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Why is it difficult for English speaking Asians to find a teaching job in China?
This is a question I get many times from fellow teachers of Asian descent.
Let’s face it. We Asians don’t make good poster boys or girls for schools that want to attract more students. Many schools in China want Caucasian teachers because many Chinese believe that only Caucasians can teach English. Having a Caucasian also brings in more revenue for the school. In other words, more Caucasians + more students = more revenue.
All is not lost, however. If you are willing to put up with lots of inconveniences and to sell yourself as a capable teacher, then finding a teaching job is really easy. Here are some tips that I have found useful in my job search:
“I make almost 30,000 RMB per month,” a new foreign teacher friend recently bragged to me. I was somewhat taken aback by this figure. As a university teacher here, I make less than 1/4 of that amount.
“How in the world do you manage that?”, I asked. “Are you so good at teaching that they just can’t throwing money at you?”
“Not at all”, came the answer. “I have four jobs. One main job and three jobs in the evening and on the weekends”.
Four jobs? I could hardly believe it. For me, one job was enough to sap my energy away. The thought of four jobs made me feel tired.
My weekly lunches with a foreign co-worker have too often degenerated into a recap of all of the ‘rude’ behavior that we have observed (or been subjected to) since we last met. Like being shoved into the side of a bus by a crowd or having someone almost run us over with their scooter as we crossed a campus street. Or seeing someone spit right in front of our shoes on the sidewalk.
Sometimes we don’t even have to talk about such behavior in the past tense. It is happening even as we eat lunch. A boy lets a door slam in a girl’s face (and then they go and sit down to have lunch together). Or a boy is talking loudly on his cell phone right behind us apparently forgetting where he is.
Or can we be both?
Most of my university students hate their Chinese teachers. I don’t blame them. And I don’t blame their Chinese teachers either.
I blame the system. In China, classes are taught around exams which means that they are predictably boring and sleep inducing.
That’s why foreign teachers in China are lucky. We can prepare lessons that are more creative and imaginative. We can push students to think critically and form their own opinions – something which rarely happens in Chinese classes.
It’s time for an update on the current visa situation in China. This post is based on emails that we receive here at the China Teaching Web as well as conversations that I have had with teachers and schools around China.
Choose carefully before you come to teach here. Due to the increased difficulties of obtaining a visa to teach in China (and finding teachers), schools are not just going to let you walk away from your contract.
Next semester, I have a unique opportunity. I will be teaching a class called ‘Western Etiquette’ and I am free to create the lessons myself. The stated goal of the class is to familiarize students with manners and customs in the West and help them to understand how they should behave if they go abroad.
This should be fun. After living here for a few years, we should have plenty to talk about class. I especially look forward to teaching about some of the DO’s and DONT’s in Western countries — but especially the DONT’s. Those are more fun because I can draw them directly from my experience living here.