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Author Topic: Foreign workers rights in China?  (Read 20974 times)

x0vash0x

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 04:25:00 am »

I cannot get used to this kind of behavior, they are afraid of confronting me with there decisions, so in front they say one thing and then they tell the secretary to call me and say the opposite, i tried to respect them in every way but it´s starting to get me really angry, that is one of the reasons i prefer to leave the school.

If you cannot get used to this kind of behavior, then do not work at another school. The vast majority of schools are run in very similar manner. It is simply how the Chinese do business. Even in more 'respectable' schools like No. 1 or No. 8 this behavior exists in the management. It is very difficult to escape this kind of behavior in China.

The whole issue is that the school (particularly your boss) doesn't want to lose their 'face'. I highly recommend reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_(sociological_concept)#Chinese if you want to know the basics. The take away from it all is this "For a person to maintain face is important with Chinese social relations because face translates into power and influence and affects goodwill. A loss of lian would result in a loss of trust within a social network, while a loss of mianzi would likely result in a loss of authority."

If you want a more down to earth introduction read: http://voices.yahoo.com/the-concept-face-chinese-culture-566703.html?cat=69 The take away from that article is: "So, even if the one losing face is clearly "wrong", some folks will go to great lengths to avoid the appearance of losing face."

Basically, no one wants to lose face over changing your contract. If they change you contract, I would assume it means that the person who made you contract was 'wrong' and no one wants to be 'wrong'. Chinese will go to extreme lengths to avoid being blamed. And in your case, the management will go to extreme lengths to avoid being blamed for you not fulfilling your contract. The Chinese will not take responsibility because to do so means they were somehow wrong. It's much easier to blame you, the foreigner, that it's your fault for one reason or another than for anyone in the organization to take blame. Because once someone takes blame, it could mean they lose face... And no Chinese wants to do that.

This is also why lower management tells you bad things, because lower management can lose face. It's their job to protect the face of their bosses. Your boss will probably tell you anything and everything you want to hear, only to tell the lower management not to give you what you want. The bosses image is protect because they are showing you a good face, and the boss is showing those under them that they are in control, not the foreigner. Plus, if you ever confront the boss about why the secretary told you one thing the boss can simply say 'Oh, I don't know... Let me look into that'

My advice: Be slightly aggressive and firm. Tell them 'This is how it will be....' and make the ball be in their court. You cannot back down. Not even once. Do not show them weakness, or they will take advantage. Tell them: 'I am only going to show up for 14 hours of classes. If you don't like that, then fire me. We can discuss what classes you want me to show up for, but those are you only two options. Pick one.' .... Either way, you get what you want: either reduced hours, or a way out of your contract.

I have an EXTREMELY pessimistic view of how Chinese management works. But, I've learned to accept it and learn to harness these weaknesses to my own advantage. I suggest you do the same, or else you WILL go insane.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 04:34:08 am by x0vash0x »
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Flyover

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2014, 10:22:04 pm »

How would they make you pay for your airfare, medical examination costs etc.?
Have you tried to talk to an employment lawyer? Chinese employment law is very much on the side of the employee in pretty much anything and differntly to what a lot of people say, it can be and is enforced. Your school has a lot more to loose than you in any court case - do they pay your social insurance as they have to, do they pay your taxes as they have to? - so I would assume they back down quite quickly if they receive a court order.
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x0vash0x

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2014, 02:11:22 am »

@Flyover. I suspect you may right, but I've not heard from any foreigner who has direct experience of using the local legal system to resolve an employment dispute. At this stage, we have some anecdotal information that suggests the system is hopeless for foreigners to resolve employment disputes. However, from reading around different law blogs and sites, it I get the impression that Chinese labor law could be more effective than this. I also question the assumption that you need deep guangxi everywhere to get a fair outcome in a Chinese tribunal. Of course, it's quite possible that I'm wrong; I don't know enough about it. But I'm interested to get the opinion of a labor law expert or see some research on arbitration outcomes in Hefei & China.

@Kaibo. How on earth can they forbid you from changing employers for 12 months after you separate from your school? This is an outrageous condition to be imposed on an English teacher. I mean, if the clause is in your employment contract, it cannot be legally binding because every term within the contract becomes void when the contract expires.

