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Laos vs. China?
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filippofuzhou



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:16 am    Post subject: Laos vs. China? Reply with quote

greetings and sorry for the double topic (its twin is in the general Asia discussion)

I'm considering going to Laos this September, and I'd like to know your opinion about this country, in particular its education system and the students' attitude.

I'm Italian, 36 this September, and have been working in China for seven years. I'm currently in Fuzhou, Fujian provice, working at an ill-reputed training school. I can't say that I've been working at the best schools here in China: most of them were dodgy training schools or crappy "colleges" where the students were totally unmotivated and lazy. The fact that I am not a native English teacher and that -except for a couple of "real" colleges- I've always worked at low quality schools, prevents me from getting a better job.

However, what annoys me most is my Chinese students' total lack of enthusiasm, motivation and interest in studying English. If you don't know what they are, training schools are that sort of "private schools" (or rather "agencies") which collect those students who can't access any decent senior high schools or colleges, so you can figure out what their education is and what sort of desperados I have to deal with every day. Most of the foreign teachers are (as someone else here on the forum has defined them) "tattooed ex-taxi drivers" improvised teachers overnight. I hold a simple BA in Political Sciences, but I come from a family with a long history of teaching and journalism, and I am well-learned in history, arts, architecture, philosophy, and have written a considerable number of articles and essays on various subjects, as well as a couple of novels too, not counting my 8-year teaching experience in Asia. I attach a special importance to studying, learning and self-improving, so I can't work well if the environment, students and colleagues have no motivations.

As I said, after seven years, I am growing tired of Fuzhou and China in general. The local Fuzhounese are far from being open, almost nobody speaks English, and the rare conversations are just the same tedious Q/A "how long have you been in China?", "have you eaten?", "can you speak Chinese?" or "do you like Chinese food?". Chinese hardly come up with interesting topics and a foreign teacher in Xiamen once told me that they "have got nothing to talk about". I can speak Chinese, but our conversation is often inconsistent.

Life here in Fuzhou is dull, and I spend most of my time at home surfing the net, watching movies, or walking alone. Weekends are particularly tedious because for 48 hours I'll have nothing to do at all, or nobody to hang out with, except for some foreigners who are -more or less- in my same situation (but I suppose nobody comes to China only to befriend or hang out with foreigners). Almost all the whole generation of college students in Fuzhou seems too busy chatting on QQ, playing computer games and shopping to be intersted in developing cultural interests or a healthy, active outdoors life. After a while, one thinks that living here is just a mechanical process of breathing, eating, working and sleeping without any other purpose in life. In FZ in particular people seem to be too busy accumulating wealth or showing off their latest iPad, iPod whatever -I've never liked those electronic devilries- that they apparently have no any interest, ambition or hobby in life. Any conversation on politics, arts, history, music, society, social problems, collecting whatever you want, books, cars or movies falls short almost immediately due to their lack of clues (or interest) on such topics. In a nutshell, they aren't cool, interesting or culturally challenging at all. Fuzhou still has some vestiges of a historical past, but no one seems to give them a damn, for they only love anything that is modern, luxurious, lavish, shining and expensive. Almost all the students aged 18-22 are (both physically and mentally) much less mature than others I've seen in different parts of China or Asia, and -I repeat- their level of general knowledge is frighteningly low. In class, we only talk about the same things: your hometown, your favorite food, sport, movie, or any other neutral topic that doesn't require much critical judgment. The fact that they are naturally suspicious of foreigners, shy, indifferent, apparently "cold" and reticent about their feelings and thoughts, makes the whole matter much worse. It was Joseph Conrad in the novel Typhoon -I believe- that wrote "Chinamen have no soul". Cost of living in FZ is pretty high and proportionally indirect to the salary. Western food and bars -though I am not much of a clubber- are quite expensive, so I spend most of my time at home to save as much as possible.

