A Trip Down China TEFL Memory Lane

Discussion about jobs in Asia inc. Middle East

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John V55
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Joined: 02 Apr 2015, 01:34
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A Trip Down China TEFL Memory Lane

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Something different from the ever increasing spam links.

I got my job in China from Dave’s ESL Café and before all start screaming, it was the go to recruitment site years ago. Times change and apparently things are now not so rosy. However, at the time that’s where most people went.

There was a bewildering variety of choice much as there is now and I chose a government school as I already knew the privatized sector was riddled with scams. I also chose a rural location for personal reasons including clean air and natural surroundings, security and as I don’t drink, the bar life I could do without. When I say rural, the area had a population of nearly a quarter of a million, so rural by Chinese standards. I’ve never liked cities; the dirt, noise, rip-off prices … And ended up in Inner Mongolia having first checked out both the company and contract carefully.

My salary was below that of the private sector, but included a free large furnished apartment in a boarding ‘gaokao’ school. This included free medical care, all utilities including Internet, a food allowance, all national holidays paid at full rate and the two major ones at 60% and including a ¥7K cash travel allowance. Take that lot off a Beijing salary and the vast majority weren’t on more than me and I’ll bet they drove them into the ground for it.
Aside from daily expenses there wasn’t really anything to spend the salary on and so together with my wife who joined me from Thailand as a nursery nurse we just saved it and paid off a mortgage in a few short years on a two bed bungalow in Thailand whilst still living comfortably.

I started on 20x40 minute lessons a week, but then with the arrival of another teacher it was decided that we’d both share the first year grade between us and so my teaching hours dropped to 10. No extra activities, no exams or marking and no office time. In and out of the classroom 10 times a week. My senior homeroom teacher and I got on well and the political officer passed all my lesson plans, including politics.

It was freezing in winter with blizzards coming down from Siberia and I remember thinking that I now knew why Stalin put his Gulags out in the steppes. The kind of cold where you throw a cup of hot water in the air and it freezes before it touches the ground. Everything was centrally heated though and the food was organic and outstanding. In summer we went riding camels in the nearby Gobi desert and did the Ghengis Khan Tourist thing and visiting traditional Mongolian villages and the National Parks. You do that sort of thing in your 50s. :)

Do I envy the quest for greed and the ‘I earn more than you’ competitiveness? No. I hear tales of vast salaries and I know it’s a lie to cover up the reality. I hear tales of midnight runs, arrests and deportations and I shrug my shoulders at the gullibility that people were led into. I only worked for one school in all those years because I didn’t need to run from one to another because of ‘problems’, or my contract not being renewed. If someone has five jobs in five years it says more about them than it does the employer.
I was finally put out to pasture as they say because of my age and if I could go back tomorrow I would do and I’d do it all over again.

So for those reading this and thinking about TEFL in China, ignore the fantasies because if you’re looking for highly paid TEFL employment in a developing country, as much as you’re led to believe it, it isn’t going to happen. Go for the adventure and experience, stick to schools run by professional teachers and not private language centres and you’ll get the experience of a lifetime which you won’t end up regretting.
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