The whole issue is that working in China can be shady to begin with. I currently work at a fairly reputable educational institute and I've signed two or three different contracts which were faked. Yes, that is right, I've had to sign fake contracts because the school wanted to comply with local laws. I had no idea what I was signing as it was all in Chinese, they just said 'If you want to work, sign here'. They promise me that the original contract (in English) is the one they'll honor, but this is a promise. Who knows what contract is actually valid.

Not to mention, when I first came to China, I was technically working illegally for two months because my registration permit was for Nanjing instead of Hefei. The only reason it wasn't a big deal was because the school has some government officials involved that could just look the other way.

Plus, when my school asked me to provide them with a contract to get reimbursed for my apartment, they told me 'We just need a contract, we don't care how you get one, just give us a contract' ... So, I provided them with a fake contract. The school new it was fake too, they didn't care.

From my personally experience, contracts are practically worthless in Hefei. There is zero respect for them. They're better used as toilet paper than anything else. I highly suspect this is why they put outrageous things like they did in Kaibo's contract. Legally, it's unenforceable. But, they do it as a threat. The contracts that Chinese employers give Foreigners have a lot of wiggle room and basically from my experience, are more or less non binding.

Contracts, in my opinion, are basically more or less bluffs here. Westerns feel obligated to follow contracts, while Chinese feel apathy when violating them. Call their bluff and violate your contract, put the ball in their court. My personal attitude is: Do what you want. The Chinese might resent you for it, but they will not do anything about it. The worse that will happen is they will fire you and blame you. But then you get exactly what you want: a way out of your contract. I highly doubt they'll even involve any outside agency. As others have said: your school has a lot more to lose from a court case than you do. Going to court will just bring disgrace to the school. Not to mention the disgrace of the bosses for not being able to control an 'unruly' foreigner.

Summary: Treat the Chinese how they treat you. They'll hate you for it, but so what? It's how the game is played. I'm very Machiavellian in this regard, but the nice guy does not get ahead in China. If you want to get ahead in China, you must be Machiavellian to some degree.

I've become very cynical since I've worked in China. So take my opinion with a grain of salt. I know others who have a most positive view of the Chinese style of management, but I am not one of them.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 02:18:21 am by x0vash0x »
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Anhuiflowers

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2014, 04:10:25 am »

I was in a similar situation and regarding working for a competitor, the law is quite clear:
They can ask for this in a contract (if it is enforcable, is another question), however they would have to continue to pay a part (I forgot how much, I think 2/3) of your salary.
I think the advice above is relevant. Do talk to a lawyer. They are quite cheap in China. It helped me back then.
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kloke

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2014, 12:07:34 pm »

Thank you all for your valuable information about how to deal with the Chinese, i really didn´t knew anything about it, i had felt some weird things when i was negotiating with them in several occasions.
But i see it clearly now and if one thing is for sure is that i do not wan to be in contact and working with people who have such behavior, it´s really killing me inside as i cannot stand dishonesty, so if the Chinese have a problem with there own ego it´s there problem and i made my choice! As Kaibo says we have to stick together in these matters as a foreign community, we cannot just stand and watch the Chinese do what they want to the foreigner without any consequences!
 
So to make things brief and simple, I had 8 meeting since my last post, they tried to negotiate with me by suggesting a cut of 6 hours in my teaching which i found to be a good point and would allow me to continue until the end of the semester with less working stress, but when I agreed to there suggestion they backed off and told me they would only reduce 2 to 4 hours, plus i had to work one more day so I got really angry with them and ended all the negotiation, and then they proposed the same thing again and this time it was too late, made a agreement with them to just let me go back home.
So then they wanted me to pay a compensation money because i was putting an end to the contract of 3 years and i had to fight back and really be aggressive and threaten them wit an international law suit against the collage and the company, so today i got the final meeting and they agreed to let me go without paying anything.
In the end i feel exhausted of so many meetings and no respect from the Chinese but now i feel more free and have a good sense i made the right decision, but at the same time sad to leave China this way.
Know i just need to prepare everything to go off, once they cut my Z visa i only got 10 days which is absurd for a foreigner that works for several months in China then he only has 10 days to sort everything and leave? Sad to see how the Chinese gov treats us :(
I just wanted to have some time to set everything and maybe travel a bit as i have not seen almost anything of China since i have been here.
Any one knows if there is a possibility of getting a tourist visa?

