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Post-China teaching

 
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1333

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 6:40 am    Post subject: Post-China teaching Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I've always viewed TEFL as a career (well, at least for 10-15 years), not like a gap year or a working holiday. However, I see myself teaching in Europe for most of this period. My question is will my experience teaching in China count against me when applying for jobs in Europe?

A little more information on myself: I am from the UK, graduated with a First Class degree in History and completed a CELTA course in July. As this would be my first job, I wanted a position in Europe, however, most (if not all) jobs required 1-2 years experience. Having been turned down for the jobs I applied for due to lack of experience (I had some, 6 months voluntary), I turned to China. China's a country that I have always wanted to go to, so it wasn't a 'last resort option'. However, reading around the internet and a few posts on here, I'm concerned that my work in China won't be valued as much as if I had been working in Europe. Or even valued at all.

I was wondering how many people have successfully made the transition from China to Europe? I'm presuming people have, but I'd like your thoughts on this.

Thanks for your advice.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9375
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You wrote that most jobs you saw in Europe required 1-2 years of experience. However, in the 14+ years I've worked in the region, I know that countless thousands of newly-qualified teachers have launched their careers here.

So, question: were you looking for that first job from the UK, or were you here in person? I'm guessing you were working off adverts only - is that right?

By far the majority of entry-level openings are never advertised, and by far most jobs in the region are not found from abroad.

If you come over in the September hiring period, commit to a city or two, and show up in person in the offices of the language schools, you will surely find something.

I don't think that your China experience should count massively against you, though it's helpful that you are aware it isn't likely to give you a big edge over someone with no experience. Showing that you are aware that European students are quite different will help.

I know maybe a dozen teachers who've come to Europe from Asia. Depending on how long they were in Asia, they adjust more or less quickly. I do know one lady with 16 years in Japan who simply couldn't get used to European students and was essentially boo-ed off the stage by the students, but she was a pretty extreme example.

There's another current thread where this question has been asked:

Quote:
Tell me spiral78 have you worked in both continents,what was your experience comparing both of them?Its an interesting topic


http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=92073

I agree that it's an interesting question to consider how the students and classrooms are different, and hope you won't mind if we discuss this on your thread. The reason is that the title of this thread is more clearly about the topic - the other thread is primarily about teaching hours.

I've only taught in Europe and Canada, but have about six months of experience with Chinese exchange students in Canada (and some experience with other Asian students on specific projects for them - meaning they were not mixed into the general student population - over the years). Therefore, I'll kick in the general ideas that I've formed on this subject, but I am hoping others with direct experience on both continents will join in. I'll try to recruit some posters with significant (longer-term) experience in both worlds.

The major differences I have noticed with the students I've worked with over the years:

European students (I am speaking of adult and university students, not having worked with children) usually have some real goals for their English study. They are more likely to have an actual need to use the language in their real lives, whether it's for holidays and/or for business. They are often more demanding, therefore, in terms of what is covered in class, how it's covered, and expect to feel some real value in return for their time and energy.

They won't hesistate to question a teacher on a grammar point, a goal of the class, or anything else that impacts the classroom (which may well be their offices, by the way!).

They expect to participate more actively in a class, and are less interested in an instructor holding the stage for long.

European students often have different challenges when learning English than Asian ones - the prounuciation issues are very different, and the concepts of word and sentence stress is easier to grasp and apply.

They are less afraid (in most cases) to try out what they know, and far more tolerant of their own errors (this can be good and bad!!).
Very little reliance here on translation technology - those ubiquitous translators don't make much of an appearance here (an advantage for the students, IMO).


The Chinese students I've worked with have been far more respectful of teachers and won't question whatever they choose to present. They were content to let teachers and administrators set the goals of their classes. They were more (sometimes much more) reticent in class and felt more comfortable with teacher talking than working actively in class (taking less responsibility for their learning in class).

They preferred reading and writing to speaking and listening - their homework was usually done in my situation (their visas were at stake) and done fairly well, but with extremely heavy reliance on translators their own vocabularies didn't grow nearly as fast or extensively as they needed.

The challenges they faced in learning were different in terms of pronunciation. Their grammar knowledge was sometimes pretty strong, but they were often less able to actually use a structure, perhaps because they experiment with the language far less.

Again, my experience with Chinese and other Asian students (to which the above would apply as well) is limited to working with them as exchange students and sometimes as immigrants in Western countries, so I can't speak for how they operate in their natural environments:-) I can only analyse how that type of learning background influenced their expectations and preferred learning styles when they were abroad.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9045
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chinese students worship the course book. No deviation allowed. Mistakes do not occur in the book. A teacher who points one out must be mistaken.

At least that was what I noted with Chinese groups I taught in Europe. Have no experience with them in China. A colleague of mine was quick to point out that this behaviour didn't neatly correspond to his Chinese classes in China - the country being as huge and varied as Europe itself, any comparisons between random groups of Chinese classes were meaningless.
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1333

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for my late reply.

So, question: were you looking for that first job from the UK, or were you here in person? I'm guessing you were working off adverts only - is that right?
You're right, I was applying for the UK.

I agree that it's an interesting question to consider how the students and classrooms are different, and hope you won't mind if we discuss this on your thread.
I don't mind at all and find your analysis very useful and intersting. I've heard that Chinese students are more reserved. Apparently it's to do with losing face.


Chinese students worship the course book. No deviation allowed. Mistakes do not occur in the book. A teacher who points one out must be mistaken.
I've also heard that there is little room for maneuver if a coursebook is issued. Often when the students have to purchase a corresponding book.

Thanks again for your advice and input. When it comes to looking for jobs in Europe in a few years or so, looks like I'll have to tread the pavements.
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