Not if I were a teacher. I have a different job but if I were working for Yunnanese employers, I would be happy with 1500 EUR a month, since after food, rent and excessive drinking I would still be saving over 1000 EUR per month. That's more than any of my friends in Belgium can say.
Ha..ha.. I thought so. Everything has gone up rapidly in just the last 5 years and salaries haven't kept pace with that.
While I have taught in Kunming in the past, I am now happily working in another field consistent with my qualifications. I was happiest working at the university; although the pay was not excellent it was guaranteed and the students were a pleasure to teach. Also, being a university teacher was quite rewarding and I actually enjoyed the experience.
When I last taught at a language school sometime last year, mind you only for a few weeks to make some extra money I wasn't really interested in teaching anymore and as soon as I started, I got offered a professional job in another field which I accepted and was due to start about 2 months later.
I got offered the language school job without specifically asking for it; a professor from a local university had lunch with me and then asked me if I was interested - despite that school having nothing to do with him. I expressed a very vague interest, but this was enough for the school to call me and schedule an interview. The first time I couldn't make it, but they were persistent and so 2 weeks later I finally made it and started teaching the following day.
I have to admit I was very lazy because I just couldn't get motivated. The teaching materials were boring, the pay was on the low side and getting there was a pain too. After a while, I did the classic "lazy foreigner" routine: party all night, get drunk, sleep in and only call your school 15min after the start of class to tell them you are "sick". I did that twice and they cut my pay. Later on I had to travel to interview for my new job and upon returning found that they mysteriously didn't have any more classes for me. I didn't even attempt to collect the remaining 800Y they owe me.
The fact is many teachers here are exploited by poor wages, boring curriculum and many of them would really like to be doing something else, so it doesn't surprise me that some of them would be "lazy". I know I was.
At the barber shop (hair salon?) one night, my wife and I met a retired middle-school English teacher. To me she said "Wow, you speak good English". I couldn't understand a damn thing she was saying of course so my wife had to translate!
Maybe I am just lucky, but teaching in Kunming is great. I love my students, my job, my employers, and we get paid very well, especially with the cost of living. I really love it here, and none of my colleagues are lazy.
A degree or a certificate is no guarantee of competent teacher - merely the ability to teach or take tests. MOST of the Foreign Expert English teacher's I've met here teach English thematically - they teach other things besides rote memorization and work that into the daily grind of English courses designed to help students pass sections of their respective English for the various qualification exams (eg gaokao, etc). Rote memorization has its place - but spice it up a little - although Rap is debatably pushing the envelope.
As for pay - are those ¥6-8k+ ads on www.inkunming.com/ genuine? FYI - look inside the job boards - NOT the front page blog.
some thoughts spring to mind.
1. The media attention cycle.
The attention of the media is currently on foreigner bashing. A few weeks ago it was on something else. Next month it will be something else again.
2. Journalists are lazy and just want to make copy that sells papers. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
3. Wording is important and so is slant.There is a big difference in the following two sentences, but the first implies the second. Despite what careful reading would show.
People with green skin stole things. (The word some is not stated)
All people with green skin are thieves.
4. Not all teachers good teachers want to live in the east. Some of us have family in Kunming, others wanted to escape the rat race, others love Yunnan, and there are myriad reasons that have nothing to do with work ethic.
@tigertiger Agreed. I think there are plenty of well-qualified and hardworking English teachers here in Kunming (and elsewhere) and they definately get my respect. If they enjoy what they are doing, then good for them and I salute them for trying to make a living here in this city, which is not always an easy thing.
Personally it's not my thing though - in future I doubt I'll teach English again unless perhaps there is a widespread economic crisis and suddenly engineers, scientists, business analysts etc. can't get jobs.
Having said that the stereotypes persist and every second local I meet assumes I'm an English teacher (due to being a white male) to which I have to prove them wrong and tell them exactly what I do. I'm not sure what they hold of English teaching but it seems to me that a lot of people don't exactly give it the respect it deserves.
Anyone who justifies foreign teacher's salaries by comparing them to local college gradates is high on some kind of chemical fumes.
Local people have credit. People who make 4000rmb/month are driving around in cars and buying houses. Most laowais have to pay in hard cash, have bills to pay overseas, pay for visas or visas runs, have to fork out money for international airfare, pay the "laowai rate" for lots of stuff, lack the connections or knowledgeable to know where the best deals are, often cook for 1 or 2 rather than a whole family, and need to have enough euros or dollars or whathaveyou in pocket when they leave Kunming so that they don't end up on the street upon arrival abroad. RMB doesn't convert very favorably.
They also have no job security or futures with the companies they work for while in Kunming. In short, many if not most non-trustfund, non tourist foreign teachers need much more money than most local workers. The question is not how much do they make compared to oca workers, but how much do they make compared to the school owners and the families that send the students to class.
I agree with Tigertiger about the press comments.