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x0vash0x

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #20 on: March 13, 2014, 01:56:04 am »

Quote
But watch out - we know foreigners pursued on the above issues also - Rule of Law is being applied as 2016 is the international review for PRC to be reassessed on Full market Economic Status - a fully convertible yuan is at stake and so you see this fast-track reform ramping up here and now. Any hint of fraud or corruption will be punished.

[...]

The thing to watch out for is this - periods of cyclic cleansing - blitzes. Before the 'big boys from Beijing' come to town everything suddenly takes on new seriousness and you will hear of prosecutions, shake-ups and cyclic cleansing. But let me tell you it is the illegal teachers that are the scapegoats as the schools in the past strangely still function.

[...]


 FTs have been extradited but many are back here right now. They have black marks but still get processed.   

I agree with this. But, I interpret it differently. To me, Hefei only appears to have rule of law when it needs to convince the outside world that it does. Every so often you'll see community organizers guiding traffic and police officers doing their jobs... for maybe a week, and then it goes back to normal.

This goes back to the whole face issue: image is everything. Go to the Beijing Olympic stadium, and it's falling apart. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/07/13/decrepit-four-years-after-hosting-the-beijing-olympics-this-is-what-chinas-40b-investment-looks-like/
The mentality is: we showed the world a good image, now we don't have to pretend anymore.

I don't mind this. I don't even mind the lack of rule of law, the fewer the laws the better IMHO. This is part of the reason I enjoy Hefei so much.

I've had a Chinese friend of mine who runs a training school tell me 'Hefei is very free' when I asked him what he meant he said 'You can do whatever you want here, as long as you have money' ... That's the general attitude currently, and I doubt it's going to change any time soon. Not saying it wont, but definitely not by 2016. The attitude of many is: "I have money, I can do whatever I want" .... This isn't just in Hefei, but a general issue within Chinese society. Basically, corruption and lack of rule of law is inherent in the Chinese system, and that is not going to be fixed in two years. Every so often they'll do 'blitzes' to show that 'Yeah, hey! China actually does have laws!' but they're often ignored. I mean, for Christ's Sake, look at the way people drive! If people truly cared about rule of law, you think they'd drive the way they do?

Like you said, there is a ton of grey area. It's not hard to flout the spirit of the Chinese law without breaking the law. FT who are extradited can come back. I know plenty of teachers who get fired from one school for piss poor behavior be hired right away by another school.

Personally, I've accepted all of this and I honestly don't mind the majority of it. The only thing that bothers me is the fact that my management constantly bullshits me about stuff. It's like pulling teeth trying to get a straight answer from my schools management at times.
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luiz_iniciante

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2014, 03:25:07 am »

Though everybody knows the usual reward of preaching in front of a house on fire, I will do so anyways.

While many of the greivances aired above seem quite legitimate, I think they display a certain naivety. The unwritten rule of being taken seriously here, and indeed in most societies, is to have a competent grasp of the local language. This is even more true in the smaller cities of China, where unlike much of the developing world, English is not a widely-spoken second language.

As lamentable as it is, it would not shock me at all to hear that a foreigner, even in a country with strong rule of law, say England or America, failed to make his case at the police station or in a court of arbitration over a labor dispute because he had as much competency in speaking English as the average expat does in speaking Chinese. Everything would have to be translated for him, and no matter how good a job is done in this regard, he would would always be to some extent be out of the loop.

Yet, here we have many 'language' teachers resident in the land for several years, who have never really (and perhaps not bothered to?) come to grips with Chinese complaining that they are not respected as adult professionals. While I acknowledge that many of their complaints are fair, I have to say that I am not surprised. Language to one aside there are of course other issues that we all know if, such as weaknesses in the rule of law, anti-foreigner bias, the concept of 'face' etc, but if one could converse with one's boss in chinese one would at least have a fighting chance in resolving a dispute.

