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Visa update for teaching English in China

PU Letter is not required anymore

As of July 1, 2022, a PU Letter will no longer be required to apply for a Chinese business M-visa, as per the announcement of the Chinese Embassies in Italy, France, the UK, and Singapore.

On June 13, 2022, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States released a Notice with new information about the scope and procedure of visa acceptance, stating that the PU letter is no longer required for the application for China Z-visa and that includes teachers who want to teach English in China.

First of all, we need to know what Z visa is.  China Work visa (Z Visa) is issued to those who have obtained employment permit and intend to work in China. A Chinese government issued working permit or employment license is required. 

Foreigners who intend to go to work in mainland China can apply for a Z-visa presenting the required materials, which no longer include the submission of an Invitation Letter (PU Letter).

What effect the PU Letter had on immigration

With the cancellation of PU letter requirements, the immigration process needed to enter China will be much shorter and less complicated.

Since March 2020, the PU letter was required when foreigners need to apply for work visa, business travel visa or dependent visa for China. The PU letter applications have been a great challenge for many applicants as it took a long time to get the PU letter, sometimes up to 2-3 months. The PU letter is not issued to dependents separately for a certain period of time which has resulted in long separation of the family and lengthy immigration process.

Recently, a notice from the government authorities in Shanghai notified PU letter applicants, effective from 6th June 2022, the PU Letter will no longer be issued for applicants who need to relocate to China for a work purpose (Z visa applicant) and their accompanying family members (S1 visa applicant).

The Chinese government has now started to put focus on action plans to accelerate economic recovery.

It is expected that the strict controls on immigration will be gradually loosen up with a further lifting on quarantine requirements for inbound travelers in the near future.

Who will be affected?

Foreigners who want to work in China. This policy definitely opens the door for teachers who have been wanting to teach English in China Are you ready for the adventure again? With the border being open again, On the Mark Education is looking for more than 300 teachers to teach English in China. Don’t hesitate to apply now.

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7 Ideas for Your First Lesson in Russia

The academic year has begun but (pandemic or no pandemic) teachers arrive in Moscow throughout the year. This means it’s never a bad time to talk about first lessons when you teach English in Russa.

1) Say Hello

Unless you’re a teaching kindergarten try to dress in a smart shirt and trousers to convey a similar level of authority as your Russian counterparts. It’s important that the students understand how to say your name so it’s helpful to write this on the board and drill it with the students. Ask them their names and try to make a mental of physical note of them. This will be useful later when you need to get their attention. Warming up the classroom by doing will be a great help when you first start teach English in Russia.

2) Set the Rules

Make sure the rules for the class are clear and easy to see. You can ask the students what you think they are before clarifying. I usually just have: 1) Speak English, 2) Be nice; 3) Listen to Mr Duncan. Once they are displayed on the board you can tap your pen gently next to them to get the students’ attention and let them know what rule they are breaking.

3) Try to Mingle

Once the rules are set, try to do a mingle activity where the students need to speak to each other and find out different kinds of information (like in a survey). You will need to demonstrate this to them first so they understand what to do. Make sure you have enough copies for everyone in the class.

4) Flashcards are your Friend

Teach English in Russia

If you have a class of younger or lower level students, it is unlikely they will know what to do in a mingle and trying this with them will be chaotic. Instead, print off two sets of flashcards (classroom objects will probably be the most appropriate). Before the lesson, stick some of the objects from one set to the walls. During the lesson, ask the students to stand in a circle (no distractions) and sit with you while you play flashcard games (eg. Pelmanism, hide a card while their eyes are closed, etc.). Once the meaning is clear, you can ask students to get a card for you from the set you have stuck to the walls. The great thing about such activities is that they are easy for students to understand and you can ask them to lead the activities, which takes the pressure away from you when teach English in Russia.

5) Plan for Mixed Levels

Most classes have one or two students who are either above or below the normal level of the class. Try to challenge stronger by adding some more advanced vocabulary to the flashcards so even they can learn something new. Weaker students can be given easier words to work with but still do the same activities.

6) Review What Came Before

If the class has had a teacher before you or is in a further year of study, try to revise what has been previously taught and connect it to the current lesson. For example: if they were learning about geography, it would be a good idea to revise this vocabulary with a game like taboo before moving into a lesson on transport vocabulary.

Teach English in Russia

7) End on a High

Always take the last 5 minutes to end of a positive note. This will round off the lesson nicely and show the students they can have fun in lessons too, rather than watching the clock hoping for the end. If you keep these things in mind when you go into your first classes, you can look forward to less stress and more fun as you start off teaching.

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Traveling in Thailand in 2021

Quarantine and Finding an Apartment

Our first month back in Thailand had its share of ups and downs. When we returned to Thailand there was little to no local transmission of Covid-19 so although life wasn’t back to normal it was a lot more normal than back home in England.

