EFL Instructors – China University of Geosciences (Beijing)

Looking for three new instructors for the staff of its Department of Foreign Languages for the 2017-18 academic year in Beijing, China

China University of Geosciences, Beijing

The CHINA UNIVERSITY OF GEOSCIENCES (BEIJING) is looking for three new instructors for the staff of its Department of Foreign Languages for the 2017-18 academic year:

(1) A literature instructor (with suitable MA or MFA) also able to handle EFL duties

(2) Two EFL instructors also interested in teaching culture-oriented courses

All must be responsible, well-educated and resourceful native speakers of English. Candidates need, at a minimum, solid undergraduate training (and in the case of the instructor for courses in English literature at the BA and MA levels, appropriate postgraduate training) and degrees. Some experience of teaching, tutoring or training is also desirable. The EFL instructors we hire should hold a good BA in English literature or related field in the humanities or social sciences (eg creative writing, classics, history, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, political economy, communication, area studies with literary content). Important: CELTA or reputable TEFL certification (120 hours) is needed to obtain a Chinese work permit unless the candidate has three years of teaching experience. An MA is helpful but not required for the EFL posts.

The base salary for teachers is currently 7500 yuan per month. Staff will receive an additional 500 yuan per month if they have a relevant master¡¯s degree. All foreign instructors are housed in individual flats on campus, provided without charge by the university. The teaching load for foreign instructors is 14 classroom hours or less per week, in keeping with the guidelines issued by the State Foreign Experts Bureau. If more teaching time is needed from staff (seldom the case), this is scheduled strictly with the agreement of the teachers concerned, who are then paid for the extra time.

The EFL teaching program emphasizes educated colloquial English, academic English, and Western culture; in certain EFL courses attention is paid to the English of scientific discussion, though not in any very specific or technical way. Our literature courses are lecture-based at the undergraduate level, but at the MA level these give way to seminars emphasizing close reading and active student participation.

We welcome applicants from the British Isles, North America and Australasia, whether living abroad or currently in China.

Interested candidates should read this job announcement in full and submit a CV and appropriate letter to Prof. WD White at leukokymon@yahoo.com . Applicants would do well to reflect carefully on whether they truly wish to be in China or not before sending a CV. Our preference is for intellectually committed teachers who regard their classroom as a means of building an understanding of contemporary Chinese culture and society.

The CHINA UNIVERSITY OF GEOSCIENCES (ÖйúµØÖÊ´óѧZhongguo Dizhi Daxue or Dida) is a medium-sized government university located on a quiet, leafy, pleasant campus in Beijing’s Haidian district, the university and electronics quarter in the northwestern part of the city. Foreign instructors live and teach on campus. Also in the neighborhood are Beijing University, Qinghua University, many divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a score of other institutions of higher education, plus the Summer Palace and the Yuanmingyuan (the park containing the ruins of the old summer palace destroyed in 1860). Just to the west of us, around our elevated light-rail station, is the lively Wudaokou neighborhood; five kilometers to the east is the main site of the 2008 Olympics, with the ¡°Bird¡¯s Nest¡± stadium. The university, a ¡°key¡± state institution, was the flagship school of the Ministry of Geology before the latter was absorbed into the new Ministry of Land & Resources; it is generally regarded as one of the top three academic centres of geological research in China.

At present we have a resident foreign staff of eight (four Britons, three Americans, one Australian).

Candidates for the EFL positions MUST BE NATIVE SPEAKERS of English with at least a BA (or BSc, though it must be emphasized that a background in science is definitely not at a premium for the department’s purposes) and preferably some earlier teaching experience. A relevant postgraduate degree would also be very welcome, but we will definitely consider good candidates without one.

Historically we have a high staff retention rate, with many teachers staying on for two to four years. The teachers leaving us this summer are moving on to the next stage in their careers; no one is departing out of unhappiness with teaching duties or living arrangements. Shortlisted applicants will be put in touch with current instructors as a matter of course.


** Undergraduates in a 4-year BA program in English
** MSc candidates in the earth sciences
** PhD candidates in the earth sciences (average age: 28)
** Undergraduate science majors selected for an honors program
** MA candidates in applied linguistics/translation & interpretation
** MA candidates in English literature

In terms of number, the bulk of our students are in the first three categories, but we have important duties teaching smaller groups of students in the departmental MA programs. An attempt is made to keep BA, BSc, MSc and PhD classes to a manageable size by Chinese standards, i.e. 20-35 students, and MA courses are all seminars with 8-20 students.

