CNET FAQ PAGE
1. The standard teaching load is 18 hours per week. Other than planning and necessary preparations, what other duties would I be responsible for? During a typical workday, would I be at school all day even if I was teaching only a few hours?
You will be responsible for teaching your classes only. Any other time you can be either in the Teaching Office or in your apartment. Anything, and I repeat, anything that you do other than this you will do as a volunteer activity to help the kids (like a talent show or play practice) or you will be paid. After you are comfortable with your schedule, if you feel there is too much down time, some teachers accept extra hours, tutor individuals or help another school. But, you should always be paid extra for this.
2. If I’m only required to teach 18 hrs a week, do you think I will be required to be at the school all day every day waiting for the few periods I have to teach?????
No, your time is your time. If you are at class for your periods, you’ll be fine. An example: I used to have an 8:30 class and then nothing until 1:00 on Thursdays. So, I’d use that time to go to the supermarket and buy food and do other errands. Sometimes I’d meet with a teacher from another school for lunch. Most days I had down time between classes and I’d go do something to kill the time. Usually, I really wished all my classes were in the morning or afternoon so I could organize something else to do the rest of the day. But, they were usually spaced out. This is something that the school may work with you on, say in the second semester of your stay. But, remember that you are there to supplement and reinforce the regular Chinese English teachers. Their time is precious because they are working around 12-14 hours per day, 6 days a week. So, you really have to allow for their schedules.
3. How long does the probationary period last normally?
I didn’t have one, but I’d say about 60 days. It's not like America where it is written into the "contractual stone". They just mean that, if you get there and can't teach or hate the place, they can dismiss you. This is to keep the teacher from blaming them if it just isn't working out. Some people go there and just hate it and hate the teaching experience. It also gives you an out if you do dislike it. China is a very foreign country and people who have never traveled may go there expecting it to be just like home. Of course, it is not. Also, many of our recruits are fresh college grads who have little or no teaching experience. It may be that, in America or China, they realize that teaching or teaching at a specific level just isn't their thing and want to pursue some other angle in the educational or social field. It's no sin to change your mind.
4. Will I be required to pay for insurance or is it optional? How much would my portion be?
They will give you 500 Yuan worth of medical costs in a year. For a person of normal health, this is enough. But, there are policies for foreign travelers that are inexpensive here in the States. Most of our policies in the States do not cover you in China because they have a nationalized health system. If you are too ill, they will send you back to the States due to respect for our medical community and your ability to communicate with an American doctor.
Regarding health care in general, there are two types of standard healthcare in China. There is modern healthcare like in the States and Chinese herbal healthcare that is very old and traditional. The Chinese believe in the quality of both and many will supplement one with the other. It is vital that, in an emergency, you are taken to a Western-type modern hospital with USA standards of treatment and asepsis. When I needed care in China, the school automatically took me to a facility that had a English speaking physician who had been trained in Taiwan, Japan and the USA. The school will be very concerned about this and should have considered all the "what ifs". But, to be safe, please ask your Chinese advisor where you will be taken in the event of an emergency.
And, what about dentistry? There are many horror stories on the Internet about Chinese and foreign dentistry. Again, please ask the school about an appropriate dentist. Dental needs are often emergency situations such as a chipped tooth. Be prepared. My dentist in China was modern in his techniques, but he was trained by his father and had not attended dental school. Find a dentist who practices Western dentistry.
5. The contract says that I will be responsible for "The cost of applying for certificates related to living and working in China." What certificates will I need and how much can I expect to pay for them?
This means your visa at this end, primarily. Many applicants do not understand that the school has no control over visa procurement in the States and, they are not going to give you money up front for this. While the school will provide documents that request your presence for you to present to the Chinese Consulate here, getting to China is your responsibility. Especially, in our post-9/11 world. Their is little they can do to assist you.
There are also local certificates. In China, a teacher must register through the regional Bureau of Education for a foreign expert's certificate and also must register in the town or city as a local temporary resident. In the USA, this is done with an appropriate visa and then, a driver's license or ID card. Remember, until very recently, most Chinese did not have a driver's license. The certificates are actually little passport books. You will have two while in China, your passport and foreign expert's certificate. My school paid for all of my certifications. Sometimes they do. The costs will be about 500 Yuan, ($80US). Usually, at the end of your 1 year stay, a school will give you about 2000 Yuan to reimburse you for any of these types of payments that you may have had during the year. One more thing, the school will do all of the registering and paperwork for you because it's all in Chinese. You can't do it yourself. They will let you know the specifics and handle all this for you.
6. I realize that the location I will be placed in will be determined later on. In how many cities does the Educational Bureau place teachers in and which cities are they? (Where can I expect to be placed potentially?)
