Posts tagged China
I came across something on Twitter last night that made me go “Wow!” It was this 4-minute video interview between Emily Chang of Bloomberg West and Dr. Kai-Fu Lee. Dr. Lee is a venture capitalist for Chinese mobile app developers with an impressive Google-Apple-Microsoft resume and was recently named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2013: How Will Social Media Change China?
In my opinion, commentary on Chinese Internet censorship falls into three themes:
- The morals and human rights of freedom of speech/information
- Assertions that freedom of access to information strengthens national economies
- Can U.S.-based websites that are popular everywhere but China get uncensored, and if so, will Chinese people even use them?
In the the video, Emily and Dr. Lee insightfully and accurately address all of the above themes in just over four minutes.
The only thing I would add is something that is always missing from media coverage on censorship in China: People outside China think that the government universally bars everyone from visiting certain websites, but actually you can access all the same sites as in the United States if you are privileged enough, meaning you have the money to pay for a VPN that makes your computer think it’s based outside China and the personal connections to find out which VPNs are the best to use at any given time. It’s more of a pain than using the Internet in the U.S., but it’s possible. Some businesses, such as global public relations agencies, pay for VPNs for their China offices’ computers so their workers can have unlimited website access.
Here is Emily and Dr. Lee’s full interview, which includes the segment above plus Dr. Lee’s thoughts on Apple and Google in China and China’s smartphone market: Kai-Fu Lee on China’s Mobile Market, Innovation.
- Parents with strong opinions on language education, even if they don’t speak foreign languages themselves
- Expectation that you spend large portions of class time on games or songs
- Students of very young ages, sometimes as young as 2 years old
- Poor listening comprehension compared with writing ability
- Nine-plus years of learning English from native Chinese-language speaking teachers who are not qualified by United States foreign language education standards
- Student difficulty adapting to education styles and philosophies uncommon in China, such as necessary in-class participation and homework assignments
- Much more leniency toward cheating on tests than at U.S. universities
- Students with undiagnosed learning disabilities
- Students assigned to classes by age or grade level instead of language level
- Emphasis on class’ success over individual students’
- Expectation that you teach oral English or culture classes only
- Related to the above bullet point, lack of integrated language education
- General Chinese work culture pattern of more procrastination than in the U.S. and therefore last-minute meeting, substitution, and class addition requests
- Learn at least a tiny bit of Mandarin that you can speak when asked to. Learning how to write a few characters, such as your Chinese name, will impress people, too.
- View my post Chinese Social Media as an Educational Tool for ideas on how to mix entertainment with education and “be a friend” to your students.
- Related to the above, participate in extracurricular activities such as company social activities with coworkers or university student life.
- Give your students in-class group projects as frequently as is practical and fair. Minimize tests and lengthy, individual homework assignments.
- Recognize and reward students for multiple kinds of effort, such as perfect class attendance, studying hard for tests, and helping classmates, separately as well as in combination.
- Show parents measurable results, such as words students have learned how to spell or pronounce.
- Respect process, bureaucracy, and hierarchy. When you think that you have too many meetings or that your young students take too many tests, for example, try to see things from the perspective of your boss and the pressure he or she is under from supervisors.
Do you have any questions? For those who have taught English in China and have anything to add, let me know in the comments.
I recently started reading “The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online” by Yang Guobin. I’d like to pull out a quote from the introduction that hit home for me:
“Learning about Internet culture is like learning a new language. Immersion is the most important approach – but immersion in cyberspace has its seductive side. There is always something new: there are new developments related to the Internet, whether technological, social, cultural, or political. Studying the Internet did indeed feel like shooting a moving target. …To be sure, the Internet changes daily. But that does not mean what happened yesterday is meaningless today, for every little development in the past becomes part of the present. …Seen in this way, no research of the Internet can be outdated.”
I love this excerpt from a social media studies lens for two reasons, first because it addresses the idea that books on the Internet (and therefore social media) are pointless because both are changing so quickly, and second because the “always something new” factor is a major challenge I see in credibility of people who work or consult in social media. I have yet to decide if I ever want to make the commitment to constantly pay attention to what’s new online, which I view as a necessary step in social media professionals’ taking me seriously as an industry peer.
This is the first post in a two-part series inspired by questions and advice requests I’ve received from Americans who are seriously considering moving to China to teach English. This post is on standard qualifications and compensation. The next will be on how to be an effective English teacher in China and what common classroom challenges to expect.
