would be Kerry as she organized a successful TEFL course curriculum and is a native English speaker. The people responsible for visa support or general support is the other Thai staff members, Sid, and of course Kerry. In all reality, it seems the only person who really runs the company responsibly is the Australian wife, Kerry.
First, I had completed my TEFL course with them in Koh Phangan , Thailand. The TEFL course was British curriculm TEFL 120 hours and was run by the founder Kerry and a staff member Billie Jean. I have no complaints about how the TEFL course went, and was pleased with my results and recieved the 120 hour TEFL teaching certificate. I was very pleased with the TEFL course on the island, the curriculum, accommodation (obviously since it was a bungalow on the beach), and my school placement.
I was placed in Kampaengsean in the Nakhon Pathom Province at an anuaban (elementary/ primary) school. I was listened to on my placement preferences. When I arrived to my school I was pleased with the students, staff, coworkers, and overall just teaching at this anuaban school. However, my satisfaction with the agency was a completely different story.
I became settled at my school and as time passed it was time to get my work visa and work permit, so I can work legally. Obtaining a work visa in Thailand is a tedious and long process, but I soon learned that Echo was not doing their part as an agency to ensure that I would obtain a visa.
Throughout my visa process a lot of paperwork needs to be completed by the school, your agency, and visiting various immigration centres. The whole process is very confusing and that is why many workers look for an agency to help guide them.
I saw the first issue with Echo when the lack of professionalism had showed face. I can speak from my own experience and the other Echo teachers at my school that Echo did not reply to emails or calls, and when returning those calls would not have an explanation for why they did not respond for weeks. Also, Echo English did not do their part as an agency on supporting their workers with open communication, consistent communication, visa support help, and other questions about how to apply for the visa.
The agency markets themselves as an agency that will support you throughout the whole process, pays for all your work visa, and other immigration appointments such as the cost of police clearance and medical appointment. They did not keep this promise, thus showing their lack of honesty and support for their workers.
When I had gone to my visa run trip to Savvanakhet, Laos to apply for my Non- Immigrant B work visa, I was denied. I did not know what to do, therefore I called my agency and messaged them that I was rejected, now what? I did not receive any help or guidance and was completely lost on what I should do. I had many questions on how to fix this, can I re-apply, what happened, and the guidance from Echo English was not there. I looked for advice from other foreigners in Laos that I had met at the Thai embassy, but again no advice from my own agency .... absolutely no support at all. Eventually Echo got back to me in a couple days to re-apply, they had sent me a new document to add. I did what they said and went to the Thai embassy and re-applied, but guess what rejected again. I was missing paperwork from the agency and missing signatures that I needed from them. At this point there was nothing I could do in Laos anymore to obtain my Thailand work visa. After this whole situation had passed and I was back in Thailand with no work visa, Echo English recommended I work on a tourist visa for the rest of the school term. Their goal was not to help me obtain a work visa anymore and they were recommending that I work illegally. I read reviews online and it seems other people had similar stories previously about a similar situation. You can read more about those reviews here. I disagreed with this "advice" as it is illegal and a way for them to make money off of me. Also, I might add that the town I work in us teachers are the only foreigners and just one police check would leave me in a heap of trouble. This is a mess waiting to go south. After, this I decided I should find a new school and that was when I left Echo English and applied directly through the school at the International school of Samui in Koh Samui.
My other teacher friends at the end of their term with Echo some did not receive their pay. This was in March of 2020 around the time of covid panics around the globe. The reasoning from Echo was that "Thailand banks cannot operate online" or "the ATM's are not working"... the banks did not close in March and the ATM's in Thailand were operating fine in Thailand, as we all could withdraw money at ATMS.
My experience with Echo English was not a good one and in the end they wanted me to work illegally. Agencies are meant to be there to support you in communication, visa support, school support, and to make the whole process easier for you. I did not have a positive experience with Echo English and therefore I do not recommend you work for them. They lack professionalism, lack honesty, are inconsistent with communication, lack visa support, and scammed other workers of their working salary on top of their false promise of paying other immigration fees for us workers.
If you have additional questions for me about this agency I am more than happy to answer any of your inquiries. Also I am currently residing at the Kampeangsean Anuaban school for the year of 2020. I am teaching grade 1 and grade 3. The most positive thing about this experience is that I actually found an amazing school at Kampaengsean Anuban.