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Author Topic: Number 3 Middle School AKA Handan Foreign Language School.Handan, Hebei. Review.  (Read 2508 times)

Rin

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This is a review for the above school.
I taught there for 10 months last year. Not a bad school, not a good school. Just so so as Chinese people say. You are given free run on what you teach, though without any guidelines to follow can be quite difficult, especially for me as a first time teacher. The students are from 11 to 18 years old. Class sizes are huge! 70 plus students. Nobody in the class to translate.. can be daunting at first, but I really enjoyed it. The salary was usually paid on time, I think there were only two occasions where it was late and only by one day. Can be disorganised, they will tell you at the last minute (or not at all) if there is a schedule change. My main gripe was the teachers apartments were on campus, so if you wanted to go out or come home after 11 pm it was troublesome as they lock the gates. No visitors allowed either.
Hope anyone looking to teach there find this helpful.

Raoul F. Duke

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Thanks for the review, Rin!

Campus curfews and visitor restrictions are a deal-breaker for lots of people. Beware of them when considering a contract! asasasasas
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

potemkin

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The above review's pretty spot-on, except I never had any problems having guests over. I broke the curfew whenever I felt like it too, and the school never hassled me for it (except the door guards treating me like a delinquent teenager, which got VERY annoying). Party animals will find the curfew more inconvenient than those who only go out once or twice a week.

The work here is low hours but *GRUELLING*. The kids are nice, but in such large numbers with nobody to help you it can feel like you're a circus ringleader more than a teacher. The reality is that very little actual teaching can be achieved with 70 unmotivated, overworked teenagers screaming through your lesson, little to no support from staff and the horribly maintained class computers constantly breaking down. At no point here did I ever feel the school was ever concerned about the quality of my teaching either. In the end, after two years of struggling the only way I could stop myself going mad was to adopt the school's attitude and not care either. This sad situation is a fact of life for many teaching positions in China...

There is one clear advantage to working here, and it's a big one: standard work hours are a mere 14 hours a week or so (best to check), and the school will only very occasionally ask you to do extra hours above that. You also get 10 weeks holiday a year (paid if you take a one year contract). Use all that free time to upskill, relax or potentially double your income by teaching privately. I did a bit of all three, and ended up saving a lot while here and learning Chinese to a good enough level that I could branch out into other areas. I'm now going to a new, much better job that I would never have got had I not had the time to learn the language. For that reason I don't regret taking this job, despite all the unpleasantness I encountered.

As for the living situation, there are four apartments on campus, two about 60m2 and two about 40m2. They're clean and well-lit, and JUST adequately furnished (air conditioner and some heating provided). It was nice having a 2 minute commute to work, but the noise got to me. The worst for me was the wildly fluctuating internet connection, though, which gets unusably slow a few times a day. The school's the best situated in Handan, being right in the city centre and walking distance from pretty much anything you could possibly need. So living situation has advantages and disadvantages: personally I would have preferred an apartment, however.

Regular salary was delivered punctually, except when they give you extra hours (the extra pay can take months to make it to you). Handan's living expenses are much lower than the bigger cities, so the base salary, while mediocre, was more than enough to live very comfortably. I never had a single month where I didn't have a couple thousand left over. If you teach privately, you could end up saving a lot more, 5000 yuan savings a month is not unrealistic.

Overall I'd recommend this school for sb who's independent and willing to take a tough classroom environment in exchange for lots of free time. There are long-term advantages: if take the time and effort to get your name around as a private tutor you can have a very lucrative tenure here as well, and it's a good entry-level stepping stone towards a real career in China. However, if you're only planning to go stay in China for a short time or are passionate about teaching English to enthusiastic learners, you could probably do a lot better than this place!
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 08:36:44 AM by potemkin »