I worked as an ESL Teacher at this school. I had a support teacher called Tommy who is Chinese and teaches maths. I'm sorry to say this but Tommy is the most vile Chinese person I have ever met, one of the most vile people I have ever met in my life. He comes across dead nice and will invite you out to dinner. He does this though just to show you off to his friends. When he did something for me, he would always remind me of it and say I've done this for you, you should come to dinner or a KTV Bar with me. If I said no, he would tell me that I'm really letting him down.
The school did not give me any resources to teach. They didn't even tell me what they wanted me to teach. I had to use my initiative and decide what to teach each week.
When I first started I originally was only teaching 15 classes a week but Tommy then changed it to 17 classes and went to our boss Liang where he said he will give up teaching two of his maths classes so I could teach them extra English lessons instead. He did this so could leave early, get more private tuition because they would be down a maths lesson and because they are the two most challenging classes in the year group because they are not good academically and a lot of the students didn't respect teachers. Not just foreign teachers but also Chinese teachers.
Tommy was given the task to sort my visa out. He told me to get 4 passport sized photos, which I did. He had to go to go to the passport office and he said it would take a week to sort out. I needed a visa so I could stay in China and open a bank account where my agency would pay me. A week later I asked Tommy how my visa is coming along and he replied it will be sorted a couple of days. Next week I come to him again and he said, it will be sorted in a few days. I waited 4 more days and then asked him again about my visa and he gave me the same answer. I confronted him and asked him why it's taking so long to get sorted out and he admitted that he hadn't been to the passport office. I wasn't happy because I was late getting my wages when this could have been prevented.
After I got my visa sorted Tommy kept on reminding of that he's sorted my visa out and he pressured me into giving his daughter private tuition. I felt I had to say yes because I had no one else to support me.
Tommy's communication was really bad. He wouldn't tell me when it was the end of the month exams and he didn't tell me when the lunch breaks changed. There were a few times where I would walk to the school and see no students there or having exams. I know there are cultural differences but it only takes 1 minute to send me a quick text to tell me. I had to ask my students a lot of the time about what was happening in the school.
A few weeks later he then pressured me to Teach English at a private school in the evening. I went for an interview but it was only Tommy and the School Manager speaking Chinese. When I walked back to the car with Tommy I asked him 3 times, "How much would I be getting paid?" He said, "More money than what you are asking for." But he wouldn't be specific. I then asked him why he won't be specific? He then said, "I don't how much he will pay you." I then asked him why he lied, he went silent. I then asked him, "Will he pay me cash in hand?" Tommy replied, "Yes, he will give me the money and I will then give to you." I told him Tommy, no and that he will have to pay me, not you. He wasn't happy with me about that.
My boss Liang and Tommy was desperate for me to work at a Kindergarten School for 3 hours a week. They offered to pay me 100 RMB (£10/$15) for the 3 hours. I didn't think the salary was fair and more importantly I wasn't settled in China so I politely declined the offer. This was in October. A month later, I was out with my friends and my mobile phone battery died. When I got back to my apartment I got 3 text messages from the kindergarten school. The first one was, "Can I call you about visiting our school?" The second text was, "Thank you for agreeing to visit our school tomorrow. We can't express our gratitude, we will pick you up tomorrow at 7:30 am outside your school" The third text told what the car registration number was. I replied and told them that, "I'm sorry there's been some miscommunication and that I'm really not settled in China. I don't want to do extra work because I just want to concentrate on my high school studentsbecause this is my first teaching job ever. The next day Tommy came to my apartment and confronted me about it. He wouldn't accept the fact that this is my first teaching job and that I'm just not settled in China. He then said, "If you don't take this Kindergarten job then we will make you teach 20 classes a week and sometimes come in at the weekend to give lectures." I felt lost and the only place I could turn to was my agency. They told me that I'm not allowed to teach anywhere else because they pay my wages and because it's against my visa rules. Liang backed off but he literally blanked me for a month. He wouldn't even say hello back to me.
Most Chinese student respect their teachers and work very hard. Unfortunately there were some classes that didn't like studying and didn't respect their teachers. I taught them classes more times than what I should so Tommy could go home early. Students sometimes swore at me and thrown things at me. When I would go to Tommy and tell him the problems I had. He would either say, "What do you want me to do about it?" Or, "Just ignore it."
My birthday is in September, my parents and 2 other relatives sent me birthday cards and presents, separately. It taken 2 months for me to finally get them when it should have only taken 2 weeks. The presents were just clothes. When I did get them I could see the letters had been opened and sealed up by sellotape. At Christmas my parents sent me some Christmas presents and cards. The presents were only clothes. My Nana sent me a card separately with some money in it. Both present did not get to me and I stayed their to July, which was very strange and sus*i*ious, considering after 7 months it still didn't get to me and there were nothing remotely dodgy in them.
In December my air condition wasn't working properly when it was very cold where I were. The air condition stopped working on Monday, I told my school and they said someone will come on Friday morning. When Friday came I waited, once the afternoon came I contacted the school and they said the repairman will be there very soon. The repairman didn't come and I stayed in all day to wait for him. Luckily the repairman came the next Friday but it wasn't good being in a cold apartment for 11 days.
I was living on my own in my apartment which I was happy with. On the 31st December though, Tommy told me that I would be getting a new flatmate tomorrow. This was the first I heard and a big shock to me. Tommy said, "The school have only just told me today." The school could have told me sooner and this did cause me a lot of problems which I will get onto later.
