Teachers

Daniel – A Day In The Life of An University Teacher In China

 

Since I decided to move to China to teach, I have been getting a lot of questions from friends and readers alike about what my daily life is like.

  • How many hours do you work each week?
  • How do you communicate with students who do not speak English?
  • You seem to still travel a lot. Do you even work at all?

I thought it would be easier (and fun) to answer some of these questions here, rather than answer them all one-by-one. So here are the answers to some of the most repeated questions I have gotten about my work in China.

Before I start, I have to admit that I was extremely lucky to find the job I got now. I currently teach at a university in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, in what is called the Dongbei (东北), or northeast, part of China.


WHICH LEVEL STUDENTS DO YOU TEACH?

I teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) to students who have recently been accepted into their program at university. Because at my school, all of their university education is in English, students are required to have a full year of EFL classes before they begin their major.

The age of most of my students range from 17 to their early 20s, with the majority being between the ages 18 and 20.
my life as an university teacher in China


HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU TEACH EACH WEEK?

I have two 90-minutes classes each day from Monday to Friday, for a total of 15 teaching hours every week. To that, I would add anywhere between 2 and 5 hours of class preparation each week, for a grand total of about 20 working hours per week.

Classes can start anytime between 8:00 am and 3:20 pm, the last class ending at 5:00 pm.


DO YOU PREPARE YOUR OWN TEACHING MATERIAL?

I could, but I don’t have to.

The material I have to teach is fully provided by the university. This means that I do not have any need to prepare any curriculum for any given class.

That doesn’t mean that I do not have the freedom to create my own activities and/or exercises. On the contrary, I have full freedom to do just that and teach the material in any way I want.

Chinese students are young at heart, and are still amused by having games and using technology in the classroom. I also try to present the material in a way that relates to the students’ daily lives, often cracking jokes along the way, which makes it easier for them to understand.
my life as an university teacher in China

Some are more playful than others

HOW DIFFERENT IS THE CHINESE SCHOOL SYSTEM FROM A WESTERN ONE?

Very, extremely, and incredibly different.

In China, the school system is based on what I call a “let’s-keep-them-busy-so-they-stay-out-of-trouble” system. In other words, Chinese students have classes throughout the day, all day, every day.

The students begin their day around 6:30 am to attend their first “self-study” session at 7:00 am. During this time, they are expected to complete any homework they might have left from the day before, and prepare their classes for the day. Their classes begin at 8:00 am and run until either 3:20 pm or 5:00 pm, depending on the day of the week. At night, from Sunday to Friday, students must also attend a second “self-study” class from 6:50 pm until 8:30 pm.

In other words, Chinese students have full days of school and their time to play and relax is somewhat minimal. Considering all this, I am still surprised how the majority of students happily soldier on through their classes and are always in the best of moods, even though they seem (and feel) really tired at times.

HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR STUDENTS? CAN THEY SPEAK ENGLISH?

Students take an English entry test before they are accepted at my university. Therefore, most students have some level of basic knowledge and proficiency in English.

However, not all students speak English with ease. In fact, the level of proficiency from one student to another within the same class at the start of each year can be from extremely low (e.g. not understanding basic questions such as “how are you?”) to a very high level of English (e.g. having a full conversation about a different range of subjects).

I’m lucky to have picked up some (extremely basic) Chinese in the last year, which makes communicating with some students easier. Thank god for online translators as well!
my life as an university teacher in China

I was even asked to join the school’s football team ?

YOU STILL TRAVEL A LOT? DO YOU EVEN WORK AT ALL?

Hum…….well; yes, and yes.

I will only say that there is a fair amount of vacation in a Chinese university school year. Along with summer and winter holidays, there are 2 weeks during the rest of the year for Chinese national holidays (one in October and one in May).

SO, DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?

Like I said at the start, I feel very lucky to have found the job I have now. I absolutely like what I do today and the energy that my students give me.

Sure, there are days that I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed (*cough*cough* movie days *cough*cough*), but these are just a small number of days. For the most part, I am happy and feel lucky to get to experience what I’m doing right now for a living.

Have you ever taught or thought about teaching abroad?

(Source: Worldpackingcanuck)

 

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