Thursday, 14 June 2007

English Teachers in Beijing Self Support

Just a quick note about my English Teachers in Beijing self support Group on Facebook. Well, basically if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the discussion forums or here.

The idea really is that English Teachers are often left to their own devices in a country that isn't really fluent enough in English and the ways of the west. I just think that as English teachers we can help each other. It's not only socially that schools don't help us, but with teaching too. I find they tend to give me a book and then say, "Oh, and add your own material, make the class interesting!" Maybe it's because I didn't do a TEFL, but "make the class interesting", well to my students that means we shouldn't work hard.
So whenever a student complains, that's when I get given advice, never mind about the actual quality of the class! It's always, include the lower level students in the class more or do more talking.

So in my mind all quality has gone out the window! It's just about making students have fun. Who cares if they actually learn anything!

The Beijing bus card. Am I really saving?

The other day I bought myself a Beijing bus card. It was quite easy, basically I just said "我要刷卡 (wo yao shua ka)" and handed over 50 RMB. I got back a blue card and 30 RMB on it (it costs 20RMB "deposit", like you would ever return it)

So I climb on a bus, and now, instead of paying one RMB for my journey, I'm now paying 4 mao. Wow! So cool! What's that in American dollar terms?? So I think, maybe someday I'll make my 20 RMB back.

Next, I climb on the subway, and guess what. Unfortunately it still costs me three RMB to get on the subway.

Here's the catch. Some buses you only have to swipe the card when you get on. Other buses you have to swipe when you get on and when you get off. I'm not sure how this works, but on the buses where you have to swipe when you get off as well, apparently if you don't swipe when you get off, you get charged a total of four RMB!
That's not a saving! It's an extra expense of 3.6 RMB!! Now, who knows how many times I forgot to swipe while getting off those buses?? I found I spent that 30 RMB in one week! I must have forgotten a lot! (I take a bus and then the subway to and from work)

I think this card is getting me to spend even more money rather than save it!

In conclusion, is it worth it!? Maybe I'm just saving my time and saving myself the trouble of keeping one RMB notes/coins and paying for saving myself the trouble?

Friday, 8 June 2007

English Teachers in Beijing

I'm sorry I just have to laugh. I started an English Teachers Support group on facebook the other day and.... well.... it looks like I'll be supporting myself for sometime :)

One thing I've been quite frustrated about teaching here has been the lack of direction from the school. I'm not sure if all teaching is like this, but essentially my only evaluators are my student. If one of them complains the school is on to me like a flash. So and so thinks you should do this, so and so doesn't like that. Well, you ask the school representative, what do you think? They reply they have no idea because they have never attended, listened in, been interested in your class. After all they're busy enough trying to reschedule the classes because teachers suddenly up and leave! What a vicious circle.

Well, that's my moan for the day!
If you want to join my group it's on facebook and it's called Beijing English Teachers Self Support Group.

Fat chance!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Searching for a Chinese School in Beijing

Having really looked around for a school to learn Chinese in Beijing I haven't really come much closer to knowing which one to go to.

Firstly I've been told by all my Chinese friends to go to BLCU (Beijing Language and Cultural University) but I haven't been so sure. I came across a website written by someone working in the chinese teaching industry. They were Chinese and had the logic that if you want to do a quick course mainly improving your spoken Chinese you should go to a private school. University education is too thorough to be taught in a 6 week course. (look here for it:

So I looked around at a few Private schools. It seemed true that they seem to focus more on talking, but I have been a little worried about the price. It's even more than BLCU! (and BLCU has been pricey enough) I've found myself coerced into going to trial classes I don't want to attend, meeting people I don't want to meet. So far it's all free, but I have been coerced before into parting with my money. I really need to learn the chinese skill of walking away!

Anyway, so just today I went to a little school next to wudaokou subway station. Only 12 RMB for an hours class! I'm going there the day after tomorrow to try a class. The only problem is that no one there could speak English! So how far my limited Chinese will take me is questionable. The reason no-one can speak English is because it's mostly a Korean school and I could only find the address here: thanks to someone else's hard work (at in the comments). Very easy to find actually. Just walk out of Wudaokou (western side) there'll be a traffic light right in front of you and turn right up the road (northern direction) and you can see a small sign on a building on the left hand side of the road. Go in and go up to the 2nd floor and walla! You're there.

So, I guess you better check back the day after tomorrow if I get a chance to write further of my misadventures.

The usefulness of being able to speak English

I just have to add this one!

English Teaching advice

Maybe a little over the top advice, but have a look anyway. I've never done a TEFL and I find I'm a reasonably successful teacher. At least I've never had a problem finding a teaching job!

Maybe in China it's different, but here I remember only a few times people being happy I had a Bachelors degree.