What’s my background in this area? I spent my second of two consecutive years in China teaching in Beijing Geely University’s Foreign Languages College and at a branch of New Oriental Elite Kids. Geely University is an expensive, pretty new but large university on the rural outskirts of Beijing for students who did not get into prestigious public universities. New Oriental Elite Kids is an expensive academy for students aged 4-18 to take small classes and private lessons outside of their regular schooling. New Oriental is an international language education chain famous within China. I took these two jobs to provide me with income, stability and an extra year of Beijing life while I got my public relations career together.
A lot of this series’ content may sound negative because I want to warn of China’s high percentage of sketchy English education employers and attitudes toward work and education that most Americans I know disagree with. That said, I loved living in Beijing, my teaching memories from there are mostly positive, and I endorse teaching English through a good employer as a means to first-hand China access. Please note that China varies quite a bit by region and city, so my experience in Beijing may not directly translate to what you can expect in other cities. China’s cost of living and inflation are also increasing rapidly, so my advice from nearly a year ago may be out of date.
First, I’d like to point out a few great online resources:
- U.S. Embassy guide to teaching English in China
- Popular, useful English-language sites specific to Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu: The Beijinger, Shanghaiist, GoChengdoo
- My Tips for Students on Finding Post-Grad Jobs Abroad series
- My blog’s China category
- For my Facebook friends, my notes from June 2008 to June 2010
The following are typical qualifications of English teachers at full-time, reliable employers in Beijing:
- Citizen of an English-speaking country
- Bachelor’s degree, not in a major related to teaching or Chinese
- Passport and diploma copies confirming the above two
- No Chinese language ability
- 0-1 years teaching experience, including tutoring
- Usually you must be from the United States or United Kingdom and be Caucasian due to accent and racial discrimination. However, Geely University hires non-Caucasian teachers.
- Geely University also hires teachers who are not from English-speaking countries but are completely fluent in English through a lifetime in English-language immersion education. This is the exception, though.
This is the sort of compensation and assistance you could expect or demand with the above qualifications in June 2010 in Beijing:
- A work (Z) visa and foreign expert’s certificate, arranged but not paid for by your employer
- An English-speaking point person at your employer to heavily assist you with navigating initial immigration requirements
- Very basic health insurance to cover major accidents or injuries
- At a university, a free or nearly free on-campus apartment to yourself with subsidized utilities
- At a school other than an academy, two-month long vacations in summer and winter that both pay partial salary, (half in my case, which was paid at the end of the break)
- University working hours: 20 class hours per week during weekdays plus preparation and meetings outside of class
- Academy working hours: 30-40 class hours per week on evenings and weekends plus preparation outside of class and minimal meetings
- Public university pay before taxes: 3,000 RMB per month
- Private university: 7,000 RMB per month
- Academy (no housing included): 11,000 RMB per month or 150 RMB per hour
You should expect lower salaries and levels of competition for jobs outside of Shanghai and Beijing.
Keep in mind when negotiating that in June 2010, in order to have housing, healthcare, and entertainment comparable to what many 22-year-olds with college degrees experience in the U.S., you would have to make at least 9,000 RMB per month or free housing plus 7,000 per month.
Don’t accept a promise to get you a work visa after you enter China. This is difficult to impossible to do within the country. It will also severely limit your further employment options in China if you arrive in the country without one. Also, you should consider it a job offer red flag if an employer offers to drastically increase your pay after a set period of time. This is standard for sketchy jobs that don’t last long but not standard for work in China in general.
You can negotiate better compensation than what I suggested above if you have a certificate or major in teaching, especially in teaching English as a foreign or second language; experience teaching English as a foreign language in a classroom; or a degree higher than a bachelor’s. I don’t think my ability to speak Chinese to my students was as much of an advantage as these other qualifications, but it might have helped in landing me work.
Do you have any questions? For those who have taught English in China and have anything to add, let me know in the comments.
This post should be about how much fun I had at China’s first gay beauty pageant, Mr. Gay China. I should have embedded a slideshow, video, or both of performances as well as provided links to reviews in media outlets around the world. Instead, this post is about how police shut down the event before it even started.
I know I’ve been a bit hard to keep track of the past 15 months, frequently changing my jobs, internships, projects, and such. I thought the most recent change deserved a bit more attention because it’s the most drastic and also provides an opportunity to briefly reflect on my first year of work in China.