For their one-term oral English classes, the doctoral candidates are sorted into levels on the basis of their English ability; such a procedure, though normal elsewhere in the world, is unusual for China.

Many of the courses foreigners teach here focus on the oral and written English of everyday life or of a professional field. However, the undergraduate program puts some emphasis on literature and culture. One or two instructors with the proper background are chosen to lead a course on British (autumn term) and American (spring term) literature; also in the curriculum are undergraduate reading/lecture courses in Biblical literature and basic aspects of Western civilization. In addition, we do a survey of British and American society, team-taught when staffing allows: Britons lecture on aspects of the UK for 8 weeks while Americans lecture on the US to another class; at mid-term they switch groups and repeat their module. This means that each group of students gets to see different English-speaking foreigners in action (different personalities, different classroom styles, different accents), sometimes working together, sometimes solo. The experience is eye-opening for the students, and very effective in undermining shallow stereotypes and enhancing powers of observation.

We will have two or three foreign instructors teaching MA candidates in English literature. These seminars involve 8-20 postgraduates. The core of instruction for for MA candidates in English literature is a block of four required courses (The 19th-Century British Novel, The 19th-Century American Novel, The 20th-Century British Novel, The 20th-Century American Novel). In each of these the instructor leads students through a close reading of two to three works that he or she has chosen, sorting out language problems, eliciting genuine student response and inviting students to think of works of literature in terms of choices made by authors; seminar participants are also introduced to critical perspectives on the works under consideration.

As an experiment, in the spring term of 2015 we were asked to teach 32-hour courses in the humanities at the introductory level for our MSc candidates. Our five EFL teachers, all of them with strong undergraduate records of their own, each designed a course reflecting his or her own interests and training but intended to open up some branch of the humanities for young Chinese with little experience of such studies. In the first three years the courses taught have included introductions to world dance, the visual/plastic arts, British film, music appreciation, 20th-century US music, philosophical thinking, ancient Greek cultural history and science fiction as a mode of speculating on the future. This new line of courses seems likely to continue.

The China University of Geosciences is officially designated a ¡°key¡± university, and, in rankings of Beijing campuses based on state-set exams, our student body as a whole typically falls in the second quartile from the top. Our learners have the usual mix of abilities found among university students in Beijing, from happily interactive near-fluency in English to intense passivity and scant spoken English. Writing skills are a big problem, as everywhere in the PRC.

THE CONTRACT. We offer the standard one-year contract for foreign teachers in government educational institutions.

Starting from September 2016, the base salary for teachers is 7500 yuan per month. Staff will receive an additional 500 yuan per month if they have a relevant MA. The normal teaching is capped at 14 classroom hours per week, in keeping with the guidelines issued by the State Foreign Experts Bureau. Anything beyond 14 hours ¨C rare in recent years — is arranged strictly in agreement with the teachers concerned, who are then paid for the extra time.

This salary is sufficient to get one comfortably through the month, with enough left over, for example, to pay for hourly Chinese classes in one of the nearby Mandarin schools (typically 50-100 yuan per hour). Food in our neighborhood is varied, tasty and relatively inexpensive. For teachers who need extra income (usually this seems to mean money for ambitious travel plans or to pay off educational debt), there are abundant opportunities for part-time tutoring or off-campus employment.

Instructors who remain on the staff beyond the initial one-year contract receive a 10% increase in salary (reckoned from the evolving base salary) for each additional year, up to a maximum of three years beyond the first. Thereafter the salary is stable unless the base salary happens to be raised.

Teachers are paid for the full academic year, from September through July, including 4-5 weeks of holiday around the Spring Festival (January-February).

Arrangements for early departure (late June ¨C early July) for summer vacation can usually be worked out.

Upon completion of a year of service, the university will pay for a plane ticket back to the instructor¡¯s home of record. Please note that the arrangement is one one-way passage per year of service. (The university does not pay for instructors to travel to China to begin work.)

Healthcare for problems that arise during service is covered by medical insurance purchased by the university. We use the small campus clinic or Beiyi 3-Yuan, the well-known hospital on the nearby medical campus attached to Beijing University; we also have the option of using the downtown clinic at Beijing Union Medical University, China¡¯s most illustrious medical school.

