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Foreigners teaching technical subjects in China


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snarfer

I'm interested in teaching in China, but not English. I wonder if anyone has any experience looking for work as a foreigner teaching a technical subject at the university level in China.

My expertise is in lighting for television and film, a subject I think many Chinese students might be interested in, but for which few professionals with experience in Hollywood comparable to mine would be available to teach.

I really haven't been able to find any information on teaching anything but English on the internet.

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snarfer

Hey thanks, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Now I wonder if I can find something like that in Beijing or Shanghai. I guess the Hong Kong schools have more information in English...

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I would think that to get a job doing essentially anything other than teaching their language in Beijing or Shanghai, one would need to speak Mandarin, no?

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snarfer

I'd certainly like to know if that's true. My downstairs neighbor lived in Beijing for years and speaks Chinese. He thought it would be possible because a lot of courses are even taught in English. The opposite could also be the case. If anyone has actually taught a subject other than English I'd sure be interested in their story.

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wushijiao

There are quite a few schools that teach using English as a medium. I used to teach at a place that had IT, business, math and other types of teachers. So, it's out there. You'll just have to look really hard. Try to apply to all film/art schools, and maybe you'll get lucky. :D

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skylee

I have no knowledge on the teaching scene in China. But I tend to agree with Lorenzo.

The above job ads for teaching posts on design/technology of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, if you look more closely, are in English only, meaning, I guess, that it expects to recruit people from overseas (or at least people who read English websites). (BTW, the closing date is 28 May 2005.)

I think if you really want such a job in Beijing/Shanghai, it would not hurt to apply directly to the institutes there. Take a look at these websites -

Beijing Film Academy -> http://www.bfa.edu.cn

Shanghai Institute of Film Art -> http://www.shfilmart.com

Judging by the websites, somehow I find it difficult to imagine technical courses being taught by foreigners in English there.

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I've heard of two possibilities:

(1) You teach a technical subject in English for the purposes of "bilingual education" - in order to teach students English related to their field rather than just "I bought three kilos of beef from the butcher". I taught two years of calculus and mathematical modeling at an engineering school in the Northeast under this type of program. While students' English levels are improving yearly, I'd imagine it would still be very difficult to convey anything beyond the basics. Knowledge of Mandarin is certainly beneficial for this type of job.

(2) With your technical experience, it might be possible to set up some sort of "guest expert" program. At my present university, there are foreign professors who come in for a period of several weeks to several months and give translator-assisted lectures. The School of Education Administration does this quite often (I used to live in their guest house, so I saw all of the notices), and other departments are similar. Mandarin knowledge isn't a big factor, I don't think.

I'm not sure you would be able to swing a full-year contract out of any single school (unless you were to settle for half-time pure English instruction in addition to film), but you might be able to be a guest lecturer at, say, three or four schools during the year.

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roddy

There are opportunities if you have expertise (or can pretend to) in something business-related - management, accounting, law, etc. Film + TV lighting though - I doubt it would be easy. There wouldn't be that many schools in China even offering the subject, and then you need to convince them they need a foreigner to teach this, and that their students will be able to understand you.

Guest lecturing, as suggested above, might be a possibility.

Roddy

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snarfer

I like this guest lecturing idea. It would actually be preferable for me, because I need to work a certain number of hours in the states every six months in order to keep up my benefits.

So my next question is of course how to apply for such positions. Should I just physically visit the various schools? There are actually quite a large number of them in China. I've found at least 20 so far that teach film and video. Would there be vacancies advertised somewhere? Is it a matter of personal contacts?

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, I know this thread is a little old, and what I'm saying is not directly related to snarfer's line of enquiry, but it's another aspect of teaching technical subjects in China ->

there seems to be a growing demand for teachers to teach international exams, exams that can be used to help people get access to Western Universities. For example, A-levels (British exams for University entry). I suppose IB, International Baccalaureate, too (? don't know). This teaching is done in English for what I hope are obvious reasons.

This is what I'm doing next year. Just a thought.

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Actually, this is quite interesting. Is this private coaching or as an employee of a university? Does it pay more than the 150-200 RMB per hour foreigners with experience seem to be getting for English teaching?

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Well, I am only in my second year here so I can only talk about a restricted range of experience.

The pay is not hourly for me, it's a 9-5 job with variable actual teaching hours, but it's a little higher than the range you mention (depending on how you calculate it, but about 19K/month). As for experienced foreigners getting that for English teaching, well ... it depends on a lot of factors, but I think 120 or so is a more normal hourly rate. If you've got solid quals and exp, if you're in Beijing, Shanghai or something like that, then yeah, you can often get those rates and even more (I even got 260/hr this year for one job, but again that was Business/Math not just English). But there has to be an angle. From what I read on Dave's, most people aren't getting those numbers.

What surprised me was that when I got my act together and actually directed my search and found the colleges doing this (to clarify: we're generally talking age 16-19 here), people seemed to be falling all over me. But after several hours of search, I probably only found about 10 opportunities. I'm hoping this is a growing trend, but who knows.

Again, does any of this translate to your situation? Do you have quals that might allow you to teach some specific exam? I got the impression you were looking for a higher level, lecturing type position. This is much more just "teaching", as in a syllabus.

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wushijiao
there seems to be a growing demand for teachers to teach international exams, exams that can be used to help people get access to Western Universities.

I teach a class called "Prepare for IELTS". I have now taught at two schools that use the IELTS as a way of deciding if students can go abroad or continue on an advanced business program in China. I think a lot of the teaching towards the IELTS test is a waste of time, to be honest.

As far as private teaching, in Henan I did a few side jobs for 80-100RMB/hour. In Shanghai I don't think I consider less than 200. If you can do advanced science or advanced math, I think you could tutor expat kids and make quite a bit, like waxwing said.

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