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How far will these credentials get me?


nye307
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For a variety of reasons I'm considering spending a year teaching in China (these will most likely be the subject of another post!). A friend of mine is teaching English in Korea at a middle school and hates it, but when I studied abroad in China the English teachers at Tianjin Foreign Studies University loved it. Thus, I would optimally like to find a university job. The catch is, my Mandarin is... bu hao. Actually, it's much closer to non-existent. At the same time, my command of the English language is in all likelihood far and above that of most applicants. I would also like to think that my resume would stand out. Which brings me to my question. In the forum's collective experience, would the following credentials enable me to land a university gig despite my lack of Mandarin?

- Native American English speaker

- Bachelors of Science in Political Science/International Affairs from an accredited US university, 3.96 GPA

* this is a reading and comprehension intensive degree

- President's list all semesters (save the single semester which cost me my 4.0)

- Study abroad program in China 2010 summer semester

- Proficient writer with extensive working vocabulary

- Published essayist in a widely used college level English textbook

- Impeccable recommendation from head of English department at prior college

- Recommendations from Chinese English students and other English teachers in China

I also excel at the art of the resume fluff and clean up real nice like for any picture I might include. What do y'all think?

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Wow. Let me try to explain. Teaching English in China is not the most professionalized career in the world. I see exactly two items on your list that would have any bearing whatsoever on whether you would get a job: native English speaker, and bachelor's degree. The major does not matter, nor does the GPA. They won't, in all likelihood, be checking references. They aren't concerned about your vocabulary, and throwing out big words while teaching English to non-native speakers would not be a "best practice," anyway.

Some employers do ask that you have a TEFL certificate. But I'm told there are plenty who don't require this or who don't enforce the requirement. The issue I see is a "rule" that you are supposed to have two years of post-college experience before you can teach in China. I do not know exactly whose rule it is or how strictly it is enforced. I also don't know if it is supposed to be teaching experience or can be in any field. Enforcement/application may vary from province to province. From your post I did not get the sense that you have been in the work world, so I would see this as your biggest hurdle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yeah, I'm fresh out of school. I don't think my friends teaching at Tianjin Foreign Studies University had any prior experience though. My big worry was that they all had some Mandarin under their belts. I know this isn't necessary for primary schools but do they want it for universities?

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  • 3 weeks later...
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The 2 years teaching experience required is only if you are requesting a Foreign Expert Certificate.

You can get a teaching position without it, you'll just be paying more tax on your salary.

However, the teaching is not required to have been done in a school, it can very well be "freelance" teaching.

What you write on your CV will not be checked, so even if you haven't taught before, feel free to add a few lines on your CV...

Hope this helps!

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In order to work in China, the biggest credentials you will need are: being a native English speaker, having a college degree, having teaching experience, and having a teaching certificate. You really do not need much more than that. They do not even expect you to have all of these.

With a college degree alone you can get a job nearly anywhere in China. You just have to sell yourself, let them know you are qualified and they will accept it.

In terms of speaking Chinese, sometimes the like it when you do not speak it. It is a bit strange in fact, but they like to keep secrets from you. So to know Chinese is more of a protection for yourself than it is a qualification.

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actually, to add to my last post...

the most important factor in teaching in China is being a native English speaker

the second is having teaching experience

the other two, having a degree or a teaching certificate, are not as important.

If you have even two of these qualifications you can find any job easily. If a school mentions that you need the others, they are only doing so as a bargaining chip to offer less pay to you. Don't take it, you can find a job anywhere. Never accept less than what you deserve.

A teaching certificate is easy to get any anyone can get it, so it really is not all that important.

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I was watching a video on the New Oriental website, and took a look at their "VIP Class" (which costs like 300-500 an hour, or something ridiculous.) The teacher was clearly not a native English speaker, and there were more than a few sentences that came out of her mouth that I did not understand. I actually had an easier time understanding the Chinese student. My first guess was that she was Russian.

Unfortunately, one of the other most important qualifications is being white. (It's not an absolute requirement, but then again, neither is being a native speaker)

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  • 2 months later...

It also depends on where you plan to teach. Outside the big cities schools will be happy with any foreigner basically, but I know for sure that a lot of schools in Beijing require a BA/Bsc, some kind of TEFL certificate and at least 2 years experience. But then again, if you clean up nice you'll probably be ok :P

I think most schools will ask you to do a demo class if you're in the city so if you can teach you should be able to land a nice job ok.

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I've been in China for 2 years now teaching English (but principally studying Chinese).

First job I had was at a 'university' (I use the term loosely) in Jinan, Shandong. There were 4 foreign teachers there. Three of us were qualified teachers with bachelor degrees although no experience. However the other girl was an Australian with no qualifications other than being Australian and blonde. She hadn't graduated yet, had no teaching certificate and had no experience to speak of. She technically wasn't even old enough to get the appropriate visa. Nevertheless she still lasted the 6 months of her contract!

