Benxi Future English School (http://www.benxifutureenglishcentre.com) is a private language school in the industrial city of Benxi in north-east China. Benxi offers an unrivalled chance to immerse yourself in Chinese culture, in a real working-class city, away from foreigner orientated larger cities, where Western amenities and English speaking locals are close at hand.
Alongside my wife, I taught here for fourteen months between 2009-2011. It’s easy to say my time teaching here wasn’t one of unadulterated passion. It was sometimes a long, hard slog. An experience though that has enabled some of my most rewarding and satisfying moments. I doubt I’ll ever get use to feeling like an expendable commodity, where qualifications and experience count for very little. I’ll also never understand how respect can be measured in wealth rather than personal attributes. On the other hand, the majority of Benxi’s population have offered nothing but warmth and hospitality and have been some of the friendliest people I have ever met. My students and their parents have proven this. If I had the chance to make my decision again, I would still choose to teach at Benxi Future English School.
During my time at Benxi Future English School I worked with fourteen foreign teachers. Of these, three were sacked, three were ‘night-runners’ (teachers who run away without telling their employer) and another two left at their own request.
One teacher was reportedly sacked for being black, his dreadlocks and colour scaring the students. Another teacher was sacked for having alcohol related issues. All three sacked teachers went on to find better paid teaching jobs within China. Other teachers left for a variety of reasons, from their treatment by the school to personal issues.
These statistics show that teaching here isn’t for everyone. Those with low confidence and no teaching experience, or who are expecting a party lifestyle for the duration of their contract should really consider looking elsewhere. Potential teachers who are dedicated to their work and who like to throw themselves in to the deep-end of a culture, will find that Benxi offers an excellent opportunity.