Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The challenges of teaching in China

"The devil you know is better than the devil you do not know" was something that I said quite often over the last few months. People had asked me why I had decided to return for a second semester at the college, when I had some challenges with teaching here. "Why not go to another college.?" I had been asked.

The reason simply is that by and large this facility is good to foreign teachers. There are many stories about the difficulties teachers have experienced in other colleges.

"They pay more" I have heard.

In the last few weeks several English teachers that I know have had problems.

One lass who was in the class with me at Teach International went to a college not far from Shanghai. She was so full of excitement about her first posting. She did not tell me the details, but she lasted there less than two weeks. She had no money and could not get another teaching post quickly, so retreated to Australia.

A lady I know had been teaching north of Beijing, and enjoying her life there until other teachers came at the beginning of the semester. Her life was changed around dramatically as one of the male teachers took an unhealthy liking to her, and did not appreciate being rejected. The story is quite sordid and she sought help from the college - who despite knowing what he was doing (the email messages to here were enough to make one's hair curl!!), but the college refused to help her. Often this is because of contracts, and the funds the college has already expended to get the foreign teacher to the school. She had sought all sorts of help, including legal assistance, but has had no choice but to just avoid the man at all opportunities and change her way of life.

Another lady went to northern China, and discovered that they place was rather unsavoury. The places she was teaching were very primitive, and the rosy picture painted before she signed the contract in Australia, certainly did not live up to expectations.

Today I have had a phone call from another English teacher I know who has just been put off - it is a long story and I don't intend to explain it here, but essentially the new "training centre" cannot afford to keep him, and he is suddenly unemployed and finding it difficult to get work for the last part of the semester. As well, despite the fact that the training centre has decided he is not wanted, they are demanding a high fee, because if the fees incurred by them to get him into the school in the first place.

He is in quite a bind - urgently looking for work and very concerned about the pressure he is under and the intimidation.

So, having spent one semester here - I knew what I was dealing with, and I probably would return here again if I have the opportunity. The "devil you know....."

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