Sunday, August 06, 2006

I really love teaching in China

It occurred to me after reading brett's post in the previous post that it's been a while since I expressed how much I really enjoy my life as a teacher. You know if you have visited ESL forums, that much of the talk is focused on what is wrong in China, or perhaps the cultural differences. What fails to get mentioned enough is just how much fun it can be to live this lifestyle. Sure, teaching is a lot of work and if you are new to it there are some thing you will have to learn about the culture and there are also things you will have to re-learn. Most of us don't think about our grammar at all as it is our first language, so some prep time is needed. However as you progress your style emerges and you have to spend less time in lesson planning and good schools have the books chosen so you just have to follow the book and then try to engage the students into a new style of learning. Now that is no small task, so the creative types may have an easier time at it than others. Adaptability and flexibility are two main attributes that you need as things can get all twisted and sometimes management can be poor. Remember that for most that own a school first and foremost it is a business, and there are many ruthless business owners in China. There is not the same business ethic that exists in the West. As long as you are aware of that then you are a bit ahead of the game. That is why it is so important to find out everything you can about a school before you commit.

So I just wanted to say that living and working in China has been one of the most enjoyable and unique experiences of my life. I really didn't want to plod along back home, doing jobs below my education level, contributing taxes to the war machine, and I pretty much vowed not to return until we had a change in leadership. Don't get me wrong I bleed red, white and blue, but sometimes we are powerless to affect change. Having started out as a liberal person, I can say that this experience has truly broadened my world view. It's made me more tolerant in many ways, and it has given me an opportunity to affect lives in a positive way. Hey that's all good in my view. So if I sometimes get on a rant or start venting, it's just a cathartic thing we all do in China. It is that way for everyone that is in another country, you might bitch about it all but you will really miss it, and most come away changed for life and most for the better.

Larry Rhoe aka worldtour

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At 12:15 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Thanks for you comments and advice. While we have only spent a few short weeks in China, we very quickly gained a comfort level with the culture shift.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Whoops. Let try again. We found the Chinese open and friendly but certainly always on the look out for a little business. Which seems a little out of place for a communist country. We were truly only hustled few time with all of them occurring in Beijing.
We will cerainly research as much as we can any school that we may consider. I will be 56 and my wife who currently teaches primary school will be 57 by the time we hope to do a year in China/Harbin.
I sense that our age may be a bit of a challenge when it comes to finding a good position.
Our son has certainly affirmed your comments as he has experienced a few problems in his four years teaching ESL. The worst was in Korea and the best was in Taiwan. But on the whole his experiences have been very positive and he has never regretted any of his time over seas.
Doo you have any special thoughts regarding Harbin.


At 3:17 PM, Blogger worldtour said...

Hey Brett,
Just a follow up on one of your comments. You said that the Chinese always have an eye out for business. You are so right, and yes in some ways it does seem a little out of place for a "communist country". One thing you and the rest of the readers should consider is that what ever you are observing it is adapted to a Chinese perspective, or with a Chinese "flavor". This is true of their style of communism and pretty much everything else. To be frank the western concept of "communisim" is somewhat the result of our own propaganda. Propaganda of course is not inherently bad or wrong, it is just what ones government would like us to believe about a certain subject.

Those of us of a certain age went through the cold war with a duck and cover mentality, hiding in fear under our desks waiting for the bomb. Thank the powers that be that never happened. My first impressions of China in Beijing were, hey, this is pretty much like any other big city except no blondes. Of course over time there are many other differences, but as China is now an open market country or at least moving towards that, the traditional thinking about communism does not apply, from a wester perspective. I think it is more like Latin American countries where capitalism is in place with a a certain amount of corruption and graft that is in place. But remember that much of that is just the way things are done and it is not always seen the same way as we might see it in regard to corruption. I personally have never been squeezed, and guan xi, the who you know and what they can do for you concept is deeply engrained into the society and will take years to remove if ever removed.

Larry aka worldtour


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