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Totally newbie with a few specific questions


Altrios
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I'm an American, turning 40 and want to go teach English in China.  I almost did it 15 years ago and regret never doing it.  I had a chinese wife but now divorcing and want to go to China to live there.  Thus, I am very familiar with the culture and people.

 

I have been a training manager for several years; MBA educated.  No classroom teaching experience.

 

I also want to live in Guangzhou/Shenzhen as I think that's the area of China I will like most.  (I have visited China once).

 

My plan is to get there around summer of 2015 and look for jobs starting int he fall.  Ideally, I see myself teaching University and privates focused on Business.  But I need so much input.  

1) I was thinking of doing an online TESOL cert. program.  Since I have no classroom experience.  I don't have a chance for CELTA though. Is this smart to at least get that under my belt/resume?

 

2)Is it a stretch to think University is possible? I really just don't want to teach kids; and at the same time want to make as much money as possible.

 

3) I see myself staying long term, not just 1-2 years.  I am also now taking an online mandarin class to improve my skills there, but I am a ways from conversational at this point.

 

4) Do I try to find the position online or just show up on tourist visa and search during that time?

 

5) When is university (or high school if that's my next option) positions hired?

 

Forgive me for assuming I can do this with no experience, I totally get it and and respect those who have done this as a career.

 

 

 

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Hello and welcome to the forums.

 

I don't know if you did any searches on the forum but there is a sub-forum for people teaching English in china.

 

There is a huge amount of information in this forum here http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/forum/28-teaching-english-in-china/

 

I know nothing about the subject, but there should be something here to help.

 

I admire your decision to go and do something like this and I hope it goes well.

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I don't know why you assume teaching at a university will be better paid. First of all, there are many private high schools focused on teaching teenagers who are planning to study in the west after graduation. Being private, these schools have flexibility in how much they are willing to pay, and often the pay is reasonable. Unlike English teaching jobs though (I know you didn't say you want to teach English), you are usually required to have some competency to get these jobs. Universities on the other hand are usually state run, and pay peanuts - that's even if they want foreign teachers, which isn't likely for business.

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Agree with anonymoose - universities aren't better paid (although are probably better in most other senses)

 

I would also say not to bother with an online teacher training course (they're not generally recognised by employers) and not to hunt for work on a tourist visa - find something before coming

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@anonymoose the OP did say they wanted to teach English "want to go teach English in China" in the first line of the post.

 

The OP mentioned that he thought about it 15 years ago, maybe he is remembering how things were then because from my limited knowledge of the subject I understand things have changed a lot in the last 15 years for teaching English in China.

 

i suggested he look at the info in the teaching English in China sub-forum. Wonder if he has?

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Indeed he did. He later also said he wanted to focus on business, so I assumed he meant he wanted to teach business studies or something.

 

Well anyway, I still think a private school would be a better option, but of course teaching English is not so lucrative since anyone can do it (even if they can't speak English in some cases).

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I'd recommend against doing an online only class, I had a rather extensive certification class that was a full year of master's level study and if I had had anything less than that I wouldn't have made it. I just found that the teaching situation called for a large amount of flexibility as the schools didn't have a very good sense of what they wanted and were more likely to tell me I couldn't do something than tell me what they wanted.

 

Guangzhou is still pretty nice, I spent most of my last few months in China in neighboring Dongguan, and from what I saw Guangzhou is quite nice. I've heard some rather bad things about the way the locals feel of foreigners in Shenzhen, but I'm not sure whether that was just the people I met or if that's a more widespread problem than in other areas of China.

 

I found that in Guangdong that my Mandarin was failing at times and in ways that I hadn't had trouble in any other part of China. I think it's because Cantonese is a much stronger language than most of the other local languages. I'd still recommend Mandarin over Cantonese, but realize that you'll likely run into people who can't or won't speak Mandarin.

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1) I was thinking of doing an online TESOL cert. program. Since I have no classroom experience. I don't have a chance for CELTA though. Is this smart to at least get that under my belt/resume?

You don't need teaching experience do to the CELTA course. You just need to demonstrate a basic knowledge of grammar or at least the ability to learn it then think of ways you could teach it. The initial application should include some exercises you have to do. You could do an online course but, if you did go down that route, think of it as just paying for a paper certificate rather than actually learning anything. If you want to work with adults or a University, CELTA or an accredited program would be best.

Some more established private language schools provide introductory training as well that is geared to the books they use at the school.

2)Is it a stretch to think University is possible? I really just don't want to teach kids; and at the same time want to make as much money as possible.

As others have said, if you are the English language teacher then Universities offer low salaries in China. The main upside is that they also usually have low hours (16 a week). Another thing you want to bare in mind, many of the students you would be teaching probably don't care about English. By the time University comes around, most students already know whether they care about English or not. Some students in your class may just have to do the course as its mandatory. What i'm saying is, don't assume University students will actually want to study English just because they are in your class.

If you are interested in teaching business English to adults, i would do a CELTA then apply for somewhere like Wall Street English. You should also look out for adult training centres and adverts for Business English teachers. Another large company you could consider is English First. I think varies center to center but some focus mostly on adults. They do have children's classes though.

3) I see myself staying long term, not just 1-2 years. I am also now taking an online mandarin class to improve my skills there, but I am a ways from conversational at this point.

Most schools throw in some kind of Mandarin tuition for free but it's usually not up to much. Get yourself a tutor as soon as you arrive.

4) Do I try to find the position online or just show up on tourist visa and search during that time?

Best to find the position online and apply for the correct (Z) visa in your home country. It's getting harder and harder to do it in HK. Arriving on a tourist visa also leaves you more open to schools promising you a Z visa and residence permit "soon" while pushing you to work illegally on a tourist visa.

Dave's esl cafe is a large, popular job site. You can also apply using a recruiter for University positions. For large private schools like Wall Street and English first you can go direct to their websites.

5) When is university (or high school if that's my next option) positions hired?

Hiring takes place all year round but the busiest periods are 2-3 months before the start of each semester. That applies for all types of schools.

As for Shenzhen, what's the appeal? I found it to lack anything of real interest. I would go for Guangzhou out of the two. Honestly though, i'd widen your search to improve your chances of finding a good job. Just look at any major city on the East coast and you should be okay.

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  • 5 months later...

Chinese language schools do NOT ask for CELTA.

 

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: check any of the job postings on eChinaCities.com to find out exactly what employers are looking for (which is generally TEFL or TESOL, which they consider interchangeable and of equal quality - true or otherwise).

 

If you want to piss-away about $3,000 and wait an additional month to go to China, then get a CELTA - have a ball... The honest-to-god truth of the matter is that teaching English is simply not that hard... Sure, there are certain things to learn, but they're nothing a reasonably intelligent person can't discover and incorporate into their lessons on their own. Unless one is severely socially impaired, they'll get the hang of it in time.

 

After a couple of months at a breakneck pace of 5 classes per day, you'll either be awesome and love it or you could be awesome, but you hate it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

As I said above "some" schools want CELTA or an accredited TESOL but you're right in saying the vast majority don't.

I would definitely disagree that getting a CELTA is "pissing away" money (the cost is around $1500) but it does depend on how much time and money you have. I've seen some teachers who have completed the CELTA are who are frankly awful and others who haven't who are amazing. It won't make you a good teacher in 4 weeks but it will give you a good foundation and a lot more confidence if you've never taught before. Regardless of your experience, you can take a lot away from doing the CELTA. I taught for 3 years before deciding to do the CELTA and it was definitely worth it. It does depend on time and money... And if you plan on teaching for more than 6-12 months.

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