Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Just a quick post. I will be back in Kona on the 23rd. Things have been crazy here as our schedules are wacky due to the upcoming holiday. Here is another writing assignment from one of my fourth graders.

By Larry, age 9

Ms. Yang is our English teacher. Her English is very good and she is very strict. Ms. Cannon is our English teacher. Her English is better than Ms. Yang's. She is very cute. [Really, he wrote this.] Sometimes Ms. Cannon is angry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Those who know me know that I'm not a huge fan of kids. I suppose this sounds a bit strange given that I am a school teacher, but it's true. Kids are smelly, noisy, demanding, manipulative, self-centered and completely unable of getting through the day without adult attention. What this job has taught me, though is that children can also be quick to learn, genuinely good natured, creative and because they have yet to develop a solid idea of what society determines to be "right" and "wrong," they are prone to saying whatever is on their minds at the moment, and often what they say is funny.

I was walking down the hall when I heard little voices yelling "Miss Cannon! Miss Cannon!" I turned to see two girls waving at me from their line where they wait to get into class. There were really small, second graders, so I didn't know them.

I say hello. One girl pipes up, "Miss Cannon! I like you!" The other parrots the first, "I like you!" I laughed. I had no idea who these kids were.

"Why do you like me?" I asked the girls. "Huh?" They didn't understand me. "Why?" I asked again. "Huuuhhhh?" They still didn't understand. "Weishenme?" I finally asked them in Chinese. Their teacher can worry about their English.

The first girl, without thinking about it says "You is very cute!" I laughed. The second girl chimed in, "You is cute!" I laughed and told them that they were very cute and that I like them, too.

Kids also have a keen sense of character.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Come teach English in China...

My school is already looking to recruit teachers for next Fall. Anyone out there looking for a job?

The job itself is what it is. You teach an English curriculum to young Chinese children. It's not the best curriculum in the world, but it's hardly the worst and it's a curriculum. You don't have to invent your own. The classes are small: only 15. Each class has a Chinese teaching assistant and to be honest, that person does most of the work.

The kids are kids: noisy, smelly, greedy, they cry, bleed--but they can be cute, surprising and eager to do good. I have third and fourth grade, so their level of English is impressive, especially my fourth graders.

The school is one of Beijing's elite. We are the American department. The facilities are nice, especially for China, but we still use chalk and blackboards. We technically teach 15 hours per week, but we spend a lot of time more at school with lunch breaks and grading. It's still no 9 to 5.

My boss is amazing! She will take care of you! She will listen to you and do her best to make you comfortable! When I got hurt, my boss came to my home, made me dinner and then did my laundry and cleaned my apartment! She speaks good English and knows how to relate to Westerners (she lived in California for 20 years)! She will take you to dinner and get you liquored up! She is one of the best bosses I have ever had and in China, finding a good boss is like finding a clean toilet in the countryside.

The goods: The pay is 5000 RMB per month. Not a lot in dollars, but more than enough to get by here. I actually SAVE money here. You also get a place to live (my place is pretty big and comfortable), basic utilities are paid (not phone) and a driver comes every morning to take the teachers to school. We have emergency health insurance and all of our paperwork (residence permits and things like that) are sorted out for us by the school. Also, the school pays for your plane ticket: half up front and half after you finish the school year (it's fair).

Living in China is not like living in any developed nation. It's dirty, inefficient and crowded. You cannot drink the water and nobody has a clothes dryer. The people can be rude and ignorant, but they can also be the most genuinely kind people you'll meet. The city is old, but always building. People still shop in open air markets (though there are plenty of huge foreign supermarkets), but everyone has a cell phone. The buses are slow and smelly, but the subway is fast, cheap and clean. The bread and cheese is awful, but if you go looking, you'll find the real McCoy better than it is at home. Being the capital of China, Beijing attracts people from all over the world, so there are always interesting people to meet. There is a night life here, beer is cheap (though you can blow a budget clubbing) and there are 24-hour restaurants that serve cheap meals. Beijing has theatre, film, music (not stellar, but not bad), gyms, parks, museums, food stalls, talkative cab drivers, fortune 500 headquarters, universities, pretty Chinese girls, handsome foreign men (I suppose there are some good looking Chinese boys, as well), shopping, bootlegged DVDs, bookstores and EVERYTHING. I like it a lot here and I highly recommend it.

To work at my school you must:

1. Be a North American native English speaker
2. Have at the least a 4-year degree in any subject
3. Tolerate small children
4. Have a sense of humor and be flexible (again, China is not efficient)
5. Not be a dirty old man.
6. Not be an asshole. (I don't want an asshole teaching my kids!)
7. Have a sense of adventure.

Write me if you have any questions. This is serious. We need some good people to be teachers next year. Tell your friends.