Challenges faced by foreign teachers in China

From my experience and observations whilst teaching in China there seem to be two broad category of expat teachers – young, freshly graduated “skylarkers” looking for some extra income, the majority of whom don’t really have a passion for teaching, education nor any intentions of committing to a school and, professional, career-minded teachers who keep on educating themselves and keep current with new, effective methods of teaching. Of course there are those who fall somewhere in between; the individuals who perhaps did not want to teach but were somehow led/advised that it would be a safe path for the short or mid-term until they could find themselves in better, more interesting/higher paying fields of work.

My article deals with a few of the main concerns that are faced by teachers that fall into the second category. Many foreigners that are career teachers go to China with very high expectations from nearly all aspects of management. From the very beginning they are subject to vast amounts of miscommunication with recruiters and schools that are interested in hiring them. They are sold the idea that their worth is less than they think, that teachers on the whole aren’t really highly paid. Whilst the teaching industry is not the most affluent, teachers do deserve respectable salaries for all their merits. Think about it, a lawyer spends years becoming a qualified professional in his/her field. Does a teacher not do the same? A bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree are not cheap. TEFL or CELTA courses are not free. All the time you spend learning your skills should be considered by schools and recruiters when they are thinking of hiring you. Unfortunately, that is less and less the case these days.

Education is a philosophy, not a business. In China, however, everything is business. – Mustafa Yildiz

Instead of acquiring professionals that would not only produce quality work but stay with a school that they felt comfortable in, many institutions hire an image that they think would boost the appeal of their company. White faces, light hair and eyes that aren’t brown. That sounds like racism, you say? It is. The small percentage of schools that don’t have those racist tendencies still have the other vice that’s plaguing would-be-teachers – the Native English Speaker requirement. In reality a lot of schools use this requirement as some sort of code for “Caucasian” as they quote a new government rule that Native English Countries are only a handful or the largest political powers worldwide – America, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Why the hell is anyone really bothering to learn English if only these few countries speak the language then?

As a side note, I’d like to mention that so far, the best English language teachers I’ve met have all been second language speakers. There is no way any native speaker could break down grammar the way those second language speakers did to me. All the stuff I glossed over in Primary school and essentially ignored in high school were studied by these people like one studies to become an astronaut. Thoroughly.

Another point of contention are the ridiculous new heights of oppression that foreign teachers’ contracts are getting to. Not only are teachers are being made to haggle and bargain for salaries that barely match their qualifications and experience but some companies have turned it into a game. I personally had the experience of one school allowing their recruiting company to handle the salary negotiations. I was told via email at nearly midnight (it was truly by chance that I had checked my emails that late that night) that I had passed the interview and I had a maximum of 12 hours to submit a salary expectation/request. The thing is, if my salary request was too high it would be rejected by the school board and I would have one more chance to give them a suitable salary quote. After that I would no longer be a suitable candidate.

Welcome to the Hunger Games: school hiring edition.

What if my salary request was too low or actually a lot lower than what the school thought I could be paid? I am still waiting for a reply to that question.

As for the contracts themselves, there are a lot of deduction policies that I haven’t really seen/experienced anywhere else. Among the more intimidating ones were thing like a company being able to terminate your contract without compensation if you did not attend work and could not contact them for 16 hours. Monetary deductions for punctuality and students’ performances in tests, the list actually does go on.

In addition to this there are even some companies that do not even offer decent holiday packages for their teachers. So on top of harsh contract conditions (which one recruiter even got offended and told us was standard fare in China), a low salary and multiple opportunities for deductions, there is also the really depressing cherry of working during the major holiday periods. Whilst your friends at public and private schools get three weeks off for Spring Festival, you get three days from some training centers. Good job, Chinese management.

I have come to believe that modern Chinese management is all about how much you can control your assets. There is a strong feeling that positive reinforcement is weak and would be ignored outright. Western, open-minded ways of teaching are desired on the surface but not in actuality. I even got the impression from some teachers that the unhappier you are, i.e., the more stressed out about your job, the more you give without asking for anything and generally the less opinion you have, the better you are treated in the long run by management. It’s absolutely not true. The more you are of the aforementioned things, the more you are taken advantage of and flat out disrespected by management.

So, whilst there seems to be a lot of negativity in this article, this is only one side to what teachers may experience working in China. As for myself, I have experienced both sides of the coin and, being the optimist that I am, will be going back, hopefully to experience the good side of working in an environment of learning and positive growth once again.

