After much thought, research, pondering and just random selection it’s obvious to us that we aren’t living in China so I can teach English…and we don’t plan on moving there anytime soon.
Why is this?
Pretty much because they have too many internet restrictions, therefore, Chais wouldn’t be able to run his business which is 99% run by the internet. He develops websites (www.controlyours.com), and can not have restrictions on what he can or can not do.
Really…this was the one and only reason that ultimately changed our minds on where we decided to go. But, either way, I’m still going to share what I learned about moving to China. Let’s step back to my post from 1/16/11 (called: “Goodbye Australia…Hello China” when my friend, Mike Nyffeler, mentioned teaching English in China. He had friends who are also a married couple, that moved to China, got their TEFL certification, then started teaching English in China. Hearing Mike talk about this married couple’s courageous adventure to a foreign land to teach English, is what stemmed my jealousy to want the same for Chais and I. Ultimately, they helped me realize that you don’t have to be a single white male to move overseas! You can move overseas if you’re married, have possessions, have responsibilities, have a job, have pets, etc. etc…As long as you crave adventure.
Needless to say, I then started my list of questions that I had for this couple and my curiosity only got stronger. You can’t merely say you are going to move to China, then not start to wonder “Can I still wear stilettos?” …okay, maybe that’s just a question I would wonder! Honestly, I was so concerned about what ‘things’ I could take with…can I take my cats? What shoes will I wear? How many articles of clothing will I need to pack?
Mike was nice enough to connect me to his friends, so I e-mailed them, facebooked them and tried to get as much information about China as I could.
They are a wonderful newlywed couple…and I learned so much from them. Here are few correspondences between them and I:
#1: SHAWNA, November 19th, 2010
Hi Tommy and Laura:
This is Shawna Meyer and Mike Nyffeler gave me your information. My husband and I are hoping to get to China to teach English by March or a bit after. We would love to hear your experience and hear any advice that you want to give up! Also, I have a few questions…if you feel comfortable answering I’d love to learn from you!
Where did you get your education (TEFL)?
Did both of you have to get certified?
Were you both able to teach in the same classroom?
Was not knowing their language a challenge? Or did you enjoy it?
Over all, I would just love to hear your experience about where you stayed – both good and bad. From there, if you don’t mind, I would love to ask more questions.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to answer these questions and more. I hope you both are having an amazing week!
Chais and Shawna Meyer
#2: TOMMY, November 20th, 2010
We loved China a lot. First we were in the city of Jinan which is 3 hours south of Beijing. Then for the last 3 months we were in Beijing.
Laura is a certified teacher here in the States so she didn’t have any trouble finding work. But really i didn’t either when it comes to teaching English. There is a huge need for American speakers.
We didn’t need to get certified but both of us Got our TEFL certificate from the organization we taught for. We just went a few weeks early for training.
No we didn’t teach in the same class room and not for the same school. But we obviously lived together and in the same complex as other teachers.
Not know the language is a huge challenge. And unless you take classes and have a tutor for several hours a day you won’t learn the language. We still loved it. It gives you lots of patience. We roughed it on many occasions. Always took the public transportation and the train and eventually found ways of getting our point across and finding someone who spoke English.
I’ll pass it on to Laura to give you some more perspectives especially from a girls point. Feel free to ask more.
#3: SHAWNA, November 2oth, 2010
Again, thanks Tommy for answering my questions…and thanks to the both of you for accepting me as a facebook friend, so I can learn from you! After reading your response…I of course, being curious, have more questions!
1. Tommy…How was jumping into teaching, having (I assume) not done it before? Laura taught in the states, but you didn’t have that experience…Chais and I won’t either…just want to quickly hear your first teaching experience in China!!!
2. How did you get set up in China? What program/school did you go through? We are looking into getting our TEFL certificates before going to China, but you got your’s IN China. Do you think one way is better then the either?
3. Sounds as if there were several other teachers that you met in your complex…Were they too English teachers from the States?
4. Did you salary from Teaching easily cover your monthly expenses?
5. Okay…I’m a girl and have to know…How light did you pack?:) What were the key things that you took with you?
6. Did you prefer working in Jinan or Beijing?
7. Was it hard teaching your students? or did they speak adequate enough English to help with the Student-Teacher relationship?
Laura, I would love to hear about your perspective…and give me any advice! Thanks again for helping my husband and I …we really want to make this a reality!
#4: LAURA, November 21,2010
Hi Shawna! I am really excited that you all want to do this. It was an amazing experience and we often talk about going back and we still might.
As for set up, our first school in Jinan had us living in an apartment building with all the other foreign teachers. They gave us everything basic you needed for everyday life (bed, couch, pots & pan, etc.) It was nothing fancy but it was enough. My school in Beijing gave a monthly allowance for housing and a real estate agent to show you around. We were able to choose our own housing which was nice. In the bigger cities it is more common that you will have a housing stiffen, however this often goes with schools for foreigners as they pay better (you need a teaching degree for most of these schools but not all.)
The English teachers in our school were from all over the place (US, Australia, South Africa, UK.) I really liked the diversity and met great people from all over the world that hopefully we can go visit now. Plus, it’s good for the students to hear different accents.
