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China thou hast dashed my hopes and aspirations...

 
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:23 pm    Post subject: China thou hast dashed my hopes and aspirations... Reply with quote

Just thought I'd throw my story in here- and what I plan to do about it!

I came to China to get an MA in linguistics. I wanted to either attend Sun Yat Sen U., or Yunnan U. I finally settled on Y. U. of Nationalities. For the past year and a half I've been studying HSK (the Chinese Proficiency exam needed for university study) and I'm doing OK. 4th level now- need at least 5th, eventually 6 D: ).

I have tried to save as much as I can, and I was ready to make the move to Yunnan. But I figured that since I hadn't passed HSK yet there was no need to enroll in Chinese classes that I don't need when I can just study by myself for free! So I went to Kunming for an interview at a college like the one I'm at now but blew it big time (if someone wants they kind find my tale of woe in the China section of Dave's ESL). And I interviewed at another college, but that didn't seem to go well either. (My friend who introduced me told me later, 'Look, they're just looking for a white face, you didn't have to come across so damned academic.' I mean REALLY- am I going to stand for that? Nope. But my friend will.). I really don't want to stay another term where i'm at now, and anyway it's too late. And there is no way in Hades I'd work for a Kunming language mill. I'd rather go back to Japan and sing and dance The Wiggles for a living.

I thought of just taking the savings I got and enrolling, but I don't see any way I can legally work a part-time job while doing that (well, one fellow suggested Skype lessons). And like I said, I don't need a CLASS to study HSK. It's a waste of money.

So basically I want to buy time to pass the HSK and then re-enter the Wok without having lost anything and maybe even a research paper on tonal drift under my belt. And it occurs to me that in this day and age, practicing a language is simple- just get a Skype language exchange partner (like the fellow suggested).

I know a lot about Laos and Myanmar, have been keeping with the latter forever (it's so sad to see a land of such magnificent potential reduced to such utter misery- but I do believe things really are changing finally) and I think, though both sound wonderful (aside from, for me, Vientiane and Yangon) I am now on the road to Mandalay (the magic never ends).

I know this was a long post with little useful information, but many readers here seem to be in the same 'what next' zone as me so I just thought I'd share it. Last week, I was 90% sure I was heading to Kunming. But in light of the difficulties in finding a 'good' job there at the present moment, it just makes sense to go to a neighbor for a while. And I gotta say, the disappointments have been worth it.
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rtm



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 615
Location: US

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 6:19 am    Post subject: Re: China thou hast dashed my hopes and aspirations... Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm curious -- what is your long-term goal? Not that one is necessary; it just sounds like you might have one in mind.

Good luck in Myanmar, and keep us all updated on how things go there.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 6:45 am    Post subject: Re: China thou hast dashed my hopes and aspirations... Reply with quote

rtm wrote:
Thanks for sharing your story. I'm curious -- what is your long-term goal? Not that one is necessary; it just sounds like you might have one in mind.

Good luck in Myanmar, and keep us all updated on how things go there.


Actually my goal, late in life I admit but I do have reasons for that, is to do a comparative linguistics MA on tonal languages. Of course, it doesn't have to be tonal languages but I've lived over half of my life in East Asia so it's fascinating.

Practically speaking, I'm very interested in language archival and preservation. Also cultural preservation but I don't know if I can be of much help in that area. And actually language recognition and translation software interests me too.

I hope I can get settled somewhere. Maybe even marry again! lol.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder how many of us like me started off as language students and somehow ended up as lifelong TEFL teachers.

Don't get me wrong- teaching is fun and rewarding, the personal relationships never get old- but it is quite limited. I look at the teaching I'm doing now and what I was doing 20 years ago and there's not much difference. Sure, some twists and modifications but mostly, the learning environment just seems to be getting worse and worse. More commercial, more impersonal...even more ageist and racist(???!)
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likwid_777



Joined: 04 Nov 2012
Posts: 295
Location: NA

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I look at it through a rosy lens as time has gone by and want to go back to Asia (was China), but I remember this type of exasperation too. As more "GFC refugees" continue to stream over to Asia from the United States, the employers will have more opportunities to be racist and ageist. The grass is greener on the other side, always. Quite dull here in the developed West, if you have a thirst for other cultures and experiences, but I did basically kiss the ground once I got back.

Why not back to Japan? I've never been there, but is too Westernised or too trodden by Westerners to be interesting? Or is it more the pay to costs ratio that are most prohibitive?

And one of the biggest problems with ESLing in China is that I felt I could never trust (the vast majority of) other teachers there, in addition to feeling that I couldn't really trust the Chinese people (at work) too. Maybe the ticket is to make some Chinese friends outside of work, rather than mixing with expats so much.

Indonesia?

Edit: Typos, probably others too, sleepy.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gloomyGumi wrote:
I hear ya bro. Dont know where to go lately either. Sick of Asia but thats where "all" the jobs seem to be. Sick of the racism here. The staring. The opposite of everything you expect. Upside down. 7 years now. Getting home sick. Sometimes I cry when I think of how we just go up to each other and say things like "holy shit, I feel like shit today!" and slap each other on the back, nothing big, just letting out steam, but here----HERE!!!! OMG!!!! Did the foreign teacher just say he feels like shit today??!!! OMG!!! Something must be wrong!!!! OH, whats wrong??? Oh, oh foreign teacher, what's wrong? blah blah blah..........everything shocks these people here, you just always have to have that FAKE-ASS SMILE LIKE EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS JUST PEACHES AND CREAM. Phoniness makes me sick.


man ain't you a hoot gloomy! we need you around just to cheer us up.

