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My experience at an English training center in china

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Have you ever been to the zoo and wondered what it would be like to sit in a cage all day while people stare and occasionally throw blobs of food at you? I had the unfortunate pleasure of finding out what this would be like when I recently found myself working in a training center containing mostly glass walls and doors. The bathroom was the only place where you could go and feel like you had a little privacy. And even then, you had to wonder…

你去动物园的时候,有没有想过自己坐在笼子里而人们都在盯着你看、偶尔给你投一些食会是什么感觉呢?我最近在装满玻璃墙和玻璃门的培训中心教书时,不幸地体验了一把。洗手间是唯一一个能让你有点小隐私的地方。即使那样,你也必须怀疑一下……

As we would sit in our glass office or teach in our glass classrooms, we would be constantly barraged with a torrent of intense stares and nervous giggles from perspective clients who were being given a tour of our glass paradise. They never waved or attempted to even say hello. They just gazed at us until they were gently pulled away by their tour guide who usually gave them a few long moments to satisfy their curiosity.

当我们坐在我们的玻璃办公室里、或在玻璃教室里教学时,我们会被一片强烈的目光和紧张的笑声所包围着,它们来自那些来参观我们玻璃天堂的看客们。他们从不招手,也没有打招呼的意思。他们只是盯着我们,直到被他们的导游拉走。导游也经常会给他们多一些时间来满足好奇心。

After all, the foreign teachers’ office was the main attraction.

毕竟,外教办公室才是主要景点。

Most of these visitors would take the mandatory tour, politely accept a few brochures, and then exit the building, never to be seen again. But there were always a few who succumbed to the typical promises of “learning English is easy” and “you’ll be speaking English like a native in weeks”. They would be quickly ushered into a small glass office where a beaming recruiter would begin the sales pitch in earnest.

大部分来访者会接受定向巡游,礼貌地收下一些手册,然后走出大楼,从此不会再见到他们。但是有一些人会屈服于“学英语很简单”和“你将在几星期内讲一口地道的英语”这样的标准承诺。他们会很快被带到一个小玻璃办公室里。在那里,眉开眼笑的招生人员就开始进行诚挚热情的推销宣传了。

The sales pitch, as I discovered after working there for a few months, was tailored to the potential client’s perceived wealth. There were no prices in the brochures or other promotional material that the training center produced. Prices would be determined after enough personal information could be extracted during the ‘pres-ales’ interview.

据我在那儿工作了几个月的观察,推销言辞是针对潜在客户的可察觉财富的。培训中心生产的手册和其他宣传材料上并没有标明价格。价格是在“售前”面试中获取到得到足够的个人信息以后才定下的。 

Once the money (almost always paid upfront) was secured, the now paying client would be securely attached to my training center for anywhere from 6 months up to 2 years. Their training would begin as soon as they were read to start.

一旦价钱有了保证(一般都是提前支付的),要付钱的顾客就能在6个月到2年间安全进出我培训中心的任何地方。一旦他们准备好了,培训就可以立刻开始。

That’s the foreign teachers entered back into the picture. Our job was to attempt to fulfill the lofty expectations that our clients had been assured were within their grasp. We were supposed to make their dreams come true.

这时外教又重返镜头了。我们的工作就是努力实现我们顾客被保证会掌握的那些崇高的预期目标。我们应该让他们梦想成真。

Meanwhile, my own dreams and expectations had faded considerably when I discovered that I was working on an illegal visa. The city printed on my work permit was not the city in which I was currently employed. This was a clear breach of contract and a dangerous situation.

同时,我自己的梦想和期待却已经褪色了,我发现我的签证是非法的。给我颁发工作准证的城市不是我正在工作的这座城市。这显然违反了合同,是个危险的情况。

I also discovered that much of the curriculum that we were forced to teach with was copied straight off the internet and held little value for our clients. Some of it was so uninteresting and irrelevant that I found myself dozing off during my own lessons. Clearly, the training center cared far more about their profits than they did about the quality of the material that we were using, which of course would directly affect the quality of our lessons.

我也发现我们被迫教学的大部分课程都是直接从网上抄下来的,对我们的顾客来说几乎没有什么价值。有一些很无聊枯燥,我在上课的时候自己都在打瞌睡。显然,这个培训中心更关心他们的利润,而不是我们所用的教材质量,而后者也直接影响着我们的课程质量。

When we tried to confront the management about these issues – we were especially keen on resolving the visa issue – it did not take us long to realize that our opinions, ideas, and wishes meant very little to the training center. They assured us that we were perfectly safe on our ‘illegal’ visas and that they would look into the other issues that we had brought up.

当我们试图向管理人员反应这些问题的时候——我们尤其热衷于解决签证问题——我们没过多久就发现,我们的意见、想法和希望对培训中心来说意义不大。他们向我们保证我们的“违法”签证很安全,他们也会考虑我们提出的其他问题。

Nothing changed.

没有任何改变。

A few months later, the training center’s regional headquarters was raided by police and a number of teachers were arrested on account of their illegal visas.

几个月之后,培训中心的总部被警方突击了,很多教师因为非法签证被捕了。

By that time, I was already on my way out. They tried to offer me more money but I declined. I did not have any scruples about ditching a company (in the middle of my contract) that refused to provide a proper visa for me. The incident with the police was just confirmation of that.

那时候,我已经要抽身了。他们试图给我加薪,但我拒绝了。我无意在一家拒绝提供给我适当签证的公司

(在我合同正中的)发展下去。警方的这件事只是更加证实了这一点。

That is the short story of my time at an English training center in China. After that, I found a university position in the North of China. They gave me a real working visa and a little more respect. And best of all, no glass! In fact, I don’t even have an office here.

这就是我在中国一家英语培训中心的一个小故事。在那以后,我在中国北方的一所大学找到了一个职位。他们给了我正确的工作签证和更多的尊重。最棒的是,没有玻璃!事实上,我在这儿甚至都没有办公室。

In my opinion, you should only apply at a training center if you have exhausted all other means of finding employment. Training centers are a dime-a-dozen in China and they will almost hire anyone. They will ‘put you in a cage’ and show you off to grab new customers. But in the end, you and your entire existence in China is expendable. You are just part of a well oiled profit machine.

我觉得,如果你们已经用尽所有找工作的手段了还没成功,再去申请培训中心吧。中国的培训中心不值钱。他们几乎会聘用所有人。他们会“把你放进笼子里”,然后利用你来吸引新顾客。但是最终,你和你在中国的整个存在都是牺牲品。你只是暴利赚钱机器的一个零件。

2016-06-24

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