In the first semester I taught mixed ability classes academically. This was okay and fair but naturally because this was my first teaching job and I found it hard to settle into China, I did finally get used to my classes and students. This helped me feel more relaxed and my life in China was a bit better. Before the Spring Festival holidays I asked my boss - Liang, "What will my timetable be next semester?" He promised me that my timetable would not change. When I came back to school I found out that my timetable had changed dramatically. I got 19 classes instead of 17 which I can live but they decided to take away the gifted classes away from me which I did best at teaching and was most popular with them students. I got mostly the least gifted classes. My flat mate got given the easier classes because he was going out with Tommy's sister. Also before anyone thinks it's because I've been at the school longer than my flatmate, it's not because he's been in China for 10 years. This made my job a lot harder not just because they were more challenging classes but also because I was just getting used to my old classes, I had to get to know all these students again. This did cause me a lot of anxiety problems. I told my school but they just didn't care. On a different note, it's also not fair on students to have me has their teacher and then suddenly change.
After the Spring Festival holidays I got another support teacher called Felix. Felix was better than Tommy but he was still cold with me and could have been more supportive. He didn't communicate much with me either. There was an incident where Felix rang me at 9 am on Sat*r*ay but I was asleep at the time which I was perfectly entitled to do. My phone was turned off because I was sleeping. Around 9:30 am I woke up, turned my phone on and rang Felix back. He was very hostile with me and had a go at me for having my phone turned off.
Unfortunately I was ill for 1 week in March, I had to go to the hospital twice to see a doctor and get new medicine. I got a doctors note to prove it as well. On one of the afternoons when I was ill, I was resting in my bed. I was rudely awakened by Liang and Felix barging into my apartment, then walking into my bedroom and confronting me why I was ill. I showed them the doctors note and they quickly walked off and they didn't even apologize.
Shortly after Liang reported me to my agency and said that I've missed a lot of teaching days, when it was only 5 days. My agency contacted me about it and I explained that I didn't think it was fair because that was the only time I had any days off because I was genuinely ill, I had a doctors note and they could see I was ill when they went to my apartment.
Tommy didn't give me the correct new timetable, he missed out a class that I should be teaching. For 5 weeks I didn't turn up to teach that class because it wasn't on my timetable. After the fifth week Felix confronted me about not teaching that class. I showed him my timetable that Tommy gave me then backed off but I didn't get any apology. What struck me the most though was it taken the school 5 weeks to realize that I had not been teaching that class.
My apartment has a gate and a pad lock. I had a dentist appointment at 9 am. When I was leaving my apartment at 8:30 am, I got to my gate and I found the padlock had been changed without the school informing me. I rang the school and they said we will come to your apartment in 5 minutes. I waited for 20 minutes and still no sign, so I rang them again and they said someone will come in 5 minutes time. I waited for 10 more minutes (30 minutes in total) and finally Liang came and gave me a new key. He didn't apologize for the inconvenience and not telling me about the locks changing and being locked in my apartment building. I also missed my dentist appointment that day.
My oven wasn't working and there were no hot water. I told Tommy and Felix on numerous occasions about it but they would either ignore me or say they will get someone to sort it out, they never did sort it out.
Towards the end of the school year my flat mate was seriously ill. He got rushed to hospital and had to spend a few nights there. He couldn't afford the medical fees because they were high and he hadn't been paid. The school wouldn't giving him any help in paying the bills.
I got a summer camp job so I payed a lot of money on changing my flights and getting a new visa. Unfortunately my summer camp job got cancelled because the law changed in China. My last day at the school was on Monday, on the Friday just before my last day Felix rang me and asked me, "How long I will be staying in your apartment?" I told him, "1 week extra because of my summer camp job getting cancelled." Felix told me that it was okay. The Monday comes and I got a phone call from Felix saying, "I need to get out of my apartment today." I was speechless after being told on Friday I could stay there for a week. I spoke to my boss Liang and he told me that he wants me out today or he wants me pay 2000 RMB (£200/$300) deposit and change me 100 RMB (£10/$15) a day. I hadn't been paid at the time so I couldn't do that. I didn't think it was fair because my flat mate could stay their for a month rent free, whereas I had to pay. I also didn't think it was fair paying 100 RMB a day because the apartment was old, had no hot water and the oven wasn't working. This caused me a lot of unnecessary stress.
I understand about cultural differences but I do feel the school could have treated me with a lot more respect. I urge you to never ever work at Tongling No.3 High School. I've written this because I don't want anyone to make the same mistakes as me. Thanks for reading my review.
There are some amazing students that would take me out to nice places.
There are a lot of friendly people in Tongling.
It's proper Chinese culture you experience.
There's no support at the school.
The apartment is really old and run down.
The communication at the school is very poor.
Very bad management.
The school management really don't care about their foreign teachers.
My family couldn't send me anything through the post because it had a tendency to go missing or the school will open my post.
Advice to Management
Give foreign teachers resources, treat them with me respect and look after them a lot better, don't pressure foreign teachers to work at the kindergarten school as well. Get rid of Tommy the maths teacher as the support teacher and replace it with an English Teacher that is more caring and understanding.
Tongling No.3 High School
No.42 Yucai Road, Tongling City, Anhui Province, China 244000
I worked at the school as a Foreign English Teacher