So many jobs, so few teachers 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — If you have not caught on by now, there is a huge demand for native English-speaking teachers worldwide. That demand is especially acute here in China. Here’s why. Every student has to take English while in middle and high school. College students have to pass an English competency test in order to earn a four-year degree and/or obtain a decent white-collar job. Yikes! That’s a lot of students, and consequently there’s an enormous demand for English teachers. You have no idea. To teach here as a “foreign expert,” you only need to show you have a bachelor’s or higher degree and a willingness to teach. There are hundreds of these jobs advertised every day on hundreds of websites. I signed up with one website several months ago, www.seriousteachers.org. At the time, I was in the States and I got no offers. Once I changed my location to China and my availability to “immediate,” I started getting at least four job offers a day! Of course, I turned them all down, since I am under contract here. And I had to pull out of the email notification service, or I’d be spending all my time saying, “not now, ...

Week three: a concert, a bank account, and two Americans 9

JISHOU, HUNAN — This past work week was a short one, by virtue of the Autumn Moon holiday, but nevertheless eventful. It started not all that auspiciously, however. My lesson plan for the sophomores was sort of a failure, complicated by the poor timing (first morning class after a three-day weekend) and by my overestimation of their speaking and listening skills. I recovered after the first 15 minutes of dead silence from the class, but those 15 minutes were the longest in my life. Now I know how a comedian who’s bombing feels on stage. The rest of the week went well. The older students are warming up to exchanging emails with me and several have joined Facebook, where they can practice their English more. As I blogged already, the concert Thursday by the China Philharmonic was excellent. And yesterday, I started a bank account at China Construction Bank with the able assistance of senior English major Ava (her Chinese name is Niannian). All the bank needed was 10 yuan and my passport to start the account, but the application forms were of course in Mandarin Chinese, so I needed a translator. My pay is directly deposited and the ATMs ...

Week two and it’s all good still 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve finished my second week teaching here, and I can still say I am pretty happy with it all. According to the experts, I am in the honeymoon phase of my expatriation. Everything is still so new to me that ennui and regret have not yet set in. I’m like a kid in the candy shop. True, I will be teaching four more classes shortly, so my life of leisure will soon be curtailed by a busier schedule. True, if there were another “foreign expert” here, our teaching loads would be divided. But things happen. True, I am the only waiguoren (外国人 — foreigner) crazy enough to delve this far into China, so I have more work as a consequence. If the students were troublesome, I would be singing a different tune. As it is, however, the students are generally quite willing to work and cooperate with my crazy American teaching methods. I am assuming the frosh will be as cooperative, if a bit more hesitant. So, yeah, I’m still in the wide-eyed innocent mode. I am finding it hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was still in Louisville, sleeping on my son’s couch, ...

Reflections on the first week 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I survived my first week on the job here. The classes went well (I think), considering my comparative lack of experience teaching ESL and practically zero preparation time before the first, Oral Business English 2005. I can tell, though, there is a wide range of English skills among the students, which will require some careful planning on my part. I have three groups right now. I see about a dozen business students twice a week for oral and written English. Senior English students — 21 in all — see me twice a week for the same kind of courses. And there’s the 35 sophomores I see once a week for oral English. The youngest ones, as you might expect, are the least practiced in English, but do fairly well reciting English passages and writing English. As with most Asian students I’ve had, however, their listening and speaking skills are not as developed. The senior English students are the strongest, but again, need work on their aural and oral skills. These kids are stressing about the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam, the outcome of which determines whether they can attend university in an English-speaking country. ...
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