Job Hunting

With my fiancé soon to finish working with his current employer, and like myself , he will also be unemployed. As much as I love not working; I can study MUCH more….I really don’t like the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing is going into my bank account. We’ve really cut down on spending, but we can’t survive here without working.  There are a few people we know here who don’t work, and I have no idea how they are doing it! Please let me in on your secret on not working in China!

But anyway, unfortunately we aren’t the lucky ones who can afford to not work. Thankfully I’m not a big spender in general, but even getting my 7yuan Coco drink (€0.94cent) makes me cringe!

So we’ve heard recently that a girl from our Chinese class is leaving in a few weeks, and she has classes that her school she works for wants to move to other teachers. We decided to meet up with the lady in charge and she told us more about the schedule and what not.

What we love about the job is that it’s only 10 minutes by cycling to reach the school. Very handy! Plus it’s a small school, so the emphasis is on giving the students a good education,  They are not obsessed with money like my previous employer was. But there are a few things which have made us doubt wanting to work there.

The schedule is all over the place, so I would have no idea how they would arrange it for 2 teachers to teach the classes. The schedule is really only suited for person. Plus our friend works 6 days a week…. I definitely do not want that!

The pay isn’t standard with many other places; sure if I didn’t have much experience, I’d accept their hourly rate, but as I’ve 3.5 years experience, I’d like to earn a little higher than what they are offering.

Another issue is with their teaching times. Ideally they want someone who will work until next February. However our visa expires in the middle of January. So we were looking at options on how to tackle this. One option is to stay another semester at the Uni, then we could commit to teaching with them for two full semesters. I know I know, with our history of constantly changing our plans here in China, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are still here in another 10 years!! Every year it’s ‘Oh we’ll just stay one more year…….and another year….and another…’ 

But, that just goes to show how comfortable you can get here. As every foreigner in China knows all too well!

Finally, every month they take money out of teachers wages, and then at the end of the contract they give it back. I understand this, but it’s quite a lot of money they take out! So if you have to leave unexpectedly… boom…. that money you have earned is now gone. So I don’t really like that aspect of the job.

So anyway… at the moment we don’t really know what to do. It feels like we are are adapting for the school, whereas the school should be adapting for us.

We’ll think about it more and discuss with the owner… if we are willing to adapt to her needs, then surely she should be able to adapt to ours….well, that’s what I’m hoping!

再见

爱玲

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Wanting To Leave

For the past few weeks I’ve had this nagging feeling of just wanting to leave. Get away from China, leave work, leave school, not have to deal with everything ‘China’ and just go back home to my family… drink tea and be surrounded by Irish people.

A few things have made me feel like this. The first one is definitely the weather. Right now the PM2.5 in Chengdu is apparently 500. I’m just so fed up of this pollution. We’re stuck in all day with our air purifier on full blast afraid to go outside because it’s so bad. You wake up and it’s smoggy and dull… then that’s it for the whole day. The next day, wake up and it’s smoggy and dull. Everyday is the exact same…slowly killing us if we venture outside. I’m perplexed at how people can have babies and raise them in this horrific weather. Just throw a mask on them and they are good to go. I’d never put my child through that.

I don’t think we’ve seen the sun for the past 2 weeks.

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You want to die faster? Come to Chengdu!

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It’s only Hazardous

 

So yeah, that’s one reason why I just want to get up and go.

The next is with the company I work for. I’ve only signed a full time contract in December, then all of a sudden they tell us ‘Oh we are starting a new thing; the classes are only going to be 40 minutes or 80 minutes long and we are going to group students as 1-1 groups or 4-1 groups. No 2 or 3 group students.

So that means for me, I’ll have 4 students in a class or just me and 1 student, and no 1 hour classes. Because they will be 40 minutes long I’ll have to add more classes to fill my hours. 40 minutes, what the hell are you going to get done for 40 minutes??!!You can just about get something done for 45.

Then, they are going to increase the price for 1-1 groups, apparently by a lot of money, so this will make the parents choose 4-1 classes.

When I first started working with the company it was good to work for. Their motto was ‘We are like a family’… and it did feel like that for a while. Then they started getting greedy…

‘Oh we need MORE campuses!!’

‘We need to infiltrate EVERY city in China!’

‘We need MORE students!!’

‘We need to be the BEST IN CHINA!!’

‘We need MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!!’

