|My Advice on Contracts|
January 9, 2004
I have been living and working in China for almost 4 years now, and I have worked for a number of schools and under contracts written in many different ways. I hope my experience can provide some useful information for prospective teachers:.
There are two particular clauses that prospective teachers need to be very careful about.
Firstly, I recommend avoiding schools which offer a base salary plus an hourly rate per teaching hour. Unless teaching hours are guaranteed, you run a significant risk of living off little more than your base salary. For example, a school may offer base salary of 1000RMB plus allowance of 50RMB per hour for teaching hours. At 16 hours a week, this might end up at (1000+70*50), giving you 4500 in the month. Redo the figures for 5 hours per week. Not pretty. It would be much better to negotiate the 4500 as your salary for up to 16 hours per week, then the school is responsible for finding you teaching hours.
Secondly, be very wary of contracts that allow the contracting school to send you off to different schools in the area. Times traveling to and from other schools will not be counted as teaching time, and can add up very quickly. For example you could spend 3 hours of your time to complete 1 teaching hour.
Also, always make sure that you have a signed, stamped copy of the contract in English. It is worthwhile to take the time to make sure everything is written unambiguously, and guarantees everything the school has verbally agreed to.
Finally, my experience tells me that it is better to ask very direct questions and demand very explicit answers before you go anywhere near a school. Teaching in China can be an extremely rewarding experience if you put yourself in the right environment!!