The importance of Early Years Education

Teaching young learners is, in many countries, regarded as lesser work than teaching high school students. One country that is beginning to see the value of a solid, well thought out Early Years Education curriculum is China.

For generations the immense focus on the last few years of high-school has blotted out the need for a stable, Early Years foundation. Parents, teachers and school administrators are desperate to have their children/students attend good universities either in China or abroad. As a result, education is largely regarded as a chore or not as important until late middle school and high-school when students are pressured to not just memorise words and formulas but suddenly begin expressing their learnt knowledge in internationally accepted ways – in methods they most likely hadn’t experienced prior to that stage.

Which brings me to why education at all levels should be given equal weight, respect and attention. From personal experience, I can say that guiding students at a kindergarten is no less challenging than teaching them at the highschool level. In fact, at times, I felt like the former was indeed a lot more difficult than the latter. I realized that I felt that way, especially in China, because of a lack of understanding and support for Early Education practicioneers.

Why would Kindergarten or the early grades of Primary be as important as the last few years of Secondary school? The answer can be found in many schools across China today. High school students in international schools wishing to go abroad to study have, with the assistance of a skewed system, ignored developing their learning and critical thinking skills. The end result is hundreds of teens being forced to attend extra classes on evenings and weekends, memorising tremendous amounts of work in hopes of memorising the right answers for the upcoming exams, a general feeling of never-ending lethargy and a genuine dislike for school.

It is no secret that if a person loves what he/she does then the chances of success are increased hundredfold. Where better to allow students to start enjoying school than from the very beginning? With the right nurturing from the Kindergarten level students can grow into a way of thinking that is open-minded, inquisitive and critical. With these tools (in addition to so many more that students learn in the formative years of their schooling) children move forward through the system not as prisoneers but as pioneers.

Teaching in China: Why you should be lying to your recruiter!

About a decade ago, when I was fresh out of highschool applying for jobs through recruitment agencies, agents knew that I had little to know experience in a work environment (in a place like Sydney, experience is crucial even for the most basic jobs). They were smart enough to give me tips on how to convince my potential future employer how I was a suitable candidate and yes, that included lying and manipulating words to your advantage.

At the end of the day, these recruiters understood that employers weren’t going to be paying me an hourly rate of $18/hr for my looks, obviously they already had a system in place to make quadruple the money invested in me back in sales or services rendered, etc.

Fast forward some 10 years, now that I have my university education and expertise in my field, every single recruiter (in China) wants to sign me up tomorrow. Of course, I had to work hard to get to this point and I have high requirements. When I tell them what my salary expectations they quickly get offended replying with comments like “this is china” and “too much”.

You might be thinking that’s great for you, but how’s this relevant for me?

Here’s the thing, people like me are rejecting alot of teaching jobs that are coming out of China. The recruiters for these jobs are the laziest people that you will be in contact with. The literally see all of their clients (on both sides) as a quick cash grab. You can use this flaw against them.

Are you getting rejected by recruiters because:

  • You don’t have a degree.
  • You dob’t have the citizenship of a so-called “Native English Speaking” country.
  • There’s some requirements that’s automatically disqualifying you from the job within the first 2 minutes.

Well here’s the solution for you, LIE!

If anything, you will be doing these recruiters a favor as they are getting a nice sum of $$$ for every teacher that successfully signs up at a school. All you are doing is bypassing their lack of skill, in other words you’re doing their job for them. I am quite serious about this, lie and cheat your way until you get a chance to impress the school (interview/demo lesson). Once you have impressed the school (and negotiated your benefits), you can bring up your flaws, treat it like there’s been a miscommunication.

Schools WILL hire you if they like you enough!

Chinese rules and laws only apply when it suits them, this means that they don’t necessarily comply with their own laws if they don’t feel like it. I personally have witnessed schools hiring people that don’t have any of the requirements listed on their job descriptions. The fact is, schools will hire anyone if they are desperate enough. That person could be you if you know how to play your cards well.

So, the next time you have a recruitment agent questioning you. LIE! Even if the agent bothers enough to get off their ass to find out that you’re lying. You’ve burned your bridge with 1 agent, there’s 1000’s of others to burn :D. In the telemarketing world we call these people “Gate Keepers”, because they’re standing in-between you and your future job!