The only foreigners I have heard of to have made a real success of being FTs are those who spoke nearly perfect chinese. Often they had arrived as students of chinese and did a little teaching to earn some money or to kill time and tune up their chinese. But they had the respect of the students, fellow teachers and administration. They could switch to chinese is in the classroom if a student really struggled to get his point across. They could sort out small administrative issues such as getting a hold of timetables and projectors themselves and so were not generally 'babied' or bossed around.

This is perhaps an impossibly high standard for most... but, to get real, it is the only thing that works.           
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luiz_iniciante

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2014, 06:31:23 am »

Thanks for affirming my decency in the face of such provocation! The response was actually much milder than I had expected when I put up my original post, since I was sure there would be people who would take it personally.

Now, take a deep breath and read again!

I do not in anyway doubt the legitimacy of the grievances of the original poster, nor those of anybody else in subsequent posts. Having worked in chinese academic institutions, I have heard similar ones at first-, second- and third-hand. I MYSELF do not dispute that FTs deserve to be respected if they are fulfilling their contractual obligations, and they have my sympathies.

NEVERTHELESS, as I said earlier, I find that they are being somewhat naive about the realities of working here.

Various posters put forward their point of view about why Kloke's dispute was unlikely to be resolved in his favor. They touched on issues of guanxi, face, the weakness of the rule of law etc. But, (and this my own personal, private opinion--not an established fact), I think they completely missed one of the biggest, which is the language barrier.

I did my best to keep myself (and anyone else, for that matter) out of my original post: the successful FT I mentioned, I'd actually read about in a newspaper profile, and I do not myself teach. As I said, it was one of the few very positive ones that I had heard of, compared to the various miseries that I have read here.

I knew even before submitting my post that someone would get back to me about the benefits of not knowing the local language, providing the students with a pure english environment in the classroom etc. Now THAT is some self-serving bullshit. It seems obvious to me that ESL teachers should only use English in their classes. But knowledge of the local language, aside from pumping one's ego, can be very illuminating about the obstacles one's students face. Knowing that the chinese language does not have a definite article, or that chinese verbs do not decline, or that there is no distinction in the spoken langauge between 'he' and 'she' (both pronounced ta1) will give you an understanding of why chinese speakers of English make the mistakes that they do.

I thought that the reason an FT with good chinese is successful is because he can draw parrallels between the Chinese language and English, and make concepts stick in the minds of the students by pointing out similarities and differences. I also thought that he was able to establish a rapport with the students: though he never used chinese in his classes, the students knew that while they were wrestling with his language, he was also wrestling with theirs.

I do not doubt that there are many great ESL teachers who do not speak 'the lingo' with, as you say, PhDs, earning 20-25 K a month (though I never measure anybody's worth by their salary or titles). But, (and this my own personal opinion, which others are free to dispute), I think the vast majority of FTs here would be improved by a decent knowledge of chinese.  

On the subject of of respect, I will try to make my meaning clearer. Obviously, I think everyone deserves to be treated with respect. But my personal inclination on this particular point is irrelevant compared to how society will treat you. If you live in China, you probably will not be generally and consistently be shown a high level of respect in most aspects of your life that are important to you if you do not have reasonable competence in the language. But, and this is the main thrust of my post, if you learn the language, your chances are better---not perfect, but better. You will probably will be treated with courtesy to your face, but many locals will snigger at you behind your back because they assume that you probably won't know or understand. And I have seen and heard these sniggers myself about some of the very posters on this thread, though I am too polite to say who sniggered at whom.

Speaking as a Brazilian (whose first language is portuguese), I have found this to be true of almost every society I've lived in: Canada, Nigeria, Brazil, England, Switzerland and a few others in between. As a foreigner, the better your language skills, the more respect you will get, professionally and socially. To me this seems like an obvious point, not worth bemoaning, especially by FTs whose duty it is to know and teach languages.

On the subject of being 'babied', I think this comes down to personality. When I first arrived here, speaking next to no Chinese, forms and applications for bank accounts, cell phones and visas all had to be done for me by friends and colleagues. I found it diminishing that my ability to function in society outside my institution was limited and that I was a burden on those who had to assist me. Three years later, I can handle most formal transaction myself reasonably well and I am proud (not of my chinese) but of this fact. If others do not feel babied by having to rely on translators after several years here, that is fine. But I begin to feel ashamed. I'm not sure what line this crosses.

