Ask Jo


English: Tsinghua University is a well regarde...

First of all I just want to say I love your blog. I really do. You’ve opened me up to viewing China in a different light. When you write about your experiences there, good and bad and in-between, it makes me feel like I’m right along there with you. Thank you.

I’m a reader but never a commenter. This is my first! Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that. I have a few questions or more so your opinion on a few things I would like your take on. I’m 21, and I’m thinking about going to China to teach English, but I’m just thinking about it right now.   And you always mention trying to live your life to the fullest and doing things that are uncomfortable… I’m losing my train of thought 🙂 I hope to hear from you! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

-Loving Myself

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for reading my blog and I am glad that I can inspire you and educate.   I want to now tell you that teaching English can be an exciting, positive and interesting experience, however as with all things there are also some negatives.  When considering to teach abroad, I suggest you first decide where you want to go to teach.  Different countries have different educational requirements for teaching.   For example, Japan requires a higher degree than most countries, so it is more difficult to find a teaching job there at your age.   Taiwan, Korea, China and some South and Central American countries require a little less.  Some places even just take a high school diploma or you only to be a native speaker.   After you have decided where you want to go, do your research.  Learn the area of the country you want to be in, weather, facilities and food.

Agencies can be a little risky.  I have had so many complaints about agencies not getting legal visas, and not being totally honest about what they are offering.   I suggest you try to go directly thru a school.   http://www.davescafe.com and  http://www.chinaspash.com are too very good websites that I used when I was looking for a job here, but there are several more good websites out there.   Please find a job before you go to the foreign country.  Do not go to the country first.. then think you can find one.  This is where many expats get into trouble and end up stranded.  I can’t tell you how many emails I have received of people in China needing advice on how to get back to the states.  Make sure the employer sends you an invitation letter so you can get the proper work visas.  You do not want to be an illegal alien, check the regulations with the US Embassy in that country.  I also suggest you register with the embassy in that country, so they know where you are and your emergency contacts.  We do not want to have to send Bill or Hilary Clinton over to pull you out of someplace.

In China, government schools have less teaching hours and you usually have summers free and weekends.  Although, the salary is a little lower than private language schools.   Depending on where you go in China the government school could range from as low as 3000rmb to as high as 15,000 rmb depending on your degrees.  Usually, you will have to do a few promotional things for the school and maybe some after hour classes once in a while.  Private language schools usually pay more from 6000 rmb to as high as 20,000rmb depending on the place.  However, you usually work evenings and several hours a week.  Due to the fact that it is usually for people, who have jobs during the day. These school usually try to work you to death with 6 day work weeks.   I have worked at a private language school for 4 years now and I am pretty used to the schedule and have the freedom to pretty much teach what I want.   Most schools pay you a salary, insurance, air ticket reimbursement up to 6000rmb is the norm, and allowance for an apartment.  If your lucky some will supply you an apartment.   Usually food, utilities, cell phone, internet is your responsibility.  Some universities will let you eat in the cafeteria with a voucher or card at a cheaper price.

If you want to come to China to save money it is very hard to do, unless you live very cheaply .. well… like the locals do.   My husband and I save money only because I have more than one job, he has more than one job and I have worked at my school long enough to be come senior management and finally get a higher salary.  (which, by the way, is unusual in a private school) .

If you do make the decision to teach abroad, I suggest you get a TESOL or TEFL certificate.  If you local college doesn’t offer this program you can take it online.  I did a 100 hour course online .. in a week and passed with a pretty high score.   Please bring any degrees, certifications, letters of recommendations and resume with you.  Most schools want you to have a full body photo along with your resume.  Unfortunately, at least in Asian countries, they want to see what you look like before they hire you. Do not be surprise if they want to talk to you on skype to check if you have a accent or speak clearly.  Most teaching contracts are from 6 months to a year with a chance to renew.

I have learned a lot about myself from living and teaching abroad, good things and bad… but I  really would not change the experience if I could.  It has made me a better person and opened my eyes to a lot of things I use to take for granted.  I think teaching or traveling abroad is one of those experiences that enrich your life and you will never forget.  As for your fears, change is always scary.  But if it is something you really are not confident about, you need to really think about it and don’t make any rash decisions.  However, if you are just nervous but you want to give it a try…… go for it … leave a footprint in this life that people will remember.

until next time…..

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9 thoughts on “Ask Jo

  1. Pingback: Teaching:Not the Only Job for Expats in China « Life Behind The Wall

  2. Good tips. Can I throw in my 2 cents? Awesome. Make sure you have an idea of what region or city you want to be in. You like hot weather? Try Guangdong. You like bitter cold? Go up north. Finding a teaching job (in China) can be really easy. Deceptively easy. For the love of God, make sure you have a 4 year degree (they need to see your diploma) and do yourself a favor by getting a teaching certificate. Don’t be cheap either. Do the 100 hour class or better. I’m sure you don’t want to work in the countryside for peanuts. Also, do a lot of research on the school you are applying to. Even some of the most reputable schools will try to screw you over if you let them.

  3. Yolanda

    When you are ready to go abroad to Asia, I would suggest going anywhere…except South Korea. Please, do not go there! I know what I am talking about! If you have questions or want advice, you can email me.

    1. @ Yolanda Just curious: Can you expand on why you don’t think South Korea is a good place to go? I have heard the same sentiment from a few other people as well.

      As for the article, this is excellent advice, particularly about going abroad without a position in hand (to look for a job). I was tempted to do this myself, but luckily I didn’t have the money to do so. I’m glad I didn’t because I was afraid I would be stuck over there.

      1. @yolanda… I personally havent been to South Korea.. but several of my friends and colleagues that have went there claim that there is a lot of racism and hate crimes going on against western people. They claim that South Korea has a racist group that tries to do things to compromise foreigners and gets them in legal trouble. I only go by what they tell me, I cant say for sure. Also, I am glad you didnt just travel without a plan…could have ended up a mess.

  4. LovingMyself

    Oh gosh, thanks for responding. I wasn’t expecting such a quick response! As crazy as this sounds, I actually had a dream about you last night. And you told me I should I finish my univeristy education and THEN decide if coming to China to teach, to work, to study, etc., is something I really want to do. Maybe it was my subconscious getting at me, but I will be heeding this advice.

    I’ve been wrestling with what it is I want to do. All I know is that I want to travel. I’m in Paris now, but I hope to be off to Abu Dhabi next September. And about appearances in China: I rock a shaved head / low cut. I wonder if I’d even be offered any jobs…

    1. @lovingmyself…finishing your education is something you really should do. Even if teaching or traveling is your goal. Education is something that you will need in the future. China isnt going anywhwere, and as far as I know.. the ability to travel will always be here. You have time. So finish your education and learn as much as you can. It can only help you. As my grandmother told me and I will remember always…. “people can take your money, your house, your car and your job… but they can never take your education from you. It is yours forever.”

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