The average Province in China is about the size of Florida or Nebraska. China is a big place. There are many cities that you can be placed in. Most cities in China are huge by our standards. My city was little in China and had 4.5 million inhabitants. They place you according to your talents, degree and background. For the most part, the greatest need is still in the larger towns, but because the education system is expanding and improving quickly, more rural areas are coming into the loop. I was from Kansas and I expected when they told me that the city I was going to was "countryside" to be in a farming community. The city I was placed in would actually have been the fourth largest in the USA. You will not be in a backwater place by our standards. Feel free to study China and it is perfectly okay to ask for a specific location in the Province to which you are being recruited. It's worth a shot. I did this and ended up in the town where my wife and her family lived, which is exactly where I wanted to be.
7. The contact says I will be responsible for the following costs: Personal/medical insurance, telephone calls, Internet, water, electricity, and gas, meals and transportation. Bearing in mind that I am a fairly low-maintenance/frugal type of guy, approximately how much should I expect to be spending a month?
For the most part, you should not be responsible for utilities except telephone and Internet. In your case, you have requested an off campus apartment. This is probably the reason. But, medical insurance should be provided. It is in the best interest of the school and government. I notice that your pay will be much higher than the average to accommodate for this. I would say you can expect to pay monthly on average: Electricity- 150, Gas- 30, Water- 10, Internet- 80, Telephone- 100, Transportation- 50, Meals- 150 (at school), or 500 (on your own including restaurants and groceries). The increased pay rate will cover this.
If you are frugal, it will cost much less. For instance, I walked everywhere or took the bus at 1 Yuan per ride. A cab will be between 9 and 20, like in the US. But you never tip for this or in restaurants. I rarely took cabs. I chose to use the time to get in shape and walked everywhere. That's what the Chinese do as well. Or, you can get a used bike for 150 Yuan and just ride it as everyone else does. You can go to the market and buy 100 Yuan worth of food a week and this will do as it did for me. If you don't run the AC, which you shouldn't because you won't be there for many hot months, the electricity will be much less. The 150 I quote above is based on using the AC all the time, year around. If you wear a sweater in the house, your bills should be very low in the fall, spring and winter because the climates we recruit for are like North Carolina or Florida.
How does the banking system work in China? Would I need to set up a new
account with a Chinese Bank, or would I be able to use my American bank
account? Also, how much money will I be able to bring out of the
You can bring $$ out of China. Check the US State Department website for the current amount (or Chinese govt. website). When we left, it was possible to take $5000 per person, I think. You cannot take any Chinese money out, it's against the law. If they find even pennies in your bag at customs, they are supposed to confiscate. I brought some little money out as keepsakes in my pocket. If they knew, they said nothing.
Although the Bank of China will do money conversion, one thing you will notice immediately are the money changers outside the banks. It is still a hassle to exchange US dollars for Yuan and visa versa. So, this done by individuals out front of the banks. You will see people standing there with wads of $100 bills. Be aware that they will try to charge you a high percentage rate for the exchange. Like when shopping, if you can get a Chinese native friend to do this for, they will get a much better rate. Also, your school can do it for next to nothing, so stipulate that a certain amount be given to you each month in US dollars and you'll always have both monies if you need.
9. I know you still need to get my transcript, but after you do, what is the next step? Do I need to be accepted at the school? Will they send me a contract? How long does that usually take?
If the Bureau
accepts your information and chooses you as a teacher, they will simply
tell the school and the school will be elated. They will then overnight
you a certificate which asks for your presence as a foreign expert. You
take this to your nearest Chinese Consulate and the visa is issued (the
visa is a little sticker that they put in your passport) that day or the
next day and you can pick it up or they will send it to an address you
specify. There are regional Consular Offices of China in different
locations in the USA. You have to apply in the office that covers your
region. Like at US embassies, you have to walk the application in, you
cannot send it. So, unless you live close to Chicago, San Francisco,
Houston, etc., you need to use a passport processing service to do this
for you. Check on the Internet for this service. You will send your
Chinese government request papers and passport to them. It's usually
around $100 to $150 for the process, but they handle everything.
Once the Consulate receives your information, it usually takes just a
couple of days to get the visa, but it can take up to two weeks. Check
with me before you send anything so we can make sure you send exactly
what you need.
I am sure they won't send a curriculum. The best thing to do is to look at pages that offer curriculum on the Internet, if you don't have access to standard ESL texts used in America. A good one that is widely used is http://www.esl.net/side_by_side.html . This is a standard curriculum in the US and it is the kind of curriculum used in China. Search "Side by Side" on the Net and look at all the examples. It is really easy. They may not exactly use "Side by Side", but all the texts in this field are like this. In China, mine was British and was just the same as this.
curriculum, it should be set for the school and the region that is
taught by the Chinese English instructors at your school. You will be
given this I assume. But, you are there to teach
conversational English, not grammar. Please be flexible and come up with
your own ideas. After I had been there for a month or so, I went away
from the curriculum and used the Internet (most Chinese schools have
computer overhead projection systems in each class). I would choose a
topic for the day, go to specific websites and we would just begin
discussing what we had seen. Topics ranged from "Life in the USA for
kids" to "Cartoon characters that we are all familiar with on US and
Chinese TV". Just have fun and get them to talk!
Before I went to
China, I was very liberal about the idea that all people are created
equal. We are different on the outside, but all the same on the inside.