So the company is getting bigger and bigger and wanting more and more money.. and ultimately they are loosing sight on the most important thing; giving good education to their students.

Now, the parents will get angry because we’re not teaching them enough in the time given, they won’t learn as quickly because they have to contend with another 3 students in their class, and finally because they are being forced to pay a lot more money.

I really love teaching my students, and all of their parents are lovely, but I really do feel sorry for them having to put up with all these changes. I know my students parents are well off (if they can afford to pay such high prices for the courses) but still, if they pay such a high price, then they need to get a good deal with it.

I’m just so annoyed at the fact that the company can change all this and just expect us teachers to put up with it. It’s us and our PA’s that will get the brunt of the parents anger, simply because we won’t be able to teach their children as well as before.

Also, us teachers have no input whatsoever in their activities. We have a Teacher Manager and if we have any troubles or worries we can tell them and then they tell the people higher up. The managers can give their input about what is working and what’s not working, but at the end of the day, the company doesn’t listen to any of it. My manager told me that she told the company that this new change won’t work and that they don’t support it… but of course they didn’t listen to it and they are still going ahead.

And the thing is, I still have another 11 months of work left. I’m annoyed that no one told me this was going to happen until after I signed my contract!

My campus also wants me to add an extra teaching day because I won’t be able to reach my hours teaching 3 days… You know I’d love to say to them ‘I don’t like these new changes that I didn’t even know about, you expect us to teach just 40 minutes of class, with a group of 4 students and still manage to somehow maintain the same level of teaching… and you are ripping off all the parents here… so I quit’.

The only reason why we decided to stay another year was to keep learning Chinese and so I could work more and earn more money so we can travel and that. I was happy with the way things were at work and I didn’t mind taking on more students. Now I’m just annoyed at them and I don’t want to work for them anymore.

Aghh but I’ll see how things go in the next few weeks. Maybe all these changes won’t happen. But I know there are going to be a lot of angry teachers and parents if it does.

再见

爱玲

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

I have been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t been scammed; you hear in Beijing about people being scammed when they meet a student looking to ‘practice their English with you’ and you both go to a teahouse to drink tea. Then suddenly the bill comes and the tea is at an extortionate price. Obviously the ‘student’ and the teahouse are in this together, and they force the foreigner to pay.

This is quite a well known scam that most people going to Beijing should have heard about. But in Chengdu, I’ve never encountered a scam….

That was until 2 weeks ago…

When my boyfriends parents were here, we decided to go for some Beijing Duck. It’s a little far from our place, so we decided to hail a taxi to get there; costing 20元. About 4/5euro.

After our meal, we caught another taxi and away home we went. Every taxi has a meter, and usually it begins at 8元 and continues from that price.. I think it is based on every kilometre you drive… and it increases by 1yuan.

So naturally we presumed it would be around the 20元 mark. As we were driving, I happened to look at the metre…… 30元!!??

We were still not home… but it was already at this high price! I kept looking at it and the metre suddenly jumped another 2 yuan in a matter of 10 seconds.

‘That’s definitely not right’ I thought. It’s broken.

Then, to make things worse, I didn’t spot any information about the taxi man in the car. No card or details about him… You always see details of the driver on the dashboard. Definitely a dodgy taxi.

It was then when my boyfriend noticed the metre. He asked him why is it so expensive? And the taxi man didn’t reply.

Then, out of nowhere, he starts blabbering in Chinese to him. Huh…. throughout the whole ride home he never said a word…. and it was only until my boyfriend mentioned the price that he started talking.

He asked where we were from and how long have we lived in China. When we said 3 years… I’m pretty sure he copped on and thought ‘Oh no, these guys actually live here…. so they know rightly well that this metre is rigged…. well I can’t do anything about it now…’

So when we arrived home… the metre ended up at 45 元!!! What a ripoff!

He stopped the taxi and we immediately said that’s far too expensive… his reply was ‘You are foreigners!!’ 

And??? Just because we are foreigners doesn’t mean you have the right to rip us off. Obviously he doesn’t care about showing Chinese hospitality to ‘us foreigners’.

So we went back and forth with him about not paying and we settled it at 25元。 A much more satisfactory price.

I keep on wondering how he did it though; did he click a button when he saw us and thats when the metre changed? Or is the metre like that for everybody who uses it?