Second (current) job is at a training center in Suzhou, Jiangsu. Despite believing myself to be a legitimate teacher on a legitimate visa I recently saw a copy of my CV cunningly altered by the school to show I had 3 years teaching experience, instead of just the one, thereby allowing me to get a Z visa. Although the school has settled down a bit now, we have had some absolutely stunning employees, including an alcoholic nymphomaniac, an absolute waster with no mental capacity whatsoever, an extremely aggressive guy who received 2 serious complaints about hurting children, and a registered psychopath who threatened a teaching assistant with scissors. In addition, there are 2 Filipino girls currently working at my school (albeit at a kindergarten) who I can barely understand and who can barely understand me.

Frankly, if you're white and American you've got no worries. Yes, I say white, for the simple reason of quite open and boldly stated racism among too many Chinese people.

jimmy_p

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  • 4 weeks later...

yes, the being white part is too essential. I've been suggested to dye my hair a little blonde and consider putting on make up to make me look "whiter". but they make more sales when their English teachers are actual 百人,not just 美国人。

My experience is because they all think I speak Indian. I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing a lady tell my Mandarin teacher that i don't speak English. and my teacher politely saying "no, really, she speaks English and she's american. born and raised", and the lady is like "look at her, she speaks Indian. Even if she speaks English, it must sound funny". Mind you, this conversation is in Mandarin right in front of me. My teacher felt so embarrassed because she knew I could understand what they were saying, but the other lady didn't. She was the department head's wife. :cry: it instantly killed my good mood for the day.

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That's a lot of teachers!

i meant 白人!! oops!

@kdavid- blue eyes too?! that MA TESOL is looking so much better than the MA TCFL right now.

i think i drank some chinese koolaid so that no matter how much racism & corruption i see, i still love china and wanna go back. dangit.

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that MA TESOL is looking so much better than the MA TCFL right now.

I've been in ESL for 6 years and managing my own TESOL training institute for 5. A couple notes about an MA TESOL:

1. Don't do it unless you want to do ESL as a long-term career.

2. Until you have a significant amount of experience and can qualify for the high-paying positions at international schools, you're going to be making only slightly more than teachers with fewer qualifications, little to no experience, and little to no professionalism.

3. Don't do it unless you want to do ESL as a long-term career.

4. The only schools that care about an MA TESOL are international schools.

5. And, don't do it unless you want to do ESL as a long-term career. It's not worth your time, or money, otherwise.

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Brandon-Learn Chinese

Your credentials are great, but ask yourself why are you looking for a University job. On average most of the University positions pay less than you will make at a private company. However, the life style is better and most teachers do have a good time. If you want to make money, I suggest doing part time or full time work for the other schools. High School or middle schools pay much better about double in many cases. However requirements for teaching in Beijing are more performance based. Your former experiences will help get you in the door, but its your teaching ability that will keep the work constant and have the training centers treat you well. For your experience take an online TEFL class. It can give you a good basis for teaching.

As jimmy_P mentioned many times qualifications dont matter and for that its true. However take advantage of this when negotiating salary. Many times this can make you appear to be worth the higher salary. Its a headache dealing with english teaching companies or schools many times. However when you find a good one you can have a great life in China. I would suggest go to Universities if teaching is going to be your profession. If not, make some money and do private and other school teaching. On average you can make 150 rmb per hour. I think University pays about 60-70, at least last time I checked at Tsinghua University for full time teachers.

With english teaching in China. The school will almost always give you a better CV. I have a great CV and they added to it with experience and graduated me early! My friend got his Ph.D apparently even those he just graduated and is 23. (with a Bachelors). Many schools only care about being a foreigner and preferably white as there is a very obvious racism among many places, but not all. I would suggest as on other posts, use the www.thebeijinger.com, post your CV on their or look at the classifieds and you will see so many offers (about 40 a day) that you will have a goodidea of what you can get. Remember, everything outside of University is based on 1. Being a foreigner 2. Having light skin 3. Performance 4. Being a foreigner 5. "Saying" your qualified. 6. Being a foreigner. It may not sound so appealing seeing the system but you will have a great life and a fun time outside of work by living here.

Brandon

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I just put a loose profile and a photo on one of the tefl websites- not even a cv- and had 4 job offers within 12 hours, 2 of which were unis. Again, I fit the blue eyed, white graduate profile. The fact I had a pulse was probably as useful to me as my proper class teaching qualification from 8 or 9 years ago. I'm not complaining as I'm hopefully away to China 4 weeks today.

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Brandon-Learn Chinese

I should clarify. In my last message I left a pessemistic outlook on english teaching. When I came to China I had a similar CV. However I added to it and got the TEFL certificate. It not only gave me confidence but made me a better teacher. I also took Chinese classes to get prepared. So now when I go to job interviews I always get 200 RMB per hour because at the end of the day the students sign up for great teaching and if you build on your experience you will be able to consistently command higher pay or salary's and you know when you look them in the eye that your the best fit for this job. Confidence is met with confidence. You show it and they will be more than happy to give you what you want.

Brandon

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