- High turnover in all industries
- Confusing and costly immigration regulations
- Shrinking economy, especially in fields I’m most qualified for
- Lots of startups, which doesn’t guarantee that one’s employer or clients are well-run or going to prosper in the future. (This is not specific to anyone I’ve worked with, just a general observation.)
Looking into visa regulations in your country of choice is just as important as job searching. Visa policies will have a large impact on what kind of jobs you can get abroad. Find out what is required for whatever visas you need to work legally, how easy it is to switch between visa types, and how easy it is for people to work illegally. For example, in China, foreigners need to either be 25 or have worked outside China for two years in order to get a work visa, but most foreigners work illegally, even in office jobs.
Twitter might just be the most friendly social networking site for expatriates, especially working American expatriates, as it’s most popular in the Why have I grown so attached to Twitter while working abroad? I like reading 140 characters at a time about my friends and professional contacts back home. I get a more personalized version of news (for the most part, on the U.S.’s West Coast, where I’m from and most of my Twitter friends live). For example, I read about terrible winter weather in the When I was a public relations student a little over six months ago, several forces drilled into me a rigid, “right” way to use Twitter. I learned that my tweets (Twitter posts) should always be positive, and I should make sure to frequently share links that show I read industry news online and know what I’m talking about. Therefore, it was refreshing to see Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu‘s recent blog post titled “My Twitter is Not Your Twitter.” In this post, she basically argues that Twitter is developing different subcultures, so there’s no “right” way to use it. Thanks to Kelli Matthews, who shared this post via Twitter. On occasion, I still share useful links on Twitter. However, I spend most of my time on there replying to friends’ tweets and posting tidbits about living in “Hi Beth, Your debit card has returned to me in Conducted a 1.5-hour meeting with an artist yesterday in CHINESE! I was less than perfect, but still. 7:45 PM Nov 25th, 2008 from web I’m not losing sleep for the election! It’s 11 a.m. my time :) 7:10 PM Nov 4th, 2008 from web New cell phone number has no 4s (unlucky number in Had my first conversation about homosexuality in going to the Olympics tomorrow! Booya! learned the hard way that electricity in We’re burning our exhibit today. Not typical, but this one is based on a Chinese mourning ritual. 7:40 PM Jun 28th, 2008 from web I’m unsure why I prefer Twitter over FriendFeed, which aggregates from more sources. It could be because I don’t have a desktop application like TweetDeck for FriendFeed, or that almost none of my friends are on FriendFeed. There’s no mobile Twitter in I love the people whose sole job is to make sure that people stand in line at the bus stop during rush hour. Jianwai Can’t get enough of these tweets? Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bethevans.
Twitter might just be the most friendly social networking site for expatriates, especially working American expatriates, as it’s most popular in the
Why have I grown so attached to Twitter while working abroad? I like reading 140 characters at a time about my friends and professional contacts back home. I get a more personalized version of news (for the most part, on the U.S.’s West Coast, where I’m from and most of my Twitter friends live). For example, I read about terrible winter weather in the
When I was a public relations student a little over six months ago, several forces drilled into me a rigid, “right” way to use Twitter. I learned that my tweets (Twitter posts) should always be positive, and I should make sure to frequently share links that show I read industry news online and know what I’m talking about. Therefore, it was refreshing to see Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu‘s recent blog post titled “My Twitter is Not Your Twitter.” In this post, she basically argues that Twitter is developing different subcultures, so there’s no “right” way to use it. Thanks to Kelli Matthews, who shared this post via Twitter.
On occasion, I still share useful links on Twitter. However, I spend most of my time on there replying to friends’ tweets and posting tidbits about living in
“Hi Beth, Your debit card has returned to me in
Conducted a 1.5-hour meeting with an artist yesterday in CHINESE! I was less than perfect, but still. 7:45 PM Nov 25th, 2008 from web
I’m not losing sleep for the election! It’s 11 a.m. my time :) 7:10 PM Nov 4th, 2008 from web
New cell phone number has no 4s (unlucky number in
Had my first conversation about homosexuality in
going to the Olympics tomorrow! Booya!
learned the hard way that electricity in
We’re burning our exhibit today. Not typical, but this one is based on a Chinese mourning ritual. 7:40 PM Jun 28th, 2008 from web
I’m unsure why I prefer Twitter over FriendFeed, which aggregates from more sources. It could be because I don’t have a desktop application like TweetDeck for FriendFeed, or that almost none of my friends are on FriendFeed.
