ESL Teaching Guide - China (page 2)

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Helen Eleasari - June 2004

Positive aspects

I'm in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, China. The students are very eager to learn, are responsible, friendly and hard-working. I had considerable latitude not only regarding what I taught within the required subject (oral or written English), but how I taught it and where I placed emphasis.

Negative aspects

1.The way students are taught English in China. They learn by rote. They therefore know huge amounts of vocabulary which allows them to comprehend what they read to an impressive degree. However the language per se remains theoretical. They don't speak or write to any appreciable degree so that these skils are rudimentary, especially in the older students. Moreover, I was required to teach listening - students listen to tapes and then regurgitate what they've heard and answer questions. This was a total waste of my time. It's a job any reasonably competent TA can do, so in my 2nd year, I refused to teach it. 2. The graduate school administration is a little vague on admin details.

Costs and standard of living

Jinan is a mid-sized city with a total population (including suburbs etc.) of 6.5 m. It's pretty heavily polluted but improvements are coming along. The cost of living is low. This campus is within walking distance of the town center, the others from 20-30 mins away depending on traffic which is getting more clogged by the day.

Jinan does not appear to have a bustling cultural life. Jinanese are friendly but outside the classroom, very few people speak English. The foreign teachers here are blessed with a particularly competent liaison officer who speaks excellent English. Accomodations are very comfortable with a/c, western toilet facilities, a kitchen, washing machine etc. There is one shop that caters to Western food tastes.

Amy - February, 2003

To teach in Hong Kong, you need a work visa or you need to be a dependant (with a dependant visa) of someone with a work visa. Many positions do not require a teaching degree as long as you have an undergraduate degree. Accommodations are usually included in your pay package and pay is good. The shopping is amazing and for traveling, Hong Kong is a great jumping off point. Humidity is high all year round and besides a brief, yet cool winter (with no central heating), it is quite hot.

Mattie Dyer - August, 2002

In Beijing, although jobs generally are easier to find in August and in December there are always jobs for native speakers of English here. The pay is 100 - 200 RMB an hour; for USD divide by 8. Living is cheap and students are eager.

Ken Fletcher - July 2002

Although many schools will employ teachers on tourist or business visas, this is against Chinese law. If a school cannot get you a proper work visa, this is because they are not authorised to employ foreigners.

Most of the time this is not enforced very much, but from time to time the authorities have a clear up, as they did in Shanghai in June 2002.

I would generally say that if the school are employing you illegally, then you are leaving yourself open to all sorts of problems. The black market employment market is open to abuse in every country, and rights can be denied, and conditions can be less than perfect. And if they are ripping you off, what are they doing to their students?

Suggested Reading

Tibet Through the Red Box : Through The Red Box
Lonely Planet Hong Kong & Macau: City Guide (Lonely Planet. Hong Kong and Macau, 11th Ed)
Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Third Edition
Fodor's Hong Kong 2003 : The Guide for All Budgets, Completely Updated Every Year, with Maps andTravel Tips
Fodor's China, 3rd Edition : The Guide for All Budgets, Completely Updated, with Many Maps and Travel Tips
China (China (Rough Guides))

Andrew Tamblyn - March, 2002

Students are a joy; even a "bad" class has only low level behavior problems-nothing to worry a western teacher. Teaching hours should be less than 20 hours. Many take on extra work,tutoring etc.

Finding a job isn't hard inside or outside China, but do some homework. A decent furnished apartment should be part of deal, mostly on campus. A place that has a history of employing foreigners is usually more in touch with our needs. The "teach-in-China" website has thousands of jobs by location and a convenient email reply facility.

Salaries vary - you'll need to get a basic 2000 RMB/month to cover essentials,more if you've got expensive tastes. Shanghai colleges pay up to 8000 and its a good city. High schools pay less and have longer hours. Some private schools pay more but be wary as some of these have bad reputations regarding paying salaries on time, contract breaking etc. Provincial and rural colleges provide a more basic but culturally rewarding time but usually a low salary.

You need at least a degree or teaching diploma. Experience/qualifications in TEFL are a bonus but you'll land a job without them. Your school should arrange work visa, medical exam etc.

Peter Bol - November, 2001

In Shenzhen and Guangzhou most teachers get by with a 6 month Business visa which can be bought in Hong Kong for about 500 HK dollars. I have used this for a year and never got any trouble at either side of the border.

Buying: This can be done at a specialized agency, such as HUNG SENG TRAVEL. Take two passport photos. Get there by either minibus 1 or doubledecker bus 8 , both from the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry/bus terminal. Hung Seng is on the 7th floor of the New East Ocean Centre, 9 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui EAST, Kowloon. This is only one of these places, but I have used them twice and send many e-mails to others about them, never a complaint. It is a one day service. If you want it cheaper and slower, you will need to stay as cheap as possible during the wait in the hallowed halls of Chunking Mansions, at the lower end of Nathan Rd. This is a collection of many guesthouses, all clustered together. The lifts are like stainless steel coffins, equally small and slow. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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