Sunday, March 12, 2017

TEFLpocolypse 2017: Take Shelter

It almost seemed too good to be true, this contract in China, considering the ongoing TEFLpocolypse.

I was offered a job with barely a ten minute interview, there were no particular hassles about my qualifications, and the terms are pretty much equal to my first job in Saudi -- $4000 a month plus accommodation and 3 months paid vacation time. 

Almost too good to be true, and turns out it kind of was. 

Two of my colleagues were up for contract renewals recently, and this week found out they wouldn't be offered new contracts. There are perfectly good teachers with qualifications, who are in China with spouses and kids.  

Now they're scrambling to find jobs. 

Word is that the school is going to be hiring more bilingual Chinese teachers next year, and the contracts for international teachers will involve about 20 percent more teaching and 20 percent less salary. 

The rumors are flying around the office, of course. Private international schools are being legislated against, and there's a story that it will now be impossible for a foreigner to work in Beijing for more than 5 years. (I can't find any immediate confirmation of that online.) 

This is definitely one of the hardest jobs I've had, in terms of the students. Everything I'd ever heard about Chinese kids -- that they were respectful, orderly, studious, quiet, and well-behaved -- is absolutely incorrect here. Management is a wreck; pretty much every single management position was vacated at Christmas, and new people are struggling to figure out what's going on. Something like a half-dozen teachers left at Christmas, fed up with the terrible students, inconsistent management, and the isolated location. 

(We're in a new development an hour from Beijing, basically in a construction zone, so most of the teachers had spotty internet service and constant noise. I'm at the front of the compound so haven't suffered that much, and truthfully most of the ones that left were people with a lot of experience teaching back home but not much time abroad, ergo had unreasonable expectations. Like civilization and stuff.) 

But after a rocky start and a conflict with the dotty old lady who was my immediate superior, who also left at Christmas, I;m actually kind of enjoying teaching the spoiled, neglected little shits now. I use to train them like Pavlov dogs, and it works a treat. 

Still it seems this job won't last more than the 2 year contract I have now, ending summer of 2018. 

My teaching philosophy nowadays is basically "take the money and run" anyway. X remains if not fearless, than at least resigned, in the face of a profession, and a world, that is rapidly burning to the ground. 

"The world is not the same as it was. Mutants ... they're gone now."


Anonymous said...

Wait are you supposed to be Logan or Professor X?

Anonymous said...

You could go back to writing erotica, but that ship seems to also have sailed. Word has it that the erotica gold rush has turned into the romance novel gold rush. Get in while you can X!

Darzin said...

Any plans after China? If you're looking for a similar private school gig I hear the Nazarbayev schools in Kazakhstan pay quite well.

Jug Jugette said...

How you can bear teaching brats I have no idea. Personally I haven't gone near anyone but adult students for twenty years now, far less stressful and more somnolent.

englishteacherx said...

I'll begin perusing the international school market I guess, see what's out there. Figure I'll do some IB qualifications somewhere here in the next year or so, and hopefully complete my Master's degree. (About halfway through it now.)

They kind of bait-and-switched me regarding the kids; I was told I'd be working in the high school but they stuck me in the middle school. Teaching monkeys would be easier, I think, because you could toss them food.

No, I'm supposed to be the little girl in the LOGAN video.

Anonymous said...

Get back to Vodkaberg and banging hot chicks, posting pics and telling amusing stories about it all.

englishteacherx said...

Jesus fucking Christ, have they found a way for time to run backwards? That Russia died forever with Putin's reclaiming the throne again in 2012. Russian girls are all angry nationalists pushing baby carriages now.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree with your Russian analysis. If you read through forums like Rooshv you find guys trying to get there asses to places like Russia and Ukraine thinking it was 1999 or something. Like they'd be greeted as "Great White Elephant Hunters." Slav women throwing themselves at their pathetic feet like they had never seen a westerner before. How can they not have figured by now that those ships have long ago sailed? First Ukraine dropping its Visa requirements, then with the rise of Putin's Russia and Russian nationalism.

Anonymous said...

Haha,I am very happy to hear that losers like you can no longer get laid in Russia. I on the other hand can get laid anywhere. And you are a fool for working at a private school in China. I teach at a public university in China. My students are all disciplined 20 year olds. And I do hope they close down all the private schools in China. Why should they exist?

You are really sick people who think that it is a bad thing that Russian women now have nation, family, husbands and so on... Sick evil shits you are. Can't get laid in the USA so you desire weak, desperate foreign women. Probably closet fags too.

Anonymous said...

X you are a fool. Get a job at a public institution. Then there is the loser, go to a foreign country to get laid thing. Pathetic people on here. I for one and very happy that Russia got its house in order and that the women there don't throw themselves at fags like you.

erzeze ze said...

