I’ll be moving to Chengdu at the end of August to teach ‘Oral English’ at Tian Fu College/SWUFE Longtan campus. Just wondering if there are any other teachers there who might be able to give a little insight into the accommodation, teaching building/rooms, students, courses, etc. Cheers.April 24, 2013 at 4:57 am #10990
I am currently teaching there, so we’ll be co-workers when you arrive in August. The accommodation is… ok. They have essentially taken 2 dorm rooms and combined them to make apartments for the foreign teachers.
I think the most irritating part is that we don’t have real kitchens. We have a refrigerator and a hot plate, but the hot plate shows an error message if you try to cook with anything of better quality than the flimsy thin-bottomed pans they’ve given us that scorch everything you try to cook in them. We DO get vouchers and money on our cards to eat in the school’s canteens. It is not 5-star cuisine but it’s do-able. They use fresh vegetables, but they generally overcook them.
The bathroom situation is a little strange but you get used to it. Remember – two dorm rooms to be one apartment. So the shower is located off the bedroom side and the toilet is located off the living room side. Only the shower side has hot water in the sink faucets. It’s a little awkward, but like I said, you get used to it. On the toilet side you have a clothes washing machine and it’s automatic.
We live on west campus and work on east campus. You can take the bus or do like some of us do and get a bicycle. It’s maybe 2 miles between the two, but I think it’s less than that.
The kids are generally nice enough. A bit on the privileged side and so you get some who feel entitled, but by and large they’re good kids.
Their English speaking abilities vary widely. Some are pretty fluent and some can barely string 3 words together. Regardless, they are required to take a year of English so in September you’ll be teaching first semester freshman English and in March you’ll be teaching second semester freshman English. You only need to make one lesson plan per week and then teach that lesson to all your classes.
The textbooks are Let’s Talk 1 and Let’s Talk 2. The book company’s website is http://www.sflep.com . I mention this because while you’re in a country where YouTube is easily accessed, you might want to download some relevant videos to illustrate your lessons. I began doing that a few chapters in and found that they understood a lot better when I gave them that sort of visual. Out of all my students this semester, maybe 5 or 6 of them have ever even been on a plane or out of China. You can’t assume they’re going to understand a lot of things that most western kids have done many times. Little videos (1 or 2 minutes) really help. Most of my students have never seen snow or the ocean. In fact, I would guess at least half of them have never been out of Sichuan province.
Videos really help, but keep them short because your classes are only 90 minutes long and each class only meets once a week. You’re teaching oral English, so the idea is to get them talking. Most of the kids have Chinese/English – English/Chinese dictionaries in their phones, but you’ll have to remind them to use their dictionaries. Probably every class meeting. For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, they are not allowed to use dictionaries in their high school English classes, so they forget about using them. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a kid giving an oral presentation and when I ask them a question, they stammer that they don’t know how to say it in English. I tell them to look it up in their dictionary. I tell them this every week.
Note-taking is also not a Chinese study strategy and I am being quite serious when I say that. I have been teaching my students how to take class notes so that they can study from them. Chinese students traditionally rely on memory rather than writing things down. It doesn’t seem terribly efficient to me. They forget as much as western kids would. If you think that you’ll put it on an exam, have them write it down. Tell them that if it’s important enough for you to write it on the board, then they should write it in their notes. You’ll also have to inform them that they are to bring paper, pen and book to class every week. And if they need to wear glasses to see, you also have to tell them that they must bring their glasses. If you don’t require these things, they won’t bring them. And tell them that they either need to have a notebook that they keep their notes in or a plastic portfolio (this is what most people in China prefer). I am kind of amazed that I have to tell them these things but I do. They’re not trying to be difficult – it’s just cultural difference and you will encounter many examples of cultural difference in the course of the job.
The most challenging part for me in teaching them is that they want to chat with their classmates all through class. I’ll be lecturing or another student will be presenting and they’re all talking to each other. All of us have to deal with this and we all have varying ways of dealing. Because I was a kindergarten teacher before I came here, I have been extremely – probably excessively! – patient with my students’ talking, but I think I will probably be a lot tougher in the fall.
As for the classrooms, they are adequate, generally speaking. Desks, podium, chalkboard, computer, overhead projector, projection screen that can be raised or lowered. Generally in working order. The classrooms have big windows and fans but no heat or air-conditioning. You’ll wear your jacket all day long in the winter. To westerners, the classroom will seem very warm at this time of year, but if you turn on the fans the students will complain that it’s too cold. Play that one by ear.
