My name is Darragh Russell I am 22 years old and live in Belgium.
I have a high school diploma (Mechanics) and this year I attended 6 months of classes in Mandarin.
I feel that I should spend some time in China to improve my Mandarin and particularly my conversational Mandarin. I will then be in a better position to continue my Mandarin studies here.
So I would like to go to China for a year.
I speak both Dutch and English fluently (I have dual Belgian/Irish nationality) and I also have a little French.
I wish to enroll in a Mandarin course in Beijing of at least one semester in a recognized educational establishment. I would like to supplement my budget if possible by having a part time job. I have heard that many people do this by giving English classes. I was wondering what kind of help you can give in this regard or with any job I would be able to get in Beijing. I would like to stay in a Mandarin speaking family that can only speak mandarin so I would learn the language faster.
I would be grateful for any assistance.
What establishment are you planning on enrolling in? I attended BLCU last year for only a month for a conversation class. I had friends who were enrolled on the intensive course and that works out at pretty much a full day of Mandarin lessons - they did learn pretty quickly.
I'm not sure how getting a job would really work - in the area around BLCU (near Wudaokou station) there were alot of western run cafes etc, which might employ you but I imagine there are quite strict restrictions on working permits. The pay won't be that good because it will be at Chinese rates - I had a friend who worked in a factory sweeping floors or something he said it was rubbish basically! With regards to teaching English - there are alot of people with qualifications out there but there is a tight expat network so if you get out there and do some socialising, I'm sure someone could fix you up with something!
Personally, I think it would be better for you to go out for a semester and concentrate on your studies - there are alot of people who are willing to help you with your chinese language skills as 'language exchange partners' where you teach them English in exchange for Mandarin practice, so you'll get practice in that way. It would be incredibly difficult to live with a family who speak no English at all - and quite lonely too. Have a look on the internet for vacancies in China for teaching; there is usually something going but I'm not sure what qualifications you'll need. I joined one of those sights when I was researching my gap year and got an offer from a university to teach (aged 17!)!!
Hope some of that was useful! Good luck - I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for soon!
for available teaching positions: http://www.eslcafe.com