Man its cold today, I’m sitting at my computer freezing my hands off. Was a little colder last week, but it feels colder tonight.

The heating isn’t on yet (don’t know why, usually is on all day!!) I can see ice crystals forming on the inside of my window. My thermometer says -23C which isn’t that bad; it’s just the lack of heating that is making things seem really cold!!
I’m very supicious of the state media’s weather reports. As i found out during the summer, they like to massage the statistics. For example according to the government weather reports the hottest it got last summer was 32C (on my thermometer it got up to 38C in theshade!!); I remember watching the TV and the maximum temperature being the same for two weeks!
So when they say it’s between -20 and -15 today, I minus another 5 degrees or so, and then you have the real temperature!

The heating system in Changchun is based on central boiler houses, dotted all around the city. They are easy to spot, just look for the huge plooms of smoke pouring out the high chimneys.
These bulildings look like power stations; they have a large red and white painted chimney and giant slag heaps of coal, for good measure. I assume the water is heated through the burning of the coal and then piped to the apartments. Which is highly inefficient, but it’s simple and primative and keeps lots of people in work!

At home, you have no thermostat or bolier to decide the heating level , it’s either on on off. So if it’s too cold, tough! Put on more clothes! Everyone in my apartment complex, pays a flat fee for the heating over the winter, depending upon the square metreage of their place.
At this moment I am beginning to regret having a top floor apartment, I feel as if the heat just goes straight out of the roof, and I wish i had some control over the level of heat within the apartment, as I touch my bedroom radiator it is slightly warm – and it should be too hot to touch!

Legal Again

Long time no post, lots to say.

So I have a visa and I have a Foreign Expert’s book:D . Took a bit longer than i thought, and there are still many things I am not happy with; but at least now, I’m legal oncemore.
FEC book

I’m dealing with this company that are legal (I have seen originals of their licences ((could be fake I hear you say!)) though I highly doubt it) however they are a private company, and being China, their primary purpose is to make as much money as possible, at the detriment of everything else. Which is fair game, it’s how it works here. Now, I am fully aware of this, and I realise that I have to play by a different set of rules.

The company itself employs over 20 other foreign teachers in and around the city. Some working for schools five days a week. Others, like myself, work in many places. For the last month or so I have been working every weekend, doing 16 hours or so, teaching or rather entertaining children. I find the whole experience not much fun and I really hate to do it, and I’m not someones that hates things lightly.

There is no teaching involved whatsoever, the students english is so limited that it becomes impossible to have the class purely in english. It’s great chinese speaking practise for me, but ultimately I feel very drained and tired from the repitition of each class. The children, usually 5-10 years old have a foreign teacher’s class once a month. I feel sorry for the kids, their pushy parents make them go to extra classes at the weekend, usually both Saturday and Sunday, for anything up to 4 hours each day. These classes ae not cheap, 300-400yuan per month (half a months average wage in Changchun).

The classes are sometimes okay at 15 students per class, but 80% of them have between 30-40 kids per class. Crammed into a tight room, sitting neatly along the colourful benches, behind yellow coloured desks.
I’m not an educational expert, but at least providing the teacher with a chair – or even a stool – is a must in a classroom. Not that I sit down when I teach, but I can’t stand all day; for having 8 hours of classes, and having to perch on the end of a student’s desk isn’t good enough.

Of course I’m given no information whatsoever on the level of the classes beforehand, I am not told what they have/hav not been previously taught. I am not given copies of their books, each class seems to have a different textbook .

This isn’t a problem to me, I’m used to it.

I have lots of my own lessons I can do with them, but it just shows how much they value the foreign teacher’s classes. Rather than integrating them with the Chinese teachers’ classes, they are seen as a joke, a circus, a chance to ‘play games’, a chance to look at the tall man with the brown hair and the strange coloured eyes.
Which is fine if that’s what they want me to do, however it’s not what I’m here for.

The place I am talking about is Qinghua language school for children in Changchun. They have many different branches all accross the city, some are better than others – but as a general rule they seem to be preoccupied with profit not education.
I have taught at lots of other different language centres in Changchun, and they are not all like this. However it’s a job and job = visa, and that’s what is most important at the moment.

If they employed me as an entertainer or clown then this would be the ideal job; but I’m no childrens entertainer or pantomime performer. Sometimes I feel like I sould bring some of those stretchy balloons with me to class, and make-up a poodle or a giraffe or even a rabbit!

I feel that the foreign teacher’s class at this school is simply a status thing. So the pushy parents can tell other pushy parents that their little emporer has a foreign teacher at the weekends.

As much as I distrust the private sector in China, I came to the conclusion that for the timebeing at least, this is my only real option. Mainly because of it being mid-term and there being nothing else available, I don’t want to go home yet, and I don’t want to leave China with a sour taste in my mouth. So Things are a little better than they were a month ago. And-for what it’s worth- I have it from my new employer that I will not be teaching children beyond the new year. They paid me on-time last week, although they made me pay for my visa (400yuan – despite what the contract says!) which is disingenuous of them -but that’s another story, and at this moment I have neither the time or the energy to argue .

Anyway, now i have another class. Must go