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Job tips for English speaking Asians in china

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This is a question I get many times from fellow teachers of Asian descent.

这个问题我那些个亚裔的教师同事问了我不知道几遍了。

Let's face it. We Asians don't make good poster boys or girls for schools that want to attract more students. Many schools in China want Caucasian teachers because many Chinese believe that only Caucasians can teach English. Having a Caucasian also brings in more revenue for the school. In other words, more Caucasians + more students = more revenue.

你看,就我们亚洲人而言,我们根本不会用什么俊男靓妹的海报来为学校吸引更多生源。很多中国学校只想招白人教师,为什么?因为很多中国人觉得只有白人才有资格教英语。而且对学校来说有这么个白人老师还会带来跟多好处。换句话说呢,白人越多+学生越多=钱钱越多。

All is not lost, however. If you are willing to put up with lots of inconveniences and to sell yourself as a capable teacher, then finding a teaching job is really easy. Here are some tips that I have found useful in my job search:

不过还好,还没到山穷水尽的地步。如果你真愿意忍受诸多不便,为了当一个合格的老师而去签订卖身契的话,你会发现找到一份教书的工作还算挺容易的。呐,在我对工作的研究过程里我得出了一些小提示:

Be a chameleon. While we can't change our skin color, we can certainly adapt to different situations. When I'm with my students I try to be as foreign as possible. I speak only English to them at all times. I try to teach them western culture and ideas. I try to be as western as possible. When I’m off campus I try to be as local as possible. I try to learn the local dialect and about their culture. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. 

变成万金油。既然肤色变不了,那我们理所当然就只能去适应各种不同环境了。当我和学生们在一块儿的时候我都是尽可能装得像个老外。全天候无死角英语交流。给他们灌输西方文化和思想。反正越西方越好。不过,当我离开校园的时候就得尽可能装得像个土著了。我会学着说当地方言,谈论他们的文化。入乡随俗么不是。

Promote yourself by promoting your assets. This goes hand in hand with point one. For me my asset is that I was born and raised in Hawaii. Who doesn’t want to be friends with someone from Hawaii? Everybody wants to go to Hawaii. So I try to use that fact to my advantage. When I introduce myself on the first day of class, I teach my students a Hawaiian song and hula that we teach tourists. I teach them a few Hawaiian words. I teach them about racism and use Barack Obama, who was born and raised inHawaii, as an example of a multi-cultural America.  

无限放大自己的长处。这和第一点是紧密相关的。对我来说呢,我的长处就是在夏威夷出生长大的。谁不想跟夏威夷人当哥们儿啊。谁不想去夏威夷。所以我的秘诀就是尽可能利用这一点成为优势。当我在首次教学之前作自我介绍的时候,我让学生跟我学了一首夏威夷歌曲还教他们怎么跳入门级的草裙舞。还得教他们几个夏威夷单词。我教会他们什么是种族主义,还引用了同样在夏威夷出生长大的巴拉克奥巴马作为美国多元文化的例证。

Another asset is that I have to be bi-cultural. Many of my Caucasian colleagues, some whom have never been to China before, always complain to me about the Chinese and the Chinese way of doing business. For example, many Caucasians get upset when they are the last to know about a very important school event. They complain that it is very difficult to make plans ahead of time since there is so much uncertainty on the part of the Chinese foreign affairs office (FAO). I tell them that many times Chinese just don’t know what the school leadership is up to and therefore even they themselves don’t know the school schedule. Just enjoy the ride. Beggars can’t be choosers. Many schools in many Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, or even in the provincial cities like Nanjing, have a large expatriate community. These schools may also pay their teachers differing salaries depending which country they come from as well as their qualifications. For example, a Filipino American will get the same pay as his or her Caucasian counterpart whereas a teacher from the Philippines will be paid considerably less for the same amount of work. 

还有个优点,就是我的双文化背景。我好多从来没来过中国的白人同事老是跟我抱怨说中国人如何如何啦,中国人做事情的方式如何如何啦。比如说吧,当他们得知自己是最后一个被通知一件学校大事的时候,他们会变得很不淡定。他们还抱怨说中国外交事务所办事太不靠谱了,这让他们感觉计划永远跟不上变化。我就好多次告诉他们,中国人自己有时候都不知道学校领导究竟在搞什么飞机,甚至有时候连领导自己都不知道在干嘛。既来之则安之嘛,有口饭吃就不错了。很多直辖市像北京、上海或者广州,甚至省会城市比如南京,这些地方的学校里多半都会有大型外籍社区。这些学校也会以国籍取人,工资直接跟来源地挂钩。举个例子,同样教书,菲律宾裔美国人拿的钱就和相同地位的白人一样多,但是真的菲律宾人就没这待遇。

Therefore, it is more difficult for Asians to find a teaching job because of stiff competition and discriminate practices among Chinese employers. In smaller cities, however, the story is very different. Many of these schools in the smaller cities just don’t know where to look and don’t know how to find, much less hire, foreign teachers. That is why I highly recommend going to the smaller cities where there is a desperate need for foreign teachers and where teachers of Asian decent can bargain for a fair wage.

综上所述,亚洲人想找份教书的活儿真的很难,竞争很激烈,而且中国老板眼光太挑。不过要是在小点儿的城市可能就不一样了。许多小城市的学校压根儿不知道到哪里去找,以及怎么去找所谓的外籍教师,更不用说雇来教书什么的了。所以本人诚信推荐各位赶紧去二三线城市碰碰运气,哪怕你长着一张亚洲脸说不定也能拿不少钱,那些地方想外教都快想疯了。

If you do decide to venture into a town where there are no foreigners, here are a few things to look out for at your new school.

嗯,如果你真的下定决心到那么一个没有老外的小镇里去探险,那么在你到达新学校的时候,有几件事情需要小心。

Unwanted fame. The Chinese may think of you as being Chinese – until you start speaking. Then they will know that you are not local. And if you are caught speaking English you may even be asked to tutor privately. Your school may have no idea how to treat a foreigner. This misconception applies to ALL foreigners who venture into a place that has no expat community. Sometimes you may find yourself wanting some expat company or just craving for something from home. If that happens, just remember that there’s at least one KFC in every small town in China and that there are many buses that you can take to a larger city that has what you need.

人怕出名猪怕壮知道么? 你不说话没人知道你是外国人。但是只要你张嘴了,他们知道你不是本地的了,你甚至有可能会被请求给别人开个小灶,私下里搞个补习班什么的。祈祷你所在的学校不知道如何威胁一个老外吧。对于所有想孤身一人进入一个没有外籍社区之地的老外而言,这一条概念普遍适用。有时候你会发现你非常渴望能见着一些外资企业或者来自于家乡的不管什么东西。这是思乡病,犯病了,记得找肯德基,在中国不管多小的地儿都有肯德基。实在不行爬公共汽车,能去大城市的那种,多少能缓解一下。

These are my personal tips that have helped me – an Asian American – to find a job and survive in China.

这就是本人亲身经历并总结出来的贴士——作为一个亚裔美国佬——在中国如何挣扎求存的。

2016-06-24

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