Taiwanese foreign language cram school ANL suddenly shuts its doors

Not an April Fool's joke: Taiwanese cram school ANL really closes, leaving parents, students, teachers in lurch

(Image from ANL Taipei Gongguan branch website)

(Image from ANL Taipei Gongguan branch website)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Only some of the students and teachers at the Taiwanese foreign language cram school ANL (艾而歐語) received a message on the social media app LINE on Friday (March 29) that the company would suspend business for two to three months in order to "restructure its financial and internal organization."

According to local media reports, ANL, which stands for Associated National Languages Education, has two branches in Taichung and another in Taipei's Gongguan student district. The school had been in business for nearly 20 years having been founded in 2000 and had made its name in the foreign language teaching business.

The Second Precinct of the Taichung Police Department said that about eight teachers and students had recently reported the school for fraud. Due to the fact that tuition for the school must be paid in advance, many concerned parents have tried to contact the school about the status of classes, but its website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page have all been taken down and no one is answering the phone.

Apple Daily reports that many customers have complained that the school is "basically a fraud." A student who attended one of the Taichung branches of the school surnamed Chang (張) said that after the last day of class was held on Feb. 24, she has not been compensated for the remaining NT$11,000 (US$356) worth of classes originally promised.

A parent of an ANL student, surnamed Liu (劉), said that she paid NT$130,000 for her daughter's tuition at the school. She was distraught when she heard the announcement of the school's unexpected closure and said, "There is still more than NT$90,000 worth of classes left. I really don't know what to do."

(Screenshot of ANL's YouTube channel)

Teaching staff at the school also complained to Apple Daily that they have not been paid for the month of March and are "unemployed."

Before shutting down, ANL sent an announcement via LINE to some teachers and students that it was as closing because it must "suspend its business for two to three months." In the announcement, the company claimed that it needed to "reorganize its financial and internal organization," but said it would resume its operations within three months "if it had the opportunity."

In the statement, it claimed that it would follow the principle of "honesty and prudence" when dealing with students' tuition fees and teachers' salaries. However, the complainants said they did not appreciate the sudden closure and said they would try to reclaim their lost tuition.

Liberty Times cited Wang Shu-yu (王淑懿), Chief Secretary of the Taichung Education Bureau, as saying that bureau staff would continue to seek to contact the cram school and discuss the matter with the Consumer Protection Committee. Wang also said that the bureau would assist the students in filing for compensation from the cram school.

Chang Kai-hsi, Head of the Lifelong Education Section of the Taichung Education Bureau, told Apple Daily that since Friday, the bureau has received complaints from two students and one teacher. Chang said that the company taught English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian and had recruited many new students.

However, Chang said that the school had not registered with the Education Bureau until 2017, and it only registered one of its three branches. Chang said that if the school was found to have violated the law, it could face a maximum fine of NT$250,000.