|28 December 2002||20021228|
Everybody who had an opinion on this said that I would have no trouble finding a job teaching English in China. But I wasn't sure how to begin looking for one. What I did know was that, in this industry, the difference between a great job and a horrible job has everything to do with the attitude of administrators and fellow teachers and the support that they offer you.
From poking around the internet, I learnt that English teaching jobs in China come in two flavours: jobs at private colleges, and jobs at state universities. (There are some opportunities at high schools and primary schools, but these are fewer, and anyway I would prefer to teach adults). University jobs tend not to be as well paid as those in the private sector, but it's enough to live on. Also, you usually teach about 16 hours a week at a university, compared to 25 hours a week at a private school. Having no teaching experience, I'm sure that preparing 16 lessons a week will fill up my time quite adequately.
Anyway, I love the environment in Australian universities: a hotbed of Spiritual Pollution! I'd rather work somewhere that was built to teach, rather than built to make money. The author of this article on the TEFLCHINA web site agrees.
I'm also fussy about the geography. Mandarin is the official language of China, but only in the northern provinces is it the native tongue. Even then, I have read that only the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, and Beijing feature the "standard" accent which I have been learning at night classes for the past few years. The winters in Heilongjiang and Jilin feature sub-zero temperatures on the Fahrenheit scale, and chattering teeth aren't going to aid my Chinese pronunciation. But my eye fell on Liaoning, which is my friend Zhang Yue's home province. To my mind, the pick of the province was the city of Dalian because its coastal location makes its climate a few precious degrees warmer.
China TEFL Network also revealed that Dalian was well-endowed with universities. I emailed three. The response from two was unencouraging, and my message didn't even reach the third. But I quite liked the sound of the latter, the Dalian Nationalities University, so I dredged up a phone number from the internet and give them a call. My halting Chinese served until I was connected to Maggie Meng of the foreign affairs office, who spoke English. I've been communicating with her via email since then, and we've negotiated a one year contract.
As for whether its a great job or a horrible job, I have no idea.