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Frequently Asked Questions

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TEACHING

What are TFF's expectations?

First and foremost, TFF expects professionalism from all of its teachers--both in and out of the classroom--throughout your stay abroad. Professionalism includes, among other things, excellence in the classroom, cultural sensitivity, collegiality, and friendly but appropriate relationships with students, teacher's assistants, and others you meet on campus.

What should I do to prepare

TFF expects that every teacher will prepare interesting, engaging conversational English lesson plans before going to China. TFF's materials and training sessions will help, but ultimately you are responsible for your own lesson planning. Once in the classroom, your primary job will be to create a comfortable and light-hearted environment for the students as they engage in a wide variety of conversational activities.

You will work hard! It will take a great deal of energy to be on your feet, and actively engaged, 5-6 days a week for 3 weeks. You need to be flexible. In spite of your best preparation, things can go awry. The computer can stop working, your students could finish your 3 hour lesson plan in 2 hours, you might have to include the students of a teacher who is ill for a day or two, etc.

What is appropriate dress for teaching?

We expect all teachers to dress professionally and comfortably. Slacks and collared shirts for men; pants, capris, skirts, and dresses for women. No shorts, jeans, low-cut tops or other revealing attire. Sandals and sneakers are fine.

What does it mean to have a teaching partner?

You will not be in the classroom at the same time, but you and your teaching partner will share students. For example, the students you teach in the morning will be in class with your partner in the afternoon and vice versa. We encourage you to plan together, or at least share planning thoughts and ideas, so that you do not duplicate materials and activities. Some teaching partners like to discuss the same theme on the same day using different activities and approaches. If you do not have a partner, let us know and we will pair you.

What hours & days do I teach?

The schedule this year is July 7-23:  five days teaching, one day off. This can vary, but the basic teaching day has been from 8:30 am to 5 pm with a 2 ½ hour break for lunch; Monday through Friday.

How many students will I have?

This varies, but 25 per session is a good approximation.

What is a Teacher's Assistant (TA) and how will he/she help me?

Each teacher will be assigned a “teacher's assistant.” This will be a student who has applied for and secured this highly regarded position for which she/he is paid. Your TA will usually be available to take attendance, provide translation if absolutely needed, help model activities, make classroom copies, help you buy a phone card, go shopping with you as needed, etc. Remember that your TA is a full-time student too

What equipment and technology is available in the classroom?

Most classrooms have white and/or chalk boards, computers with Internet (most of the time), overhead projectors, and microphones. You might want to bring blank flash drives so that you can copy students’ presentations, music, photos, etc. NOTE: Not every website that you may want to use will be available in China. Come prepared with a backup plan in case you are locked out of a site. We recommend that teachers bring a hard copy of all classroom activity materials in case of technology problems.

What are the classrooms like?

Yes, they are air-conditioned. Classroom seats are likely to be bolted to the floor offering you limited flexibility. You will find creative ways to put students into groups and get them out of their seats.

What help is available for planning & conducting my classes?

Each teacher will receive the TFF flash drive, which contains the TFF Teacher Resource Guide, along with many other useful items. The Resource Guide has a wealth of information, including 100+ ideas for classroom activities and an Additional Resources section.

TFF Board members and other experienced teachers will offer mentoring to new TFF teachers. Also, teachers can be a great resource for each other.

How much English do the students know?

Students have studied and know quite a bit of English. Speaking is the problem. We can’t teach English in 3 weeks. Your goal is to build their confidence in using and understanding conversational English.

How will I know my students?

You will use name tags or some other way of identifying each student so that you can evaluate their work and progress and get to know them. You and your teaching partner might want to bring materials for name tags/name cards and then share them between your classes. Almost all students will use English names in class.

Is there anything I should NOT discuss in my class? Any cultural taboos I need to recognize?

