Teaching Uni Students: 3 Months On

Teaching Uni Students: 3 Months On

I can’t believe I’ve just finished week 12 of teaching. In one sense it’s flying by, but then at the same time it sometimes feel like I’ve been teaching for years here. I’m already halfway through my first semester here, so I have more semester to go and then bye bye to China!

With every week that goes by I’m slowly getting more comfortable with my students. I can see that they can have a joke and a laugh with me now and it’s just a better atmosphere now in the classes. Well most of them anyway; I’ve one class and they are still like robots…. so I don’t particularly enjoy teaching them. They don’t do anything wrong… it’s just they don’t do anything at all!

They just stare…. and stare…. and stare some more…….. while the other classes laugh at some funny picture or video that I show them, they just stare.

So I’ll be pretty happy to get rid of that class next semester.

I’ll miss most of my students next semester. Every teacher will be getting new students as the Uni wants them to become more immersed with different cultures and what not. I understand in a way, but then at the same time the teachers have to start from scratch with gaining the students trust and making them comfortable with us.

I’ve sort of figured out what each student is like, which ones need more attention and which one’s English is non-existent. I’ll have to figure all that out again!

Depending on the topic and lesson I make, the students will react positively or negatively.  If they don’t like it, they just aren’t interested. So it’s difficult finding the balance of both work and play. They could happily play games all day, but I’d still like to teach them something at least!

But I feel I’m improving with my teaching style with every class. I know what they like and don’t like, and myself and my fiancé try and help each other to create and brainstorm lesson plans. Two heads are better than one!

With being set on leaving China, I’m looking forward to finishing the contract and moving on……and I’m really looking forward to it!

Aisling

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Just Answer The Question Please

So lately I’ve been keeping my eye out on any possible job opportunities here. I can’t stay jobless here forever unfortunately.

I found a posting for a teacher to teach adults travelling English and it was located in the West of Chengdu. Now Chengdu is big, so I wanted to know where exactly in the West they wanted to have class. I live in the south west, so I was thinking that it may be quite close to me and that I may not have to travel too far.

That’s all… just answer that one simple question and then maybe, if the location was suitable… then I would consider it.

So I get in contact with someone and I ask them

“Where in the west would they like to have class?”

They reply “Please give some information about yourself please”.

Well ok… so I gave them a quick voicemail message about myself and sent it to him.

“I will give your details to a friend of mine and you can discuss it with him”.

So I still don’t know where exactly this teaching job is….

The friend then contacts me and asks where I live and when I can teach.

I reply and then ask againWhere in the West do they want to have class?”

“Oh if you know a coffee shop or a place near to yours then they can have class there”. 

That’s good I thought…. but then I began to think: If they said they wanted class in the west, then why do they suddenly say near my area is also fine? I might live 1 hour away from them…. 

Anyway, we keep messaging each other and later he sends me a location on maps of where they want to have class.

“Is this location ok for you to teach??”

What??? It would take me 40 minutes cycling to reach there! It’s nowhere near my area!

Why say ‘They can have class near your area’ and then send me a location nowhere near me?

I replied “That place is too far for me, it would take me 40 minutes by bike to reach there. If they can come closer to my area thats ok, but maybe if they can’t then I think they should find a teacher closer to them”.

I really didn’t want to waste 80 minutes travelling just to have a 1.5 hour class. It’s definitely not worth it.

Plus, I don’t think the adult students would be too happy having to travel to my area either. So I felt it was better for them to try and find a teacher nearer to where they live.

But all this could have been avoided if they just answered my question in the first place! That’s all I wanted to know…. they wanted to know everything about me but couldn’t give me proper information about something that is rather important for teachers if they want to do some private teaching.

You know, I felt bad running them around the place, but I never said I would take the job, I was only enquiring,  but to me, it felt like they were thinking ‘OH WE FOUND ONE, SHE WILL TEACH THE STUDENTS…PHEW’

I don’t think they figured out I was just enquiring. That was all.

So I’m a bit hesitant now to contact any other people about jobs. I don’t think they realise that teachers may just be enquiring about things. Especially when they don’t elaborate on info. If it’s vague (like my one) then you certainly need to be clear on place, hours, salary etc. Maybe I should be clearer next time.

I suppose that’s one lesson I learned from job postings here!

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

Chinese Golden Week

Once again China has their annual ‘Golden Week’, where they all have 7 days holiday.. usually from the 1st to the 7th of October. During this time China becomes mad with people travelling here and there… but I certainly won’t be going anywhere!

It’s great to get a week off going to University, but unfortunately China is just too busy during holidays. Many just stay at home and relax, while others will venture out and join the swarm of other millions of people.

It’s such a pity though. I would love to go and travel during this time, but I know, from experience, everywhere you go there will most certainly be too many people. Plus the roads leading out of Chengdu will be jam packed with cars.

No, I think we’ll leave the travelling to the braver ones. We plan on relaxing, saving some money, try and study Chinese…oh and work.  Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the children have a holiday. Of course they will have tonnes of homework and will have to come to English class.

I asked one of my 14 year old student what were her plans for the holiday. She replied ‘I’ll go with my family travelling but my teachers gave me a lot of homework, so I will have to bring my homework with me and do it during my holiday’.