The situation in the north of China is slightly different, though not much better than here. It is true that northern Chinese are more sociable, open and outgoing, and can speak English a little better than here in Fujian, but yet the general level of education and knowledge remains, widely speaking, alarmingly low. I do not wish to end up in another disorganized training school or "college", teaching English to lazy students who see education as a pure formality to pass an exam, just because of my "wrong" nationality. Furthermore, the north is much dirtier and more polluted than the south, and all the places I have seen, were pretty dull-looking (and pretty gloomy in winter. Go anywhere in Hebei and see it by yourselves). Being a dancing monkey for kindergarten children is out of discussion, even if I can easily find a job as such.

China used to be a cool country with cool people until some 5 or 6 years ago (let's say before the Olympics bubble): when I first came here I met many people who were enthusiastic about befriending foreigners and learning English, but now it seems that this enthusiasm has cooled down, and the general impression is of utter indifference or boredom. Undoubtedly people have grown wealthy, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have also grown more cultivated: on the contrary, they seem to have become more arrogant, spoiled, materialistic and shallow.

Now, my question is: is Laos better than China? How many chances does a non-native English speaker like me have to find a decent job? Are Laotian better than Chinese in terms of education and friendliness? I am not looking for small Platos or Einsteins, but only for some laid back students who are keen on learning and curious about the world in general, who can enjoy outdoors life, some little adventure, travelling, camping, and trekking. I do not like megalopolis of millions of souls, so I'd prefer to live in a quiet town or village, as long as I am surrounded by Nature.

I read that if I want to find a job in Laos I'd better go and show up myself, but frankly speaking, how many chances do I actually have to get one? Thanks for reading my post, but you know, these things have been boiling over inside myself for too long and I needed to let them out.


Last edited by filippofuzhou on Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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bentanddisfunctional



Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in Laos right now and have noticed that there is quite a strong demand here for Italian teachers and Italian ESL teachers.

Go for it Shocked
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paragraphs are not just a side thought and your massive block of text was almost impossible to wade through. Since you claim to be a published author it really does make me wonder even though your sentence structure wasn't bad for a non-native speaker of the language.

Now to respond to your post:

Changing countries in Asia won't change anything for you.

You will still face the same problems you currently face in China and will still find it difficult to get into a decent school since you (holding a Italian passport) are not classed as or considered to be a "native speaker" of English.

Almost anywhere outside of Europe you will face discrimination (as an English teacher) because of your "non-anglophone" status and your only real options without real qualifications and lacking "native speaker" status will continue to be dodgy language academies and bottom end (and low paying) schools.

.
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sigmoid



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 1003

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regardless of "qualifications" and "native/non-native speaker status", the most important factor for anyone considering teaching in Laos is the size of the market, which is tiny.

Compare:

1 China 1,339,190,000

103 Laos 6,436,000

Fuzhou 6,870,000
Vientiane, capital of Laos 754,000

So, while nothing is impossible, your chances are not that great just because of lack of demand.
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filippofuzhou



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry for the bad editing. My original message had breaks and paragraphs but for whatever reason, each time I tried to submit it, it appeared a "session expired" or "connection reset" message. After trying 4 times I gave up. Then, I copied the whole body on a notepad file and then copied it again here. It worked but it looks horrible. I've just edited the message from another computer, and now it looks quite decent.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Editing is nicer but the bottom line is still the same.

No teacher qualification (in spite of your degree) so top line schools are out.

Not native speaker so middle of the road EP and bilingual schools are out.

This leaves you with the same choices you have in China and the same problems as well.

The only real difference is the change of scenery (but they do say that a change is as good as a rest).

.
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filippofuzhou



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sounds really discouraging, for after 7 years of hard life with all the problems mentioned above, and on miserable salaries, I frankly expected something better..
I'll try and go to Laos anyway..
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bentanddisfunctional



Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

filippofuzhou



Quote:
for after 7 years of hard life


Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad

Quote:
I frankly expected something better..

That must be Italian humour......


Quote:
I hold a simple BA in Political Sciences, but I come from a family with a long history of teaching and journalism, and I am well-learned in history, arts, architecture, philosophy, and have written a considerable number of articles and essays on various subjects, as well as a couple of novels too, not counting my 8-year teaching experience in Asia.


