have spent the last year on the TEIC programme, and chose to spend
much of my time learning Mandarin. Personally, I believe that TEIC
is an excellent way of allowing people to do this, due to the low
number of teaching hours and the location (in my case the centre
of Beijing's university district). If you want to study the language,
classes are often inexpensive, with even private tuition only costing
from 40-60RMB an hour, or you can find a language partner from the
all-too-eager Chinese student population. Although its reputation
for being difficult to learn is somewhat well-earned, the constant
exposure means you are sure to get plenty of practice!
Having studied Mandarin for nine months, I am seriously considering
staying on in Beijing or Shanghai to continue my study and gain
work experience. Many International companies offer entry-level
positions or internships in China in a wide variety of areas, and
the opportunity to start my career in one of the world's fastest
growing economies is something I am all too keen to exploit!
I decided to join the TEIC program for two main reasons. Firstly,
I had just finished university and wanted a change of scenery; a
chance to do something adventurous and original for a year before
commencing full-time work. And secondly, to learn (or at least begin
to learn) Mandarin!
A typical day generally involves two to four hours of teaching
work. The common element here is a two-hour lunch break, during
which I spend one-hour planning my lessons. In addition, most days
I will study Chinese for two hours. Eating occurs either in the
campus cafeterias or in a restaurant further afield. I often try
and do some sport as well. The campus is relatively large but contains
all these facilities: though I often do activities outside, it is
nice to have the Beihang 'nest egg' to fall back on.
The lifestyle varies upon the person. Beihang is fortunately situated
only a ten-minute walk from the Wudaokou subway stop, which is home
to most of Beijing’s foreign students and many expatriate
workers, so you can feel back at home surprisingly quickly! Most
of your socialising is likely to be with other expatriates due to
the language barrier, but due to the mix of nationalities this is
interesting enough in itself!
The teaching hours are few, and you have autonomy over lessons,
partly due to the lacklustre support materials provided. The students
are a mixed bunch; the best classes are bright, attentive, sociable
and a pleasure to be around. The worst classes are unresponsive,
apathetic and the time drags by.
That said, there are no problems with authority or discipline, even
with the worst students.
I would recommend the programme for people who wanted time out
and a chance to explore Asia. It is also a good way to get your
foot in the door with companies here.I think that TEIC helps build
up a level of independence and drive. You have a lot of free time
so it's up to you to make things happen. It also allows a ground-level
experience of China and through that of many Asian countries.
The accommodation is basic but functional. Every apartment has
a television, internet connection (albeit slow!), shower and washing
machine. Most rooms are double beds, although some are single.
The lack of formal training hasn't been a big problem. The teaching
is mostly in conversational English and main things that need improving
are their pronunciation and ability to think quickly in English.
If you can come up with interesting ideas to talk about and turn
into group work, then everything else will fall into line.
I have just finished a year of working at the EUPIC centre in Chengdu
in Southwest China. It's been a really interesting ride, working
for a Chinese company is certainly an experience. The Mandarin continues
to potter along. Barring any drastic changes, I should hopefully
be heading to Shanghai for an internship at an investment bank next
I'd be interested in hearing how TEIC is continuing, and I'm happy
to try and help out whenever you need. It was definitly very helpful
in providing a 'soft landing' into China for me and I'm sure many
others. Tom has returned to England and is working at his law firm,
but continues to study Chinese in his free time. Others have stayed
on or gone back but everyone seemed to appreciate the experience.
If you're ever back in China and want to catch up, I would be more
than happy to try and meet up with you.