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What is your life like?
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Guerciotti



Joined: 13 Feb 2009
Posts: 842
Location: In a sleazy bar killing all the bad guys.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's you life like? Here we go:
1. I work from 8-5 M-F, or 9 hours per day at school. I only have 15 classes per week but I wish I had more. BTW they surprised us with the 8-5 requirement when we arrived in late August and I decided to play along as most int'l high schools require an 8 hour day. Yes 9 hours per day sucks and I hate it.

2. Int'l HS about 20 students per class. No tutoring, no side job, nothing because we are too far from city center, the school is adamant about no outside work and after 8-5 M-F I don't want any more work anyhow. Curriculum - they gave me the book, I do the rest. It takes me a long time to prepare for the subject classes but I don't mind that. I'd rather teach business subjects than English. For English Listening they gave me a book and CDs with content far below the student's ability. I finally found something more suitable.

3. Smart students. Don't know why I prefer hs/uni students. I'm friends with the students but admin definitely does not approve of that. Students enjoy the subject courses but with, ie a TOEFL score of 106 they're not interested in oral English and I don't blame them.

4. Pay is good. I send a lot home. It's easy to save when you're at school 8-5 and downtown is 45 minutes away. Oh and in my opinion from October to March it's too cold to go downtown so unfortunately I don't have the 300-500 RMB nights out this past year.

5. Rent and utilities paid; allowance for electricity. Ten minute bike ride to school. Hell no I don't have a roommate; they would kill me.

6. The Chinese people here? I don't go out much but they are mostly friendly. Any problems I say 'tingbudong!' and laugh.

7. I almost always eat out. I spend too much but don't care so I have no idea how much I spend. Figure 1,500 to 2,000 per month all in.

8. Feel OK because I'll get another job teaching business subjects somewhere - don't know where yet - so I'll be better off.

9. I dunno but thanks for letting me vent.
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The_Big_White_Elephant



Joined: 12 Mar 2014
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing everyone! It's encouraging that most people seem to be enjoying their time in China and saving a decent amount of money. There seems to be a lot of negativity on this site, which can get a bit discouraging.

Anyone else want to share?

Thanks.
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1187
Location: The West

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My life's great.

Don't worry about the things you can't change, the pollution, corruption, bad manners that some people exhibit, the government or whatever, because you can't fix those things. Thinking about them all the time puts you in a constant state of anger, unless you're already there then you'll just be angrier. Markness said you need to be flexible and adaptable. Very true.

Worry about your own little sphere of the world and you'll be fine.
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NoBillyNO



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 1762

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm living like a Panda.. wake .. eat .... scratch my back with a bamboo branch and wave at a few Chinese... call it a day .. and head back to the zoo...
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Trebek



Joined: 30 Oct 2003
Posts: 401
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 7:57 am    Post subject: All good Reply with quote

I used to do the uni work for low pay but now I'm greedy and working at international schools.

My new salary is great, over 20,000 per month, but I spend most of it.

Now I have office hours combined with teaching 12, 40 minute classes per week. So easy workload, but the 7 - 4 thing isn't nearly as nice as having three and four day weekends, with less hours in between.

I now have a landlord, have to pay bills, but the apartment is a bit nicer than when I taught Uni.

Many Uni students were eager to learn, or at least if they didn't want to learn, most had respect for the teaching profession. Spoiled international school kids (all chinese) tend not to be as respectful since their parents earn far more than I do. More work and professionalism is expected now. Parents are a factor now.

It's a toss up really. I'll probably go back to a nice Uni job someday, that is if my Chinese finance will allow this (now we know where the salary goes).

Living in China is what you make of it. Once you get past the absurdities, and focus on the positives, I'm sure you will have a good time here.

I do want to remind people not to accept the lower paying uni jobs. Unless you are getting 6000 per month and decent housing, look elsewhere. Many Uni's haven't raised their wages in ten years (although some have), and this needs to change.
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SH_Panda



Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 455

PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoBillyNO wrote:
I'm living like a Panda.. wake .. eat .... scratch my back with a bamboo branch and wave at a few Chinese... call it a day .. and head back to the zoo...


The first post on here in months that made me actually LOL for a good 2 minutes.

Well done, sir Laughing
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
9) Anything else you think is worth sharing?


I'll start with this one because I think it's the most important. Before going to China, I'd worked in two other countries teaching General English (as in doing lessons in all 4 skills [reading, writing, listening, and speaking] and both systems [vocabulary and grammar] of English). In China, I only taught oral English and was highly dissatisfied doing so. For students to make any real progress in learning English, they need lots of input in the target language, a bit of controlled practice, and then some less controlled practice (read: speaking or writing) plus feedback from the teacher.

