and why it was a bad one…
That’s what we believed 6 months ago, before we arrived and while we were still working on finding our way into China.
So, with the insights I now have, let me give you a few interesting facts about the offered jobs:
Fact 1: It’s not as easy to be hired as you think.
Fact 2: Filling the position can be a lot harder than you think, and vastly different from the description given in the ad.
Fact 3: You might not get paid.
So, personally I can live with facts 1 & 2. Everything is hard in life. So, it’s not easy. Oh well…But not getting paid for it!? The whole idea is actually supporting yourself, on the way to your goal. So, working for nothing brings you nowhere!
Here are the questions you should ask yourself before considering such a job. Answering them will help you make the right decision.
It’s not easy to get hired
Want to come and teach English? Great! please ask yourself these couple of questions first…
– Are you a native English speaker?
If you’re not, your chances drop dramatically, however, the Chinese are rather flexible with their definition of Native speaker, having an English speaking side of the family is mostly good enough. The most important thing is the accent, if you can pull off an American/British accent, even if your nationality is not from an English speaking country, it’ll suffice for most positions.
– Are you ready to make a demo for EVERY interview?
Most interviews (for schools, agencies etc.) will consist of a 10-15 minutes demo where you’ll have to “teach” your interviewer, or a few demo students.
– Are you willing to make a demo class for every new potential student (mostly children, sometimes along with their parents), and hope you were cheerful enough so he will choose you to be his teacher?
In one-on-one classes you’ll normally be required to do a demo class for each new student, be sure to get paid for this class even if the student chooses no to continue.
It’s not as easy as you think
teaching children for ONLY 3 hours a day is daunting work. I mean, what you prepare and think will suffice for those 3 hour, you finish in 4 minutes. NOW WHAT?!
In order to increase the chances of staying as long as you need (emphasize on YOU), get yourself ready mentally and ask yourself the right questions.
Which teaching style will fit you more? Do not only think about the salary involved, even though there are some impressive offers out there (remember, we are looking for a job that can support your stay in china for as long as you need)? There is a whole set of other considerations:
– How many hours do you want to teach?
– Teaching a group VS one on one, which do you prefer?
– Children or adults?
– Are you willing to teach on weekends?
– Do you prefer day time/afternoon classes (usually children) or evening classes (mainly for adults)?
– How far are you willing to commute for a class? Yes, the subway is very convenient, but still takes a long time, especially on rush hours. Also, depends how long the class is. Teaching for 2 or 3 hours would mean it would be worth commuting a longer distance.
– Will you be willing to work, ONLY for a Z-visa? Some of the schools, will hire you without giving you a z-visa. If you really need this work AFAP (As fast as possible), you probably will take it, but it means you have to find other solutions (further invitation letter, going to an agency, Etc.) which will cost money and consume time.
– Some of the schools do give the materials for teaching, some don’t. This is crucial, so let me repeat this…Are they giving teaching materials or not? You’ll discover you are working much more on preparing materials than actually teaching, so you want to have as much materials ready in advance.
Bare in mind that many of the benefits, which can be quite a large portion of your earning are paid only after completing a one year contract. Think for yourself if you really CAN teach (on the interview you said you’ve got vast experience and done that already, right?) for a long period of time.
Not getting paid!
If you’ve been reading about China and intend to come here, you probably know it already. Contracts in China don’t count! It’s a fluid piece of paper, sometimes a very vague one that’s mainly intended to make you feel comfortable about having a contract. And still, a contract is probably your best way to secure your working terms and compensation. So, I recommend either having a clear cut contract, where EVERY word has a meaning and isn’t ambiguous, OR not having a contract at all and using the right precautions to really get paid.
Next, is a list of things to check on your contract, so have a look there. If you prefer not to have a contract it’s fine too, but then make sure you get paid after EVERY class or a minimum of every week. This should be suffice for an agreement with a school, or someone you tutor privately.
My wife used to work for a kindergarten, She broke the contract ahead of time after 2 weeks. The contract was with an agency and they refused to pay her for the time she worked, saying that it was their expenses on finding this position. They were pointing out to the contract saying something vague about that. So, yes, the contract did say something about compensation for the agency if the contract is broken, but it didn’t’state the amount of working time that will be deducted from the payment….two weeks is a real exaggerations. So, my point is…be careful!
Pay close attention to these points in your contract and avoid ANY ambiguity in text:
- Salary – How much and for how long? Any bonuses included? After what time period? On which day of the month is it paid? Important remark on this one. Chinese employers tend to pay on 15th of every month for the previous month, so it’s not uncommon seeing someone braking the contract ahead and then not being paid for the last 2 weeks of work.
- Tax – Do you pay tax? How much?
- Payment method – Cash? Account deposit?
- Payment slip – Yes? No?
- Payment every week – Insist on this point. It will save you some frustration if something goes wrong
- Vacation days – How Many? When? Are these part of the official Chinese holidays? Or can be taken whenever you want them? Can you take a few days at a time?
- What’s the penalty for braking the contract before it ends? Does it really say how much? if it’s vague, it’s not in your favour
- Sick leave days – These are not always mentioned. Ask about it.
- Is the payment per hour or payment per class?
- Health Insurance – Yes? No? Which kind? Do you need to purchase additional insurance in your home country?
- Included Z visa or not? In general it depends which country you are from. Not each company (or school) are eligible to give a Z-visa to their employees. If they do give you a Z-Visa, is that a z-visa they supply under their name or a friends’ company? Again, this is an important key point. If you leave your job your visa expires, and you either have to find another company to hire you, or leave the country and get a different kind of visa and re-enter. If they are not the ones issuing the visa, it’s good to check the relationship between the school and the other company. If something goes wrong between them, where does that put you?
I wanted to call the next list “best practices”, but it’s more of essential practices. Follow it, you’ll thank me later.
Essential Practices when you look for a teaching job in China – Follow Them!
1. If the agencyschool ask you to give a deposit which will be returned at the end of the contract, or saying that 1st month payment will be held as deposit, just refuse and look for a different agency. Don’t pay!
2. Look for the agency name or school and check their reputation. Google their name, ask on social networks. Before you sign a contract, make a search.
3. Invest in a good demo, or tell them some impressive story about yourself, this will increase your salary, if a salary range is written in the ad. You want to get the high end of course.
4. Try to find out as much information as possible over the phone. You might discover, it was not worth commuting all the way to the interview.
5. Don’t agree to make a long demo before understanding what your salary would be and the rest of the terms in the contract. It might be a waste of time. This usually happens with kindergarten positions.
6. If you sign a contract make sure NOTHING is vague, even if the person who is about to hire you is VERY nice.
Let’s end this long post with a helpful list to start with.
Good English schools list to work with in China
We will update this list with trustworthy schools that we know personally, or people we know personally that work for those schools.
Update 2/10/13 – creating such a list is very dynamic and changes a lot. I’ll add here recommendations that my readers send out.
1. World Citizen English – Closed
Share your Schools trust list with us in the comments.