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European Classrooms vs. Asian Classrooms
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iknowwhatiamtalkingabout



Joined: 02 Sep 2011
Posts: 79

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked in Poland for a number of years and am now working in south Asia. I make good money here, and the lifestyle is a bit fancier. However, every day at work I miss having interesting students. I miss students with an opinion. I miss classes where students would speak aloud instead of mouthing words silently. I miss interesting discussions in the class. I miss students asking questions when they need help. I miss students with clear learning aims and ambitions. I also dearly miss living in Europe.

A few ex-colleagues of mine now work in Asia and every one of them shares my view on the student comparison. We are based in a number of different countries yet all seem to have the same experience.

To be honest, I doubt I'll last much more than another 6 months here before a holiday and then European hiring season 2013.

You've only got one life, and I'd rather spend mine living in Europe and my career teaching Europeans.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught in Europe (Germany, Bulgaria) Middle East (Saudi and Qatar) and Africa (Zambia and Nigeria).

Looking back from the perspective of a pensioner, I liked the teaching in Saudi Arabia best !! Teacher has a central role and is an authority figure. It worked for me !
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kona



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 143
Location: Busan, South Korea

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iknowwhatiamtalkingabout wrote:
I worked in Poland for a number of years and am now working in south Asia. I make good money here, and the lifestyle is a bit fancier. However, every day at work I miss having interesting students. I miss students with an opinion. I miss classes where students would speak aloud instead of mouthing words silently. I miss interesting discussions in the class. I miss students asking questions when they need help. I miss students with clear learning aims and ambitions. I also dearly miss living in Europe.

A few ex-colleagues of mine now work in Asia and every one of them shares my view on the student comparison. We are based in a number of different countries yet all seem to have the same experience.

To be honest, I doubt I'll last much more than another 6 months here before a holiday and then European hiring season 2013.

You've only got one life, and I'd rather spend mine living in Europe and my career teaching Europeans.


That's why I think I want to develop my career more in countries in central, or eastern Europe, or in Latin America. Korea is a rough haul for me because I feel I'm stagnating here!!

And scot47, you? are into authoritarianism?? I would have never guessed! Was there anything else you liked about the job? I assume that most workers there these days don't quite have the same "authority" that you enjoyed in the heyday.

Regards,

american86
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iknowwhatiamtalkingabout



Joined: 02 Sep 2011
Posts: 79

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm worried about going backwards here, which is one of the main reasons I don't want to stay too long. Students expect very little from you here, and they offer very little in the classroom compared with Europeans.

Obviously, a teacher can find ways of getting there, but it makes your job harder when 80% of the students won't speak up when they don't understand something (or just won't speak up at all). It's a huge cultural difference and I find teaching here much less enjoyable.

Shame the money's so good, or I'd just go at Christmas to be honest.
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DosEquisX



Joined: 09 Dec 2010
Posts: 341

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bumping this thread to add in my two cents.

I will be moving to Europe from China to teach English starting this fall. At the moment, I have interviews lined up with CELTA programs in two countries.

I have to say that this thread certainly depresses me. I know that depressing threads and cynicism are the norm here, but this one hits a big harder than the others. I know the transition will be a difficult one due to the difference in education systems and teaching philosophies. However, reading that it will be near impossible for me to be successful in Europe due to only having experience in China/South Korea is disheartening.

I was looking forward to it because I am now finding teaching in Asia to be very tedious (been 3+ years between China and South Korea). You can coast by here just by having a pretty face and playing the guitar. I need a more serious teaching environment where I am actually expected to teach. I don't want to walk into another classroom where college-aged students will (no joke) ask me to sing and dance for them during class. I guess this type of thing was fun when I first started out and didn't really take the job seriously. Nowadays, I find questions like those kind of rude and insulting.

I suppose the only way to find out if I can hack it is to see what happens. I know this thread has certainly taken the wind out of my sails though.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9584
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No need to be so downhearted. If you are taking a CELTA, then you should be well equipped to start planning and delivering lessons to a range of adult learners in various settings. There will be no song and dance required in Europe - most serious students would be more insulted than you by the notion of this being a valid lesson.

However, on a different tack, be sure that you are allowed to work legally where ever you are planning to go in Europe. If you do not already know, check out visa restrictions and the Schengen Zone:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area


Best of luck

Sasha
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DosEquisX



Joined: 09 Dec 2010
Posts: 341

PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dual-national Irish-American. I have a passport for each country.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9584
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All systems go then. Welcome to the world of Celta lessons.

Go n-eirigh an bothar leat!

Sasha
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teacheratlarge



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 180
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly enough, this thread does need another bump, but for different reasons.

