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Posts Tagged ‘kai en’

Troubles @ Kai En

Posted by Peder on 28 December 2009

During my years in Shanghai I worked at a prominent English school called the Kai En English Training Center (凯恩英语培训中心).  At the time it was a model school in the city and across China.  It exemplified a successful joint venture between domestic and foreign owners, it utilized a highly-effective teaching model which was new in the Chinese market and it had begun to franchise across the city.  When I worked there, two schools operated at full capacity.  As recently as a couple years ago the same could be said of five locations.

But the good times have not lasted.  Pressures from the other language companies (notably English First, I’ve read) and the global recession have cut into Kai En’s profit margins.  The strong management upon which the school and brand grew splintered as the Shanghai-famous Ken Carroll became involved in ChinesePod and Praxis Language.

Unfortunately the bottom fell off Kai En earlier this month, making for a rough holiday season for a beleaguered faculty, administration and support staff.  The company had been under financial duress for some time (perhaps more than a year), but had been able to stay afloat.  Searches for additional investors panned and the ownership closed the doors and fled the country in a matter of days.  All employees were owed some amount of back wages, and the local employees had gone the longest without pay.

Photo: Kai En

Here are the sources I used:

  1. The initial collapse, as captured by Shanghaiist. (Their source at Shanghai Daily is closed to subscribers, but I read it last week and it’s pretty much just the B&W facts on the matter: Owners bailed and took everyone’s money.)
  2. A teacher’s open letter on the situation, also from Shanghaiist
  3. A longer update posted on Shanghaiist. This one is good because it includes commentary from a long-standing teacher, Kris Fedorak. His perspective is particularly illuminating. (Unrelated observation: We must have missed each other in the faculty lounge by mere months.)

This is truly a sad post for me.  My relationships with Kai En, Ken, Brian and Steve were never perfect, but over subsequent years I learned that they had treated me and my colleagues in a respectful, straight-forward manner.  Ken and I had fun conversations about language acquisition theory.  Brian and I debated the merits of pop music as lesson material and whether or not U2 was the greatest band ever.  Steve was part of an historic Chinese New Year’s party that happened to coincide with my 23rd birthday.  In those years the school was a dependable, trustworthy employer with a strong product, loyal students and a prominent position in the Shanghai scene.  It’s sad to see how far this has all fallen.

Here are some pictures I have with other Kai En faculty.

Zach and Angelina were my roommates as well

Cassandra was a Senior Teacher

Phil was a branch manager, here shown with his fiance, Amy

Posted in China | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Podcasts

Posted by Peder on 25 April 2008

I am a fan of podcasts. I love having radio “on demand” whenever I want to hear a program. And thanks to iTunes and sites like Odeo, there are tons of options out there.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – got the podcast fetish started. This guy puts historical events into modern contexts, contemplates alternative history and just informs all around. Fun listen, they last about an hour.

The Bugle – do you know John Oliver from the Daily Show? This is his show w/ co-conspirator Andy Zaltzman. They go on about the news and the like with their very British sense of humor. ~30 mins each.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – same guy’s political commentary. More temporally relevant, this one addresses current US politics. Equally harsh on both major parties, this show may ruffle a few feathers, but it definitely gets you thinking. Comes out around once/week and goes for ~45-60 mins.

Diggnation (video) – Weekly hour-long video of hot topics from Digg.com. Great watch, the hosts, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, are funny. Plus it’s a good way to find bizarre conversation starters online.

The Moth – so there’s a group of storytellers in NYC that publish 15 minute stories on this podcast. One of my more recent discoveries, I enjoy the art of storytelling. Tons of different topics.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook – in-depth news a la Frontline but from NPR. I was really brought in by some recent conversations w/ young Chinese about censorship, environmentalism and the Olympics.

60 Minutes – cuz I seem to always be busy on Sunday evenings, it’s nice to be able to have a listen (sans video) when I can. And like w/ TV, I can shut if off before Andy Rooney starts his drivel.

Which are some of your favorite podcasts? Leave me a comment!

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Update (Jan 31, 2009)

I wanted to take a moment and add to this list.  Over the course of 2008 I added to and modified my listening spectrum.  In this post I talked about my most-listened to albums and podcasts of that year.  So here are some more great podcasts:

The Sound of Young America – anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes with people influential in pop culture, spanning mostly comedians and musicians. Their tagline is “A public radio show about things that are awesome.” I couldn’t agree more. The show is the cornerstone of MaximumFun.org which has a variety of other shows, listed on this page.

WNYC’s Radio Lab – I think the “lab” here is how they disect their interviews to add commentary and tell a story which is then heigtened or enhanced by the interview at its core. But the show will investigate some question, perhaps not one you’ve asked yourself, and take it on from a variety of perspectives. Very cool.

Dear Amber – this show talks about what it’s like to live as an expat in China, especially Shanghai, and it includes relevent language tips. Speaks straight to me for a number of reasons. One, I was an expat living in Shanghai. Two, I had many friends from Amber’s demographic. Had we been in town at the same time, we likely would have been friends. Three, the show is produced by the people I used to work for. Long story short, the Kai En English Training Center found it could significantly expand its reach by offering online lessons. Problem is, as of this update, the most recent show is called “The Final Show,” and I’m not sure I like where that’s going.

Posted in Communication, General Tech-ishness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »