Eastland Teaching Jobs Abroad

Teach English in China or Taiwan


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Teach in China: Public vs Private schools

Many people write requesting jobs in public schools or private schools because they assume that one is ‘better’ than the other. Many certified teachers request jobs in Chinese public schools because they would be working in public schools at home. Other teachers want jobs in private international schools, while others only want to work in language schools. If you have decided you want to teach English in China, what route should you take?

First, it’s important to point out that public school jobs in China are probably the worst possible jobs in China. They pay less than any other type of job in China and while housing is usually provided, it comes with a curfew attached (and usually a pretty crappy apartment). In my 10 years in Asia, I have never heard a teacher discuss anything positive regarding working in Chinese public schools. For this reason, we do not actively recruit for public school positions. Please note this is not the same in every country and it is very possible there are exceptions no one at Eastland Recruiting has heard about. This is not the same in every country- South Korea has a very nice program for public schools. Every country is different and we do not recommend Chinese public school jobs.

 

English: Two students studying English at a Ta...

English: Two students studying English at a Taiwanese cram school (buxiban). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Private international school jobs are highly competitive. Most of those schools do their own recruiting-the demand for those jobs is so low and applications so high that they do not need to use companies to help them recruit. They get many more applicants every year and easily fill open positions. If you are a certified teacher in your home country (government license, not just a TEFL or CELTA) and especially if you have more than 2 years of experience, pursuing these jobs is a great option.  Note that they are usually looking for people with a specific education specialization to fill specific positions (elementary ed, subject specific, phys ed, etc). 

Most of the jobs in China are in private schools. Most are language schools, but there are some private schools teaching many subjects to a younger group of students. All of the schools we work with are either western owned or managed. In China and Taiwan, there are many cram schools (buxibans). This is very similar to the Korean school jobs in hogwans, but generally speaking, private language schools in China have a better reputation than their counterparts in Korea. 

Our best advise is this: do not sell yourself short by requesting only public school positions. When looking for a job, it’s best to describe the type of environment you are looking for. When we ask most teachers why they only want public school jobs, for example, may say something like “at home public school jobs provide stability and look good on resumes.” In this case, it’s best to tell us you want a stable job that will improve your future career prospects rather than assuming you will get that in a public school in your chosen country. We want more than anything else to help teachers find the types of jobs they are looking for, both for the experience itself and to help obtain future goals. Let us steer you in the right direction-we have no reason to do anything other than help you find the type of job you want!


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English Teachers- appreciate your jobs in China

The life of an English teacher in China is really quit easy. Only when you have been in China long enough to meet locals who work a ridiculous number of hours every week and have little precious time will you realize how good you’ve really got it.  Teaching English in China requires anywhere from 25 to 35 hours of your weekly time; however, many jobs in China require anywhere from 60 to 80 hours every week for less than the average English teacher makes. As this NY Times article explains:

The hands that make the world’s electronics belong almost entirely to young people with dreams of their own, and a lifetime of contented industrial drudgery is not among them. Their precious time off is a rare chance to enjoy the present as they strive for a better future.

This type of working environment has led to dance clubs and other related venues to spring up near China’s busiest factories. For example, Foxconn is the company now infamous for making most of Apple’s products at a lower labor cost, working many of its employees to the bone. Because of this, Zhengzhou, the city home to the mini-city/ factory, has seen a great increase in the number of clubs where workers can come to unwind, or drink away their sorrows. Given the description of the work and living environment, the following description of the areas surrounding factories makes sense:

Off-Hour Escapes for China’s Workers

In the residential compounds, rows of brick dormitories house up to eight workers in rooms filled with metal bunk beds, a combination shower-toilet, and not much else. Perhaps that is why the world beyond the factory gates resembles a gigantic street fair. As dusk fell one night recently in Zhengzhou, Mandarin pop music blared from hair salons and couples strolled past stalls selling pirated DVDs, sliced watermelon and roses covered in silver glitter. A flatbed truck piled high with oversize stuffed animals drew a mob of young women like sharks to blood. “I want the green teddy bear,” cooed a teenage girl to her boyfriend, who dutifully handed over 10 renminbi, or $1.60.

Keep this in mind when you are offered a contract from a Chinese school to come and teach English in Shanghai or other great cities. As a foreign English teacher, you are given a great salary and minimal working hours in what is usually a great working environment, even by Western standards.  You will undoubtedly meet people from Southeast Asian countries that come to work in even worse conditions and for less money than described above. The life of an English teacher certainly beats the need for street fairs surrounding your school!


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Soldiers in China training with video games

Chinese military members “training”

One of the first things teachers in China will notice is that the military and police are pretty serious people in China. It doesn’t matter whether you are teaching in China, Taiwan, Korea, or Japan-it’s best to take local military and police seriously! In China, the military police are not as troublesome for expats teaching abroad as they used to be, but they are not yet pussycats, either. In fact, it’s best not to make eye contact unless you have to! In spite of their reputation, much of it well earned, it has been reported that the People’s Armed Police of China (PAP) has been using video games to train their officers.

The PAP use what they call “military recreation rooms,” which are pretty much rooms filled with video games. The report isn’t too specific on what games are inside these rooms, but it does state they include “gunslinger games,” “battlefield games,” “console-grade first-person shooters,” “fighting game simulations,” and “co-operative games.”

Now before you go thinking that it’s all fun and games, it might be worth noting that these officers aren’t just playing video games all day. This particular part of the military is charged with protecting the highest government officials, government buildings, borders and ports, and basically anything related to China’s internal policing.

The PAP are considered a more elite unit than their blue uniforming wearing comrades. They have special forces units in case of emergencies and even perform the executions at civilian prisons-not a job for the faint of heart. Perhaps a little car racing or first person shooting of the fake kind is just what they need to unwind!

It’s meant as a way to boost morale, and unsurprisingly, the troops seem to be enjoying the addition. The PAP has also implemented a “squadron training room” that uses games such as Counter-Strike and a Chinese FPS called The Glorious Mission to train soldiers. This is similar to what the United States military has been doing for some time, albeit China is using commercially available games.


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Social Media and Networking for Teachers Overseas

Whether teaching at home or abroad, teachers need to be aware of how they use social networking to present themselves. Eastland Recruiting frequently checks social media sites as part of the screening process for jobs in China and Taiwan, but we also use it to keep in touch with teachers who have already arrived overseas. Applicants should be aware if they have a majority of their pictures at bars showing off their skills in doing shots and beer bongs, their applications are pretty much immediately discarded. On the other hand, people who have pictures of their travels or interactions with kids are actually helped by social media.

In both Taiwan and China, social networking is extremely popular. Taiwan uses pretty much the same websites as people in the West, but China has developed many of its own sites that are very much similar to Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and others. In China, many of the most popular Western developed sites are not easily accessible, but people use VPN services to bypass the system that blocks them.

The monitoring of social media has become part of standard operating procedure for any company that is hiring or employs. Schools are likely to keep an eye on teachers as well to ensure they are representing the school properly and not engaging inappropriately with students. In the United States, schools have started creating policies regarding social media to monitor students and teachers.

We do [conduct] some passive monitoring for our school’s name using TweetDeck. . . “sometimes we’ll find a student, whose profile is public, who’s raising a bit of a red flag with their posts or tweets. We’ll normally update the student’s adviser, and sometimes send the student an email saying, ‘Hey, by the way, we came across this post where you weren’t representing yourself or the school well — just want to let you know.’ But no punishments are issued,” he says.

Even if no punishments are issued, some feel it is an invasion of privacy. Anything posted online, however, is open to public viewing-and people are looking:

Social media policies are not meant to be some sort of restrictive or privacy-violating blanket. But if you take your community’s culture and values into consideration, you can nail down some sort of structure that will prevent both the staff and students from getting into trouble down the road. You just need to address it from all sides of the coin.

Most schools seem to have taken a positive approach to engaging in social media. They leave students and teachers alone, as long as there are no violations of other policies. Angry students or teachers who fire off tweets or status messages should probably think twice before hitting that “post” button.

“There have been some situations in which a student has tweeted something disparaging, usually about a coach or a teacher — but I don’t comment,” (the principal) says. “I strongly believe this can be used positively. By allowing our teachers to connect through social media with students, we both understand the risks that come with it. I strongly believe in the First Amendment, and that this is a good forum for communication, but you just need to be cautious with it — especially with pictures.”

Remember that most social networking sites have privacy options so that only the people you chose can see your posts. We highly recommend this while you are applying for jobs or if you address controversial subject matters (politics, religion, etc). We use one simple rule: social networking should always improve your chances of getting a job and people who are not aware of this are probably not good applicants.


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Teachers in China Can Experience the World in Chinese Copycat Towns

When teaching English in China, it’s hard to avoid noticing how much of what is available for sale is a knock-off of a famous international brand. Compared to other overseas teaching locations, where international law is followed to the letter, China far beats all competitors in creative copycatting. Copies of everything from Prada bags to Bic lighters can be found in markets throughout China. Even shops made to look like Starbucks, KFC, and other famous chains are not even attempting to hide the artisan nature of business in China.

Much of this is obviously illegal. However, most do not realize that copying is done on a much grander scale through copycat towns in China. Right now, sprawled throughout cities in China, copies of the Eiffel Tower and streets of Venice in Hangzhou, London’s Tower Bridge in Suzhou, and most impressively, an entire district that is meant to resemble the streets, shops and buildings of Thames.

Thames Town was built as part of Shanghai’s “One City, Nine Towns” scheme, which saw a cluster of satellite towns built around the city, each in a different international style. As you enter Thames Town, the honking and chaos of Chinese city life fall away. There are no more street vendors selling steamed pork buns, and no more men hauling recyclables on tricycles. The road starts to wind, and then, in the distance, you see what looks like a clock tower from a Cotswold village.

Not everyone is impressed. Even the architect of Thames town has his criticisms:

“It doesn’t look quite right,” he says. “It looks false.” Mackay says the architects who actually drew up the designs for the buildings created a pastiche, throwing together different styles, and throwing out authenticity. Take the church, for instance. “Windows are in the wrong place,” Mackay says. “The proportions are wrong. The use of the different stones is all wrong. It would never be used like that in the genuine English church.”

While many in the West criticize Chinese culture for its lack of imagination, they see it as owning a piece of the West and bringing it all together in a fashion uniquely their own. And before we judge, just remember:

A century and a half ago, the rapidly progressing United States was a hub of counterfeiting and copying and it too has a host of more recent architectural replicas, including country pavilions in Epcot in Florida, and plenty of examples in Las Vegas.


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Unique travel ideas for English teachers in China

When teaching English anywhere in China, but Shanghai in particular, it’s easy to get stuck in the big city mindset and forget that their is a big country outside of the bustling city worth seeing. We are always looking for new travel ideas that do not just list the usual suspects, like Great Wall of China, so we were happy when we found this article:

Best Travel Ideas Around China.

With your minimum commitment to teaching likely being 12 months, you need ideas for every season. You will see that different destinations are plotted by month, giving readers the best time of the year to travel to that particular destination. This is a great article to help with planning. How many of you have arrived at destinations only to find that you really spent all that time and money only to arrive at the worst possible time. If you’ve done much traveling while teaching, chances are you have!

Here is an excerpt of for those who prefer something a bit more rugged and unique:

Stay with a Tibetan family in Jiuzhaigou

When to go: July
Touted as one of the most beautiful places in China, Jiuzhaigou, set on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in northern Sichuan province, is also one of the most touristy spots in the country. Avoiding the swarms of tourists in the region is possible however by staying overnight with a Tibetan family. Zhuo Ma, an English-speaking Tibetan who lives in the scenic area, opened his home to travelers a few years ago and, together with his mother and brother, provides bedrooms and home-cooked Tibetan meals to visitors.

And here is a little known trip for those who don’t mind getting wet:

Get wet in Zunyi

When to go: April
Zunyi is renowned for its waterfalls – the neighbouring Guizhou countryside is dotted with scenic falls, including China’s largest, the 74 metre-high, 81 metre-wide Huangguoshu. But in mid-April, the small city gets even wetter with the Dai minority’s annual Water Splashing Festival.

Three days of festivities feature dragon boat races and the ritual washing of the Buddha at temples around the city before people take to the streets for a giant water fight. Kitted out in their best and brightest clothes, Zunyi’s residents douse each other in any way they can, flinging bottles and bowls of water over everyone and everything within range.

If you are going to be in China for a year (a more), you life as an English teacher need not be bland! Take some of your time off to explore what China has to offer-you don’t want to be one of those teachers who returns home with a “I wish I would’ve…..” list longer than your travel list!

 


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How long will it take before I get a job?

Our English teacher applicants most often want to know how long it takes from beginning to end before they land a job abroad in Taiwan or China. This varies greatly depending on many factors, including the school, the visa requirements of the province you are applying to (in China), the time of the year, and many other factors. The best case scenario from the time you send us your application to the time you can arrive is usually 3 weeks, and the longest wait is usually 3 months. We can always point you in the fastest direction based on your requirements.

The process is as follows. First, you must submit a complete application, which is simple enough. Next, once we determine you meet the minimum qualifications, someone on our team will either call you or email you to schedule a time to talk. That person will be your recruiter from beginning to end. We do our best to make a variety of times available for a variety of time zones and schedules and unlike some companies, we make ourselves available on the weekend. Your recruiter will then send you detailed information on the schools you are qualified for and that are hiring now. This information always includes details on the salary, hours, and a sample contract so you know what you will be signing ahead of time. At this point, some schools require and interview and others allow us to hire directly, but in either case, we feel it is essential that teachers speak with someone at the school before they make a final decision, so we help facilitate this.

Once the school has made you an offer (which is only official when you have received a contract), you usually have 5 working days to decide whether or not to accept. We always take the time to answer any questions about what is in the contract if requested. Once you have decided, you simply sign and send the contract to us and the school. That’s it! You’re hired. And yes, we are making it sound easy.

The next step is of course the visa, which you can find out more about on our Guide to China Visas for Teaching English page. The schools always help with this process, but every teacher will have to do some leg work before they get on the plane. At this point, you will get more help from us on timing your ticket, visa, and all of the details before you arrive. Your airport pick-up and hotels will be arranged well in advance. Don’t forget that after you arrive, we want to hear from you and every teacher receives continued support throughout their contract.


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World’s Largest Building Opens In Chengdu, China

Despite its recent modernization, Chengdu still maintains a lot of its charm and remains a popular destination for English teachers looking to experience Chinese culture. A city with a rich history famous for spicy food (I mean REALLY spicy food), the modernization has not taken away the charm from those looking to teach abroad and experience traditional Chinese culture.

While most people save their gasping for the world’s tallest buildings, the people of Chengdu, China are quite happy that they can now claim the largest building in the world:

The New Century Global Center in Chengdu, in Sichuan in western China, is so big that it’s got its own artificial sun. Indeed, at 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, 400 meters (1,310 feet) wide and 100 meters (325 feet) high, it’s massive enough to hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses or three Pentagons, according to local authorities.

This impressive building is being called an enclosed city, and for good reason. Inside, there are hotels, shopping malls (that’s right, malls within a mall), a water park, an ice skating rink, and even an indoor beach (whatever that means). Chengdu has long been one of China’s great cities, growing rapidly in both population and economy. The government has invested a great deal of money in making the city more attractive for investment and tourism, and this megabuilding cannot hurt!

The building forms the centerpiece of a recently developed area known as Tainfu New District on the outskirts of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Like many Chinese megacities, this hub of 14 million is rapidly expanding, with a growing subway system and a new airport planned for 2020.

New Century Global Centre


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Can Couples Teach Abroad together?

Updated for 2014!

Couples who want to teach abroad in China or Taiwan normally will not want to leave their husband/ wife/ partner at home! Others believe that teaching overseas will be much easier with a close friend. So is it possible for two or more people to teach together? Yes, but joint applicants need to be much more flexible, as not every school is willing to work with more than one applicant at a time.

The easiest way for couples to find a job is in a bigger city simply because there are more schools and more opportunities for each person to find work. Because the population in China is so much greater than Taiwan’s, it is much easier for couples to find a job there. Teaching English in Shanghai and Beijing are the easiest place for couples to get jobs, but if you are looking at jobs in the rural parts of either country, there is very little chance of finding a job together.

