Making plans

I did not get the Renmin job. I found out after I had chased them again for an update. They were, in typically Chinese style, vague about the reasons why. I think it was partly because I don’t have much experience teaching writing, which is a big thing there, but also I got a Chinglish answer which doesn’t make much sense. I asked for further clarification but as yet I have not received anything.

I was, naturally, a little disappointed, but in hindsight (and after discussion with friends) it might actually be a blessing in disguise. There was the big question of my stuff – where to leave it (Renmin were also not very accommodating in this respect).

And trying to get a new visa, which is a big faff, especially since next year is very likely to be my last in China. So I’m staying put, somewhat reluctantly, somewhat not. Better the devil you know and all that. I will, at least, be teaching some new stuff and new students (the English major students), and (perhaps) have more flexibility to teach what I want. The first year students will have general English, which I will probably just use things I have done this year. The second years are supposed to do a vaguely-named class called ‘Outline of America and UK’. I queried this and it seems that it’s mainly culture of America and UK. I’ll have to set an exam – a written exam – but hopefully I can look at what they have done this year (with a Chinese teacher) and adapt that. I’ve had a few ideas and I’ve got another vague document about what was taught this year. It is the first time this class has been taught by a foreigner. In 2019, the majors teaching position will, I believe, become a better paid, separate position. But I will likely not be here then.

On that point, I think four years is long enough here unless you plan to live long-term/indefinitely. If things change and I do stay longer, I would look at going somewhere else where the conditions and pay are better (the pay here is average for universities except at the ‘elite’ universities, but it is pretty bad, compared with other teaching jobs).

In terms of after that, I’m not sure yet. But next year will give me a chance, at least to weigh up options and try and work out what to do. I have some plans – I’d like to do HSK 3 (Chinese language proficiency), which I think I’ll aim for doing in December. This is the third out of six levels – I guess it is lower intermediate. To get there you need to know 300 new characters. For HSK 4, you need to know 600 new ones. With my Chinese teacher, in class each week, I am working towards HSK 3. I think from next semester, I will request lessons twice a week, rather than once a week (but maybe have one of those online, rather than go to the school).

Otherwise, I don’t think I have anything else I want to achieve here. If I can leave with HSK 3 under my belt, I think that’s not so bad….

Update: I wrote this at the beginning of the month. Since then, I’ve had a bit more information about the America and Britain course. I seems like, this year, the teacher has focused on history but more particularly on philosophy of history. The whole first semester was America, the second Britain. But rather than including topics like sport, or food, or festivals, instead the programme followed a chronological format, from colonial America to civil rights. Reading has also been assigned. I have not received any of the reading documents, but from the titles I know what some of them are (Declaration of Independence, for instance, and the Gettysburg Address). In the British semester, however, there were several documents which I have never heard of without searching online. I have a few ideas about how I can change this, and it’s the first time that a foreign teacher has taught it, so I guess it’s something of a blank canvas. The current teacher told me in no uncertain terms I should do what I want.

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