You can discuss any topic that you--and your students--are comfortable with. Some teachers discuss politics, comparative religion, and/or other potentially controversial topics with their students, while others do not. If you find your students reticent to discuss a topic, move on. Whenever you express your opinion, let the students know that you are speaking only for yourself, not for TFF, your government, or any other institution. Your job is to get students talking about the topics that interest them in a comfortable, accepting environment.

Your Resource Guide has some information on cultural etiquette in China. There are also many web resources on this topic. In general, touching students is not a good idea, though goodbye hugs on the last day of class are common.

When do I need to arrive in Wuhan?

You should arrive 2-3 days prior to teaching.

What supplies do I need to bring?

Most of what you will need in your classroom can be purchased, very inexpensively, on campus. Your TA will be available to help you find what you need.

Do I need to bring gifts?

It's been our custom--but it's not required--to bring token gifts for our students. These gifts should cost no more than $1, and you and your teaching partner may want to share gifts and costs. One idea is attractive postcards from your locale with a message on the back from you and your teaching partner. You should also bring along several other gender-neutral gifts--$10 or less--for your TA as well as for others who extend special courtesies such as inviting you to their home for dinner. You might consider college T-shirts or other paraphernalia, pins from your town, state or the USA, English dictionaries, USA maps, photo note cards, etc.


It is NOT appropriate to give expensive gifts to students or even to your TAs. (You will, however, be expected to pay for your TA's meals when you dine together.) So, for example, if you buy a bike on campus to use while you're in Wuhan, do NOT give it away to a favorite student or your TA at the end of the session. You might take your bike to the Foreign Exchange Office and ask them to give it to an especially needy student, or you might have a drawing for the bike in your classes on the last day. In the past, we have seen that when some teachers do more than others in the way of gifts, hurt feelings and other problems ensue.

 

CHINA, WUHAN and CAMPUS (HUST & TONGJI)

Where is Wuhan?

The capital of the Hubei Province, Wuhan, is a modern metropolis (~10 million population), situated along the Yangtze River in the heart of China. It is approximately 400 miles west of Shanghai and 600 miles south of Beijing. For more details on Wuhan go to www.wuhan.com.

Where will I be living?

Your home in Wuhan will be a hotel on the HUST campus. The hotel is  similar to a Motel 8. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with western-style bathrooms, an electric kettle and air conditioning. Please note: One of the most common complaints is that the beds are extremely hard. This is the normal bedding for China and other mattresses are not available. If this poses a problem for you, bring an air mattress. Carry the hotel business card with you at all times!

Main HUST campus: Hongjia Hotel, 78 Luoyu Lake Road, Wuhan, 430074.
Tel from US: 011-86-27-87792996.

What happens when I arrive at the Wuhan airport?

Upon arrival in Wuhan you will be met by a representative of the University and transported to your hotel. It's a 60-90 minute drive to the main campus. Your TA or another student will be there to help with luggage and registration. Transportation will be provided back to the airport at the end of your teaching.

What do I do when I arrive on campus?

After registration at your hotel, get settled, rest, tour the campus, etc. TFF assigns one teacher to be the group leader - your contact for any issues during your stay. Check with him/her regarding making deposits for laundry and telephone service at the hotel, use of hotel safes, location of TFF information signage in hotel hobby, and problems that arise, etc. Remember to keep all receipts for any hotel deposits.

Desk clerks often have limited English so it is best to have your callers ask for your room number. If your room number has a “0” in it, the caller should say “zero,” rather than “oh."

How can I contact other teachers at the hotel?

The group leader will put together a rooming and telephone list within a day or two of your arrival and distribute the list to all.

Is there any shopping near the hotel or on campus?

There are several markets on the campus and large department stores in Wuhan about 1 mile away. You will be able to purchase just about everything you need on campus.

Can I drink the water?

Only drink bottled or boiled water. Boil water in your room for brushing your teeth. Beware of ice cubes in restaurants. HUST will provide you with a case of bottled water in your room, and more is available if needed. Remember, it is very hot in Wuhan in summer and you will need to stay hydrated.

