University English Teachers

Each year MPC arranges for a group of North Americans to teach English at Chinese universities. The majority are placed at teachers universities in Sichuan, although a few are in other provinces. Some teach for one year, others for three-years and many have taught for five, ten years or even longer. About 300 persons have taught in China through MPC since the exchange was founded in 1981.

  • Each year 15-20 persons teach English at universities in China through MPC. All teachers apply through one of MPC’s supporting agencies and are sponsored by the agency. Teachers spend 16-18 hours each week in the classroom. Courses taught may include conversational English, composition, literature, North American culture, and reading for comprehension. Students are usually undergraduate English majors, but may include graduate students or other special programs. 
  • Teachers spend a significant amount of time with their students and colleagues outside of the classroom. Meaningful friendships develop through these countless opportunities to connect with others.
  • MPC provides orientation, preparation, language study and transportation costs; host schools provide furnished housing and salary. The program includes four weeks of language study and orientation in China before each year of service, a mid-semester regional meeting, and a mid-year conference for all personnel. MPC provides pastoral/counselor support and worker care in China. There are resource libraries for teachers at each school, including curriculum materials developed by MPC.
  • Approximately half of all MPC teachers extend their initial two-year terms; some have taught in China for more than ten years.

Length of Service

  • MPC places qualified persons at universities in China for three-year terms.
  • One-year openings are available for persons on sabbatical or with only a one-year leave of absence. One-year appointees are asked to contribute to the cost of the program.
  • Extension beyond three years is welcomed when approved by both MPC and the host institution in China.

Placement

  • Most MPC teachers are placed in Sichuan province. 
  • MPC places teachers at teacher universities in smaller urban areas in Sichuan.
  • All applicants must apply through one of MPC’s sponsoring agencies. After appointment by one of these agencies, the MPC Director works at placing teachers in a suitable location. Consideration is given to personal requests where possible.
  • Appointments are generally made in April, with teachers leaving for China at the end of July. Mid-year placements (February) are not made unless there are good reasons to do so.
  • MPC generally places at least two teachers at a university. 
  • Almost all of the universities where MPC places teachers have had a long relationship with MPC, some for more than 30 years. Persons from the school’s foreign affairs office or foreign language department have often been part of MPC’s visiting scholar exchange and are committed to building a strong relationship with the MPC teachers.
  • MPC strongly encourages teachers to remain at their placement for three years; some remain longer than this. In some circumstances teachers may move to a different campus/city after one year.

Qualifications and Criteria

  • All candidates must be native English speakers. (There are placement options for native speakers of Japanese, German and French with MPC.)
  • All candidates should have a four-year college degree. 
  • Candidates who have just graduated from university will need to complete a special one-week ESL certificate training program in China prior to teaching. 
  • Candidates must be under the age of 65. Some universities may reject candidates who are above 60. 
  • All candidates must be active church members and have a Christian commitment. The majority of teachers serving with MPC are from Mennonite churches, but a number of other denominations are represented as well.
  • Candidates with previous teaching experience and education training are preferred, but there are placements for those without an education background or experience.
  • Candidates should be in good health.
  • General character traits which help ensure a successful experience are patience, flexibility, a willingness to learn and a good sense of humor.

Preparation and Support

  • Appointees attend a general orientation or seminar as organized by their supporting agency.
  • MPC provides appointees with materials and readings on Chinese culture, language and history, teaching ESL, the Chinese education system and the Chinese church. Packing suggestions and other logistical information are included.
  • Appointees with no previous education background are encouraged to take an ESL methods course before going to China.
  • The MPC Summer Language Program begins the end of July and extends for about three weeks. The Summer Language Program is followed by a several day retreat and the Summer Institute of Language and Culture. All new MPC teachers and all MPC teachers not on home leave attend the Summer Language Program.
  • MPC arranges a six-day mid-year conference during the break between semesters. The conference includes teaching workshops, lectures on culture, worship, and sharing stories. The conference takes place in China, Thailand or Hong Kong.
  • One person within MPC provides specialized pastoral support and care to all MPC personnel. This is done through email, telephone calls and personal visits. 
  • Although MPC teachers are geographically scattered, there is a strong emphasis on building community and a support system within the country.

Finances

  • Financial arrangements for MPC teachers are determined by the sponsoring agency.
  • While in China, teachers receive a salary from their university. This amount is sufficient to cover living and traveling expenses while in China.
  • MPC subsidizes the cost of Summer Language Program and the mid-year conference. MPC also assists teachers with purchase of texts and other teaching materials that might be necessary.
  • MPC seeks to maintain financial parity among all its teachers in China. For those with long-term commitments, arrangements differ according to sponsoring agency policy.

Living Situation

  • Universities provide on-campus furnished housing for each teacher. Housing may be in an apartment building for faculty or in a special guesthouse or apartment designated for foreign faculty, Apartments are generally not large, but are quite adequate. They include a small kitchen, bath, living room and one or two bedrooms.
  • The foreign affairs office of the university is responsible for all needs and questions surrounding housing.

Teaching Situation

  • MPC teachers are employees of their host university and are asked to sign a basic contract regarding their teaching work.
  • Generally teachers are given their assignments by the foreign language department, although at some schools there are other departments who may be responsible for their teaching work.
  • Most teach between 16 and 18 hours each week. Most of the time there are several preparations, but in other cases there may be only one preparation. Usually a teacher will meet with one class only once a week for a two-hour time block.
  • Most foreign teachers are asked to teach listening and conversation. Some are asked to teach composition and at teachers colleges there may be literature classes. There will often be classes or lectures on North American and European culture.
  • Textbooks and materials are supplied in most cases, but there is considerable flexibility in their use by the foreign teacher.
  • Exams are important in China, but foreign teachers generally don’t feel pressure to structure all of their teaching so students can pass a test. Foreign teachers in China offer students the opportunity to listen and converse with a native speaker.

Families with Children

  • MPC welcomes families with children to teach in China. Most universities request that both parents teach a full load of classes. Usually the teaching schedule can be arranged for parents to alternate teaching hours, enabling one parent to be at home at all times.
  • At most MPC locations international schools are not present or are not an option because of cost. School-age children may be home-schooled or they may attend a local Chinese school, usually located on or near the university campus. Most MPC parents do a combination of home schooling with children attending local schools.
  • Pre-school age children may attend nursery schools on campus. For younger children, parents may wish to hire a nanny to assist with child care and related house work.
  • Placing families with children is somewhat more difficult, but there are many benefits from being in China as a family.