Packing was kind of a mess. It really depends on your school and the city you are in. In Jinan we never had the occasion to really look nice so all my cute cloth were never worn. We walked everywhere and in the winter it was really cold so everyday you would where jeans with long underwear and waterproof hiking boots or shoes. I found in Jinan that the women would get dressed up but we walked non-stop and things weren’t the cleanest so I didn’t want to have on nice things. In Beijing there was definitely more of a need for nicer clothes. Also, we had to travel from Beijing to Xian to Jinan on our own before we started work with all our luggage. We struggled with it in and out of cabs and trains.
I say all that to say, be minimal. If you where a shoe size women’s 8 or above you probably won’t be able to find shoes. If you are over a pant size 6 and over 5″3 or so you probably wont be able to find pants. Shirts, coats and things like that can be bought. Also, if you go to a smaller town bring spices you use a lot, Italian spices, cinnamon and coco are hard to find and nice to have for a treat every once in awhile.
JInan was great because it was a true Chinese experience or roughing it and surviving in a true Chinese blue collar town. We were forced to learn more Chinese and learn more quickly about the culture. Beijing is a very international city so you get to experience cultures from all over and it is easier to get around with poor Chinese. It is still living in China and you still need to learn some Chinese for cabs and stuff but if you choose to go to foreign grocery stores and restaurants you can live like you in the US, kind of. Both were amazing and we met great people and learned a ton in both cities.
In the Chinese school our younger students English was limited and we needed our Chinese teachers (assistants) to translate more and for conversations to translate a lot. The older students we could talk to have a relationship with. We went to students homes for dinner and cooking lessons, they were great.
I hope this helps. It was an amazing experience that made us grow and learn new things and strengthened our relationship. It will be a challenge with the language and culture at first but you will grow to love it and later will miss it. Let me know if you have any more questions.
After learning what I did from them, I got more excited about moving there and started looking into where I would teach, where I would live, how much money I could make, how much money I would need to cover costs in America, and what things I would start needing to pack.
Here Is What I Learned About Teaching English:
1) Each center that you work for as a TEFL teacher is different, but it averages out as follows:
- Main Responsibilities:
- Maximum of 20 hours teaching per week
- Lesson planning
- Assist in the placement testing and interviewing of new students
- Carry out teaching related responsibilities including, but not limited to demonstration classes and conversation clubs
- Attend centre social events
- Qualifications/ Requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree
- TEFL certificate
- Native English speaker from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa
- Experience teaching young learners preferred
- Plenty of passion and energy
- Excellent salary: 6,000 – 9,000 RMB ($918.59 – $1377.89) depending on qualifications, experience and school location
- Free accommodation: Western style, near the school
- Flight allowance: 9,000 RMB half payable after 6 months, half after 12 months
- Legal ‘Z’ work visa
- 12 days public holidays plus 10 days extra holidays
- Health insurance
- On-going training and academic support
- Promotion opportunities
2) The qualifications are pretty start forward: get your TEFL and have a Bachelor’s Degree. We learned Chais would most likely NOT be able to teach because he does not have his Bachelor’s Degree, but I do (BTW, Chais wanted me to tell you that “college is for brown nosers” . I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interior Design…but it doesn’t matter what type of Bachelor’s you have just as long as you have one! We then had to figure out what Chais would do to make money, and the easiest answer was: Keep doing what you’re currently doing – build websites! He could also tutor English privately, because you don’t need a TEFL or Bachelor’s degree to do that!
3) We realized quickly that our possessions would be something that just didn’t matter anymore if we wanted to travel. We wouldn’t be needing large suit cases full of clothes. I’m use to packing 3-4 shirts per day of traveling, just in case I change my mind on what I wanted to wear…not to mention the number of shoes I would bring. I love clothes, shoes, make-up, jewelry and fashion in general…but that stuff doesn’t matter when you are traveling.
4) Our cats would have to stay in America. Only one cat is allowed per adult traveling with a maximum of 2 pets per family, and often they are required to go into quarantine. We have three cats that we love so very much and the thought of them being confused while traveling and possible having them taken away from us just absolutely brakes my heart. We then have to figure out what to do with our cats while traveling…more to come later!
Our Ongoing Monthly Expenses In The US:
5) We’ll need to make enough money to cover our monthly expenses within the United States (which are):
- Nelnet (School Loans) $178.78
- Doctor bills: New West, Surgery: $50, New West, Physical Therapy: $100, Heartland Surgery Center: $100, Kearney Clinic: $100 (Total: $350)
- Storage Unit: $34
- Life Insurance: $76.12
- Capital One: $50
- Farm Bureau: Unknown
- Cell phones: Unknown
- Someone to take care of cats: unknown
- International Health insurance: Unknown
Total monthly U.S. expenses: $700+
How will we make that money? I’ll tell you later!
This is just a glimpse of the things that I had researched and put towards the thought process of moving. We weren’t scared by the thought of it…at least that’s what I still tell myself!
We were so confident that we were moving, that in December, we even started to warn our friends and family that we were moving to China so I can teach English!
Thanks for reading,