What can I wear when not teaching?

When on tour or around Wuhan when not teaching, comfortable, casual attire is appropriate. Walking shorts, sneakers, t-shirts, sandals are all ok. Be comfortable, but be respectful. Remember, at all times you represent yourself, TFF and the US - so please dress appropriately.

What is the food like?

Wuhan food is generally a mix of Shanghai, Chongqing and Sichuan cuisines, and is famous for hot, dry noodles. Western chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut are found everywhere. Chopsticks are the common utensils; however forks, spoons and knives are usually available upon request.

I’m vegetarian, what can I eat?

There will be many options for eating throughout your stay in China. While there are many vegetarian dishes in all restaurants, it is also best to have a dictionary with you so that you can communicate in Chinese any food or drink restrictions you might have.

What about tipping?

Tips are not expected and sometimes not accepted.

What happens if I become ill?

There are several hospitals on campus for minor issues. Larger, better-equipped hospitals are available in Wuhan. Some teachers purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance in case of something more serious that necessitates a flight to another city or to the US. If this is of concern, contact your insurance company and discuss your options. (See TOURS for travel insurance information).

Does HUST provide anything else for me during the time I’m in Wuhan?

If possible, HUST will provide a guided bus tour of Wuhan free of charge for teachers on one of the weekend days. Watch the info board at your hotel for timely information.

What about transportation around campus?

Bicycles are widely used on campus and may be purchased for about $20. New bikes are commonly stolen, however, so it is recommended that you purchase a used bike. Shuttle carts are available on most areas of the HUST campus for 1-2 yuan per trip. Taxis are available at your hotel and can take you anywhere inexpensively, including into the center of Wuhan for approximately $10.

Should I bring a laptop?

Many find having a laptop useful. Your hotel rooms will have connections to the internet. Be sure to have up to date virus protection on any computer you bring. Computers will also be available for your use in the lobby of your hotel.

What type of visa do I need?

TFF will help you with your visa needs – watch the website for up-to-date information.

Will my cell phone work in China?

Check with your service provider before leaving the US as our carriers each have different international programs and costs. Calls from all US carriers can be quite expensive.

One option is to bring, or purchase in China, an unlocked phone for which you can purchase a China SIM card. Your TA can help you with this. With a China SIM card, calls and texts within China are quite inexpensive. You can make international calls from this phone, but a more economical option is to purchase an international calling card that can be used from a cell phone or your hotel phone (again, your TA can help).

What about electricity and appliances?

Voltage is 220/240. Most of our electronics have internal transformers and will require only plug adapters. Check stores such as Summit Hut or Best Buy to determine exactly what you may need.

What about medications, inoculations, etc?

You should bring all medications that you take or think you might need. Do not expect to find the same things in China, at least not under the same names.

There are no inoculations required for China at this time. However, stay current by going to www.cdc.gov/ or checking with your local travel clinic. Most teachers want to make sure they have current tetanus shots, and some prefer to have the Hepatitis A series. This is totally up to you. You will not need malaria medication for Wuhan, but check requirements for other areas if you are traveling on your own.

 

FINANCES

What is the cost of the program?

Once you have been accepted, you will need to pay a nonrefundable TFF administrative fee of $75. No additional fees are required for TFF's training and mentoring programs or materials.

You will need to pay approximately $150 for a China visa. International airfare is your responsibility, whether or not you are going on a TFF tour.

It is recommended that teachers arrive with at least some yuan ($50-$100 worth) to see you through the first few days of teaching. You can purchase yuan from most US banks if you request them in advance, or at a kiosk at international airports such as LAX.

How much is the stipend and when will I receive it?

You will be paid 6000 yuan (approximately $850). You can exchange unused yuan at international airports, not in China. You will receive half of your stipend in the middle of the first week of class and the other half the following week.

How can I get more money?