In my experience, oral English in China means students leaning 3 of the 4 skills (reading, writing, and listening) and both systems (vocabulary and grammar) from Chinese teachers. The students are then shuffled off to foreign teachers, who are expected to teach the 4th skill (speaking), without receiving relevant input in the same context that they're expected to produce output. Where I worked, there was no relationship between the input students had been receiving and the output they were expected to produce with me.

Think of it like this: your local teacher has you read about driving a car, has you take a written driving test, and then you're sent off to a foreign teacher to go fishing together. Do you see the problem here? What should the final stage have been?

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
1) How many hours do you work?


I worked about 30 hours a week plus a bit of overtime.

2) What kind of place do you work at?[/quote]

A private language school which had students do language presentations, controlled practice, and drills on a computer before they had class with a foreign teacher for freer practice. (see my comments to question #9 above)

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
Do you have a lot of freedom or do they determine your curriculum? Do you prefer to design your own lessons or have them planned for you?


The company I worked for provided lesson plans (if you'd call them that) and we were supposed to follow them to the T. In reality, no one did because they were terrible. Some teachers just went to class and chatted with students for an hour while others played games. I used well known coursebooks (which were not company provided material) to teach students how to do everything from make excuses to write letters of complaint to listening to people talk about psychics.

At the time, I preferred to have lesson plans per-prepared, but not my company provided lesson plans, because I was quite inexperienced and the company I worked for provided zero mentoring, training, professional development, or feedback. Instead of their materials, I mostly used published course materials which included per-prepared lesson plans for inexperience/minimally trained teachers because both of those terms suited me at the time. Maybe they still do!

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
Do you enjoy your job? How long does it take you to prepare for classes?


I enjoyed the students, but not the working environment. Inexperienced teachers need guidance and support and shouldn't be thrown into the wild without at least some help. I didn't spend a lot of time preparing for lessons because plans were provided for most classes. However, I did spend many of my off time hours scouring for better things to replace company provided lessons. By the end of my year, I'd amassed 5 large binders to replace my company's materials. I went to work an hour early each day to print materials and find ways to do things better than my company provided materials.

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
3) What are the students like? What age group do you prefer to teach? Why? Are the students generally enthusiastic about learning English? What is your relationship with the students like? Is it strictly student/teacher or do you form friendships with your students? What are the students' attitudes toward their foreign teachers?


I mostly taught university students and working adults, but had a few middle and high school students thrown in. Middle school and university students were the most interested and best behaved. Working adults were a bit more difficult because they had many other commitments. High school students were the most apathetic, but were far easier to teach than any other nationality I've ever dealt with. On the whole, I'd say that Chinese students are very easy to manage and are highly motivated.

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
4) How much do you get paid? How much do you save/spend? How much do you think it would be possible to save in a year? Is it easy to save a lot?


I got paid between $1,800 - $2,500 per month, depending on how much overtime I worked. I saved anywhere between $500 and $1,000 per month. Mind you, I also spent plenty of money eating out, enjoying myself, and even bought some custom tailored clothes. It's pretty easy to save money in China because the cost of living is low in many areas.

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
5) What is your living situation? Is your housing payed for? Is it near your workplace? If you pay for your own housing how much do you pay? Do you have a roommate? What size city do you live in (if willing to share, what city do you live in)? What is the weather like? What do you do for fun? Are you happy with your living situation?


I had to rent my own apartment and paid for it 6 months in advance. When I first arrived, I lived in a short term apartment for a few months and did the same before I left. I lived in a city of about 7 million people and found there was little to do for fun. I don't go to bars and met very few other expats during my time in China.

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
6) What are the Chinese is in your area like? Friendly? Rude? Do you have many Chinese friends, or mostly just hang out with foreigners?


I'd go with a mix of a bit friendly and unrefined. You have to bear in mind that until just two decades ago, most Chinese were rural pheasants. I wouldn't use the word rude, but I did find many of them to be unrefined. I hung out mostly with foreigners.

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
7) What do you eat? How expensive is the food? Do you usually cook or eat out? About how much do you spend on food in a month?


I bout ingredients at the many Wal-Mart and Carrefour supermarkets in my city and cooked at home. I also ate at McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, and Pizza Hut locations in my city. I have no idea how much I spent on food a month -- it really depends what you want to eat. Cheese is expensive while Chinese staples are cheap. In my city, a combo meal cost about $3 at McDonald's and KFC. Lunch at a Chinese restaurant cost about the same. If you wanted a low ball number for cooking at home, I'd say 700-900 yuan is enough. But to be fair, eating out can be equally as cheap in China (900 yuan / 60 meals = 15 yuan per meal and you could do much better).

