TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Another American English teacher has come forward to say that she has resigned from TutorABC because of its politically-charged "one China" regulations for staff.
Madison Oster, 28, a writer and editor, told Taiwan News that she tutors ESL students on the side and initially chose TutorABC because she was under the impression that it was a Taiwanese company. She said that she had lived in Taiwan for two and a half years in Qidu District, Keelung, and Shoufeng Township, Hualien County, and wanted to work with Taiwanese students because "I miss Taiwan a lot."
Oster said that when she began the company's training module on Oct. 21, she was "disgusted" by its training video. She said the video "came across as really condescending toward the teachers," including the use of puppets and skits and not taking a drink of water while teaching.
She said the most disturbing part of the training video was when it admonished teachers not to ask students where they are from. She said that it became clear to her at that point that "It was another example of China trying to pretend Taiwan is something that it's not, that I knew I couldn't do it."
After having lived in Taiwan and made so many friends there, she asked, "How could I just let a company tell me I couldn't talk about Taiwan?" She said following their oppressive policy would make her feel like "a total hypocrite, a coward, or incredibly selfish."
Oster said the final straw was a quiz question after the video which gave four answers and asked the test taker to select the one option that was "incorrect." The video states that introductions should be kept down to a curt three minutes.
(Screenshot of iTutorGroup quiz from Madison Oster)
Therefore, the quiz implies that teachers should never ask what country they are from and to, "Never state Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and China in the same context." After seeing the question, Oster was in shock and said, "I figured they must have been bought by someone in China or something. But I knew I couldn't do that, and I definitely couldn't pretend like Taiwan wasn't a country!"
She said she then sent an email to her contact at iTutorGroup to inform them that she was resigning. In the email, she wrote that, "due to the disturbing elements of the training and the news of the new policy iTutorGroup will be implementing to ensure their teachers comply with Chinese laws, I cannot in good conscience teach with you."
In response, Oster said that she only received an automated email message saying that her contact would be out of town for three to four days. She said she never heard from the company again.
(Screenshot of resignation email from Madison Oster)
Another American English teacher based in Taiwan told Taiwan News on Monday (Nov. 4) that when she was first hired by TutorABC, she received an email about the new policies going into effect Nov. 1. She was informed that although tutors that work for them must live outside of China, they must follow the laws of the communist country.
iTutorGroup was founded in Taiwan in 1998, while TutorABC was launched in Taiwan in 2004 before eventually being acquired by the former. In July of this year, China's Ping An Insurance Group purchased shares in iTutorGroup, but the corporation dismissed news that it was being taken over by the Chinese company as a "rumor."
However, in September of this year, iTutorGroup's Taiwanese CEO and founder, Dr. Eric Yang (楊正大) was replaced with a Chinese national identified as Xu Ning (徐寧). Although no formal announcement of Ping An's apparent acquisition was made, the firm now lists iTutorGroup as one of its subsidiaries.