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Easiest teaching jobs for a China beginner
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CNexpatesl



Joined: 27 May 2015
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:17 pm    Post subject: Easiest teaching jobs for a China beginner Reply with quote

I've heard mixed views, but the general consensus seems to be teaching adults and/or teaching in a university.

Does this ring true at all?
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OhBudPowellWhereArtThou



Joined: 02 Jun 2015
Posts: 132
Location: Call Me Bud Powell

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If one has the knowledge to impart to others, the desire to help others succeed, the patience to try to understand the differences in cultures, and if YOU are willing to learn, it's not a bad gig. Though I had teaching experience in the states before I arrived in China, my first semester in China was the most difficult undertaking of my life.

It was often frustrating. It was sometimes maddening. Sometimes it was an absolute joy. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, though.

Public universities vary from school to school, so it is really difficult to make a blanket statement.

If you have no sense of class room, it will be a nightmare. However, if you can recover from your mistakes and turn them into learning experiences for everyone, it can be fun as well as rewarding.

If you don't anticipate making lesson plans and learning the material to be taught, you'll be in for a shock. Your students will probably not come to class. Worse, their work leader and/or the dean of the Foreign Languages department may actually look the other way when he/she sees that no one is in class.

I've known teachers who have gone on like that for years simply because the FAO felt that it was better to have a slacker than no one on the job. (That is changing). If your self pride will allow that, it can be utter bliss.

If your agenda is something other than teaching, you will fail your students. They will have paid for your proposed expertise only to receive nothing in return.

If you can't work without supervision, have no self-discipline, it can be h3ll. If you like people, enjoy talking to people and enjoy explaining lessons, it's not too difficult. Some folks think that because many universities require less than eighteen hours of the FT's time, it's an easy gig. Not so. In all likelihood, you'll have no program to follow, and no lesson plans. Worse, you probably won't be given anything from which to make class work. You'll have to depend upon your ingenuity.

Think about it.
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hdeth



Joined: 20 Jan 2015
Posts: 404

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My uni gig offered basically no help. This can be good for some and bad for others. Some people like the independence. Some people like the lack of supervision so they can slack off. Other people probably get befuddled.

I got a "textbook" that was written so poorly I had to re-write all the exercises. That's about all that was offered. I didn't really mind it though.

What I did mind was that I had wayyy too much free time. Ran out of stuff to do and wasn't interested in tutoring in the evening (all my classes were early morning, so it would mean a majorly split shift).

You also can get pretty lonely without office hours. Not as much sense of having co-workers.
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OhBudPowellWhereArtThou



Joined: 02 Jun 2015
Posts: 132
Location: Call Me Bud Powell

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hdeth wrote:
My uni gig offered basically no help.


This is pretty much how it is at universities in the States. Once the instructor has proven himself to the graduate faculty and the department chair, he's left alone if he does a good job.

This is one of the problems with the lure of teaching in China. There is a misconception that in the public colleges and universities, there'll always be someone there to help. Ain't so. Not too long ago, a greenhorn was hired. Though he had a tefl and a BA, he had absolutely no concept of how to organize and run a class. After four years spent in a college in the U.S., he hadn't picked up any technique whatsoever. He was clueless about what to do in class. (He was a linguistics major!).

He wound up playing board games with his class until they fired him.

I asked him why he came to China to teach. His answer?

"I didn't know what else to do. Teachers don't do much. I thought that it would be easy."

hdeth, it sounds like you rose to the occasion. One need not have years and years of experience, just a sense of purpose and the ability to imbue the class with that that sense of purpose.

The time off can drive you crazy if you don't have a hobby. I spent a lot of my time off correcting papers and preparing lesson plans.

I knew some teachers who never knew what they were going to do until they arrived in class.

On the other hand, I knew some fine teachers who had no experience who were excellent teachers because they had the fire to motivate their students.
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hdeth



Joined: 20 Jan 2015
Posts: 404

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My college professors weren't that great of teachers, especially the style of teaching needed for English Language Learners. They're there because they wrote a bunch of journal articles or some research they did/are doing. They don't get picked because of their mad teaching skills, at least that I could tell. I had one professor who just lectured and her accent was so strong no one could understand her.

I know I'm not the best teacher (far from it) but I learn from my experience and pay attention to what's working and what's not. When I see glassy eyes I know I need to change something. It can be frustrating sometimes because my classes have been SO different...I keep hoping I can re-use some lesson plans but never seems to work that way.