开博 and I actually come close to agreeing when he writes: 'Granted on one point, negotiating in Chinese can potentially bring respect and success in many ways to a foreigner; but it does not guarantee success, neither does it assure one of respect.' But I find his general tone to be sarcastic, hostile and oddly personal. It's great for him that he is not an English teacher, does not speak the language and has never been bossed around. But from this thread it is clear that others have suffered, and we are trying to understand why. I propose that the language barrier is a significant factor that the posters here are strangley indifferent to.

The Chinese government is recruiting foreigners here at a high price without requiring them speak chinese. So what? Didn't all the complaining FTs take up jobs that did not require them to speak Chinese. Look at the result.

Let's leave the present for a moment and go back to some more ancient wisdom (it's not chinese, but it'll have to do): 'For as many languages as a man speaks, so many more times is he a man.'

 PS:

The sentence you quibbled about:

Yet, here we have many 'language' teachers resident in the land for several years, who have never really (and perhaps not bothered to?) come to grips with Chinese complaining that they are not respected as adult professionals.

is more clearly rendered:

Yet, here we have many 'language' teachers resident in the land for several years, who have never really (and perhaps not bothered to?) come to grips with the chinese language, complaining that they are not respected as adult professionals.

I do not find that the original is grammatically incorrect, though, and your sarcasms and insults ('is English your first language', ' your written English sucks this time') are embarrassing only to yourself
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 08:12:13 am by luiz_iniciante »
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kloke

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2014, 02:29:04 pm »

I am sorry for my lack of posts but it´s really been hard to get to the computer as i have been trying to sort many things at the same time.

So my last meeting was successful as i said before i could negotiate with the Dean of the school my release, in exchange for my silence, a new letter of resignation (fake letter saying i had personal and urgent matters to deal in my country) and no future law and court problems they agreed not to make me pay the compensation my contract required for me if i broke it, so in the end i just signed the papers and gave them my fake letter, so they could save there Chinese face as stated here.
One thing i could negotiate was the date of my Z visa termination, they agreed to delay it until the end of this month so i have some time to leave my apartment and set everything straight before i leave.

I still feel bad about the out come of all of this and as e human i went against my own moral principles, but my mental stability and overall health are above this and i had to take the deal and just go off this situation.
I think one thing i have learned for sure is that i will in the future avoid doing any kind of business or work directly for a Chinese company as this will make me engage in these fake ego manipulative games i do not wish to be in and neither have contact with, but do not get me wrong here as one of the things i appreciate in life is a good challenge, but engaging in these weird nonsense ego trips are not a challenge, they feel like a waste of my time and patience, sometimes it feels like i am dealing with spoiled kids that do not appreciate what life gives to them and are just selfish and less human every day.

One thing i feel after all of this is the heaviness of doing things here in China, i will never forget the feeling of trying to accomplish a task like going to the bank and trying to transfer the money i worked for to my country and had to face so many obstacles and bureaucracy that i just could not believe, even the simple task of trying to take a injured dog on a taxi or in a public transportation to the local vet hospital in a emergency situation is a truly challenging act of courage as no one let´s you in.
So in some way all my fantasies of meeting the ancient Chinese cultural legacy where destroyed and instead what i have now is a mixed feeling of sadness and non fulfillment.

I am just preparing everything to go back and leave China in the end of this month, if i can get a tourist visa in Hong Kong and find a service to send my stuff home i maybe travel a bit around China, if not i just go to a nearby country and travel around also (I am open to travel suggestions if anyone knows some nice places in Asia).
I am giving most of my stuff away to friends, the stuff that remains i will post a list here and give to anyone that needs on the condition that they wont sell them in the future and passed them on when they leave Hefei as i did.

Once again I thank you all for the support and dedication.

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x0vash0x

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2014, 11:20:19 pm »

It definitely takes a certain personality to live and work in China. Many foreigners don't understand just how different China is until they come here. I never blame anyone who leaves China, because like Kloke's experiences teaches us, it's not a matter of willingness to make things work, it's a matter of simply 'This goes against my personality and who I am' and there's no shame in knowing who you are.

