Travel, Teach, Live in China
You should know that when anyone writes an article like this, giving tips about what you should or shouldn't do or know, that they probably made all the mistakes first. I am no different.
So before you go, or take a job as a teacher do a few things.
Look through all the websites which contain information, like blogs and forums, for the specific area or city you are thinking to go to.
Read as many messages and information about the school, or company which has offered a contract to you, or even any which you are considering to apply to.
I say this because often you will find some information about certain companies on these websites, and even about the people who run the company, from former or present employees. If you find one or two adverse comments, put it down to unhappy employees, but if you find several, then don't get involved with the company. I guarantee you will fall into the same fate as the others.
Look for Expat sites; they often have forums or information about schools and companies. They also have contact information so send them an email asking questions to help.
If any school or company has comments about salary being late, or flights not reimbursed, and you still agree to work for them......get it in writing your exact payday, and that you will be reimbursed upon arrival. Most of the schools try to hold the money from you, thinking that if they pay you this and you are unhappy you will not leave until you have your money. This way at least once you arrive and they refuse to reimburse you, then look around the city for other schools and get some offers. Then approach your school, if they still refuse to pay you, simply accept employment with another school.
You need to know that most schools where you go want a foreign teacher, and are willing to negotiate when you are there. They can also get you the visa.
There are differences teaching in Universities, language schools, middle schools or grade schools.
Universities pay less then language schools. Typically if you have a degree, it is between RMB 4000-5000 per month. Some try to pay less, so you need to stick to your decision not to accept that. They also tend to want to use you for work outside the University, so ensure in the contract it states you will teach only at the University for the students who attend there.
I say they try to use you outside the University. Let me explain something. Whenever a Foreign teacher is offered for a course, the tuition is higher for the student. You do not see that, your employer puts it in his pocket, and pays you the less then going rate. For example: You teach a class, you get paid RMB 100 per hour, as does a Chinese teacher teaching in another room. The employer charges RMB 400 per student for your class, and 200 for the other class. Get it? You are the commodity.
So if you teach at a University and your employer wants you to teach outside at another school, someone is making extra money off your work....but not you. Try to negotiate something before you sign the contract with the University.
Language schools like to do nearly the same thing. They offer higher salaries in some cases but want you to work over 18 hours a week, and do other things for them. Often they demand you work every weekend, and 3 weeks in summer break time. If you are employed by them you will only get your normal salary during those 3 weeks, while other foreign teachers who they hire specifically for this will get paid much more. Many of the language schools ask other foreign teachers who are not contracted to them to teach the summer school, because they have advertised the classes as being taught by foreign teachers.
They often give you a schedule which is chaotic, nothing normal. You might have a class Monday morning, three classes Tuesday evening, another class Thursday afternoon, all day Saturday and Sunday...basically your days are disturbed and make it difficult for you to have a normal schedule....you know to do other things during the day. Again, try to negotiate the schedule before coming or signing the contract.
Often if you are under contract with them they will also hire extra teachers for more classes, again usually paying them more. Still you need to negotiate things, and when you sign a contract, test the reaction when you suggest putting in a few clauses yourself. The reason for this is that most contracts are one-sided (not your side) and if they are willing to negotiate then you know this right away, if not, maybe look somewhere else.
It is always wise to try contacting someone who has taught at the school before you, or use the social network websites to find people in the particular city.
This is the end of Part 1, next week Part 2 where I will continue with this subject, plus offer some advice on living, apartments and other important need-to-know subjects.
Copyright @ McGibbon