The guys who "freestyle" it always talk about how great of teachers they are. One guy at my old job went on about how he had all these awards and blah blah blah....contract not renewed at last chance U.
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Dan123



Joined: 08 Jan 2014
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm working in a university now for my second year, and like one of the previous posters, I was given practically no help in preparing lessons and was given zero training whatsoever. It wasn't a problem since I already had a years experience by this point, but if it were my first ever teaching job, I would've hated it and I would've done a pretty awful job.

My first teaching job was with EF (a training school that teaches kids and adults), which was much more tiring and time consuming than my current job, but they gave me a fair amount of training and there were lots of other teachers available in the office who could help whenever you needed a hand or some ideas. It was also good for me because it gave me a taste of teaching all ages and the different teaching styles involved with each age group.

Training schools like EF have their share of problems for sure (some can be outright terrible if you're unlucky), and they do try to squeeze every last penny of work out of you, and I was happy to leave after a year, but for me personally, I think it was a perfect first introduction to ESL.
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Deats



Joined: 02 Jan 2015
Posts: 503

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first job was in a uni and I turned up a week or so early. However, I got given my course the night before I was due to start. Video English... with no materials. At that time I didn't even know how to use torrentz. WTF was I supposed to do? I was given a DVD that showed how to teach the perfect class for video English. In the video everyone was fluent in English... After 1 lesson trying to teach the 'perfect lesson' I realised it was utter BS and I would have to make my own course. Having never even taught before it was daunting. But I soon understood what worked, what didn't and what they enjoyed. We'd never just watch movies - after every scene we'd stop to analyse what we had seen, be it vocabulary, cultural differences etc. I soon understood that prep sheets should be given way in advance of each movie and their homework was to learn the English words that would be needed in the movie. Before each scene I would ask random people to explain certain words for that scene. It took a LOT of my time. But once I had prepared all of the sheets, I had them for the 4 years that I taught there. So no prep at all for 3 years of that course. I still have these sheets and will use them again if the chance arises in another job.

The oral English classes on the other hand required very little prep work in comparison. A lot of ingenuity though if you want to make the lessons interesting. Also, basically no marking. So easy.

Once you know what you are doing, uni gigs are surely the easiest around - unless you have to do a writing course and mark it all - which is a waste of time as the majority of work is 90% plagiarism.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 3142
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Similar exp but my resource was a cassette tape not a CD.
You can't stop and restart tapes on a dime like DVD/CD.
I found my own way through.
The book dialogues for the 1st 50 mins - school insisted on the book being used. It also was a common task for assessment purposes.
Free form speaking activity for 2nd 50 with a song to start and finish as a warm up/down.
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doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 769
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too had a lot of teaching experience prior to coming to China. I've worked in a middle school, a language mill and a university. Which was easiest? None of them really, they've all presented challenges.

I would say forget about age, i.e. adults v kids, or pre teens v teenagers or whatever and focus on ability. Low ability adults can be much, much harder to teach than kids at the same level. They take it way more seriously, find it hard to relax and have fun, and act as though they are way better than they actually are. Uni gigs and adult classes are easier because the students level is higher, so you can explain things more easily, you can trust them to do group and pair work more (sometimes), they are more focused and better behaved (sometimes). Also low level, i.e. kids classes, require much more repetition, 'apple, apple, apple', or if you're really lucky, 'this is an apple, this is an apple, this is an apple', etc.

As others have mentioned, good textbooks and study materials are like diamonds in the dust. You can do a lot if the book is a good one. Otherwise you'll spend at least as much time planning and preparing for the class as you will teaching it, sometimes more. After a while you'll have a nice collection of resources to use, but in the beginning it's a killer.

I'd say it's more about your personality than the situation as to which job is best. Are you young and energetic? Do you like children? Or are you old and sedentary, intellectual and serious? At the end of the day there's only one way to find out what suits you best, and that's to come over and try a few things out. It just takes time and patience.
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3701 W.119th



Joined: 26 Feb 2014
Posts: 289
Location: Central China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Training schools like EF have their share of problems for sure (some can be outright terrible if you're unlucky), and they do try to squeeze every last penny of work out of you, and I was happy to leave after a year, but for me personally, I think it was a perfect first introduction to ESL.