You sound like a winner.
So WTF is a pushing 40,balding European bachelor doing 'teaching' English for crap pay in China.
Ohhhhhhhhh- answered my own question there.

Quote:
China used to be a cool country with cool people until some 5 or 6 years ago
Chinamen have no soul

Pompinara


Maybe It's time to go back to Italy eh and face realities,instead of passing yourself of as an 'English teacher" in bottom feeder 3rd world schools for minimum pay.

Or-teach Italian and finish that Hemingwayesque masterpiece Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Surprised Rolling Eyes
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filippofuzhou



Joined: 01 Jun 2011
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That must be Italian humour......


i didn't mean financially... "something better" might refer to the people, the environment, the food...


Quote:
So WTF is a pushing 40,balding European bachelor


I haven't lost any single hair yet, and still looking like 25-26...


Quote:
Pompinara


No, they aren't good at...


Quote:
Maybe It's time to go back to Italy eh and face realities,instead of passing yourself of as an 'English teacher" in bottom feeder 3rd world schools for minimum pay.Or-teach Italian and finish that Hemingwayesque masterpiece


Good idea, but in Italy I'll miss the stink of native English teachers. I'm so accustomed to it that I'll really miss it..
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wiganer



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 189

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another non-native English teacher who thinks they are entitled to a living because... I don't know why? I speak Spanish but I know against a native Spanish speaker I am coming in second for any Spanish language teaching job we both go for. Why do you think it should be different for you? (I know I know, you know the grammar rules better than all of us). Rolling Eyes

You are blaming a lot of people for your lack of life satisfaction but why don't you go back to Europe, upgrade your qualifications - get a MA in TESOL or linguistics - and then you will have more choice of where you can go and who you can teach.

If there is any consolation, I get the same attitude and lack of interest from a lot of my Chinese students and I am a native speaker with related degree and masters degree. You would have thought though that after seven years in the country, you should have learned how this place works, not to take it so personally and not to rely on others to make you happy.

Would it be any better in Laos? I doubt it.

Go home and get some real qualifications.
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Steinmann



Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 254
Location: In the frozen north

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bentanddisfunctional wrote:
Maybe It's time to go back to Italy eh and face realities,instead of passing yourself of as an 'English teacher" in bottom feeder 3rd world schools for minimum pay.


This.

wiganer wrote:
Go home and get some real qualifications.


And this.
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chime888



Joined: 19 May 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some responses had wisdom and insights, but others were remarkably cynical, snide and condescending. The valuable points could have been provided without the negativity.

"filippofuzhou" shift through the feedback (and some people did provide some valid points to consider), but in the end “separate the wheat from the chaff”. Noticeable was your restraint in not responding with the same level of sarcasm. Editing is fixable, even great published writers will later cringe at a piece applauded by others. However, if a “put down” is the first response to a question, then question the source. It reflects something deeper – and that depth doesn’t relate to the question you posed. Teaching skills are the bottom line, but attitude says a lot. People say things they would never say to someone’s face, otherwise they wouldn’t get a job - no matter how well they can teach or even if they are native English speakers.
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bentanddisfunctional



Joined: 19 Oct 2010
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

filippofuzhou
Quote:
Good idea, but in Italy I'll miss the stink of native English teachers. I'm so accustomed to it that I'll really miss it.





chime88
Quote:
Noticeable was your restraint in not responding with the same level of sarcasm


good one Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing :
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chime888



Joined: 19 May 2011
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bentanddisfunctional wrote:
filippofuzhou
Quote:
Good idea, but in Italy I'll miss the stink of native English teachers. I'm so accustomed to it that I'll really miss it.





chime88
Quote:
Noticeable was your restraint in not responding with the same level of sarcasm


good one Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing :


Yes. "Noticeable was the restraint in not responding with the same level or sarcarsm." Note, the qualifier: "same" vs "no" - indeed a difference.
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Ariadne



Joined: 16 Jul 2004
Posts: 960

PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've forgotten, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

.
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