5 Tips on acquiring high paying teaching job in China.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The schools are out, students and teachers alike are enjoying a well earned break as the 2015-2016 academic year comes to an end in China.

Tip 1: Don’t underestimate your value!

Too often I see skilled teachers with years of experience accepting salaries way below their potential. Even if you weren’t a teacher back home, it doesn’t mean you don’t bring highly needed skills and knowledge into your potential future classroom. Never under sell yourself, because Chinese recruiters and schools generally aren’t as generous as they should be (especially since you will be the main reason why most parents will be willing to send their kids to that particular school).

Tip 2: Do your research thoroughly!

This is another very common mistake first time teachers make in China. Training centers and recruiters do their best to convince us that 6,000 – 10,000 RMB is a huge amount of money (especially since local teachers are getting paid less than you *the pity card*). The fact is, as a newcomer to China, everything will cost you more than it does for the locals, even other expats would have found ways to save money over the years. Do you research on forums, join Facebook groups of the region your interested in going and ask around what is the average salary for someone like you (don’t go on what recruiters tell you).

Tip 3: Negotiate and Negotiate Hard!!!

Business in schools is very much the same as in class discipline. If you come across weak, desperate for a job, willing to accept any salary they offer you. You’ve already lost. After your probation period, it won’t be long they will make excuses to pay you less, make deduction from your salary because you were 2 minutes late to class, etc. By negotiating a higher salary from the get go, you are telling your employers that they need you more than you need them.

Tip 4: Know when to accept a job.

If you play it safe and accept the first job that comes your way, the chances are you won’t be receiving the highest possible salary that you deserve. Think about it, when are schools most likely to make the highest offers? When they are the most desperate of course. The trick is to not be desperate to be hired yourself. Let me share a personal experience with you all.
This time last year I was living with my parents in Turkey, after searching and applying to 100’s of jobs I was getting desperate to find a job and get out of Turkey (away from my parents, hehe). It was so bad that I was considering training center jobs that paid as low as 10,000 RMB. But, you see I had already done my research and based on my experience and qualifications, I knew I wanted 20,000 rmb after tax (because that’s what I deserve). It was then that a recruitment agent put me in contact with an international school. Before long the school offered me 22,000 RMB after tax plus free accommodation on campus. Eventhough I hadn’t negotiated a higher salary (since it was the highest offer I had received). They tried to reduce their offer to 20,000 RMB at a later date and I refused. I told them they would either higher me at 22,000 or I wouldn’t work for them (that was a very risky bluff), they accepted to pay 22,000 RMB.

Tip 5: It’s a numbers game!

I’m sure you have heard of this line many times before in many other topics. It also works true for finding your ideal job. If you apply to enough jobs, if you have done your homework and your salary expectation is within reason. Then you will definitely find that high paying job that you’re looking for, there’s no doubt about it.

Pokemon GO! Just another Pay-2-Win game!

After a quick skim of the article whether Pokemon GO was P2W on Forbes.com I quickly realised that the person who wrote the article wasn’t a gamer (especially not in competitive games). The fact is the gaming industry has transformed. Transformed from an industry where people used to pay X amount of dollars to attain X amount of awesome, in-game entertainment. Whereas these days, games have become “casualized” to the point where winning games are more about how fat your wallet is rather than how skilled or knowledgeable of a player you are.

The Good Ol’ Days of gaming will be missed!

PokemonGOOne might argue, that there is an alternative path to playing Pokemon GO. If you wish to simply catch as many pokemon as possible at a relaxed pace, well you can do that. Here’s the thing though, it’s a very limited experience where you don’t get to battle your pokemon or interact with other players. So, what if you did want to fight in gyms and do your best to win battles. Well, unless you’re willing to fork out real world $$$ you’re tough out of luck.It has only been a few days and my friends in USA and Australia are reporting that they are struggling to win gym battles or maintain them (eventhough they have already spent some $$$ buying items). So, what do you need to do to win more gym battles and become strong enough to hold onto a gym? The answer is simple, fork out more cash. More $$$ you spend in-game = more items = more Pokemon = stronger Pokemon.

Our childhood dreams are being sold to the highest bidder!

The original Pokemon game was about the story, it was about the good guys and the bad. It was a story that millions of kids could relate to. It’s a damned shame that Nintendo has Tarnished Pokemon’s name in such a way. I feel so sad, reflecting back at the times I would mash those “A” and “B” buttons of my gameboy.

