International marketing talents recruitment: special session
Marketing Talents - China Opportunities
Helping Chinese companies locate international talents
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Most foreign teachers in China can attest to the fact that they work alongside Chinese colleagues who are just as competent, hardworking, and intelligent as themselves, but who often put in more hours for less money. Foreign instructors in China may expect to make anything from 15,000 to 30,000 RMB per month, with the latter being the more common figure. In most cases, this works out to an hourly compensation that is on par with or even more than what Western countries pay its teachers.
However, even with a college degree, most Chinese educators are fortunate to earn 8,000 RMB each month. It's very uncommon for Chinese educators to have extra responsibilities beyond instructing their students, such as fielding phone calls or keeping an eye on lunch periods. On the other hand, my days are spent mostly in the classroom, while I do some grading at home and some marketing work (which is why most of us international instructors are here in the first place). That's how it feels, at least, on sometimes.
My international buddy once bemoaned the apparent disinterest of her school's administration in her pupils' grades. Do they give a hoot about the way I teach or about whether or not my pupils learn? " she thought following a meeting with the workers. Just like I was paid to perform in a foreign clown show, they say.
If you're a foreign teacher in China, you could feel bad about yourself if you know that your respected peers make much less money than you do, although working in conditions that are undoubtedly more demanding. However, you probably shouldn't. Your income is not directly proportional to theirs for economic reasons. In China, the higher salaries provided to foreign educators have little effect on teacher compensation. It would be wonderful to imagine that if foreign instructors accepted a wage reduction, schools would use the extra money to give Chinese teachers a higher salary, but in reality, capitalism doesn't function like that.
Some schools may have been able to keep their Chinese instructors employed because they were able to hire international teachers as well. Many private schools, which are technically companies in their own right, primarily exist to profit from the services of their foreign instructors, who generally instruct students in the English language. It's possible that the "foreign clowns" are essential to the institution's continued existence.
For this reason, I try not to feel too terrible when my Chinese coworkers complain about the significant negative impacts their low salary have on their daily life. It's easier said than done, however, since it's usually not only that they can't afford an outfit they like or that they have to save up more to purchase a scooter that prevents them from doing so. That both their current and future stability are under danger.
When one of my Chinese coworkers was asked whether she wanted to remain a teacher, she said, "On 5,000 RMB a month? Just how do I go about getting a mortgage and a house? A coworker told me the heartbreak of being separated from her spouse and little kid since they were both compelled to remain at company-provided housing because their low wages prevented them from affording rent on their own. My coworker's kid is being raised by her mother in her hometown, as is still the situation for many migrant workers in China.
Many highly-qualified Chinese educators leave the profession because they cannot make a living wage, making it impossible for them to raise a family and provide a quality education for their pupils.
While I make an effort to avoid feelings of guilt, I sometimes wish capitalism operated differently. I hope that Chinese schools and parents recognize the value of quality educators and compensate them fairly. Learning Chinese is about so much more than just the foreign jokester.