The poor Chinese students never get a break from school. I really feel sorry for them. No wonder many families are sending their children abroad to study now…

Her Mum is planning on sending her to America next year to study so fortunately she will be out of the Chinese education rat race to be the best. Although she is extremely clever, with the 2nd highest exam scores of her whole school for her summer exams. So she will be fine in America.

So with no school for a whole week… when I return I will certainly not want to get up early in the morning again!

再见

爱玲

 

 

Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!

再见!

爱玲

Adding More Classes

Because I’ve moved from my old campus to my current one, I’ve had to leave my students behind. Apart from one, she decided to follow me to my new campus which I’m very happy about. I love teaching her and she enjoys learning English.

But because I’ve left my other students behind, that meant that on a Saturday I’ve only had my one student. It was definitely an easy day, but at the same time it’s a bit of a waste going just for a 1 hour class.

So last Saturday I was teaching a girl who I was covering from another teacher. Her English is brilliant, and because she is a teen, it’s a class where we can chat about different topics which makes the class interesting. So I finished teaching her, then my PA told me that I would continue to teach her every Saturday.  Then I hear that another teen girl wants to do a demo after my last class. So I did the demo with her, also with the parents in the room observing ( I hate when the parents are in the demo).. but they seemed happy with the class and so I have her from next Saturday too.

So from next Saturday on I will have 2.5 extra hours of class which is great. 3.5 in all. Just yesterday I was worrying about my money situation; being a part time teacher isn’t at all ideal when you plan on travelling during the summer, and thinking of moving, oh and paying rent and fees.  So I’ve been having problems getting classes because they first need to give them to the full time teachers, then when their schedules are full… it’s my turn. So those extra 2 classes are a godsend.

At the moment I love all my classes, my youngest is 7 years.. and my oldest is now 14. The good thing about being part time is that you can choose what students to teach… if my PA’s say ‘Oh Aisling, we have a very cute little girl who I think you could teach….she is extremely cute!’

First of all, I’m not going to teach a girl just because she is cute…. PA’s think that this a real selling point to teachers; a really cute girl. But it really isn’t. Yeah she could be the most cutest Chinese girl I’ve even seen, but if she is a nuisance in class… then you really just have a cute girl that is extremely hard to teach.. and you dread teaching this girl every week.

So when they offer me this I always ask ‘What age is she?’ …’Oh she is 4 years old’ I can now happily reply ‘No thanks, I don’t want to teach young students’… without feeling bad about it.

However when I was full time, I had quite a few bad classes. . Oh I remember in dread… I often wonder how I managed teaching some students. I think it was because I was sort of new to the whole teaching and I just put up with them… so at the moment I’m much happier teaching the students I have.

If we leave Chengdu we will most likely have to move back to full time teaching so we can earn more money, which sort of annoys me. I’ll no longer be able to use the ‘No’ word anymore.

Oh no.

再见

爱玲

 

Contract signing

One year has flown by, with us suddenly needing to sign another contract for work. Our current contract is part time, as will our next one. However in 2017 we hope to start a 15 hour full time contract.

This means that we will be payed a fixed salary every month, instead of being part time where we are only paid by the hours we work.

I’m looking forward to starting a full time contract next year, this lack of money coming in does not make me happy!

Presently, I have been working in two campuses; one from when I first started working, and the second when I moved to another campus and work during the week. For my campus on Saturdays, I would have to travel one hour to work and one hour back… which at the beginning was ok….I even stayed with the campus for an extra year, just so I could teach my students.

However I soon became fed up with the travelling. Last week, I had 3 classes.. totalling 2 hours 45mins. But because my first class was at 11:15am, while my last class finished at 5:30pm… this meant I had to leave home at 9:30 and I would arrive back at 7:00pm. So all in all I worked nearly 3 hours, but I was away from home for like 9 hours! I just didn’t want to keep wasting my time travelling and then only teaching a few hours.

In fairness though, I did stay the extra year to come in on the Saturday to teach, which I kinda feel, after telling my campus manager that I was finally leaving… my effort of going every Saturday wasn’t truly appreciated… thats what I felt anyway! I have 2 more Saturdays to work and then… adios Zhonghai!

Yesterday when we were signing our new contract in the businesses main headquarters, the Chinese staff told us “because you took 35 days off for holidays, you will have to work an extra month to make those days up”

What????? We were so surprised to hear this! How could this be!? I distinctly remember when I signed my contract that it definitely did not say this. Plus, we were part timers… it shouldn’t matter if we take time off… we don’t get any bonuses for completing a contract.

Part timers don’t get many benefits unlike full timers, but not having to make up for days not working is just for part time people.

So we asked her to check… and sure enough she returned saying “Oh I’m very sorry, I got confused… you don’t need to work an extra month” So we got that sorted.

Because we plan to move from Chengdu next year, we will not be studying Mandarin in a University. We will look at private places in (maybe Xiamen) and then we will get a work visa. We will also need to go to Hong Kong during November or December in order to do this.

I will miss studying at the Uni we are at though… I like the school and we have a good routine in Chengdu. At the moment I am half against moving away, half against staying in Chengdu. I’m comfortable here, and I don’t want ‘change’…

But I suppose, if you are always comfortable with something… it will be difficult to change, or you will never change it….. and I know in the blink of an eye…. I’ll have been in Chengdu 5years if I opted to stay.

再见!

爱玲