There’s no mobile Twitter in
I love the people whose sole job is to make sure that people stand in line at the bus stop during rush hour.
Can’t get enough of these tweets? Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bethevans.
Sometimes I believe in the concept in Fight Club that you have to “hit rock bottom” in order to truly appreciate life. I didn’t hit rock bottom this weekend, but I came pretty close. Three days ago, I was pretty sure I’d be on a plane to Seattle by now. Now, I know I can eventually renew my visa and stay in the country. The events I’ve written about in this post are the icing on the cake, and the reason I don’t want to leave Beijing anytime soon. Times like this make me so happy I happened upon this city as my post-graduation home.
Friday night, I tutored my awesome Korean sibling students for two hours, as I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I taught the 16-year-old one of my favorite songs, “The Best of Me” by The Starting Line. Right after tutoring, I met up with my friend Chris, another expat from the Pacific Northwest. We had delicious, authentic pizza with almost authentic Caesar salad and this Chinese-Italian shrimp thing, oh, and my first draft beer ever. (For those of you gasping, I’m much more of a cocktail person.)
Saturday afternoon and early evening my work hosted our most successful exhibition opening since I’ve been here. The show looks excellent and we had a great turnout, both in terms of numbers and prestige. It was the 2008 Pierre Huber Creation Prize Nomination Exhibition. This year, all of the nominees were 2008 graduates of the China Academy of Art New Media Department. Pierre Huber himself attended the opening and congratulated us on the visual appeal of the show, and we announced the prize winner and runner-ups at the opening. I found out who they were before almost anyone else because I helped our director translate “first prize” and “runner-up.” Saturday night, my co-gallery assistant and I could not find the celebration dinner that the rest of our coworkers and VIPs attended, so we had dinner together right by where I live. The food was delicious, and I had fun chatting with him because he’s one of my favorite coworkers.
Sunday, one of my other coworkers helped me clear most of the hurdles to resolving my visa crisis. I basically get to chill out while the public security bureau is closed for the next seven days for a national holiday. Sunday night, my roommate’s work in 798 hosted five hours of rock concerts to kick off the 798 Art Festival. It was a blast, and I ate hot pot with a few friends after.
Every once in a while I have an experience that reminds me why I want to work for arts clients. My visit to the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on an unusual Friday off was one of them. Most of the works in the current exhibition made me smile, some made me nearly cry, and even fewer made me grimace. Overall, this art center is a reminder of the positive effects of globalization and art’s vital role in society.
UCCA is considered China’s first nonprofit art organization. Its founders and some of its upper management are foreign, but almost all the art is Chinese, and all of it is contemporary. It’s the only organization in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone to charge admission, but every Thursday is free, and I went during the end of a period about two weeks long of free admission every day in celebration of the Olympics. The bulk of the current work comes from the personal collection of Guy and Myriam Ullens, the center’s founders. Most of its art is from really famous artists, so it inspires to me to see this work available for viewing and experiencing in such a publicly accessible way.
I almost had a heart attack when I discovered “Bloodline Series – Family Portrait 1” by Zhang Xiaogang tucked away in the main exhibition room’s corner. This series will probably be as famous as Andy Warhol’s portraits someday, if it isn’t already. Unlike most of the other fragile work by famous artists at UCCA, it was hung at eye level, making it vulnerable to vandalism, both unintentional and intentional.
I maintain that because Chinese people like to touch visual art much more than I’m used to, good artists who create art for Chinese visitors make it interactive. To enter the exhibition, visitors go through “Space Time Tunnel” by Wang Du, the same artist who created “International Kebab,” my favorite exhibition I’ve seen in 798. Its entrance contains a claustrophobia disclaimer with directions to an alternate entrance. One of my favorite Chinese artists, Cao Fei, made a Second Life world called “RMB City” that is a futuristic combination of famous buildings in all Chinese cities that visitors can explore on a computer.
UCCA may also be one of the best places in Beijing for tourists to shop. I wish I could buy all my postcards there, but alas, they are quite pricey: 10元 (currently about $1.50) each. I may reserve UCCA postcards for family members.
Have you ever had an experience with art that inspired you personally or professionally? Please tell!