Most education institutions in cities like Shanghai, BeiJing, ShenZheng, GuangZhou and other first and second tier cities are generally equipped with some of the most up-to-date equipment, with interacting computer systems, touch boards, audio and visual equipment. This is because the Chinese government has made it the average standard for the education system.
Foreign teachers generally have a classroom assistant who helps with translation and disciplinary issues. Generally, the younger the students, the number of helpers increase. It isn’t usual to see two or three Chinese assistants to keep the children clean, the room clean, safe and out of trouble. Kindergarten is a good example of that and some kindergarten schools have a nursery department, where the children, are between the age of 18 months and 3 years old.
In China, Kindergarten starts at the age of 3 and it is a 3-year program before they move onto a primary school. Primary is from grade 1-5 and that is where the number of assistants decreases to about 1 teacher assistant (TA). It isn’t uncommon to see no assistants after primary grades but by that time, the children usually speaks English fairly well and there is always someone around that you can call if should you need help.
Panda mostly deals in the kindergarten and primary school industry however, we do handle some nursery schools and middle schools, which range from grades 6-10. That said, the reason we specialize in these younger age groups is because there are far more schools looking for foreign English education for the young students than in the older grades. The children are at their peak of learning from the ages of 3 through 10 years of age. This Chinese education system also believes that children learn more and faster if the children are entertained and enjoy the classes. Foreigners make learning English much more enjoyable because we can get away with playing games, doing English activities, singing English songs and simply speaking to the children.
In our industry, since Panda is the direct employer (not an agent), Panda is required to provide the teachers with everything from teaching materials, books, props, puppets, flashcards, training, schedules, proper visas, foreign expert certificates and salaries. Therefore, it is illegal for the school to actually give the teachers anything since they do not hire the foreign teachers.
Our teachers generally work Monday to Friday during day time hours. The teachers are given time in their schedules to plan their lessons and only teach approximately 20 or less hours a week. The schools generally provide the teachers lunch in the school’s cafeteria, through an agreement between the school and Panda. Having the time to prepare lessons at the school, during school hours, allows foreigners to enjoy their evening more, with the time off. That said, there are some evening and weekend work available for teachers who wish to make additional money, but this is optional.
Our company deals in two different types of schedules; the single local and multi-location. Firstly, we will start with the single location schedule, since these are the most common. Single location schedules are basically what I describe in the previous paragraph. One school, 20 teaching hours or less per week, Monday to Friday day-time hours and are generally classified as a homeroom teacher however, a teacher may be required to teach in different classes and to different students with-in the same school. The second type of schedule, is the multi-location schedule, that requires a teacher to work anywhere from 2-5 different schools in a week. The schedules are firm and each week the schedules are identical and a teacher may be required to go to two different schools in one day (generally one in the morning and another in the afternoon). The multi-location teacher also only works between 18-20 hours a week but their lesson planning is done at home or during the lunch hours. These teachers’ schedules are structured as the single location schedules because once the multi-location teacher is finished teaching their last class, they aren’t required to stay in the school and is free to go home. Either schedules, they have their advantages and disadvantages but they are still well organized and come with a teacher assistant in the classroom.
With Panda, you can be guaranteed that you will be 100% legally employed with all the legal documents necessary to be classified as a teacher in China, unlike a lot of foreigners who come to China looking for teaching jobs. What most employers won’t tell you is, to be a teacher, you “must” have a foreign expert certificate (FEC) license because a teaching career is classified as a profession, same as doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, lawyers, etc. Foreigners caught in China, working illegally can face 15 days in jail, huge fines and deportation with a criminal record with Interpol.