I didn’t know that type of thing existed. It looked like a normal taxi to us.

And apparently these fake taxis are becoming more and more common, as one student in our class said he got into 3 of these fake ones in the last year.

Thankfully we rarely take taxis, only taking them for the convenience of my boyfriends Mum and Dad being here.

But, it goes to show that these are about. In future, we will look at the dashboard and make sure there is correct information about the driver before we step into the car.

We certainly learned to be more cautious!

再见

爱玲

Two Mexicans in China

We have been busy lately, with my boyfriends Mum and Dad coming to visit; bringing with them plenty of Mexican food, nuts and my favourite spicy watermelon lolly pops. Oh and a very good quality Tequila with them!

So far they have really been enjoying their time here; walking around the area of our community, going to Walmart and Carrefour, and having a wander in and around Chengdu.

While we were not working, we brought them to a few famous places… we definitely had to bring them for some Chinese tea in a tea house, so they can experience the relaxed nature of Chengdu people.

High on the list was of course food! So far, they have both really enjoyed everything that Chengdu has to offer; hot pot, rabbit, different varieties of dishes… all they really liked.

This Monday we will take them to Kunming, a city that is south of Sichuan province. Here we will spend 5 days where will we have a look at the city, then we will go to Dali, a supposedly quite attractive ancient town. Although I have heard it is very touristy, but that’s no surprise in China!

They still need to go and see the famous pandas, and there are a few more places where we would like to bring them if we have time. Coming back from Kunming, we will have another few days in Chengdu to go to more places.

Because the weather here is becoming colder and colder, that of course brings more smog. Thankfully there have been 2/3 days where the weather hasn’t been that bad. But I suppose they have been warned about the smog so they knew what they would expect!

There are some things that they have been surprised about; such as people appearing more rude than in Mexico. But they have also been surprised about our life in Chengdu and I think they figured out why we have been living here the past few years and what has kept us here.

So all in all, I think their holiday has been going well so far!

再见!

爱玲

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Because teaching here in China has now become ‘normal’ and well, not terribly exciting, I’ve kind of neglected to write more posts about it. But I’ll write an update about how it’s going.

At the moment I have about 10 groups who I teach. Although when I go back full time It will increase. Thankfully, everyone (apart from one group) are fantastic. My youngest are aged about 6/7 I think, while my oldest is 14. My youngest are learning phonics, so for me it’s quite an easy class, plus for them they enjoy it because they don’t have to actually learn English vocab and grammar, just how to say the words.

I’ve had one student for over 2 years now I think, and she moved with me to my new campus from my old one. Her English has improved really quickly! From 2 years ago to now I really do notice her improvement. Now I’m not saying that’s all because of me… but she’s the student I’ve had the longest, so I see the most improvement in her. She’s the one that keeps calling me ‘fat’ (huh and she’s the one that talks about food in class all the time) but overall she is a great student.

My not so great group is with two boys. The two boys that I used to have got split up, so now I teach them separately, but now the oldest boy has been paired with another boy…. and unfortunately the group isn’t so good anymore.

Now my old student ‘S’ has become much more disobedient! It really annoys me because I know that his behaviour used to be good, and I enjoyed teaching him and the other student. But since ‘T’ has joined, he has affected ‘S’s behaviour in class. It’s such a pity, because I know ‘S’ is a good student; I’ve seen it. But unfortunately this other boy is effectively ruining his learning in class.

If it continues I think I might tell ‘S’ that his behaviour isn’t good anymore… shame him a bit about this fact. I know he’s a good boy underneath it all.

But anyway, I’ve recently had a 21 year old studying with me for a few weeks. She is not resigning so I only have her a few more times. She is studying to do an English test, but the way it’s going, I don’t think she will pass. Her vocabulary just isn’t good enough, plus I feel like she isn’t very motivated. haha I can say the same for myself with Chinese sometimes!

In my opinion, it’s a shame that she isn’t resigning again, she really needs extra English classes to improve. I really can’t see her studying by herself.

But she is a nice and friendly student though, and I enjoy teaching her.

Company wise, it definitely need more improvements. Especially with Chinese PA’s… they are dropping like flies in our campus. The PA that has been with us the longest has just left as she hated her job, so I’m pretty sure every other PA has only been with us for a few months.

