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English Teaching Job Help


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I have spent that last few weeks, searching the internet for a job in China (teaching English). However, I still haven’t really gained too much insight and feel slightly overwhelmed. It seems that there are so many options that one can truly choose the city they want and grab a job. My concern, though, is that I might get a disagreeable contract and be stuck in a bad job. I have two questions; first, does anyone have any recommendations for jobs which are known to be good (enjoyable)? Secondly, if I am interested in learning Mandarin, which would be a good province where Mandarin is widely spoken? The reason for this question, is that I have heard that close to everyone knows how to speak it, however, they typically use there native dialect instead.

I appreciate the help, and am sorry if this looks like a post you have seen before. Additionally, I will tell you a bit about me just in case it is helpful. I taught English in Ecuador for three months. I am only eighteen and don’t have a bachelor’s degree. I would most likely only be able to teach from January to June or July (that sounds like the end of the school year anyways).

Once again, I appreciate all the help, and if I left anything out, excuse me, and feel free to ask.



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If learning the language is your priority, I'd recommend getting a job with a public school ( middle school or college) instead of a training center. That way, you will have plenty of free time for travelling, studying and whatever else tickles your fancy. There are plenty of websites that list such jobs.

As far as the best provinces for Mandarin, I'd suggest somewhere in the vicinity of Beijing. Try Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning, Helongjian.

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I agree, working in Beijing or the provinces surrounding it will allow you learn the more "standard" Mandarin. The further you get from Beijing the more the pronounciation differs. I currently teach in Chengde, Hebei, which (I am told) prides itself on speaking Mandarin nearly the same as Beijing people. This is because it is relatively close (250 km) from BJ.

It will be a little more challenging for you to find a job without a Bachelor's. Maybe challenging isn't the right word. . .but it limits your options. There are some teachers in the city where I teach that don't have a Bachelor's but they are technically working illegally. I think there school just pays off the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) in order for them to have a visa. I think this practice is rather common. You probably won't be able to teach at an acclaimed University or anything, but I'm sure you can find a decent public school, as suggested by the previous post.

I think the best thing to ease your uncertainties is to get the emails of foreign teachers who have worked at a school you are interested in. This way you can get the dirt on the school. I was able to talk to my school's previous and current foreign teachers which took away most of my anxieties about coming to teach in China.

Also, I think it's important you think about what kind of city you want. What type of climate can you deal with? I'm from the American Midwest (near Chicago) and I find Beijing and the area north of it pretty damn cold! Also, do you want to be in a big or small city? In a big city you will have the comfort of more Western foods, more foreigners, and more entertainment-but you may also allow yourself to miss out on more traditional Chinese culture. For myself, I know I would be spending a lot more money if I lived in a big city like Beijing, Tianjin, or even Qindao-so it's kinda nice being in a smaller city that's away from things. If you do want to live in a smaller city, you may want to consider a place that is close enough that you can do weekend getaways.

The next school term will probably begin in mid or late Feb. and end at the end of June or beginning of July.

Good luck!!

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This is off topic from the main question, and therefore probably not the most appropriate place to mention this, but reading about Beijing hua being Standard Mandarin made me laugh a little.

I'm still very new to the country, and my pronunciation is pretty bad, but one thing I have found is that the Beijing natives do not speak what I thought was technically correct Standard Chinese.

Example #1: I hopped on the #801 bus, and told the conductor I wanted to go to "ma dian" (where the Ikea is)... She said, "Ahh.... Ma di 'ar. Wu kuai." (THat's not the official pinyin, but you know what I mean.)

Example #2: I was in Feng Tai district, and told the taxi driver I needed to go to "Chaoyang district, Panjiayuan Bridge." His response? "Chaoyang, Pan jar yuan"

My ABC friends and "Taiwan-mama" back in San Francisco (who taught me what I knew before I arrived here) would cringe if they heard me say "di'ar" or "jar". In fact, mama might even scold me a bit.

My roommates are from a southern province, so the pronunciation I hear from them is even more different than I was expecting. When I ask specifically for the "standard" pronunciation, I hear what I expect, but thats onlt when I ask.

Even my bosses throw me off a bit. They are well educated ladies, and apparently from fairly well off families. But, I still catch the "non-textbook" sounds occasionally.


anyway.... As I said, basically off topic, but I wanted to mention it.