HOUSING. Teachers are housed rent-free in comfortable two-room furnished flats (bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, two enclosed balconies, hot water, refrigerator, washing machine, air conditioning, TV set, broadband internet access) in a building completed in 2000. Though foreign instructors are grouped together in one of the building¡¯s six entryways, they are in no sense segregated from their Chinese neighbors: there are Chinese postdocs living in the same entryway. The living quarters are apartments for independent professionals; there is nothing dorm-like about them. This is a good campus for independent, inquiring people seeking serious exposure to Chinese life without an abundance of bureaucratic hassles.

Note: The cost of housing in this part of Beijing continues to climb, more or less independently of other living expenses, which remain modest. We estimate that the flats provided by the university would now rent at about 5000 yuan per month.

As a community of readers, the foreign staff have amassed a considerable number of shared books (classical and literary fiction, ESL guides, key literary reference works, books on China from various learned angles, travel accounts, dictionaries); the collection is dispersed among the teachers¡¯ flats. In the foreign staff room of the Department of Foreign Languages there is a constantly growing collection of well over 1000 videotapes and DVDs of Western feature films that we use both privately and in teaching.

RELATIONS WITH SCHOOL OFFICIALS. One of the attractions of this campus is the long history of cordial relations between the foreign staff and the university administration. The people in the waiban (i.e. the foreign-affairs office that every government unit here has; ours happens to be called the International Cooperation Office, and the title is not a misnomer) are reasonable, friendly, straightforward, efficient and easy to deal with. Ditto for the Department of Foreign Languages.

WHAT WE SEEK IN NEW STAFF. Despite this university¡¯s official name, knowledge of geology is not important for our English instructors, though it is a minor plus in teaching our doctoral and MSc candidates and the accelerated science undergraduates. On the other hand, familiarity with academic life in the West and the language of seminars and conferences ¨C how scientists and researchers talk when they meet, work together and give presentations ¨C is very desirable in carrying out certain teaching assignments.

We are looking for English instructors who, no matter what field their education has been in, take a professional attitude in the classroom and strive to excel as instructors. Our program gives teachers a good deal of independence (the subject and timetable are set, but we generally leave the choice of approach, methods, textbook, etc., to the instructor) and we want staff who will use that latitude ambitiously and wisely, in the best interests of the students. We have a 30-year record of dedicated, often superb, teaching by foreigners on this campus; we are committed to maintaining that record in the years to come.

We are particularly interested in applicants who, in addition to being well-read and articulate native speakers of English, have any (NOT ALL!) of the following:

** A solid undergraduate or postgraduate record in any field
** Teaching experience
** A record of success in learning foreign languages
** A keen and informed interest in China, from whatever perspective
** Some knowledge of Mandarin
** Life experience likely to enhance the value and interest of classroom instruction

WORK PERMIT & VISA. Anyone coming to China to teach in a university under the supervision of the Ministry of Education must have a work permit and a Z visa (the visa type given to foreign teachers and foreign experts). Our administrators obtain the work permit, which is required of anyone applying for a Z visa. Needless to say, we are obliged to bear in mind the demands of the work permit authorities when we attempt to hire new staff. In Beijing and Shanghai ¨C but not necessarily elsewhere in the country ¨C the work permit people increasingly insist that would-be university instructors from the West be under 60 when a first contract is signed, have ostensibly ¡°relevant¡± academic degrees and previous teaching experience (two years is the figure most often cited). It has become difficult to win their agreement to grant work permits to potential hires with only a BA/BSc and no clear, fairly substantial teaching or training experience (even in cases where we believe that the people we would like to hire are almost certain to perform excellently in the classroom). This is where having 120 hours of certified CELTA or other TEFL training becomes important; such ertification has recently emerged as a bureaucratic preference, and enough to override a lack of teaching experience. We do tend to succeed with our candidates for work permits, but we must be able to make a strong argument from their record.

TO APPLY to join our staff, please send a CV/r¨¦sum¨¦ and a no-nonsense letter outlining your reasons for wanting to teach in China, or to teach in Beijing if you are already in the PRC. What about China makes it worth the investment of a year or two or three of your life? How do you expect to use your time here when not teaching? Also of great interest to us would be your frank assessment of any previous teaching experience that you have had.

Please e-mail all documents and inquiries to:

Prof. William D. White, Director of Foreign Staff
Department of Foreign Languages
E-mail: leukokymon@yahoo.com

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