It’s coming to the stage where I don’t even try and remember their names, as most likely they will leave soon enough. It’s pretty sad though; the company treats teachers with good pay, holidays and two days off a week, whereas PA’s aren’t paid a lot, they only get 1 day off a week, and they have to put up with a lot of crap from parents AND from teachers complaining. So I’m really not surprised that so many quit.

Unless all the PA’s decide to revolt and protest, I don’t think much will change, especially if they don’t want to ‘lose face’, a strange Chinese phenomenon.

If you have never heard of this, have a look at the link below for some information about it!

‘Losing Face’ in China

再见

爱玲

My rant about my student on probation.

I have been teaching this girl for a few weeks now, the one I mentioned in a previous blog. I decided to put her on probation; every class if she was good, she would gain another class. So I went class by class with her.

The past few weeks were quite good, although she still didn’t like English. But this weeks class was when she really pushed me over the edge, by way of me slamming her books on the desk and telling her to leave the classroom.

The beginning of class was ok. My PA was in to figure out what to teach her, as her mother asked us to teach from her English book from school. So we figured it out and we started to learn the topic.

As soon as the PA left, she was misbehaving; laying her head on the table, not talking, and just being lazy.

She then asked me;

‘What’s your name?’

I said ‘You know my name.’

‘I forget…..Sabrina.’

This is one of her previous teachers.

‘You know that isn’t my name’.

‘I don’t know your name.’

I have taught her about 10 times, she definitely knows my name. That’s her way of pissing me off.

So I tried and tried with her for the remainder of the class, until she got angry with me.

What she told me was something I would NEVER, when I was her age, have said to my teacher. Never. She said them to me before, and I decided to give her another chance. But not this time. She does not have the right to say any of the things she said to me.

By this stage I was very angry, and upset. We still had 5 minutes left of class but I told her to go. She was blabbering in Chinese, and I was speaking English really fast back to her, knowing she wouldn’t understand. I opened the door and told her to leave and then I sat down and went on my phone. At this stage she didn’t know what to do!

She then said:

‘You are not happy.’

I replied .’No, I’m not happy, I’m very annoyed at what you said. You cannot say those things!’

Then she backtracked.

‘Oh but I’m sorry, I did not mean to say those things.

I replied ‘But the things is, you did. You did mean those things!’

Then she got super sweet and said;

‘My birthday, thank you for the card.’

I replied ‘It’s ok, you can leave now. Class is finished.’

So she slowly left the classroom and I just stayed; annoyed and upset at what she said. I went up and caught her leaving with her Mum, saying ‘Goodbye Aisling’. (Oh, now she knows my name) I just replied bye and walked ahead. I then told the PA that I’m wasn’t teaching her anymore.

Her answer was ‘But she really likes you Aisling. She was like this with her other teacher too, saying mean things to her. Her behaviour isn’t right. Her Mum doesn’t care about her. ‘

I replied ‘Thats not my fault. It shouldn’t be the teacher teaching her good behaviour and manners, thats the parents job not mine. She can’t say those things to people. If the Mum doesn’t care, then why should I then?’

She then replied ‘ The student needs behaviour counselling.’

Too right she does.

Teaching English is a two way system. The teacher has to do their job, and the student has to do theirs. Theres only so much teachers can do. If the student doesn’t want to learn, then it’s much harder for us to do our jobs. Plus, some parents expect us to do THEIR jobs, by teaching them manners and good behaviour. Then, if the student isn’t learning anything; the parents give out to the parents saying its our fault.

If you taught your son or daughter good behaviour then we wouldn’t be having this problem. Especially with my student.

Apparently with my student, her mother favours her younger brother who is smart, enjoys English, and is better than her. My PA said to me;

‘When I talk to the mother about X behaviour today, she compares her to her brother and how good he is. She does it when she is listening. So then she thinks she is stupid because she isn’t as clever as her brother.’

The Mum shouldn’t be saying these things in front of her daughter. This surely isn’t helping her self esteem or her confidence. Imagine having to listen to that from your own Mum!

But anyway, I re-iterated today that I’m not teaching her again. I don’t care to listen to her give out about me for a 3rd time.

So after my horrendous class, myself and Rafa went to the cinema with two other friends and we watched Spectre, blocking my hideous class out of my mind for a while.

Let’s hope I don’t see her on my timetable for next week, AND I don’t get another student as bad as her in the future.

再见!

爱玲 (aì líng)

Aisling.