Nailed it.

They're terrible, really, and I'd never recommend anyone work there. But a decent intro to EFL. Okay for your first year.

When it comes to renewing your RP, they are also awful, but that's a different story.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 3142
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes to this doogsville:

'After a while you'll have a nice collection of resources to use, but in the beginning it's a killer'.

It took me two years to get to the point of having a 'grab and go' set of resources that I knew worked.
Made lesson planning for 8 classes a less than 1 hour task on a Sunday afternoon.
My problem was I kept thinking the next school would have a great text and other resources that the students loved.
To newbes: You have less than 50 percent chance of a great text and 1 percent chance of other resources that are reliable.
Find your own! Buy, beg, borrow, steal, but don't rely on the school.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me teaching in a public primary school is the ideal job. Even though I teach 21 classes a week I like the regular hours and free weekends. I'm usually in the school for 5 hours a day. The kids are optimistic. I've taught middle school in the past and it's not easy getting them to say anything. I haven't taught university, although I'm thinking about it.

Can someone teaching at University give an account of a typical day? I'd like to know what it entails?
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hdeth



Joined: 20 Jan 2015
Posts: 404

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kev20 wrote:

Can someone teaching at University give an account of a typical day? I'd like to know what it entails?


I am not currently teaching at a uni but have in the past. You basically go teach a couple classes then go home. Office available but I never used mine. My school was pretty good about clumping classes together. Each class was 2 hours with a break in the middle and met every other week...basically a cross of drilling them and having them produce some sort of presentation based on topics laid out in the textbook. We were required to go over the stuff the Chinese teachers were teaching them, but had to make our own lessons for the most part because the book wasn't written properly.

You've got to basically understand that for the lower level students meeting them every other week for 8 classes a semester is simply not going to do much for them. That's the part that I hated. You feel kinda useless. My students were very enthusiastic and obedient though, which I miss.

I'm subbing for a private middle school because my high school classes are done. FREAKING HORRIBLE! I teach the lowest two classes and they are the worst students I've ever encountered anywhere. Constantly talking, won't do any work, don't pay attention at all. Argh......it's hard to imagine such students exist until you encounter them first-hand.

Private "international" high school is hit or miss depending on what level of students you get. My school divides them into about 15 groups of 20-25 based on their English abilities....the low ranked students would be hell to teach.
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GreatApe



Joined: 11 Apr 2012
Posts: 546
Location: South of Heaven and East of Nowhere

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Admittedly, I received most of my teaching experience in the states from university teaching (6 years) and high school teaching (5 years). I also taught 1.5 years at the middle school level in America. Teaching high school allowed me to get my state teaching certification and public school teaching allowed me to get a lot of professional development experience.

Coming to China "allowed me" Wink (forced me?) the opportunity to teach at virtually every level. Kindergarten, primary and extensive experience at the middle school, high school, International and university levels. At one point, during my first year, I was teaching 9 different levels of English. All the way from kindergarten to Business English for adults, with examination preparation classes thrown in for good measure. It wasn't easy, but the experience was invaluable to me as a teacher and it has helped make me a better teacher over the years.

Accordingly, I don't really know how to answer the question posed in this thread. I suppose it depends on what your definition of "easy" is ... I mean, ultimately, Teaching is Teaching ... it should be demanding, intensive, hard work, if you're doing it properly, but it doesn't need to be grueling or "difficult" in an unpleasant way.

Inside that, you have good years and bad years, good semesters and bad semesters, good classes and bad classes, good students and bad students ... it can be a grind when the going is tough, and it can be a dream-job when things are going smoothly, but I don't think it's ever really "easy."

Just my .02 cents worth.

Good Luck and KEEP GOING!

--GA
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 3142
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kev20 wrote:
For me teaching in a public primary school is the ideal job. Even though I teach 21 classes a week I like the regular hours and free weekends. I'm usually in the school for 5 hours a day. The kids are optimistic. I've taught middle school in the past and it's not easy getting them to say anything. I haven't taught university, although I'm thinking about it.

Can someone teaching at University give an account of a typical day? I'd like to know what it entails?


PM me and I'll send you a vocational (3 year associate degree) school timetable. It's got a 3-day weekend and is all Oral English.
I've taught top tier uni Oral English and the differences are minimal.
Best
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