Warning: This is a long post.
For starters, I’ve been a very big fan of this forum for ages and prefer it to the “other one”.
I’ve had an account on this forum for years but have never posted here or on any other forum before. But there is something that’s been on my mind for a while and I wanted to see if I was alone in this or if others feel the same way. I want to apologize in advance for what is going to be a long post.
I’m 32yrs old and have been working in China as a foreign English teacher shortly after I graduated from college (I have a BA in drama). I’m in my third position and all my jobs have been at public universities. My current university is in a 2nd-tier city and all the salaries and conditions are basically the same for everyone. I mean if you have a master’s degree, I think you get an extra 500 rmb a month, but not much more. If you agree to work overtime or can get some independent contract work (like moonlighting), the rate is standardised and the same for everyone, 100 rmb for one hour.
Here’s the thing I want to gripe about. In the 10 years that I’ve been in China working as a foreign English teacher, I always run into other foreign teachers who seem to think and behave like they are better than everyone else.
There is this one guy in town who works at private language mill and he’s always bragging about how he’s got all these special government contracts for 250rmb an hour! I did a brief gig for the government and I received 100 rmb for the same work. Why would (I’ll call him) Ralph be earning 250rmb for the same kind of work? Maybe if he had an advanced degree or was a certified teacher I would have some reason to believe that but he has a bachelor’s degree just like me. In every location I have taught at, there is always someone like this claiming to be so much better off than everyone else. It irks the hell out of me because I know it is bullshit.
It’s not just claims about earning more money for the same work that bothers me. There is this other guy who’s around 45 years old with an MBA degree who’s teaching the same oral English classes that I am but at a different university. Get this. He refers to himself and DEMANDS that his students call him professor! Can you believe that? He never taught one day before in his life before moving to China some 10 years ago and I believe he didn’t even work very long with his MBA at home before settling into China to teach English. To be a professor, don’t you have to publish and go through some sort of process or can anyone who is teaching oral English at a Chinese university be an automatic professor?
When I discussed this with a close acquaintance of mine, someone I work with and respect, his take on this is that if the Chinese don’t care if foreigners call themselves “professors of oral English”, then I shouldn’t care either. I don’t agree. The way I see it is that if the Chinese don’t take foreign teachers seriously, we don’t help our cause by capitalizing on their apathy for our personal self-importance.
Aside from lying about how much money they earn or giving themselves imaginary titles, I also see this same disease of big shotism on the Internet. Nowadays, it seems like everyone is an expert on life and work in China and everyone seems to have a blog to prove it. Like I wrote before, I am not a big Internet person. I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter or whatever account. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a personal blog and writing about your experiences in China but some people do take themselves a little bit too seriously in my opinion. There is one guy, I actually met him briefly once in Hubei, who’s a few years younger than me, has been in China for about 5 or 6 years and calls his blog a “China teaching web” and his forum, “a China Alliance”. In addition, he claims that his blog is the “#1 source for information about working and living in China”. Now I always thought that Raoul’s Saloon was the #1 source of information about working and living in China!
Aside from that, when you read his brief biography (Link deleted -R
), he claims to have more than 10 years of experience working in radio but when you do the math that doesn’t add up. If he came to China at age 24, shortly after college, where did he gain this more than 10 years of radio broadcasting experience? Maybe he volunteered at his junior high school local radio station but that’s not the same as working in the field.
Am I too sensitive or moral or does all this big shotism, constant exaggerating, posturing at self-importance and ridiculous use of hyperbole (calling a blog a China Teaching Web) hurt foreign teachers in China in the end? I don’t claim to be a professor or even the best foreign teacher in China. I like my work very much and I take it seriously but I am no expert on teaching English in China, not even after close to 10 years. I have ideas and thoughts about how things work but I don’t believe for a second that all my experiences and reactions are necessarily informative. Everyone here seems to have different reactions to even the same experiences.. Maybe one day I will go back to school and earn an advanced degree in linguistics or TESOL and return to teaching as a professional but, right now, I’m just a regular English teacher who loves his work and his good at it. Sorry, I don’t have any blogs, teaching webs, or alliances to prove that.
Anyway, I’d like to know if anyone can relate to my angst or if I’m all alone in this as my friend tells me.
Thanks for reading.