The_Big_White_Elephant wrote:
8 ) Overall, how do you feel about your life in China? What are the best aspects? Worst aspects? Are you happy? How long have you stayed/do you plan to stay in China? Would you recommend teaching English in China?


You need to tell us more about your goals in China. Are you going there for an adventure? Do you only want to experience a foreign culture? Do you want to develop a career/get professional development? Are you serious about teaching English in the long term (5-35 years)?

If you want serious professional development and the opportunity for career advances out side of China, see my response to question #9, which I put at the start of my post.

If you want to live in a foreign culture and have fun for a few years and then do something else, China offers you a boatload of chances to do this. I had a terrific time exploring the city I lived in, met hundreds of interesting students, and learned a decent level of Chinese in my year there. I left after one year because I want to advance my career. I have a very clear plan: in 5 years I want to be an assistant director of studies at a good language school. A teacher trainer in 10. A textbook author in 12-15. China couldn't offer me this, so I left.
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1187
Location: The West

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

golsa wrote:
I enjoyed the students, but not the working environment. Inexperienced teachers need guidance and support and shouldn't be thrown into the wild without at least some help. I didn't spend a lot of time preparing for lessons because plans were provided for most classes. However, I did spend many of my off time hours scouring for better things to replace company provided lessons. By the end of my year, I'd amassed 5 large binders to replace my company's materials. I went to work an hour early each day to print materials and find ways to do things better than my company provided materials.

I wish more teachers had this kind of motivation. Not only for your benefit but for your students as well. Congratulations.

golsa wrote:
I'd go with a mix of a bit friendly and unrefined. You have to bear in mind that until just two decades ago, most Chinese were rural pheasants.

I concur. Until the early '90s most Chinese could fly and possessed colorful plumage. Sadly, this is no longer the case.
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NoBillyNO



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 1762

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
NoBillyNO wrote:
I'm living like a Panda.. wake .. eat .... scratch my back with a bamboo branch and wave at a few Chinese... call it a day .. and head back to the zoo...


SH_Panda:The first post on here in months that made me actually LOL for a good 2 minutes.

Well done, sir Laughing


Thank you kind sir....er...Panda .... the reality is life is cigarette butts and coffee spoons unless you "grab all the gusto"....I lament for Schlitz (Why did they have to change the recipe, damn them!)
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Guerciotti



Joined: 13 Feb 2009
Posts: 842
Location: In a sleazy bar killing all the bad guys.

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 2:07 am    Post subject: Re: All good Reply with quote

Trebek wrote:
It's a toss up really. I'll probably go back to a nice Uni job someday, that is if my Chinese finance will allow this (now we know where the salary goes).


Chinese finance? Freudian slip I guess.
Cool
Peace
Mr. Green
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MozartFloyd



Joined: 12 Jul 2013
Posts: 66
Location: Guangdong, China

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Life is grand: uni job, nice apartment, teach almost all girls who are pretty and friendly, and happy to learn. Living is cheap. I live well and still save half my salary. I work 16 hours a week, all morning classes with afternoons free. The countryside is minutes away and the sky is mostly blue.

The university job is hard to beat; especially if you're making 6 Mao's a month with a decent apartment. With a little extra effort, you can excite students and get them to learn something in the process. I have been teaching freshman oral English and yearly I see them come in mute-mouthed and frightened. By year's end they're conversant and eagerly volunteering to speak. So it ain't all for naught. They'll learn if you make the effort and treat them with respect.

There are worse places to be, better too. It's all what you make it.
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tyroleanhat



Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Posts: 207
Location: Austria / China

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teaching at a normal University in Hunan.
Salary is nice. 11.000 RMB for 11 full hours of teaching piano one-on-ones to students and teachers. Plenty of time for even better paid privates.
(Like almost every musician I always struggled in my life, but now it's getting better and better, the hard work seems to pay off finally.)

Students/teachers overwhelm me with love, I could live of 300 rmb each month, because I get constantly invited for meals (and the take-away left-overs are enough for 2 more days).
Because I sometimes taobao western food, it's probably 600 each month.

Only downside is, my Chinese sucks, and the local English sucks big time (as probably most cities other than the 1st tier ones)
So the romance-department is kind of a drag. Also every girl is crazy about marriage, which I can't do now, because I am leaving China for my PhD in the US. planning on returning in 2 years to the same city here, the Uni will wait for me. Salary will be even better then, my Chinese hopefully too, and the city will be more modern.

Well, my life is great Very Happy
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Guerciotti



Joined: 13 Feb 2009
Posts: 842
Location: In a sleazy bar killing all the bad guys.

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey tyroleanhat, congrats on finding a piano teaching gig. I think it wasn't easy to find but you found it.
Bravo sir. Enjoy.
Cool
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