Goodbye Pokemon! Goodbye the world of games.

Maybe it’s not all Doom and Gloom. Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope that Virtual Reality can bring gaming back to its former glory. Until then, I will continue to refuse acknowledging anything that has in-app purchases to be a game.

Koh Lanta Animal Welfare – an animal lover’s haven.

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About a month ago, Mustafa and I visited the island of Koh Lanta, Thailand. While we were there we decided to visit the number one attraction on TripAdvisor – The Koh Lanta Animal Welfare.

What we found was an enchanting place where volunteers from around the world came to take care of sick dogs and cats for a few days or a few weeks at a time. We just spent a few hours there and it was hard for us to leave because the animals were all so friendly and lovable and in need of permanent homes.

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This lovely shelter is not only a temporary home for lost animals, it is also a sterilization center and the work that the vets and the rest of the staff do there is stupendous.

It really got me to thinking, what about those who have pets and need/want to travel? So far I’ve found a really great service for dogs for those in the UK and the Western European countries called DogBuddy.

12631486.jsonWhilst you go traveling and visiting awesome places like the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare, at least you’ll know that your dog or dogs is/are safe and very well cared for.

That being said, I also encourage you to check out the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare’s Facebook page, read up on their amazing history and the touching stories of their beautiful animals:

https://www.facebook.com/lantaanimalwelfare/

A weekend away – Xi’an Edition! (places to go for expats living in China)

In this series of posts I’ll be sharing some of my travels in China. To start things off I’ll be giving you my experience getting to Xi’an, the hotel I’d selected and visiting some of the attractions there including the fabulous Terracotta Army!

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1. Nanjing to Xi’an – train or airplane?

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Whilst it is possible to take trains the easiest and fastest way is to fly. The major pro to taking a train is that you get to have an enjoyable night ride where you can socialize and make new friends. Flying is a good option if you want to save on time or if the timing of the train departures clash with your work or personal schedule.

Whereas the Skyscanner app is useful for international flights, domestic carriers all have deals that are available on Ctrip. You can purchase your tickets online or call them directly. You can even visit them in person at their airport branch or at their office in Nanjing.

Flight duration: 2hrs        cost: between 600-800RMB

Train duration: 8hrs        cost: from 608-684RMB

2. Airport to Hotel – shuttle or taxi?

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There is an extensive and inexpensive (average 25RMB) shuttle bus system that can take you close to or even to your hotel, depending on where it is and what time your flight arrives. If you happen to miss the last shuttle bus then be prepared to fork out a bit extra to a taxi driver. Always remember to insist on their using the meter, though, or you will be paying way over what you should.

As a side note, the train station is located fairly close to the city center (3km from the Bell Tower Hotel) and all the major attractions, it is possible to catch cheap buses or even walk to where you need to get to if you wanted.

3. Where we stayed: pros and cons.

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We stayed at the old but lovely Bell Tower Hotel. The staff were extremely nice, and the location of the hotel is second to none in Xi’an. However, the hotel has been around for a long time and some of the rooms may look slightly run down. The view from the window, in my opinion, made up for the worn state of the room and facilities.  We had a direct, unrestricted, view of the beautiful Bell Tower of Xi’an, which is absolutely gorgeous at  night.

4. The Drum tower and Muslim food street.

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I would suggest visiting the Drum tower around eleven am or three pm as there are daily drumming shows put on for the public inside the tower. The entry fee is 35RMB for the Drum tower and if you wish you can purchase the tickets for the Bell Tower there as well. (As much as we admired the Bell Tower from the outside, we didn’t have enough time to visit it).

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The Muslim food street is right next to the Drum Tower so after visiting the tower many people head down the street in search of good food, souvenirs and the like. My favorite thing for a long while on that street was a spicy breaded and deep fried squid – there’s nothing quite like it on a cold night. Also, coated and fried bananas are really excellent, as well as all the noodle dishes you can lay your hands on – a Chinese friend once told me that noodle dishes from Xi’an are especially delicious, and they are!

3. The Wall and the Beilin Steles Museum.

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Now, it’s not the Great Wall of China, but it is a pretty nice wall to walk around or go on and have a stroll or a bicycle ride around. Every ancient Chinese city had it’s own wall, Nanjing has the remnants of one and so does Xi’an. Xi’an’s wall is the most intact due to fortifications and rebuilding of certain sections so a bicycle ride around it is a great sightseeing and a light, refreshing workout.