The situation in Taipei, Taiwan’s biggest city, is different. Taipei is by far the most desired city to teach in, so this makes it much more difficult for couples to compete. Generally speaking, Taiwan schools don’t like working with couples because they worry about teachers taking vacation time together, leaving the school short of teachers. On the other hand, most schools in China have so many branches or teachers that they can easily place two people at different but nearby branches, eliminating the problem. Considering the recent downturn in the Taiwan teaching market and their resistance to employing couples, we generally encourage couple to consider China as their top choice.

Many people who decide to teach overseas immediately start trying to recruit their friends to join them. If you are serious about teaching abroad, you might find it difficult to find friends who are equally motivated. Many friends will start off excited, but lose interest rather quickly. If the person you initially apply with is not a significant other or spouse, it’s best to not rely on a friend to match your enthusiasm! Decide for yourself that you want to teach overseas and be resolved to see the process through regardless of what your friend decides.

In summary, if you are a couple or friends and want to live together, China is by far the easiest path to getting this done. During most times of the year, there are just not enough jobs in Taiwan for joint applicants. We’ve actually placed as many as four friends in the same city in China, although this is not always possible. If you are planning to apply with a joint applicant, each person must apply with all required documentation individually and meet the qualifications, but make it clear in your cover letter that you are applying with another person and who that person is.

What if your spouse does not want to teach? This is usually not possible in either country. Spousal visas are possible, but fall under an entirely different category, so schools generally do not want to hire people who have a spouse at home. Unless your spouse already has other work in the city you plan to teach in (meaning their visa is taken care of), schools will not consider your application because they are not equipped to deal with a non-working spouse’s visa. We can only work with married couples who are applying together or in the case of a spouse who already has a job. You can read more about this on our Visas for English Teachers in China page.

What if we have children? Unless you are applying for a management position, a salary for one is not going to be enough to cover your family’s expenses. Even if both parents plan to work and work out child care on their own, the schools are not usually capable of getting visas for children. We have never been able to place teachers in this situation, unfortunately. The only exception to this would be in the case where one spouse already has a job and that company is equipped to help with the child’s visa process.


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Teachers: If you see this, don’t be alarmed

When teaching abroad in China, teachers expect to see strange things and have a bit of culture shock. However, most teachers in China don’t expect to see something quite this odd! Don’t panic-you are not about to be robbed. The only victim in this near tragedy will be your eyes.

Recently in China, quite a few companies have been promoting what is now being called a “facekini.” Why, one might reasonably ask, would anyone subject themselves to such an uncomfortable beach experience? The most likely reason is for protection from the sun. Besides being deathly afraid of UV rays, Chinese people generally believe that pale skin is beautiful, while tanned skinned is… not. The article explains:

Chinese have a saying that translates roughly as, “pale skin covers up a hundred uglinesses.” Many Chinese women go to great lengths to prevent themselves from getting tan lines in summer, such as using parasols while walking on the streets and wearing long-sleeve jackets while riding bikes or motorcycles.

People in the West, of course, don’t have the same feelings on tanning. Pale skin seems to us to be unhealthy. Please note this is not about race, it’s about relative exposure to the sun. Some have claimed that because lower level jobs leave people in the sun, only the peasant classes get tanned; therefore, for centuries, a tan is a sign that a person is of a lower class and therefore less desirable. The upper classes stayed inside, away from the sun’s harmful rays. The most attractive people are those who avoid this.

It’s difficult whether to say whether or not this is a passing fad or something we are going to commonly see on the beaches of China. Practically, many of the companies are also claiming that in addition to avoiding the sun’s harmful rays, beach goers can also avoid jelly fish stings (reasonable) and avoid sharks (probably not). At any rate, the companies making these visual atrocities are doing their best to make them “fashion” accessories.

Ma Ke Water Park sells the masks in 18 different colors, from sky blue to magenta, and in three styles, distinguished by the size of eye holes and placement of seams.

Good luck to the companies making these-it’s safe to say they will not have an international product on their hands.