Most teachers find that the stipend is sufficient for the three weeks in Wuhan. However, if you want more cash, the best way is to use your ATM card. Check before you leave the US to make sure that you have the appropriate connections for use in China, know your pin number, and are aware of all fees associated. NOTE: Be sure to call your credit/debit card companies and tell them where you will be and the dates you will be away from home.

Traveler’s Checks are not popular. Do not exchange money on the street! Hotels and banks will exchange dollars for yuan using the same rates, but bills cannot be torn, wrinkled or folded to be accepted.

What credit cards can I use?

MasterCard and Visa are the most recognized, but American Express is accepted in many larger businesses as well.

How do I get to China and what is the cost?

If you are going on a TFF tour, you may be able to take advantage of a discounted airfare by meeting the group in Los Angeles. If you are not going on a tour, you are responsible for getting yourself to Wuhan 2-3 days prior to teaching, and for leaving Wuhan 1-2 days following the teaching session. TFF works with a travel agent whom you can contact directly if you would like. Once you are accepted to teach, this information will be made available. The cost of a roundtrip ticket for 2011 from Los Angeles was approximately $1300.

 

TOURS

What tours do you offer?

Tour details are updated regularly on the TFF website. Prior to the July  teaching session, TFF will offer what we call China Highlights - an introductory tour that visits Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, as well as interesting rural areas. The tours are planned and organized by a professional travel company. Trained and licensed English-speaking guides will meet your group in each location.

Who can go on TFF organized tours?

All are welcome on our tours. You do not have to be a TFF teacher to join us – bring your friends and family. We find it is not a good idea, however, to bring children younger than 13 or 14. Your children are your responsibility.

How long are the tours? China 101 is approximately 11-12 days. You will arrive in Wuhan 2 days prior to teaching. Check teachforfriendship.org for all up-to-date tour information.

How much luggage can I bring?

Luggage restrictions on smaller, internal airlines in China are more rigorous than international carriers. The maximum you can take is 2 pieces with a combined weight of 50 pounds, plus one carry-on. It is imperative that you pack light! You will want room to bring home gifts and purchases, and you will soon tire of lugging around heavy and large luggage. It is easy to launder clothing, and very inexpensive, so err on the side of less and you will be rewarded. If your luggage is overweight, you will be responsible for the fees incurred.

How much can I bring home duty free?

Each person is allowed $800. Legally, you must declare everything to US Customs and you will pay duty on anything above $800.

How much can I bring home duty free?

Each person is allowed $800. Legally, you must declare everything to US Customs and you will pay duty on anything above $800.

Can/should I purchase travel insurance?

All tour companies recommend the purchase of travel insurance to protect your trips. If you are interested in insurance, you can find many options online. You can also contact one of TFF’s Board members who offers his service without a fee as his Board contribution. If this is of interest, contact Ned Ingram at 520-886-3066.

 

GENERAL TIPS from previous teachers:

Bring a notebook that you carry at all times. Ask your TAs, students, and others to write in your notebook any Chinese words, directions, foods, shopping locations, etc., that interest you. You can then simply hand the notebook to a taxi driver, waiter, etc.

Bring copies of your important documents, such as passport information and visa pages, credit cards, insurance policies, prescriptions. It is also a good idea to leave copies with someone at home in case you need to access this critical information.

Helping students continue to improve: Below are some ESL and related websites, suggested by previous TFF teachers, which may be useful to your students who want to work more on their English. Often, our students will not be taking many, or any, additional English classes after we leave. These websites and others listed in the Resource Guide and on the flash drive can help them continue to progress--and may be useful to you in lesson planning.

www.howtostudy.org
shiporsheep.com/page1.html
learnenglishfeelgood.com/listening/english-listening-test1.html
www.howtostudy.org
www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/terms.htm
www.rong-chang.com/qa2/
legacy.lclark.edu/~krauss/toppicks/listening.html
www.rong-chang.com/listen.htm
esl.about.com/od/englishlistening/English_Listening_Skills_and_ActivitiesEffective_Listening_Practice.htm