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The Steele museum is another one of my favorite attractions in Xi’an – it is a museum comprising ancient stone tablets which scholars used to record important academic and political works, poetry and even art. The stone tablets filled me with a sense of awe at their different sizes, engravings and ages. The surrounding courtyards are quiet, clean and very charming. A really relaxing getaway from the city bustle.

4. The Terracotta Army.

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This world famous attraction is quite far from the city and it takes about 40mins to an hour to get there by public bus. There will be many tours offered and taxi drivers will be shouting at you left and right but the best and cheapest way is to go to the bus depot and find bus 306, get on and sit down. Sooner or later the driver or the fare collector will come by and sell you the ticket for about 5-7RMB one way. The entrance to the warriors itself is about 90RMB and I would strongly advise not to accept any tour guides that try to convince you to hire them at the gates. Anything they can tell you will already be in your booklet or online…plus a lot of them just try to get their groups to buy things from the stores.

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There is a sort of standing, all-walls covered, cinema with the history of the Terracotta Army and how they were discovered on loop in one of the buildings, in English and Mandarin with English subtitles. It’s not long and it’s totally worth a visit after walking around and seeing all the cool excavation sites and what’s in them.

When you’re all done you can easily catch another 306 bus back into town, sometimes these buses will not be in the parking lot they dropped you off at by at but the roadside parked facing the direction to head back to the city center.

As a final note, I’d advise that you try to leave the site no later than 3 or 3:30pm as the traffic, by the time you get to the city, will become nightmarish if you leave after those times and you really don’t want to be stuck in traffic after a day of exploration!

If you have any questions at all about getting there, things to buy (or not buy!) or even getting around; I’d be super happy to help out! Post your comments and questions below!

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Classroom Discipline! (classroom management tips for teachers)

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There are hundreds if not thousands of articles about achieving and maintaining discipline in the classsroom, however, when I started out as a new teacher, none of the things I read really seemed to help me much in the savage world of the Trinidadian highschool system. Even when I went to China I still struggled, this time not so much with antagonistic, teen angst rebelliousness, just restlessness from younger students.

The thing is, I learned a lot. I learned from each experience and I was able to fine-tune the knowledge I had gained with concrete practice during a TEFL course I did not too long ago.

I want to share my hard-earned lessons with the hope that teachers everywhere can benefit. Teaching is not as easy as some think, but it does not have to be a nightmare either.

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1. Be the authority!

If you know you have a soft heart then put on a stern face before you even get to the school. Straighten your shoulders, walk smartly and fake that know-it-all confidence. Do not look frightened, they will try to test you, especially the class bullies, the bored but smart ones, and those afraid that they’re not intelligent enough to keep up with the work. Remember that your classroom is not a democracy – you are responsible not only for their education but their safety and well-being for every period that you have them. That isn’t to say that you can’t be friendly with them, however you must not allow yourself to smile until –

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2. You establish the rules first.

Some teachers encourage a class discussion to establish rules. I say the safest way, especially with older students, is to establish your rules first then invite the class to set additional guidelines or rules for the class. Remember to do your rules, clearly, concisely and firmly. Also, do not start the class until you’ve finished the discussion and establishment of all the rules. There are several ways you can introduce rules, but in my experience the clearer you are, the better you are understood. Beat the dead horse, folks.

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3. Good rules vs. Bad rules.

The words you use can sometimes go over students’ heads, especially young ESL  learners. Our language has to be clear and impacting.

An example of a good rule is clearly, loudly (not shouting, only projecting) and firmly saying “No running!” possibly accompanied by a picture of someone running that has been crossed out. Furthermore, having a rewards and consequences system in a good way to clearly let students know that there will be punishments for breaking the rules. Just remember to consistently enforce both rewards and punishments every time if you choose to do this.

An example of a poorly laid out rule is saying very sweetly and uncertainly “Be safe…” accompanied by the words printed on a nice background. Kids are more likely to ignore those that do not give them pause, which is why you need to –

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4. Be larger than life when teaching.