Right? Wrong! The Chinese people have, for the most part, very little
body hair and under-active sweat glands. Most have no need for
deodorant, unlike me who can last about a half a day without becoming
offensive. It's the European in me. If you need deodorant, perfume, etc,
make sure and bring plenty with you and find a store where you can buy
some once you get there. But, it won't be easy. Usually you can find
these things at high priced malls. My family in America would send care
packages to me with these items. I haven't been in China in a couple of
years, so these things may be easier to find now.
13. Is the apartment where we will be living already furnished?
Yes, the apartment
is furnished and they'll give you cooking utensils, towels, washcloths,
etc. They provided me a TV and computer with Internet. The computer may be
in the teacher's office, but usually they will give you one for your
apartment, as well. You might want to buy a DVD player when you get
there or see if the school will provide you one. There are always shops
to buy DVDs and all the American movies and TV shows are there
(Seinfeld, the Simpsons, Friends, etc).
You buy a one way
ticket over and it is reimbursed when you get there. Then, they arrange
your flight home or help you to make the reservation. It's also paid
for. If you back out of your contract and go home early in the first
semester, getting home is your responsibility.
I don't have any
teaching samples, but you can go two weeks early for a training and I
would encourage that. That would put you in China the first or second
week of August. There is usually an orientation by the school and the
Bureau provides one, as well.
You are alone when
teaching. You'll usually have about 55-60 very well behaved students.
The kids will love whatever you do. Do not be intimidated by the number
of students per class. It is manageable because of their behavior. The
idea of 20-25 students in a classroom like we all expect in America is a
luxury the rest of the world cannot afford, for the most part. They will
not be asking a Chinese teacher to stay with you because they do not want
interpretation, only English. And, your time in the classroom is much
needed time off for the Chinese teachers.
About two weeks before for training, early to mid-August.
I don't have access to the school's schedule. I was given one once I arrived. The first semester last until about the end of January, depending on the dates of the Chinese New Year. You will be off for 2 weeks to a month during the New Year (Mid-Winter) celebration. There is a week off in the late spring for the national holiday in the first week of May. Usually, your vacation is taken at the end of classes in July. They encourage you to take the extra month's pay and see China. The Chinese teachers or your advisor or friends can help you make arrangements for travel, tours, etc.
19. What date does the second semester start?
Around the middle to end of February.
As a rule, everything that works in the USA
works in China. But, when you are purchasing things in China, this may
not be the case when you get back to the USA. China is the world's
manufacturer and many electrical items you buy there may be compatible
with Europe and not the USA. I never had any sort of adapter.
China has over 100 major distinct dialects. All
dialects are like different languages. All areas have a local dialect.
If you are from Beijing and cannot speak the national language of
Mandarin (pu tong hau), you will not understand someone from Shanghai.
Imagine it as if a person from San Francisco could not understand
someone from Denver. Please do not concern yourself with learning local
dialects. It will be harmful. You need to learn Mandarin. Cantonese is a
significant and very special language to the Chinese. It is a regional
dialect from the south and people in deep South China speak this. But all
should be able to speak Mandarin if they are educated in public schools.
In America, most people who came here from China in the 19th and 20th
centuries spoke Cantonese. So, there was always a prejudice towards this
language here. But, it is in the best interest of China of your own best
interest to learn Mandarin. In the Nanjing, Shanghai and Beijing areas,
you will never hear Cantonese.
23. Is it okay to take on extra work or work at another school part time?
Yes, if time allows it is okay to work in more than one location. But, please always run this offer by the administration at your primary contracted school. They may not want you to do this. When I was there, I worked at three different schools at one point, teaching little children and consulting with Chinese teachers. But, remember, in China it is proper business practice to inform your primary employer of these offers.
24. What if another school attempts to recruit me.
This is bad business in China. If you actively pursue employment at another school, they can cancel your contract and ask you to go home. If you get to the end of your contract period and your school has no intention of extending the contract, then it is okay. If another school approaches you, that is definitely bad professional etiquette.
25. Do I need to keep my passport on me at all times.
No, actually the opposite. If you are traveling and intend to ride on the train, take an airplane or stay in a hotel, you must present your passport. But, when going through your daily life, do not carry your passport. The passport is very valued and will be stolen. Please secure it in your apartment or, even better, in a safety deposit box at the bank.
26. What about dating a fellow foreign teacher, a Chinese teacher or a native Chinese person. Is that okay?
It is okay, but not with a Chinese teacher, usually. The school will not want anyone of the opposite sex staying overnight in your apartment (except your mom or sister on a visit, of course). Remember, Chinese children are very sheltered and would not understand why you are not married, but act like their mom and dad. Co-habitation is a no-no. Each school can be a little different. It may be okay to date a Chinese teacher or it may not. Certainly, if you have a relationship with a non-teacher who does not work at the school, it is okay. But, again, no overnights on campus! These rules also apply to dating a fellow foreign instructor. So, is summary, if they are not fellow workers at your school or if they are a fellow foreign teacher, it's okay as long as there are no overnights.