Monday, June 6, 2011

So, you think you can teach?

For the majority of western foreigners teaching English is the job of choice. Why?

  • High demand, there is practically an English buxiban school on every street
  • Good pay, $20USD or more per hour
  • Nice hours, afternoons and evenings. Who doesn't love sleeping until 12 everyday?
  • No experience necessary, never taught a day in your life? No problem.
  • Easy work (for the most part), just get your lesson plans in order and the Chinese staff will take care of the rest

[Granted some buxibans may not offer all of these great perks, but generally speaking these are some reasons why it's an easy job for foreigners]

So why is it that I'm counting down the days until I'm not an English teacher any more?

Well for one thing, in my opinion it's an exhausting job. Especially when you teach the little ones. Sure, they're cute and fun. But 18 seven year olds who understand very little English can become tiresome. Especially when you're four months pregnant.

I also become easily frustrated with the lack of respect students give English teachers. Now, I don't have any other teaching experience, so I'm not sure if teachers are generally disrespected by their students. But, whenever my students are really acting poorly towards me, I always ask them whether or not they treat their elementary school teachers that way, and they always shamefully shake their heads no. English class (at my school anyway) is not regarded as something very important- just a place to go have fun, and maybe learn a few words. So, I certainly
think that influences the students' attitudes towards the teacher.

But I also believe my being a foreigner plays a part. Most of my students either forget, or don't realize the extent of my Chinese understanding, and therefore think they can take advantage of the language barrier. For those teachers who don't understand any Chinese, well, I don't know how you do it. Then there is the "monkey" aspect. To some degree, there is the expectation that we foreigners are there to put on a show. Or that we're just there for show. And this can extend beyond the walls of the buxiban and onto the street as well. I cannot count how many times I have overheard some parent telling their kids, "look over there, it's a foreigner! Go say 'hello'!" while pointing at me from across the road. I used to try and not let it bother me, always telling myself that maybe they just don't see many foreigners, but that's re
ally not true. Plus it's really widespread throughout society.

After awhile you start feeling like you are a zoo animal..."say hi to the foreigner little Jimmy!"

But it's not all so bad...


  1. i love your blog Allane, i cant believe ur pregnant im super excited for u, maybe when u come back me u and stace can go for dinner.. all were missing is my julie =( ... i hope ur last two months are great!

  2. Thanks Luz! Yes I would love to see you guys when I get back. I hope you are doing well!