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Trying to teach in China a second time (previously worked in Korea)


DaveClaka77
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I'm a 36 year old Australian male who's lived and taught English to children in Korea (from the ages of 8-15 across public and private school jobs over 3 years). I have a BA degree and a Graduate TESOL certificate. I tried to teach at a public elementary school in China once and I was in shock at how bad things seemed to be with class sizes, non-functional equipment, no books, squat toilet in apartment, no co-teacher or guidance, etc (I ran off after a few weeks, the children were also just unbelievably badly behaved which I didn't think was possible after teaching at hagwons in Korea where they can be annoying).

 

Compared to life in Korea (where life is fairly easy but frustrating occasionally) my short time teaching in China just freaked me out (I've travelled as a tourist to China and enjoyed it in the past). I'm looking for a bit of advice as to whether I should try teaching adults at a university or a training centre (I'm keen to try and work in China again from January 2014)? Admittedly the latter option is more tempting in regards to a bigger choice of locations (I think, I maybe wrong) and visa assistance (I'm hoping to come straight from Korea however this may or may not be possible). Can anyone compare a middle or high school to an elementary school in China (I'd consider these jobs if they're easier than an elementary school but I'm assuming they're not)? I feel I didn't give China 'a chance' the one time I tried to work there and feel I maybe should try again (or accept that maybe China isn't for me). I appreciate any views/advice.

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I was in shock at how bad things seemed to be with class sizes, non-functional equipment, no books, squat toilet in apartment, no co-teacher or guidance, etc

Most of this is going to be par for the course in many schools.

 

Especially, class sizes, non-functional equipment, no books and no co-teacher or guidance.  Getting a sit-down toilet shouldn't be a problem in any of the bigger cities, though it might be an issue if you find yourself in a smaller town/city.

 

Also, in general, the wealthier the schools/parents, the better the situation will be in terms of resources, however the worse behaved the children will be.

 

Personally, I'd rather blackboard and chalk in a room of 50 well-behaved students, than projectors and computers and books in a room with 15 poorly behaved students.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Can I ask what your personal motivation is to teach in China of all places? In fact, that could be answered by others too because it's something that personally intrigues me. Does the fascination of working in China outweigh the many negatives? Surely teachers make a lot more money in S.Korea, Japan plus have a much better, more comfortable life no?

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I'd suggest working at a private language school. The pay will almost certainly be better than at a state school or university, the classes will be smaller, and you may have a teaching assistant. As for behaviour, well, I found the dynamics of the class can really vary from one class to another, even amongst students of a similar age, so to a certain extent this is down to luck, but all else being equal, a smaller class size is always better in that regard.

 

In response to Simon_CH, the only reason I came to China is because I was interested in the language and had self-studied before coming to China. When I started learning Chinese, I hadn't ever thought about spending any long periods of time in China, but I'm still here several years later. Whilst I don't regret learning Chinese, I could just as well have chosen Japanese, and sometimes I wonder where my life would have taken me if I had.

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"Many negatives"

To me, not really. Every country has negatives. Some of which are more or less of an issue to each person.

I'm very happy living in China, thanks.

As for the OP, your experience sounds quite common for working in a Chinese public schools but, of course, it also depends on the class and the school. As well as what kind of methods you know/use to control the class. My friend works full time in a middle school and really enjoys it. However, my colleague does one lesson a week in a high school and dreads it.

It seems like teaching a private language school might be the way to go. I teach to max 8 students. The school I work at in Beijing is recruiting for late January starts right now actually. Let me know if you want details. As you only have 1 post you may not be able to PM me though.

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In response to Simon_CH, you maybe right about some people having a 'better life' (I've read plenty of China horror stories, these things used to happen a lot in Korea). Korea and Japan however are no longer options for me. I've been in Korea for nearly 3 years and it's bored me to death (I hate the monoculture among other things here). Also, jobs are becoming more scarce contrary to all the job ads one sees; universities now demand masters degrees (along with colleges closing due to Korea's changing demograhics), public schools are cutting NET positions (again demographics and funding are issues here) and hagwons now only want young North American females (or Gyopos, Koreans born overseas). Basically with a number of issues Korea has slowly turned into Japan (NET's who have settled are staying longer than before making it harder to find job vacancies of good quality and high pay). Also, in Korea I honestly feel like I'm going through the motions; it's easy but now it's not giving me the challenges I want professionally, socially or personally. From the jobs I've seen for Japan, the visa process looks like more of a nuisance going there than China.

 

To me, China is the one country left on Earth where the supply of ESL jobs far exceeds the demand; I feel like I have a professional ESL ladder I can climb (I can teach almost any age/school level with my experience/qualifications without any 'BS' barriers that Korea has). I feel I made a bad choice going to a public school in China and I feel that a training centre or university would be more suitable for me (I also feel China would be a far more interesting experience if I give it time). To anonymoose, I agree with you about class sizes. To ChTTay, I'll try and contact you if your school is still hiring (I'll PM you sometime). 

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I think the best approach is to decide what kind of school you want to work at, and in what city, then go looking for a decent one. There are shoddy private schools and good ones, and the same goes for universities and so on. And it only takes a change of management for a good one to go downhill, and vice versa. Look for recent positive experiences, a willingness to put you in touch with current or very recent teachers, etc. 

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To me, China is the one country left on Earth where the supply of ESL jobs far exceeds the demand; I feel like I have a professional ESL ladder I can climb (I can teach almost any age/school level with my experience/qualifications without any 'BS' barriers that Korea has).

Not to disagree with this assessment, but have you considered Taiwan? Last time I checked there was still rather high demand for English teachers there, and while I can't speak for the behaviour of the children, generally the facilities will be quite good (no squat toilets).

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I misread that and wrote a nice little rant. Just deleted it.

I like working and living in China.

If you want to climb the ESl ladder but feel theres no where else to go...could you become a teacher trainer? Or look to move into school management?

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Thanks a lot for the replies guys, I'm obviously not up to date anymore with regards to career opportunities in these countries, hence my question. Some 10 years ago or so I knew some young teachers in places like Korea, Japan or Thailand who seemed to love their jobs and made quite a bit of money, in Korea at least. I have an English friend who teaches at a private middle school in Thailand, and from what I know she makes more than what's quoted here as an average teacher salary, despite her relatively young age (she does have a couple of years of teaching experience though)

 

Again, thanks for the answers, I live here in Beijing as well and have no intention of telling others how they should live their lives at all, I'm just curious what the true motivations are. 

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  • 1 month later...
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"The school I work at in Beijing is recruiting for late January starts right now actually." CHTTay, I am looking for information for a good school in Beijing. I have found information for a lot of schools, but not too many reviews for them. If you could send me some information about your school and when they might be hiring that would be great. It seems like you like where you are teaching. I have never been on this forum before so I hope this message reaches you. 

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I am pretty sure we have finished hiring as new teachers would start at the end of this month. The next hire would be around 6 months after that I guess.

 

I have no idea what stage recruitment is at right now as I am just a lowly teacher.

 

Check out the company (with contact links etc)

 

https://www.facebook.com/Aihuaenglishacademy‎

 

http://www.english-aihua.com/

 

I am very happy here. Wish I'd found this place for the first 10 months I was in China.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Hi! 

 

I stumbled upon your post, if you want to work directly for a school, instead of through a teacher placement agency you could take a look at where I work. It's a small private school but the teachers are all treated well and our salaries are pretty good. We are actually hiring now, here's a link

 

http://beijing.craigslist.com.cn/edu/4254925649.html

 

Good luck :)

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