But you know- things do get worse but then they do get better. As x country becomes yesterday's rotten mango, some other as till now forbidden place throws off its shackles to let in the friendly, curious, and daring! (that being us). No medical exams, no sourpuss faces, no people pleasing BS, just good teaching and great fun.

We have to give up playing safe.
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fat_chris



Joined: 10 Sep 2003
Posts: 3135

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bluetortilla wrote:
But you know- things do get worse but then they do get better. As x country becomes yesterday's rotten mango, some other as till now forbidden place throws off its shackles to let in the friendly, curious, and daring! (that being us). No medical exams, no sourpuss faces, no people pleasing BS, just good teaching and great fun.


Might that be Myanmar for instance?

Even just three years ago it seemed that old Burma wasn't nearly as open as it now appears to be. My, my, my, the times they definitely are a-changin'.

The idea of teaching in Myanmar seems to be a bit more realistic nowadays, true?

Warm regards,
fat_chris
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Thu May 01, 2014 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What are GFC refugees? Anything like KFC?

likwid_777 wrote:


Why not back to Japan? I've never been there, but is too Westernised or too trodden by Westerners to be interesting? Or is it more the pay to costs ratio that are most prohibitive?


Maybe- but (a BIG but). No- it's a weird hybrid country and pretty darn interesting if you kind of want to 'live both in the future and in the past.' Sounds weird but true. Yes- it is extremely expensive. Proportionately it's hard to save squat but what you do save seems really big (if you have a high paying job- they're going lower and lower.

But if anything Japan is the absolute WORST in terms of the foreigner complex we've been talking about. Unless you run your own business, even an English school, or have a job at a reputable university (and even there you will not be regarded as a colleague but as a visiting instructor), you will suffer the same racism and commercialism as anywhere else- only worse. Modern TEFL in its current unprofessional fetishized form was invented in Japan! Try being an ALT in Japan. Lord have mercy! Kids who don't know any better are flocking to Japan on work holiday and are working for as low as 8USD an hour in the most expensive country in the world. Naw- the sun has set on Japan, along with Deep Purple.

likwid_777 wrote:


And one of the biggest problems with ESLing in China is that I felt I could never trust (the vast majority of) other teachers there, in addition to feeling that I couldn't really trust the Chinese people (at work) too. Maybe the ticket is to make some Chinese friends outside of work, rather than mixing with expats so much.

Indonesia?


I firmly believe that you will never love a country if you cannot speak the language and make good friends. Perhaps those friends will never be able to share the same heart felt subtleties with you because of language but you can share love. The local people are always good- they are never the problem. It is the ones who have to deal with us foreigners that get jaded. Makes sense, since as you say so many of our supposed colleagues are jealous and guarded A-holes who go around insisting that the locals cater to their cultural standards instead of adapting to their new culture (isn't that the whole point?). As for people who mainly just come for the money, well, whatever, I got nothing to say about that. Go local. That's the way. I'd do that here in China gladly but I just can't get a damn visa to keep me going. Not unless I work in a mill, and I refuse- I'm too valuable for that. The Chinese deserve better from someone like me. I'm proud cuz I've earned my kudos and I genuinely care for people- wherever the country. They're the important ones, not the idiot marketing racket rip-off junk shops they call schools.

I thought about Indonesia some years back and it sounds really awesome except the only work I could find were mill jobs like at EF. There were a couple- just a couple- international schools but I wasn't qualified. So much for durian. But maybe things have changed! Look at my avatar- I'd love to go!

Hope I have typos too- didn't check.
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Voyeur



Joined: 03 Jul 2012
Posts: 273

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have any TOEFL experience (and even if you don't...), I suggest looking into working at one of the "International Programs" at an elite Chinese public high school. I work at one in Fujian province (mine is geared towards the US), and I know of at least 4 other programs here in Fujian (Fuzhou and Xiamen). Some are aimed at Canada, others Australia, etc.

If you are efficient, workload is just a bit higher than a decent Uni. job (I teach 15 40 min classes a week in a schedule that is fairly efficient and compact). Pay is higher too--making 11,000. I have to pay for apt., but that is less than 2,000 w. utilities.

Typically classes are small (mine are about 18 students) and students behave very well, all things considered.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 673
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Voyeur wrote:
I suggest looking into working at one of the "International Programs" at an elite Chinese public high school. ....Some are aimed at Canada, others Australia, etc.


Actually that sounds better than a uni. I myself was thinking of tutoring down the line. I always found tutoring people of all ages on various tests and projects to be rewarding. I can proofread too (maybe translate- I can translate Japanese to English for sure), but that all depends on what it is you're proofreading. Can be tedious and very low pay if you're not familiar with say, printer parts.

Part of my 'dream' in China always was and still is getting an MA in linguistics in Yunnan. I am definitely selfish about that because life is only once so why do anything that does not fit in with your goals? So countries south or southwest of China are options, provinces north not. Given that there is now over a 90% chance I'll be leaving China for Mandalay for a while doesn't mean I'm not coming back. I just don't want to waste money studying on HSK classes (L5 required for admittance to grad school) when I can do that by myself for free while working (note- I do have the money I'm just not a waster). If governments around the world would just lighten up and recognize foreign students (even poor slobs like me) as a BENEFIT to the nation instead of treating us with suspicion, everything would be fine. Honestly, who would want to work on an MA just to sneak into China for a crappy job teaching disinterested students for a 1000 USD a month or less? It's ridiculous. Yet for me, it's food and shelter.

Oh well another day another rant. My grammar just keeps getting worse too. Great idea though! Thanks! I actually enjoy reading TOEFL problems myself.
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