Will knowing some mandarin help me get a job?

Hey Everyone,

I’m graduating from a college in the states and I’ve been studying Mandarin for three years now. I’m by know means fluent but I can speak and understand some and I’m assuming I’ll be able to improve a lot once I get to Taiwan. Do you think this will help me find a job teaching English in Taiwan? Would it be more helpful in certain places (maybe where english spoken less, like outside of Taipei) compared to others? Any advice you think will be helpful is welcome. And in case it is relevant, I am white, male and have no teaching experience. Thanks!

peace,
Joe

  1. No. Might even work against you. I would not mention it.
  2. Not sure. My intuition is that it would not. People are buying an exotic, hairy, white-skinned person who makes strange noises, and that’s what they’re selling to the parents, too. So speaking Chinese sometimes removes that mystique.
    And even though you didn’t ask, will Mandarin help you get a job somewhere else? Only if you have other skills in the first place.

Harsh but worth keeping in mind.

Most parents are paying money for an English only environment with a native speaker.

The native speaker is usually an exotic, hairy, white-skinned person who makes strange noises.

It probably won’t help you at a regular school to get the job, but it certainly will if you want to teach private students. And unless things have really changed, it should help you after you get the job to keep on good terms with parents. I haven’t taught in years but I never encountered a single incident of a parent thinking their foreign teacher had lost his mystique or value for speaking to them in Chinese. Most seemed relieved they could communicate about their child’s progress in a language they were more comfortable speaking in.

In any case, knowing Chinese will make your life outside school immeasurably better.

It helped me get a job, especially being literate in Chinese, which helped me navigate the Taiwanese job boards and send e-mail responses to private students. I’m not writing pristine Mandarin, by the way, but they’ve not misread a message that I’ve sent.

Adding this to my signature line :laughing:

I’m honored. :slight_smile:

Anyway, the OP is talking about getting a JOB, not about getting STUDENTS.

Personally, I believe the best balance is knowing Mandarin, but keeping that fact to yourself at your main job.

No, no. I got a J-O-B through the 104, 1111, yes123, or one of them, and they were shocked to find foreigners with active profiles on the site. The Chinese literacy and speaking ability actually helped.

The only downside to it is that I become the unofficial intermediary between the company and FOB teachers. It’s good indirect training for verbal translation, but doesn’t come with any commensurate pay.

You mean it’s on-the-job experience in consecutive interpretation. Translation is written.

I don’t think I’m interpreting often enough to call it on-the-job experience, but I appreciate the clarification.

Traditionally, yes, but as Translation Studies has turned away from linguistic/syntactic analysis and embraced a cultural turn, more and more scholars are pushing the boundaries and including stuff you’d never consider to be translation. One of the more wild claims is that any act of communication is a form of translation because it has to go through different mediums and then be reinterpreted. I forgot which scholars put forth that theory but if you’re really interested (I don’t blame you if you’re not) I can go flipping through my library.

Now, back to OP’s question: Yes, speaking Chinese can help you find a job teaching English, just like any other skill you might have. It is not in and of itself inherently helpful, but you can figure out a way to sell it. One concern all schools have is that a foreigner will land in Taiwan, teach for two weeks, and decide he or she wants to head home. I applied to work at REDACTED while still in the US, making a point to tell them I speak Chinese so I’ll have less trouble adjusting to life in Taiwan, and the language learning process has taught me about some of the hurdles that my students are likely to face. (They said that was good news, and it helped me get along quite well with my Taiwanese coworkers. But of course, they explicitly reminded me not to let the students find out I speak Chinese -_- )

Everyone keeps saying the teaching jobs are hard to get these days, but that’s only true for the good ones. If you’re willing to take any large-scale chain buxiban, I’m sure there are plenty of spots left at Hess and Kojen.

Traditionally, yes, but as Translation Studies has turned away from linguistic/syntactic analysis and embraced a cultural turn, more and more scholars are pushing the boundaries and including stuff you’d never consider to be translation. One of the more wild claims is that any act of communication is a form of translation because it has to go through different mediums and then be reinterpreted. I forgot which scholars put forth that theory but if you’re really interested (I don’t blame you if you’re not) I can go flipping through my library.[/quote]

Been there, done that already. :frowning: I found that the “theory” of translation helped me not a whit with the actual doing of translation or interpretation. At least not the literary-type theory of translation. Some of theory of interpreting was applicable and practical, like Gile’s work, but predictibly, that was not emphasized in school. :ponder:

But my point was only that for the profession, translation is written, and interpreting is oral. The only exception is that what is called “sight translation” means reading a document out loud in a language other than the one it is written in, so it’s sort of a hybrid.

Well, the theory is for the theorists, just like reading literature theory won’t necessarily make you a better writer, ivory tower and all that jazz.

(I say this as I’m writing a thesis on how a first-person narrator’s identity undergoes changes in the translation process. Oy vey.)

This all may seem totally irrelevant to the OP’s question, but actually I think it’s right on target. Just like the ages old theory-or-practicum tugofwar, Learning Chinese will not practically help you with a teaching gig in Taiwan, but it provides certain tools that you may find invaluable if you know how to use them.

I think Ironlady’s terminological distinction is fine. Logicians use interpretation to mean something totally different, which is how I selected “verbal translation.” Translation (one example), on the other hand, is a syntactic move which is supposed to preserve semantic interpretations. Nowadays, all inference rules are, in one sense, all seen as translation rules (thanks to Gentzen).

Fine or not, that is the industry standard. If you go around saying “verbal translation” you will sound like an idiot to anyone who knows anything about translation and interpreting. Totally up to you.

And another train gets derailed :wink:

This was an excuse given as a reason as why I didn’t get a job once. The other guy spoke Chinese and could help students if needed. I don’t know if that was true or if it was an easy reason for everyone to save face.

If I were hiring then some Chinese ability would be a plus since that person might stay in Taiwan longer but you need to make it very clear that you wouldn’t use Chinese to teach. That’s typically strongly discouraged. About the only time I use Chinese is check if students understand vocabulary and definitions that we have studied.

It would make someone look more stable in Taiwan.

I think my current boss was more comfortable hiring me because I was able to conduct SOME of the interview in Chinese-the school had previously used ABCs, which I think meant a lot of Chinese in the classroom.

My Chinese isn’t good, and I don’t like to use it in class. I’m too likely to give bad information. Ideally, I’d know it well, and it would be another tool to use in the classroom, though.

Some schools expect foreigners to only be teaching for money-not as a profession. Many are here as “backpackers”. So, foreign teachers are considered temporary, and often just for show.

Most schools expect classrooms to be “English only” and knowing Chinese is a negative for some of them.

In the case of translation, I’d rather offer an approximate translation with a handy smartphone dictionary than do any excessive hand-waving at the meaning of a term. I usually give two sentences to explain a vocabulary term, but if I feel that I’m not really capturing it, I’ll ask if anyone needs a translation, and then just whip one out.

The challenge, though, is to make sure that the sentence still makes sense to them with the translation. “Itch” and “tickle” refer to two distinct sensations, but have a common translation (癢). If they can give me an example of something that itches versus something that tickles, for instance, then I move on from there.