Capture and maintain their attention by projecting your voice in a way that is not harmful nor energy expending for you. You can say something like “Ok, class! Let’s begin!” or “Attention!” (In Chinese schools a literal call to attention actually works as this is how quite a few Chinese teachers get their attention.) If this is not possible, then practice your very best death-glare to instill silence, then speak at normal volume, forcing them to either stay quiet or miss what you have to say. (Always wait for absolute silence before you begin your class! Do not ever allow a student to speak while you are speaking!)

Alternatively, you could use some rhythmic clapping, a song, tapping your marker sharply on your whiteboard, a whistle or a bell. Frankly, anything startling enough to draw their attention to you will work. An important thing to note is that you need to maintain the level of energy you begin with, or even take it higher sometimes, as the students will copy your example, verbal, non-verbal and even emotional.

However, only half of the energy you project will be reflected or produced by the students and that is why you need to be a superstar in the classroom; I’m not saying that your lesson should be teacher-centered, no. Authority-wise, they should respect you and interest-wise they should be eager to listen to you. Be animated, be fun! And always be prepared to –

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5. Reign it in when necessary.

If you keep on maintaining good eye contact through the appropriate times of your lesson, say when you are presenting something new, then that scanning alone should be able to prevent any misbehavior. However, this is not always the case, some students are distracted regardless and sometimes teachers may not always notice trouble brewing until it has erupted. Never fear, even if you don’t nip it in the bud, you are still in control.

Maintain your cool. Depending on your classroom, the age of the students and which part of the world you are teaching in, etc, you will have different options available to you. Always take a minute, if possible, to assess the situation. Think of how you can let the student know that their actions are wrong without resorting to any negative language. Look at the student sternly until eye-contact is achieved. Approach slowly whilst keeping eye-contact and simply put away whatever the student was playing with, or confiscate it. If the misdemeanor was talking in class or something similar you can calmly ask the student to repeat or read the class rules. If you have a rewards and consequence system in place then enforce it neatly and place more focus on how they can gain rewards in the future through good behavior, for example:  “Next time you can get a sticker if you follow the rules.”

If you do not have such a system in place and you are met with refusal simply say “Ok, after class, then.” and proceed with your class. At the end of class stand at the door so the student doesn’t escape, have him or her sit down with you and just have a chat with them. Try to understand and not accuse – you have the opportunity to show them compassion. Sometimes trouble makers just want some TLC.

Well, good people, these are a few of the most important (in my experience) classroom management tools that I’ve picked up over the years. Let me know if they are helpful to you and what other techniques you’ve learned through your experiences!

How economies effect a foreign teachers salary.

In this article I will discuss how economies effect a foreign teachers salary and I will also touch on why it’s important for you to be aware of it.

Okay, let’s say that you signed a contract early August 2015, you flew out to China by September and you have been teaching and saving your money (for whatever purpose; paying of debts, funding your next trip abroad, saving up for a business venture). Early August 2015, the conversion rate of Chinese RMB to US Dollar was: 1 USD = 6.3 RMB approximately. At this point, you might be saying, what’s the point of all this? Well my friend, you’ll see soon enough.

Now, again let’s assume for the sake of the argument that you are a qualified teacher in your home country and you accepted an offer for 19,000 RMB over a 10 month contract. Now this is the part how economies effect a foreign teachers salary. When you signed up over a year ago, you did your math and calculated you would be getting paid $3K USD per month, giving you a net pay of $30K over a 10 month contract, Great! Fast forward to today, as I am writing this article (6/July/2016, 10:55 AM) RMB hit a record high: 1 USD = 6.959. It’s a record high, that’s great right? NO!

How economies effect a foreign teachers salary.
The graph of Chinese RMB losing value over a period of 12 months.

What this means is that over that period of almost 1 year, the money that you have saved has just lost value be 10%. So, in reality, you didn’t accept a job for $3K per month, you accepted a job that was paying $2.7K per month.

There’s a similar story if you had accepted a job in Malaysia. If you had signed up for a 2 year contract around July/August 2014 where $1 USD = 3 RM (Malaysian Ringgit), you would be surprised to find out for the past year, it has been floating around $1 USD = 4 RM. So last year, all foreign teachers received a 33% pay cut (unless some were lucky enough to renegotiate their salaries).

How economies effect a foreign teachers salary.
The graph of Malaysian RM losing value over a period of 24 months.

So, before you accept your next job offer, consider the state of your target countries economic state and negotiate well accordingly.