Sunday, August 09, 2015

The China Syndrome (TEFLpocolypse Part 2)

I got a job in China.

Following my failure to get a job in the UAE (followed by two more failures to get jobs there) in April, I put out a few resumes to contracting companies. One was for jobs in China.

A guy for the Chinese contracting company got back to me almost immediately, and we had a lengthy talk. He gave me a few tips about adjusting my resume. He was very encouraging about the possibility of finding a good job, and then said he'd get back to me.

And then there was the same deafening silence I was getting from all the other applications.

For the next couple months, I devoted myself to writing porn, as mentioned.

Then in July, Amazon changed its payment system, giving a righteous bitch-slap to short porn authors.

So I sent a timid e-mail to the contracting company in China asking if any jobs had come up.

Another guy, a different guy, contacted me almost immediately, and we had another lengthy interview. He was also encouraging about the possibility of finding a job.

And sure enough, a few days later, he had arranged an interview with an international school in a major city there.

I had a nice chat with a woman who worked in the HR department.

After we were finished, she arranged an interview with the principal of the school.

That also went well.

And a few days later, I got a job offer as an English and TOEFL teacher.

Relieved, after months of running in circles and fretting, I signed it.

I'd had a few friends who worked in China, and they said it was a decent offer. $2200 a month after taxes, a couple months of paid holiday (although the salary was only paid at half the normal rate for holidays), paid accommodation on campus and food in the school cafeteria. (Although I was warned not to get too excited at the idea of Chinese cafeteria food.)

They wanted me to start August 8, so we started talking about visas.

There was some initial confusion. Friends who had worked in China said all you had to do was fly to Hong Kong or Bangkok and it took maybe 2 or 3 days.

But there were new rules that had come into effect in 2015. They were so new, even the HR people at the school didn't know about them.

The first thing that was causing problems for a lot of teachers: now teachers need a police background check, in addition to the medical examination.

I got the medical examination in Ukraine. It cost $250, but that's probably a damn site cheaper than America.

Would the school contribute anything for this, I asked?

Unfortunately, no, I was told.

The police background check?

I sent off for one from my home state in America. It cost $25. I had done that for Saudi in 2013, so I knew where to do it. It could be done by mail.

That took a couple weeks to get.

So I can go to Hong Kong and get the visa now?

They checked.

Now, apparently, one can only get the Chinese visa in one's home country.

Since I was in Ukraine, I found a ticket back to America for $1100. A heavy expense, but I really needed to go see my ill father anyway.

I sent off copies of all the stuff, waiting for the invitation letter. I'd apparently have to go to the nearest Chinese embassy myself (a 9-hour drive) to get the visa, or hire an agent to do it (costing a couple hundred bucks, total.)

But then I got an e-mail.

There's a little problem with your teaching certificate, I was told.

See, I don't have a CELTA. I have a DELTA. The new law requires that the certificate state that it was a "120 hour" training course. DELTA is a far longer and more in depth course, but the law states that the certificate must state the number of hours studied, which mine does not.

I got some letters from the place I took it, testifying that the DELTA consists of 206 hours of study and 175 hours of self study. I e-mailed these of to China.

And then I sent a worried letter to the contractor saying this didn't seem to be going too smoothly.

He was shocked about this nit-picking, having spent years in the "Wild East", but said I shouldn't worry.

But then the HR woman in China said that I would have to have the letters and certificate notarized and verified by the Chinese embassy in the country where they were issued.

Which was England.

The contractor checked and said that there was a new Foreign Affairs guy in office who was insisting that all schools must follow the absolute letter of the law.

A bit of research revealed I could hire an agent to do the verifying in London for me, at the cost of $200 - $300 or so.

Just to sum up: To go to China now, you'll need about four interviews, a plane ticket home, a $250 medical check, a police background check, hundreds of dollars in fees for verifying documents, hundreds of dollars in fees to hire an agent to get the actual visa.

But if you have a CELTA, rather than a DELTA, you'll be able to get the visa more easily.

Basically, it's now nearly as hard to get a Chinese visa as a Saudi Arabian visa, and it seems the schools will not pay you ANY of the money you spend on the process.

I told them I had to withdraw from the job offer.

My father's condition has worsened recently, so I decided to forego China for the moment and take a job immediately available in America, which I will discuss in the next entry.

All in all, following the stock market crash and the recent random drug testing of foreigners in Beijing, I'm doubting that this is the best time to go to China anyway. Wild East it certainly seems not to be now.

But the place I'm going is nobody's idea of paradise either ...


Anonymous said...

