Columbans in Britain Teaching Programme
Below is detailed information about our teaching programme. If you have any further questions, please email our Programme Co Ordinator, Ann on the address below
As already stated, the Teaching Programme offered by the Columbans in Britain in partnership with AITECE, consists of placing applicants in Universities in Mainland China. AITECE run an Orientation Programme in Hong Kong just prior to the start of the placement. For those who have not taught abroad before, this Orientation is strongly recommended. Indeed even for people who have taught abroad before, the Orientation is an invaluable opportunity to meet other teachers starting their placements, some of whom may be going to the same university. In addition you will be able to meet AITECE staff. Someone from AITECE visits the universities at which teachers have been placed to make sure all is going well with the placement and iron out any difficulties that might be presenting themselves. When this is the first time a teacher has come to China, the AITECE representative will try to visit in Semester 1. It is also a chance to visit Hong Kong and learn about Chinese culture at first hand. Orientation covers topics such as the Chinese Classroom, Teacher's Life on Campus, Chinese Perspectives, Modern Chinese Trends, the History of the Church in China and finally a really useful session on the Chinese Language.
2 Teaching – Important People
The person who liaises between you and the authorities (both government and university), is called a Yeoban (pronounced Wyban). The Yeoban will sort things out like conditions of employment with the university and residence permits with the government. They will also be the person in charge of making sure you are reimbursed for expenses (see below). The other person who plays an important part in your placement is the Co-Teacher. This is the person who interfaces between you and the university department for which you work. They will give you class lists, teaching schedules, textbooks, dates of holidays and start and end of semester dates. They will also help with some practical details like setting up a bank account. Despite what the name implies, the Co-Teacher does not actually teach with you but might well teach other subjects to the same students as you
3 Teaching – Typical class sizes, teaching periods etc.
Class sizes can vary depending on the university and subject taught. They could be as large as 50 students or as little as 15. Many teachers report that after the initial curiosity has worn off, students tend to 'drop out' though that was not experienced by this author. Students' attitude to classes is quite pragmatic – if they don't feel the class is important, they will not participate but will openly do homework for another class. This seems to be an accepted practice as well as dropping out of the class altogether and is not a reflection on the teacher. AITECE Orientation prepares one for this!
Usually you will be expected to do 16 hours of teaching per week. Classes are usually two 45 minute periods with a 10 minute break so that works out as 8 teaching sessions. The number of actual lessons to be prepared varies with university and subject. For example, one teacher had to teach the same material to all classes so only had to prepare 1 lesson per week. Another teacher had the same set of students several times a week so had to prepare several sets of lessons per week. Nonetheless, the workload is not onerous and there is usually ample time to get to know Chinese culture and explore one's surroundings.
4 Teaching – Remuneration & Expenses
The university will reimburse the teacher for 1 return trip per academic year from their home country. Often they will pay half of the airfare at the start of the year, on arrival and pay the balance at the end of the academic year.
Actual salary is not high and certainly one could earn substantially more by teaching in the private sector. However working conditions are much better. There have been stories of people in the private sector being hired and then fired without warning because their face didn't fit, or being expected to do unpaid overtime (on top of already very long hours) to cover for an absent colleague. That does not happen with AIITECE placements. Some universities give a small lunch allowance paid monthly onto a card such that you can only spend it on campus.
Furnished accommodation (a one or two bedroom flat) will be provided and this is normally on campus – so no commuting costs or time. The flat though might not have cooking utentials or towels but there is normally bedding. Teachers will usually leave utentials behind with another teacher. In addition to accommodation, an allowance for gas, electricity and mains water is given. This author found the allowance was ample. Mains water is not suitable for drinking so a water dispenser will be available but drinking water has to be paid for and is delivered in large containers.
Salary and benefits are ample to cover a comfortable lifestyle as long as one is not eating out in western restaurants every night. These do exist but are very significantly more expensive than Chinese. The riches that come from this type of placement are not financial but come from the generous welcome of the Chinese people and the boundless affection offered by the students.