Chinagog: In Praise Of Neil Porteous, Über-Teacher

Chinagog Lesson 11 Neil Porteous
Neil Porteous is a teacher who knows how to get things done, and he might be the most dedicated foreign teacher I've ever heard of or met in the Middle Kingdom (more on that later). To wit on my first point, as Xinhua reports: All 45 students in his class in Shimen High School in the city of Foshan, south China's Guangdong Province, passed with good enough results to access the country's key universities. Six of them ranked among the top 100 in the province, where 727,000 students took the exam, also known as gaokao.

Chinagog: Teaching Culture With Your Language

Chinagog Lesson 10
Another year has come and gone and America continues to noisily barrel on into middle age. The Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. It doesn't come with any of the social burdens and anxieties of Christmas and Thanksgiving. The political implications are pretty minimal as well. While it's technically a celebration of the US throwing off the shackles of our tea- and gin-soaked oppressors and their shilling-and-pencing sales taxes, it generally lacks the nationalistic bluster and bravado of, say, Chinese National Day.

Chinagog: Our Columnist Prepares To Move To Vietnam

You might remember Greg Donohue, our English teacher columnist. What's that, you don't? Here's your reminder. Greg Donohue? I thought you'd been fired. Me too. But then the BJC editors reached out and explained that unpaid columnists couldn't be fired, especially since I'm not a particularly corrupt official, a pedophile, or a LBH teacher. And how little do they know.

Chinagog: My English-Teaching Prowess May Have Helped Siwei Defraud Caterpillar

Chinagog 9 - Siwei and Caterpillar
Back when I was teaching in China, two of my colleagues and I ran a business English program on behalf of our school at a local factory. The company, Siwei, a mining equipment manufacturer, was apparently in talks with a German company to set up a joint venture, and they wanted to train up the business English of their future managers. The students, most of them recent college graduates, were very enthusiastic learners, and I think they appreciated their company investing in them. Unlike a lot of on-site business English courses, which tend to be a low priority for students who often have much more important things on their plate, the course had great attendance and we made a lot of progress over the course of six months. Also, the training manager, who I named Hank, was a walking stereotype of the shady, adulterous, face-collecting Chinese businessman. He quite excitedly explained his reason for having two phones: “Nokia is for wife, but iPhone is for my girlfriend.” Fucking Hank. After six months, the program ended, we went out for dinner and got wasted at KTV and I never heard from them again.

Chinagog: Finding The Right Teaching Environment

Chinagog - Finding the Right Teaching Environment
One of the most common questions I see posted on TEFL forums is whether X school in Z province is a decent place to work. There are ways to ensure that you aren’t walking into an educational Sarlacc pit by emailing current staff and properly vetting your contract. Still, there’s a good chance your first job will be in a shitty private language center — and there’s actually nothing wrong with that. But before we see why, a quick aside.

Chinagog: A Passionate Defense Of Henan, My Adopted Chinese Home

Chinagog - In defense of Henan
Anytime anything bad, weird or completely fucked up happens in China, I hold my breath for the inevitable mention of Zhengzhou, Sanmenxia, Zhumadian or any of the horror-story prone towns and cities around Henan. Historically, the province has known many sorrows, including around a billion earthquakes and Yellow River floods. In more recent history, it... Read more »

Chinagog: What’s The Value Of Native-Speaking TEFL Educators?

Chinagog - Value Added
Most of my students are studying at an English training school with the intention of enrolling in a Master's program, or at least attaining a Bachelor's degree from an American university. During my time here I've had a soul-enriching load of students accomplish just that, as they've gotten their IELTS scores (a British-Australian test to measure English language proficiency in both general and academic English) and entered various BA, BS, MA and MA programs across the country. But while some of their success can be attributed to my instruction, most of my best students came in (and exited) my class with amazing study skills and positive attitudes toward learning.

Chinagog: What “Chinese With Mike” Does Wrong, And What It Does Right

Chinagog - Chinese with Mike
So I just stumbled across Chinese with Mike. I can’t decide if this gentleman is the worst Chinese teacher since my boss forced my coworkers and I to learn “Tianmimi,” or the best Chinese teacher ever, like a mullet-enhanced Dashan. He certainly holds my interest as a Chinese language learner, and that’s half the battle.... Read more »

Chinagog: The Importance Of Graded Speech

Chinagog 3 - The Importance of Graded Speech
It’s been a stressful day for you, the stared-at, harried, overworked (up to 30 hours this week, for chrissake!), hungover foreigner. Your Chinese is just good enough for you to order an 二号套餐 at McDonald’s, but the girl at the counter just stares at you blankly when you order 谁比. You repeat: 雪笔. 水碧. Nothing... Read more »