Just a few stereotypes...Rolling Eyes


1. scanty knowledge of grammar and how to teach it

I'm assuming your school is not very large, you probably just have not been exposed to a lot of teachers who were based in Asia. You do need to be familiar with grammar if you teach academic writing, etc.. , which quite a few teachers sometimes handle here. But also I am skeptical as to why anyone would want to teach it 'directly' much of the time.

2. next to no idea how to teach lexis

Really?

3. fixation on teaching 'culture' and 'critical thinking'

I think it would depend on the course. If one is teaching debate, yes one might teach critical thinking. If one is teaching a culture class, the same rule applies.

4. few quals and very little training in EFL

Strangely enough, I work mostly with professors, etc. with MAs, MSs and PhDs in related fields as well as most of them having acquired various creditionals in ESL and EfL.

5. limited ability in exploiting materials, especially course books

Oh, my. In my case, I use a variety of textbooks in various ways as well make my own material. Many of the teachers I work with tend to do the same.

6. very teacher-centred classes (sky-high TTT)

Depends on the teacher, and certainly not the case for my colleagues as we do a lot of pair and group work.

7. unused to high level learners

Sigh...really? Depends on who you're teaching. If you are teaching professionals in Asia, expect higher levels. In addition, for example in Japan, we also teach classes with returnees with some very high level students.

8. unused to adult learners

That would seem odd as the majority of the market here is still adult (though the kids market is growing).

9. problems grading language

None that I have seen.

10. unused to developmental observations

We have those here, so I don't know why the few teachers you observed weren't aware of/unfamiliar with them.


One note aside, the comments earlier on student motivation are very true, as some Asian students are not very motivated to learn a foreign language.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9510
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just a few stereotypes...Rolling Eyes


I know a few very good teachers who are currently in various Asian countries, and a few who've successfully transitioned into other teaching contexts after a stint in Asia who are quite proficient in the range of skills needed to succeed internationally.
However, they definitely seem to be the exception. Further, the teachers I mention here have all been frustrated with the teaching/learning expectations in Asia.

No-one is saying that good teaching can't be found in Asia, but the expectations, motivations, and qualifications required in the region apparently don't lend themselves to development of approaches and methods that translate effectively elsewhere.

The [u]typical[/u] teacher with experience only in the Asian region is likely to have challenges to overcome when moving to another region, as most of the respondents to this thread agree. there's quite a lot of anecdotal evidence from a range of posters on this.
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Sublime



Joined: 23 Apr 2011
Posts: 90

PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
and so I can see why mainly teaching low level classes would be an issue when you turn up in Europe to teach an advanced class and they ask you a question.


God. A teacher's worst nightmare, when students ask grammar questions!! Razz
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9584
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teacheratlarge wrote:
Sadly enough, this thread does need another bump, but for different reasons.

Just a few stereotypes...Rolling Eyes




Did you read the bit about the gross generalisation? Nothing you wrote about your environment in Japan undermines what was written about teachers formerly employed in the Far East working in Europe.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In common with other recruiters, I give those with Korean exoerience a wide berth. Their CVs are immediately filed in the circular container for recycling paper, or the cybernetic equivalent.
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kona



Joined: 17 Sep 2011
Posts: 143
Location: Busan, South Korea

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Asia, grammar is usually taught by local L1 speaking English teachers, especially in the K-12 system, and is usually taught in the L1. Hence, students don't know how to conceptualize the grammar in the L2, and can't discuss aspects of the grammar with native speakers. This has been my experience in Korea, and my friends in China, Japan, and Taiwan would concur.

Most employers in the academy (re: hagwons, eikaiwas, buxibans, etc) and in the k-12 public realm expect English to be learned through osmosis, that a native speaker just talking to them about whatever, will help them learn English. There is an argument that can be made that indirect teaching approaches to grammar are most effective (and I'd tend to agree), but that is not the aim of the vast majority of employers. Image seems to be king in Asia, and how a person looks tends to be an incredibly important factor.

Also, teacheratlarge, you are completely wrong that the majority of jobs are for adults in Asia. With the exception of China, nearly all entry level positions (which make up the bulk of the market) are teaching children. This is especially true in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

You sound like you are at a reputable gig, and my hats off to you, but your experiences are by far not par for the course in Asia.
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btsmrtfan



Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 74
Location: GPS Not Working

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
In common with other recruiters, I give those with Korean exoerience a wide berth. Their CVs are immediately filed in the circular container for recycling paper, or the cybernetic equivalent.


Yes, no doubt, congratulations are in order for holding such an enlightened view.Rolling Eyes
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