In short, there are things that are different than what you’re accustomed to, but they’re something you can live with. I lived in India for a year and would periodically remind myself that part of the global experience IS doing things differently. China has many more of the things that we have in the west than India does, so I’ve mostly had an easy time adjusting here. My apartment isn’t perfect, but it’s ok. I wish we had one big campus instead of commuting between campuses, but it’s not that far and it’s ok. The job is for the most part easy and pleasant. My biggest complaint is that we are pretty far removed from the main part of Chengdu and there’s really not much to do out here. I live for the weekend, when I have time to go into the city. The buses quit running at 9, so if you’re a night owl, you’ll need to take a taxi back to campus. Make sure that you have the campus address written in Chinese to show the driver.
Look forward to meeting you in August!
JudyMay 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm #31625
Hi all, I just sent a message to Judy and Alex, but this being an old post, who knows who’s where ? I just got contacted to work at TianFu SWUFE, if anybody has any information available about them, please send me a message !
OachKatz3lApril 13, 2015 at 1:43 am #45639
I’ve moved on and am no longer teaching there, having found a dream job at a state university. I hear from a colleague though that they are moving the campus somewhere between Chengdu and Mianyang. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
JudyApril 13, 2015 at 10:56 am #45643
Are any of you still teaching at Tian fu college?
Please respond, I am moving to Chengdu in February and will be working at the college. I would love to ask a few questions.
Thanks!December 2, 2016 at 2:31 pm #51807
Judy/Clairsearch’s message is detailled and accurate …
I’ll send you a pm …
OachKatz3LDecember 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm #51811
Thanks! I will look out for it OaxhKatz3LDecember 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm #51812
Thanks for all the information you posted about Tianfu Colloge of SWUFE. I’ve been offered a contract to teach there in February.
Some of the post are from 2013, and I think I remember reading that a campus had moved or something? I’m just trying to figure out where the teaching location actually is. I guess I must be talking to a recruiter who doesn’t exactly know because I haven’t gotten a straight answer, but in the contract she sent me there are two address for TF-SWUFE: One in Northeast Chengdu (龙潭 longtan) and one in Mianyang.
I guess my question is, do you end up having to commute back and forth between the Chengdu and Mianyang campuses? I read in Judy’s post somewhere in the last paragraph that she commutes between campuses, but is that between Chengdu and Mianyang? SWUFE seems to have a lot of campuses. Little confusing, ya know? If you do commute between Chengdu and Mianyang, how often and how’s that working out for you? It seems quite far.
Sorry if I missed the answer to this somewhere above, but I would really appreciate if anyone here could give me the scoop. Thanks again for all the info you already provided. It was really helpful!
-GregDecember 21, 2016 at 11:17 am #51856
I sent you a Private Message.December 21, 2016 at 12:56 pm #51857
I have been offered a place teaching English at SWUFE (Wenjiang) from September. Is there anybody here that can provide me any information?
I’m just looking for an insight into this place; what it’s like to teach and live in this area, what the accommodation is like etc.
I’ve heard many good things, and from my research I’ve found it’s a really reputable University. Really excited to begin!
RichJuly 25, 2017 at 1:37 am #53095
Hey Rich, I will also be working at SWUFE starting September, but I will be at another campus. However, I lived in Wenjiang for about a year so I can totally give you some idea as to what to expect from that area.
Firstly, its kinda far from Chengdu proper BUT lucky for you, the Metro line 4 recently opened up all the way to SWUFE so it’ll be super easy for you to go to events or meet up with people in the city. Before it was kind of a nightmare to make it downtown.
Wenjiang essentially has 3 parts: the new part, which is the closest part to Chengdu (Guang Hua Da dao). It has a lot of new apartments complexes, a Carrefour, Ito Yokado, Yong Hui etc. it has a real suburban feel to it. Just homes, families and supermarkets. Convenient, but lacking in any kind of local flavour or culture.
The second part is “The Old Town”. This area has an old temple called Wen Miao ( a good landmark if giving a taxi driver directions). This area is pretty sick, very old traditional style buidlings, lots of delicious hole in the wall restaurants, lots of street food, markets, people selling bargainable goods on the street (I bought a sword from some guy once). Real local feel to this place, and my favourite part of Wenjiang.
The Third part is the university area, also has a very local feel to it, also teeming with university students and cheap food. Right outside the east gate of SWUFE theres a pretty huge food/bar area that also has a few foreign restaurants. I used to really enjoy going to this area with my friends, we would grab some street food, maybe some beers and then go play pool. We’d often meet students or other foreign teachers and party with them. Good times.
So that’s pretty much it. Wenjiang is essentially a suburb with these 3 different parts I mentioned. Its easy to get downtown from there now so it has become a really good combo of laid back suburban life with easy access to the crazy city life. If you have any questions just pm me 😉
RyanAugust 3, 2017 at 9:58 am #53149
hello sir ive some questionsJuly 21, 2018 at 12:16 am #55231
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.