Well said if you have the chance to work for a public institution in a developed country, you'll make more money. Then, you can still take a 6-month leave and fuck desperate women in third world countries, but with the guarantee that a job is waiting for you back home.

englishteacherx said...

I don't even know what "public institution" means, even after looking it up. You couldn't be referring to the US public school and uni system. US School teachers make less than Wal Mart employees in many states, and the recent rise of the no-contract "adjunct faculty" at colleges and universities in America also makes that a low-paying, no-benefit, terrible prospect job. Believe me, I looked into it.

I worked for the US government indirectly last year, in the form of a contracting company training program, and while it wasn't unbearable, the package was considerably less attractive than this one, with less take-home and 1/4 the holidays, and as I mentioned, more than half of the teachers got laid off shortly after I left.

Anonymous said...

Your time in the Heartland didn't allow you to reconnect with your traditional American values, like obesity, bigotry and meth addiction?

erzeze ze said...

In Belgium, public sector salaries are the same or sometimes higher than in private sector. Also there are several benefits like extended holidays; I have a collegue who goes on fuck tour every year for a period of 4 months in Asia and then comes back to Belgium when spring starts.

englishteacherx said...

well, Belgium, shit, sure, but I can't work there, can't even work in Hungary or Czech Repblic anymore.

Yeah, no, traditional America values, like Facebooking your date rape and snorting Oxycontin, just seem foreign to me.

Anonymous said...

If you're willing to make less, there are some pretty cush teaching jobs in China. I'm talking about good accommodations and friendly, down to earth colleagues. With relatively modest financial goals, China can be a great choice. Not a bad place for dating either.

Mike said...

Japan seems like the obvious choice for you at this point. Why?

1. Well, you're in China. Which means that neither weather nor (northeast) Asia are deterrents for you.
2. You've stated that China will become increasingly unfeasible.
2. You've nixed the idea of working in America.
3. As you stated, you can't get into Europe.
4. Latin America pays peanuts.
5. We can all agree that Korea blows. Reasons can be reiterated upon request. Though, perhaps you've less hostile toward it. Idk.
6. SEA would be okay if Money wasn't a driver for you. It is, and so SEA is out (save perhaps Singapore).
7. You're over Russia.

Pro Japan:
1. The only first world civilization in Asia (does Taiwan count as such? I've never been and so I'm unsure). It's even got it over the USA, in my experience (cultural oddities aside).
2. You aren't stuck with your employer through your visa, you can easily move jobs, and you can build side income or pursue completely different lines of work.
3. There is a healthy and entrenched expat community that isn't entirely comprised of ESL teachers.
4. Students are likely to be better behaved, relatively speaking.
5. I prefer their food, culture, etc. in Asia.

Other possibilities that I'm less sure on:


Tawian was supposed to be a valid option for money years ago, but I don't know now. You'd essentially be trading infrastructure for (humid) weather I think. I would look into it, but I think a lot of it is kindy stuff. Personally, I'd brave the seasonally cold weather and choose Japan. You could always work in Okinawa, besides.

Japan strikes me as a place where putting down true roots is possible (to first world standards) while building an a potentially well paying career (eventually). Even if that career means being the handsomest / most charming coffeeshop ESL tutor in Shibuya (or wherever). Then there is the corporate market there.

englishteacherx said...

You know it's funny, when I was a kid, one place I was determined to visit and then always heard about working was Japan. Apart from three days in Fukouka while getting a visa for Korea, I have never visited nor worked there, while working and visiting numerous places I never fucking dreamed of.

My understanding of Japan however, is that ESL teachers no longer make very good salaries compared to the cost of living.

Mike said...

I don't have work experience there, but I have spent some time in Tokyo.

Tokyo is overwhelming and makes NYC seem small (though I still recommend a 3-7 days there to see if it might be for you), but it (and its overall economic impact within the nation) represents an enormous economic opportunity as the city with the largest GDP in the world; as does urban Japan in general.

To wit, 'downgrading' to Osaka is still plugging into an economy that is larger than that of either Shanghai or Chicago. In economic terms, it helps to think of location choices as 'rivers' of money. How economically wide, cash deep, and geographically long is that River of money in China? Thailand? Japan? etc. Rather than the local economy that you readily perceive, it's this river of money that represents the true economic opportunity and stability of a region. Japan's river pretty much makes the entire nation a stable, first world opportunity that isn't going away anytime soon and will allow you to max out your income: only limited by your capitalistic ability (within your language limitations) to maximize it. In other words, neither the economy nor the currency will hold back your income as it will in most other places in Asia: even in China and Singapore to an extent. In Japan, I would wager that somewhat rural living, especially in the age of video chat, won't hold back your income so much. You should do well living in a suburb of any medium sized city, and you would have all the opportunity that you needed living in the city itself.