Kloke, I respect your attitude very much. Just realize, there are many, many, foreigners like you. Most foreigners only stay a few years simply because after a year or two, they simply cannot take the Chinese way anymore. The vast majority of foreigners stay for less than five years. Specifically in Hefei, many of the foreigners are here for only 2-3 years. My theory is the first year they come they think 'Oh, this is cool! So different! I'll try to make it work' the second year they think 'Okay... This is really starting to annoy me, but I'll try to make this work' and the third year 'Fuck this. I'm leaving'...

My point: Don't feel bad. Your experience is surprisingly not that atypical here. There's nothing you could have done better and nothing you did wrong. You simply do not fit in China and there's nothing wrong with that. We all have our place, and China isn't yours. At least you know that now.

As for traveling, I'd say do the 'must see places' in China (i.e. Great Wall, Huangshan) because when else will you be here? I personally love the city of Qingdao, it's also where they make beer. You can do Qingdao in a day or two as well. Plus, with the weather getting warm you might be able to take a swim.
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kloke

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2014, 02:43:25 am »

Kaibo thank you for your advice, travel tips and insightful knowledge on the actual Chinese culture and mentality it´s been really helpful for me.

x0vash0x thank you also for your reply and all I can say is that i will return to China to learn the language and this country is for me just doing business with Chinese is not for me, one thing i feel is the closeness to the Chinese culture not the way they do business or handle money :) and thank you also for your travel advice.

humdinger tank you also for the great travel tips and good advice, can you explain the all process of how to obtain the L visa after they terminate my Z visa and where do i have to go in Hefei to do that as i was informing myself and talked to the authorities here in Hefei and they told me i could not obtain any visa here just the regular 10 days.
 
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Aussie Mike

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Long term foreigners in China who don't speak Chinese...
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2014, 01:52:03 am »

My turn re- long term foreigners in China who don't speak Chinese...
I guess I am probably the longest termer who doesn't use Chinese in Hefei.  ::)
I understand various views on this and it's often a conversation topic for me.  ;)
I do not get annoyed with people who raise this topic or condemn me for it.

Is it a stigma for me? No, for others, yes.
Is it embarrassing for me? No.
Can I survive in China, well, 10 years proves I can.  

I have survival Chinese, what I need to know, I know. What I don't need to know, I forget.  I can get a taxi anywhere in Hefei as I know all the major roads as well as most of the minor ones, landmarks and directions. I can order food which I like and refuse what I don't. I can buy a beer, wine or anything I require.  My body language is highly developed and I'm able to draw diagrams and basic pictures.

I know many words in Chinese but I can't have a conversation.

Why can't I speak Chinese fluently?
1. I'm a dedicated English teacher. I do not let my students speak Chinese in class. I am an advocate in learning through immersion. I encourage students to use their translators but I provide Thesauruses in my classes as they help build their vocabulary.  If I tell them the meanings in Chinese, they forget it immediately.  If they look it up, they remember it.

2. When I meet people, it's usually because they wish to learn English. I'm happy about that. My Chinglish is excellent!

3. All my friends speak English to some degree or other. If they do not, they soon learn, non-English speaking foreigners included.  

4. When I need to do things in Chinese, I have an endless supply of friends who are better at it than I am. I never buy clothes or the mundane things as I have friends who love to shop and their tastes are better than mine.  

5. On the negative side, I have little interest in listening to impolite locals berate foreigners, ignorance is bliss. I avoid upsetting myself and others this way.

However, since I established my company here, I have learnt a lot more Chinese and it proves helpful for business.  I still do not let my students know what my level is.

My suggestions for new comers are...
1. Learn the roads and carry a pinying map until you get familiar with the city. Taxi drivers never try to cheat you when you are holding a map, unless it's up-side down.
2. Get to know the foods you like, beef, chicken, I'm a vegetarian (if you are), soup, fried, little oil, salt, etc.
3. Learn the basic greetings and responses including, "Sorry, I don't understand".
4. Get familiar with money and dealing with shops. Most important is "Too expensive" and be prepared to walk out. They'll stop you if it is too expensive, if they let you go, you have an indication of cost for the next shop.
5. Learn the basic terms for your profession, country and personal life.

The rest will come naturally.

