Thursday, September 01, 2005

about teaching in taiwan

People seem to think otherwise, but teaching isn't easy. I guess that's what makes it worthwhile. A lot of English speakers come over to teach and they are hired more as entertainers and speech models than teachers. Or, if someone has a teaching certificate from the U.S. or other English-speaking country, then that person can teach at an elementary school. With a master's in education, someone can teach at university. My situation is a little different. The school I'm at is owned by an Englishman. English speakers at my school are expected to do more than entertain. We actually cover grammar rules and teach from textbooks. A student attends class twice a week. One day, a Chinese speaking teacher teaches, and the other day the English teacher has them. To teach two classes, I need about ninety minutes to prepare. The most I work, including prep time, is about six hours a day. Not bad. I am learning a lot from the owner of the school. I think in a month, my comfort level will be good. Right now, I'm comfortable half or two-thirds of the time in class.

In the states, I've trained and taught and tutored before, with a certain level of efficacy, but that was to an audience of English-speakers. If I ran out of material, I could move off topic or take some questions. Here, it's the material or nothing, especially with the beginning levels.

Luckily, kids in Taiwan are much better behaved than kids in the states. Students respect the teacher here, even if he is new and really doesn't know what he is doing. I shudder when I think about what we have in store for us in the states as all the baby-boomer generation's kids grow up. I'm seeing a little of it with my nieces and nephews and their friends. It ain't pretty. But I digress. What I am learning here, I think, are skills that I will be able to use to get another job here when my current contract is up. I'm viewing what I do now as an apprenticeship that pays pretty well. But, since I am learning lesson-planning and how to make text material into class activities, I will be more desireable to schools in 12 months.

One thing I may do after I feel a little more grounded is private tutoring. That will pay pretty well, and that money just goes into savings. My business background will help get me into adult tutoring. There is a big science and industry economy in Hsinchu. A lot of engineer-types want to learn business-speak. As disgusting as that sounds, there is pretty good money in it. So, I need to be patient and keep my eyes and ears open.


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