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Neil Yaun prides himself on knowing a little about everything, despite no formal college education. He is self-educated, with a love of Chinese culture focused on their history and traditions. Growing disillusioned with the direction America is taking and his negative experiences with American women he is seeking a new path in China. He plans to teach English in China. This blog is about the journey to China and all the pitfalls along the way.
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Teaching in China: The gauntlet    

By Neil Yaun
2978 Views | 7 Comments | 8/15/2013 5:14:46 PM

See the fear in their eyes they've obviously taught a seasonal course of two.

Teaching in China has been the single most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my life, and even though there are more than a few headaches that come with this job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The job gives me more freedom than I’ve ever had with any other job and the ability to be such a positive influence in my kid’s lives is just the icing on the cake. I only wish there were more teachers who took the job more seriously, but as I’ve said before this job isn’t for everyone.

The biggest challenges for teachers in China are in the summer and winter, when most training schools have their seasonal courses. These courses are usually called different names depending on what school you teach at but they are all the same in essence. It is a two week onslaught of teaching, where we as teachers attempt to cram as much English into the students heads as possible given the short time.

It’s also used as a recruiting tool by showing parents how quickly we can get their kids to be able to speak the English from each curriculum and to show the kids having fun in the process. The kids usually enjoy the courses, even though, I’m sure they would prefer travelling around China with their parents. For teachers, however, it is a test of endurance as we work 12 to 14 days straight, 8 hours a day, and usually without a day off.

I personally call it the gauntlet because the new teachers really earn their stripes during this time. If they are really interested in teaching, then summer and winter courses really show it and it will also reveal who is going to just be a warm body in a classroom. This year was no exception.

We started this summer course with two new teachers, and as is expected one showed a lot of promise and willingness to learn how to do the job, while the other was more interested in just getting through the two weeks so he could take his vacation to Malaysia. E comes from a similar background as I, so it was no surprise for me he had a great work ethic and a willingness to use creative criticism to get better. His only problem was he was trying to teach the way we normally would when we don’t have time restrictions.

So I had to show him how to “monkey train” younger kids who didn’t understand what was going on in class. A crash course in English doesn’t exactly lend itself to being able to explain much to the children so we have to get them to recognize and repeat until they can do it on their own. The understanding comes later.

J on the other hand was trying to teach his kids the theme to Happy Days just to kill time. I didn’t even bother with him because he is about a useful as a teacher as a one legged chair. He did get a disciplinary notice during the course, which is a sign that the school has figured out he is not someone we want to be teaching our kids.

I got a nasty surprise before the beginning of the course because they handed me a brand new course that no one had ever taught before and therefore there was no asking for help to prepare for the class. It was a TOEFL/IELTS writing class, which is apparently what most parents have been asking for with our older students. I managed to teach a descent semblance to what TOEFL/IELTS should be taught like because they tasked me with teaching a full term version of the class when I return for the next term.

This summer course I saw something I hadn‘t seen before in any of my previous courses. After only about a week everyone’s nerves were becoming frazzled and tempers were already flaring up. Normally by the end of the course everyone is in a bad mood, but it doesn’t show itself until maybe two days before we leave for summer holiday. This time it was all I could do to even keep my cool after all the terrible planning and placements of the classes.

Luckily the best part of these courses is that they go pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were already prepping for our open classes. That let everyone relax a bit realizing that it’d be over soon and we could all enjoy a couple weeks of the summer doing whatever we wanted.

As for me I’d planned a trip to Guilin and Yangshuo with my wife and E and his girlfriend who had just landed two days before the end of the course. I felt like I needed to make it a point to show a new teacher what China looks like outside of Guangzhou and maybe have them realize there is more to China than what they see in this city and what better place to do that than Guangxi province, which is famous for its beauty.

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Comments
(Showing 1 to 7 of 7) 1
#2013-08-19 21:55:59 by sandy339 @sandy339

Your job is demanding and tough, but you seem proud and responsible and enjoy it, it is great.
Enjoy your trip, I think you'd better hire a small boat to travel the river in Yangshuo, otherwise, it might be a pity to enjoy it on a big ship I think.

#2013-08-29 00:42:46 by svanslyke @svanslyke

Neil, how do you plan on teaching the TOFEL/IELTS writing course for the next session?

#2013-09-08 21:51:29 by kahnsfury @kahnsfury

By the seat of my pants. That seems to be the way that works for me considering I am an experiment with this class.

#2013-11-19 17:43:46 by Barry1 @Barry1

It's been over three months since your last blog article, Neil - we're all wondering out here how things are going with you, your job and your dear wife?

Please report back to us whenever you have a spare few moments, mate. I for one, think your articles are quite informative and interesting.

I look forward to more, for sure.

#2014-07-20 17:36:45 by Barry1 @Barry1

@neilyaun

One of my very favourite all time bloggers on this site is Neil Yaun. After penning 78 articles spanning a three year period from 2010 through to 2013, about a year or so ago we lost track of Neil.

The site is certainly a little poorer for the loss of his many introspective and varied views over a diverse range of subjects. I certainly would like to see him return here. If not though, I sincerely wish him and his loved ones many blessings and much happiness on their life journey. (y)

#2015-01-09 18:42:33 by Barry1 @Barry1

@kahnsfury

It's 2015 and we haven't heard from Neil Yaun fo a long while.

Being one of CLM's very best bloggers, the place is poorer without him.

I wonder what became of our literary friend and whether or not he's still in China?

#2015-03-02 14:11:10 by Barry1 @Barry1

@kahnsfury
@johnabbot
@melcyan

After the recent passing of one of CLM's very best all time bloggers, Gareth Humphris, the issue of the frailty and mortality of everyone here has unwelcomely raised its ugly head.

It was only by sheer chance that Gareth's death was discovered in a timely manner by @paulfox1 who was a personal friend of his and who happened to phone his number up just after his passing, only to discover the tragic news.

I fear that the same has happened to our brother Neil Yaun, who after writing 78 very interesting and introspective articles, suddenly and mysteriously ceased writing here in August of 2013, with his unraveling tale well short of being finished or concluded.

Similar to Gareth, Neil was physically quite a large gentleman, exacerbating my fears for his health and safety.

If no one else cares for this fine man, I wish to place on the record that I most certainly do.

My sincere thoughts and prayers are with you, Neil, wherever you are.

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