My outlook on the Japan ESL market, as an outsider looking in, is this:

As in most of Asia save perhaps for China in the present, ESL salaries have been stagnant for a long time. Unless the region starts exploding with growth, which isn't likely to happen (what you perceive for China, in terms of the future, might be the result of a predicted slowing of their economy) then ESL salaries, and maybe even the market itself, are likely to either remain stagnant or contract.

While this salary stagnation / cost of living issue is a problem, it doesn't seem escapable throughout the World ESL market in general unless a teacher is able to leverage him or herself into a niche within the market that pays better. As you have done in China, and can continue to do in the IS market should you get the qualifications. As Korean teachers do either through gaining a Uni gig or marrying a local that enables them to get a visa that allows for private business. Or, as some Japanese teachers do by getting a Uni gig, successfully marketing for private teaching, or doing something completely different. There is a lot of parallel and vertical opportunity in Japan due to the breadth and depth of the economy, and due to the larger expat population there. Though, I would always assume that the better opportunity can only be found with boots on the ground and through meeting people. The best jobs and opportunities are likely not to be advertised.


Mike said...

In sum, I think that the bottom tier of the Japanese ESL market offers subsistence-like wages, but it really always has. The market might contract a little, or be contracting, but that isn't really saying a lot considering the fact that the economy (especially in terms of per person) is so large in comparison with everywhere else in the region (and it blows places like China out of the water when QOL is considered). Meaning, you can get a hand-hold in Japan through the jobs that you can find from abroad, but the greater point is the vertical income (and QOL) opportunity that it has above all else in the region. With your experience, you'll be able to out-compete the majority of ESL teachers in the lower rungs (and thus the majority of ESL teachers). It may take you a year or two to get your bearings, but at least that year or two will have been a true investment.

The caveats are that the higher level ESL positions at Unis and the like are still competitive and they are sticklers for qualifications. At this point, I would assume that they will treat you similar to how American Unis would an associate professor. Also, unless and until you learn Japanese (5+ years of study), you will have to work around that limitation. Last, there is ageism in the employment market (but not in the private business market nor professional services market, of course, assuming that you are good at what you do). Though, you still have a large amount of time before that cultural bias would kick in for many jobs. Maybe a little over a decade, or maybe even up to two decades, and then it might still depend on your appearance. You will likely be granted positive bias if you're good looking, even for an older man. And this is also just me repeating the words of someone else. I've seen significantly older men be hired in better positions in Asia, when one would have assumed a bias for younger people. What this tells me is that personality, experience, and skill will likely to continue to matter in face-to-face interviews and hiring.

For me, the opportunity in Japan lies in the corporate market, in the ability to gain private business (and even open up a language school), and then in the parallel opportunities. There are a lot of expats that work Uni careers, but they tend to have PhDs for the better jobs. And they likely speak Japanese. Although Japan is a great economy, like all great economies it also attracts serious competition for the better advertised jobs.

Good luck. If nothing else, and assuming a little pocket money, Japan is fun and clean.

erzeze ze said...

@ETX: if you get your masters degree, I have some contacts in Ethiopia, they could help you getting a university job with expat contract.

Anonymous said...

@X Why can't you work in the Czech Republic or Hungary?

englishteacherx said...

As an American it's all but impossible to get a job in the EU now

Anonymous said...

@X That is not true. Of course you can get a job teaching English in Eastern Europe. And most schools have better experience with American teachers than UK teachers so would prefer them. I have dual citizenship so it is not an issue for me.

What makes you think that an American cannot work in the EU? It is up to the school. There are no laws in any EU country forbidding Americans from working there.

I'm currently in China too but plan to be back in Europe next summer. China is too smelly, filthy and polluted.

englishteacherx said...

Now that Britain has left the EU I guess it will be possible for Americans again, but just look at and find a help wanted ad for a school in Eastern Europe that doesn't have "EU Citizenship required" on it, and post it here, and we'll all apply together.

englishteacherx said...

Yep, I double checked -- every single ad on in CR, Poland, and Hungary said, "EU Citizenship required" or "Open only to those with right to work in the EU"

Anonymous said...

Damn I might have to get my passport renewed. I let it go seeing as I only need my American one in China and I have unpaid debts that I just let lay when I left. I hope that does not get in the way of me getting a new passport. I would tell you websites where you can find jobs but I may need to find one so I will keep it for myself.

Maybe that is some EU directive because I know for a fact that most schools prefer Americans to the Brits. Americans ESL teachers tend to be of a higher caliber and more reliable than the degenerate Brits.

I was recently in Bulgaria and met a Canadian ESL teacher there.

My recommendation would be to find the city where you want to live, then search all the English language schools in that city, then send them all your CV. That is how I got a job in Poland years ago in the middle of the teaching semester. They did not even have an advertisement out.

englishteacherx said...

i imagine there are still plenty of places where you can work illegally, but then you have to deal with the 90 out of 180 days visa rule.

Lawrence said...

Told you so. You sneered. Good luck.