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Q: My daughter was offered a teaching job in Changsha, in Hunan province.

I am worried about crime. How can I be sure the offer is legit?

12 years 15 weeks ago in  Business & Jobs - Changsha

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I am currently working as a teacher here, and although this is my first year, I can try to answer your questions.


On crime:


First, as far as crime goes, China is relatively safe, especially for foreigners. In fact, even petty crimes against foreigners are given much harsher penalites. In China, this means years in jail. Your daughter is much more likely to lose money in a scam than to be robbed or attacked. Pickpockets are rare.


That is not to say that China is completely safe. There is a lot of dangerous chemicals added to food, and the traffic is crazy. Also, in some parts of China it isn't uncommon for drunk people to get in fights. As a general rule, the farther south and the richer the area, the safer. If you go up to the Northeast, past Beijing, things get a lot more dangerous. I think Changsha will be quite safe.


For your second question: The contract will often be sent over e-mail by .pdf. A legit company will send you a contract which will be signed by two parties. The first party is the teacher. This will be your daughter. The second party should be the Principal/Headmaster of the specific school that she will be teaching at. Now, this is important: if the contract is signed by a company president or a recruiter (not associated with a specific school), they may not have actually placed your daughter in the job, and might switch her to a different location after she arrives in China. This is actually illegal. In the worst case, she will either not have a job when she arrives or will be arrested by police some months after she starts teaching, because her paperwork was forged by the recruiter.


There are a few other things to look for in the Contract. First, does the contract require the school to pay the teacher before a specific date each month? If not, they can withhold pay as they please. Secondly, does the contract allow for deductions from pay for various things? It is usual for there to be a clause which allows pay deduction for missed classes. However, there shouldn't be other reasons for them to deduct pay. One that raises a red flag for me is a clause that states that only partial pay is given when teaching duties are less than full time. Third, the contract will specify maximum teaching hours and overtime pay. Usually the maximum is 20 per week, but there are extra duties piled on top of that. A lot of schools don't have their workers working more than that, and some will be substantially less (especially if your daughter is good at complaining).


It is also important to determine how close the school is to the city. If your daughter has a substantial savings ($3000 USD or more), she should ask to live off campus. Many schools do not maintain their dormitories, or they may be shoddily constructed. She will need to pay 6 months rent up front when renting, and should get a Chinese employee of the school to help her find an apartment, otherwise she will get ripped off. Typical rental prices vary from city to city, but she shouldn't pay more than 2000 RMB per month (and this should get a relatively nice apartment).


Finally, She should ask for a reference from a current teacher who is a foreigner. This is a common practice. A good way to contact them is by skype or email. Here is a list of questions to ask the foreign reference:

Questions for references:
* How long have you been at that particular school?
* Will you be back next year?
* What are the students like?
* What are the other teachers (both Chinese and foreign) like?
* How many foreign teachers are there?
* Is there on-campus housing? If yes, quality? [Size, heat/AC (don't expect heat, but need AC here), infestations, mold, plumbing, electrical problems, anything else you think of.]
* Does every student and teacher have a textbook for every class?
* What kind of teaching support do teachers have? (likely the answer is "fuck-all", and that's ok, but this is worth asking)
* How are teachers evaluated?
* Is there pressure to give students certain grades?
* Have you seen teachers fired from the school? Why?
* Have you seen teachers break their contracts and leave? Why?
* What are class sizes like?
* What age are the students? **
* Is attendance/enrollment stable through the term?
* Does the school give you the classes you are qualified to teach, or make you teach other things?
* Is the class schedule stable through the term?
* What kinds of extra projects does the school have you work on (besides teaching)?


Since you are involved, she should mention to the recruiter that her father is against her taking this job. She can probably get a higher salary this way and some other promises from the recruiter (although they do frequently break promises). Make sure any negotiated salary shows up in the official contract, of course.

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12 years 15 weeks ago
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