Thursday, December 22, 2005

One of the great things about teaching in China is the chance to work and travel. There are many holidays in China. The school system is set up to have summer and winter holidays. Winter holidays are in late January or early Febuary. The traditional Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar so it varies year to year, much like Easter does in the West. Chinese New Year and Spring festival are all rolled up into a week long holiday. So this is a good opportunity to travel to other cities or enjoy some of the great natural sights. The picture on this page is the Chang Jiang river. What we call the Yangze in the West. A mighty river and certainly the life blood of historical China. This shot is just upriver from I Chang which is often called "the throat of Sichuan". It is near the Three Gorges dams. Yi Chang is where the upper and lower Yangze converge. It is also the location of the first large scale hydro-electric system in China, with 12 generators within the dam. The Three Gorges project is the largest hydro-electric project in the world and is further upriver from this shot.

So if you want to get out of your particular city, this is one time that you should be able to do it. If you are teaching at a University then you will have about six weeks off from around Jan. 15 to March 1st. You can arrange to have your pay spread out over the teaching year and most universities will offer you a travel allowance of around 1-2 thousand rmb. Which is about $240.00. Train travel is cheap and there is a wide range of accommodations in many areas. Most contracts also offer a round-trip plane ticket as well, which is given after completion of ones contract. Most will require a one year contract for this, or if you are at a university an academic year. China has many 4 and 5 star hotels and you can find tiny little sleeping rooms, which are little more than a bed with a door, for as little as 5-10 yuan. These cheap places come with your own pets, in the form of that pesky indomitable little cockroach! When I was in Nanning I stayed at a 3 star hotel. It was 150 yuan per night, less than $20.00 and was clean and convenient. It also included breakfast and had a restaurant off the lobby and was able to arrange flights for me and have the a tickets delivered.

There is also a summer break in July and the kids go back to school in September, or some universities have classes starting in October. One difference in Chinese schools at the university level is that different disciplines may have different start dates and therefore different graduation days. If you are working for a private school you should get a week off for Spring Festival (Chinese New Years), a week off during the May day festival, and another week during the first week of October, which is National Day. This is the anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China. I will write more later on the specifics of teaching, for now I just want to give an overview of teaching and it's benefits and what you might expect should you decide to explore China as an ESL teacher. There is a huge demand for native English speakers and almost anyone can get hired. Those with a college degree are preferred and ESL certificates are also desirable, such as TEFL certificate. Look for more details in upcoming posts.

Just a note on location so that you understand what I mean when I say the Chang Jiang is a mighty river. Yi Chang is in Hubei province, there are many large ships that come up river. Tourist ships, barges all kinds. It is near the center of the southern half of China. The point being ships can travel inland thousands of kilometers. It was probably the first river to be manipulate. Originally it was diverted to provide easy fast transport for the armies of the ancient warlords but also provided much needed irrigation to the flatlands and made the area of Sichuan the richest most prosperous area of China.

So if you like travel have some English skills and would like to experience something completely different, China might be a good place for you. Let me just make a short comment on what I see as differences in the three main choices for teaching in Asia. Japanese culture will expect you to be at your workplace all day every day, even if you don't have a class for several hours. From my current teaching peers who have taught there you may expect and be expected to conform to the Japanese way. You tend to get your butt worked off there. The wages are much higher, in the area of 20K US per year but living expenses are also high especially in the big cities and the housing may not be what you are used to. Korea also has a similar situation. In China you may make as little as 3000 yuan per month in some areas, although you can earn as much as 15,000 yuan per month in the prime jobs. Which is nearly 2k US per month. But most jobs will pay at least 4, 5 or 6 thousand yuan, and you will be able to live well on that salary. Even save money. If you have a prime job, and have a long term goal you could save enough to buy an apartment in about three years. Of course, most teachers like to move around a bit see the country, so if you would rather be a bit of a gypsy you will be able to do that, easily, and see different parts of the country. Most schools will sign you for a half a year if you desire that.

Well I must be off to compose a test for my students so please come back again as I hope to find the time, in between my university teaching, my own small school and my internet ventures to expand this blog into a resource of sorts for those of you who might want to expand their horizons.

Here's a nice way to stay in touch with your friends from all over the world. Speak to anyone in the world over the net, with video chat or the traditional Instant messenger for free. It is also one way I supplement my income online so I can continue on my worldtour.


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At 6:07 PM, Blogger Chris Moonbeams said...

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