It's why a shit load of people go on tourist visas... and consequently a shit load of them get caught too.

vch\ said...

I've had to do similar stuff to get a Russian visa. I'm supposed to start in September, but the Canadian government is taking so long to verify the passport and medical tests results that I doubt I will be able to start. I had to do an aids test, syphilis, leprosy, drug screen, etc.

expensive, expensive

Anonymous said...

Would an online TEFL certificate with "120 hours" of study work? They can often be found for quite cheap.

englishteacherx said...

Not sure. I'm guessing not. I know in the Middle East now, you are required to provide a verified letter saying that you did NOT do your degree / certificate online.

Jug Jugette said...

Sorry to hear about the snarked up application, and all those wasted notes.
I spent several years in China during the noughties, teaching corporate on the dark side. Money was good but unreliable. Not for everybody but suited me at the time. If you'd like more details let me know.

Anonymous said...

You did the right thing. I've been in China for longer than I care to admit and I'm leaving after my current gig finishes up at the end of this month. It's finally beaten me. I've noticed that every year I've been here the internet has gotten slower, the pollution more intense, the food quality worse (yeah I eat the cafeteria 'food') and the Visa process is that much more difficult than it used to be. The low point came 2 months ago where my school got 'raided' by the cops. Even though my paperwork was in order, I still got taken to the Police Station for 3 hours to be questioned if my passport was a fake and why was I here illegally? No joke. That sort of blatant shakedown would never would happened a couple of years ago. Of course it came out that the School didn't pay enough in bribes to the right people....blah blah blah. My HR tried to laugh it off small inconvenience, though let me tell you there's nothing funny about spending time a Chinese Police Station.
The whole teach on a 'tourist visa game' is basically over now. Sure we've all done it at various points, but in this particular city they are going school to school checking paperwork. The way around it is to get private clients and have classes in a coffee shop, their apartments etc. I think it has something to do with the big anti-corruption campaign that the current Emperor is spearheading.
I will say that the money has been good, the living cheap and I managed to save a very respectable amount of cash - but that was mostly due to the fact that where I'm living, there is f-all to spend it on. What's funny for me is that the School HR is frantic to find another foreign teacher but has cut the salary by 5k - and then wonders why nobody wants to come here!

Anyway, I'm going home now to jump on the MA bandwagon that all the cool kids have.

I still think China has some potential, but personally I'm done with the place.

Some Guy in America said...

An online 120 hour cert like ITTT would be enough. China, best as I can tell, do not have a attestation requirement and online certs are accepted without problem.

Chris said...

That's a shame. I think you would have enjoyed legit high school work. I wouldn't worry about drug tests. I think that your chance of being swept up in one of those is low.

Anonymous said...

2200 for an 'international school' is not the going rate. Don't even consider working in China for less than 5,000 USD if it's an international school you're going to be working at.

englishteacherx said...

Most of the schools that offer 4000, I discovered, don't pay for holidays or for accommodation. Tell me even one that pays 5000 for English teachers. Science and history teachers, maybe.

Anonymous said...

School that I am working for just outside of Beijing. If you want more details let me know and I"ll send them to you privately. Our place is like a revolving door due to the cohort and well it"s just China. I"m milking the cash cow for all it"s worth. oh, and you get all the benefits on top as well plus 14 weeks paid holiday per year. Currently full at the moment, however I"m expecting more casualties of war by Christmas. cheers.

englishteacherx said...

Oh is that one of those "real" international schools, that hires people with master's degrees and "teaching qualificiations?" where you teach rich embassy kids?

It's almost impossible to believe anyone would leave a job that lucrative, given the current TEFLpocolypse going on. My new job in America is full of people suddenly downsized / unqualified from jobs they had in Korea, China, Middle EAst.

englishteacherx said...

RMB devalued against the dollar a couple days ago

Ken said...

ETX sorry to be the bearer of bad news

The TEFL or rather ESOL Apocalypse continues in the UK. The UK government just cut £45 million from the budget allocated to teach literacy, ESOL and maths.

Funny enough the government have demanded 6th form colleges teach it. The government expects teachers to work for free I guess.

Colleges themselves have had a 4% budget cut this is on top of the 11% budget cut announced in February 2015.

This is ontop of the 26% cuts in 2014.

Pretty much everybody is looking for a job overseas now as the prospects in the UK are absolutely dire.

Anonymous said...

ETX - I can pm you the details if you're interested for further info.

englishteacherx said...

Sure, send me the details.

Anonymous said...

Will do, matey.

Croose Hackle said...
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