Enjoy your stay, Hefei is a great place to live but it's not always easy!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 02:23:25 am by Aussie Mike »
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luiz_iniciante

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Re: Long term foreigners in China who don't speak Chinese...
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2014, 05:46:30 am »

I only said half of what I wanted to say about long term foreigners in China who don't speak Chinese in my earlier post. But I might as well go ahead and get the rest of it off my chest.

This is naturally a touchy subject since foreigners who haven't learnt the language understandably don't like to be shown up by those who have. I therefore respect Mike's thoughtful comments and tips on the subject (even if I do not agree with all his views). They sure beat 开博's 'that is the biggest load of bullshit anyone has ever written on a topic like this.' Not to mention his cheapshots at my English and 'temptation to get personal' with me because 'bugger me that is offensive and crosses the line.'

I can only hope that the self-described facilitator of international communication in English does not use that kind of English in the classroom.

To return to the matter at hand... There are many reasons why expats do not learn the language, among them I suspect is laziness and a certain ethno-centricism brought over with them about the place of English in the world. But there are other more excusable ones. Someone raising a family and holding down a high-pressure job is unlikely to find the time or energy to open his grammar books at the end of the day. Others may have been sent out here by their company (not entirely of their volition) to do a job with a very narrow focus and simply have little to no interest in the language or culture.

I do not look askance in the direction of any of those people, even the just plain lazy ones. But I do think they should show a little more humility. What really grates with me, as I'm sure it must with the locals, is having to listen to the foreigner pontificate and/or complain about chinese politics, about chinese psychology, about chinese business practises, about chinese women (this last one surely a favorite topic) etc, when they have never ever picked their way through a chinese newspaper article or had a decent conversation with a Chinese woman in her own language.  

Confronted with this kind of expat, one can only scratch one's head and wonder, 'Well, what does he really know?' Since I doubt that locals are going to let their guards down when speaking to him in English. And they might not even let their guards down fully when speaking to him in Chinese. But if he understands the language, he can glean a lot from overheard conversations, from reading the newspaper, from watching tv and listening to the radio. In any kind of conflict between a foreigner and local, he can at least understand the latter's point of view, see the pressures that the local is under, rather than simply reach for the soothing and simple-minded conclusion that he is being screwed just because he is a foreigner.

In short, the right to bitch and be a bitch has to be earned.

A few earlier writers on this thread have advised that one simply stay away from language schools. I would advise something a little more proactive. Before coming out here spend about 6 months to a year enrolled in chinese language lessons. One may still wipe out, but I think then you can make a better claim to have given China a fair shot.








« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 05:49:28 am by luiz_iniciante »
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Aussie Mike

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2014, 09:58:29 am »

I agree KB's comments were on the inflammatory side of things and I was tempted to ask him to moderate them but it was too late by the time I read them, you had already responded.  He does tend to vent at times but I don't believe they are truly intentional to insult.  If you would like, PM me if you are upset by them and I'll request him to moderate.
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luiz_iniciante

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Re: Foreign workers rights in China?
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2014, 11:43:44 am »

To be honest... I thought 开博 did a good job of articulating the anti- to my thesis. For a long time, I've really wanted to explode the idea that not learning chinese doesn't really matter or that it shouldn't matter. Instead, how much it matters just depends on one's personal circumstances. Are you an ESL teacher in Shenzhen or running a garment factory in the sticks? But to quote a philosopher that 开博 probably knows, ’Freedom is access to the public realm.' And language is a big part of that.

The heat of the discussion also shows that even people who say that they don't care about learning chinese usually have a part of them that does care. And they can be strangely offensive (e.g. those who learn are 'pumping their egos' and 'tickling ears') and defensive (e.g. even without chinese one can be well rewarded and respected) about it at the same time. Everybody knows that when they go back home people are going to ask, 'So how much chinese did you learn?' and that one is going to face some judgement for how one can answer.

BTW, I've actually met 开博 once or twice and got to know him well enough to like him. And as a critical friend I quite enjoyed calling his bluff and pointing out his bad online manners.... Nobody likes to hear that one needs to go on a diet, and you may feel like clobbering anyone who points it out to you. But sometimes you really need to go on that diet.

Regards,
            Fat Expat
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