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Thanks for all the help. I guess I have a question in reply, how different are the various dialects? The reason for this question is that I am currently going through the Pimsleur series for Mandarin and I am wondering whether to continue or not?

Once again,

Thank you.

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I think it's generally the pronounciation that differs so you can certainly continue studying Mandarin on your own. Of course in the case of Cantonese this is not true. It is an entirely different dialect, but I believe it is only used in Hong Kong and Guandong province.

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As a general consensus, folks from Harbin have a better pronunciation than anyone else in China. I have not been to harbin myself so i cannot confirm or deny this but it's always been easier to understand the "harbinners" whenever i sat next to them on a train or bus.

Anyways, just like with English, you will have plenty of variety as far as accents go all over China.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, It is very nice to hear different foreigners commenting on the pronounciation of Mandarin or Putonghua.

It is difficult to tell "what is standard pronounciation?". I am a Hong Kong people and my mother tongue is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin only when I started to work in Mainland China 10 years ago. I understand that our pronounciation is affected by our dialects. I believe you will never hear "Standard pronouciation" in any parts of China!!! Not even Beijing, as people there 'over- scroll their tongue, producing too many "R" sound"!! When I was in Shanghai, they change their intonation because they are affected by the "Zhejiang dialect". (there are 4 different levels of intonation, I assume you know that when you learn Mandarin.) Well, if you come to Hong Kong or Guangdong area, you will hear that we do not make good Marndarin sentences as our sentences structures are a bit different from "Standard Mandarin". We have many slangs that make the beauty of Cantonese.

So, my suggestions to you are :

1. You cannot hear standard Mandarin in China in any parts, which is the same when you travel big geographical countries such as Britain or America. No one speak "real standard English" there!

2. Try to watch more CCTV, Yes, they pronounce "Standard Marndarin", so as long as you are in China, you can watch CCTV. especially the news anchors.

3. So, you can stay in any parts of China!!! if your only concern is to find a place of "Standard Mandarin pronounciation"!!

4. What I suggest is you should think about your other objectives such as your life style, your affordable expenses. etc...

Hope this can help you to make a decision.


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1. You cannot hear standard Mandarin in China in any parts, which is the same when you travel big geographical countries such as Britain or America. No one speak "real standard English" there!

You can get pretty close to standard Mandarin in Beijing, at least it is phonetically close and "erhua" is not a big deal, IMHO, it's taught by many textbooks. Other parts of Dongbei are very close to standard too. Someone recommends Harbin and Dalian. It's only too cold there! So, there are dialects everywhere and no standard Mandarin anywhere but it matters how close/far a local dialect is from Mandarin too!

What other users and my friends said, the Mandarin areas, although they have their own "hua's", they are still closer to Mandarin (they are dialects within Mandarin), say Tianjin, Kungmin but areas where a separate distinct dialect is spoken is too hard too pick up, if you only learn Mandarin and want to brush it up.

It's still an important linguistic issue when deciding on the area where you want to learn Mandarin and whether you're interested to learn a dialect, how many native Mandarin speakers you come across in the area and how good the Mandarin speaking skills of the local people are. In other words, if you want to hear more or less of Mandarin, if you're ready to put up with the cold and a bit worse conditions in the North go to Dongbei (even away from large cities where English skills are close to 0), otherwise use other considerations - living expenses, weather, job opportunities, entertainment, local attitudes, etc.

Agree, you can watch TV and radio anywhere in China, you can do so if you are overseas, if you invest some money into a sattelite dish.

Sorry for challenging you, Joanna, a native Chinese speaker and a person living in China (I haven't been to China yet), I just want to hear what you have to say about it?

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Dear Anatoli,

It is interesting to know foreigners commenting on their views about learning Chinese. Does not matter if it is a challenge.

I also hestitated when I chose Japanese as a foreign language to learn. Should I go to Tokyo or Osaka....?? Eventually I went to Tokyo and 2 year staying there. And now I can conclude that no matter where you have to decide, but just go to a place where they speak the language you want to learn....do not bother if it is real standard.....just push to speak!!

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Thanks, Joanna. Japanese is pretty homogenous all over the country with some slight variations, with Okinawan dialect being more different and less comprehensible. The Chinese hua's are like separate languages, aren't they, only written more or less in the same way. Learning to speak a distinct non-Mandarin dialect will only help to communicate in the area where it's spoken, IMHO.



Attaching another map from Wikipedia.


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