We were able to apartment hunt freely, go to bars, enjoy rooftop parties and pool parties as well. Finding an apartment in a foreign country isn’t as daunting an experience as you might think. As we had 2 weeks in our quarantine hotel we had a lot of  time to research the different apartment complexes in the area we were staying. We narrowed it down to two that we liked and contacted agents through a local apartment hunting website 

They arranged a date and time for some viewings and took us to the complex we liked most. After looking at a few different rooms we settled on one and we were able to move in the next day.

Due to the massive amount of choice of apartments you have in Bangkok the prices are relatively low. Our apartment only costs around 9500 baht (£250) a month. Water bill costs are extremely low, around 150 baht (£4) and electricity is quite cheap too – around 1200 baht (£30).

Back to School During Covid

After we had our first week back at work we headed out to catch up with our friends who’d made the right decision to stay in Thailand throughout the pandemic. Bars were basically fully open and rooftop parties were able to happen – it was a far cry from being stuck in our homes for the past 7 month in England.

We had a great night at a rooftop party at the Novotel Sukhumvit 20 with our friends before returning to the same hotel the next day for a rooftop pool party on my birthday. This was definitely one of our best days/nights we have had in Thailand so far. It was like being back to normal life – pre Covid.

Traveling to Koh Chang for a Holiday

Our next week at school was a short one as there were two national holidays on the Thursday and Friday, we used the holidays to go to an island we hadn’t visited before – Koh Chang.

It is a six hour bus ride from Bangkok at the low price of 260 baht (£6) and a 30 minute ferry ride to the island but it is 100% worth it. Although the island has suffered quite a bit from the lack of tourism due to Covid it is still a beautiful place to visit. We basically had the entirety of Klong Prao beach to ourselves and this beach is one of the best beaches we have ever been to.

In normal times the island would have had a great nightlife scene too but because of there being no tourism there weren’t many bars/clubs to visit on a night. The island still had so much to do though. If you got tired of the beaches, you could go trekking to one of the many waterfalls. If that wasn’t for you, you could hire a bike and explore the island.

Klong Prao Beach

This is definitely one of the better islands to visit along this coast. It is large enough to be fun to explore but also not overly westernized with shops/supermarkets/chain restaurants everywhere. Unfortunately for us this was our last week of normality as a cluster of Covid cases were found in Samut Sakhon which has shut down a lot of the country while they try to regain control of the virus.

Hopefully with the strict measures in place it doesn’t get too out of control and life can begin returning to some sort of normality again soon. Until then, we are back to teaching online.

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Returning to Teach in Thailand During the Pandemic

Back in March, me and my girlfriend Rebecca made the difficult decision to return home during the uncertainty that was created by the beginning of the pandemic. We had only been teaching English in Thailand for 6 monthsbut we loved it. We lived in a small town in Chonburi around 45 minutes from Bangkok which was close enough to the city and a few islands we visited often. It made the decision to return home to England difficult but one we thought we had to make. However after seven months being at home we decided we had had enough of England and made the decision to return to Thailand to teach English– no matter how difficult it would be.

Where Things Get Real

After searching for jobs on various websites we contacted On the Mark Education and Mark arranged an interview and a couple of weeks later we had the jobs. We spent hours researching the ideal ASQ hotel for us (the cheapest with a balcony) and decided on The Cotai. A lot of paperwork and one Covid test later, we were finally on our way back to Thailand.

Without any doubt, the quarantine was difficult. As me and my girlfriend aren’t married, we weren’t allowed to share a room and the food wasn’t great to say the least. The days were boring but it was bearable and definitely worth being back in Thailand.

Two weeks of quarantine passed and we were finally allowed to leave our hotel and return to our lives of teaching in Thailand.

We took a taxi to another hotel we had booked for a couple of nights and hunted for the closest pizza shop we could find – quarantine had us missing the simplest things.

It Was a Smooth Start After All

The school had given us a few days to get settled and find a place to live before we had to begin our orientation. Luckily there are more apartment complexes in Bangkok than anything else so we were spoilt for choice. It didn’t take us long to settle on a place and we were moving in the next evening.

Things that are usually so boring back home like furniture shopping and food shopping are pretty much just as boring here too! It’s easy to get almost everything you want/need in the many malls/department stores/markets and most people speak English especially here in Bangkok. You won’t likely be missing any comforts of home because you can get a lot of that here too.

Teach English in Thailand

We headed into school on the Thursday morning with quite a bit of excitement, I had been unemployed in the UK for the past 7 months and Rebecca had been teaching online. We began our two day orientation and met our students before we made it to the weekend.

Our first weekend with very little Covid restrictions was amazing. Simple things like being able to play pool with strangers and celebrate goals being scored in bars were things we missed so much but never even realised.

We had all sorts of ideas lined up for the weekends to come including pool parties, island trips and catching up with our friends but for now it is Sunday night and we are prepping for our long awaited return to teaching English in Thailand.

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Finding School Supplies in Thailand

When you start at your new school you may find that you will have to go shopping for supplies for your classroom. Not all jobs will provide you with all the essential materials for your classroom. Depending on your school and situation, all of the teaching materials may be provided, or possibly none at all. I cannot speak for other schools, but thankfully my school provides me with a monthly allowance to spend on teaching materials for my lessons, crafts, and activities. I am grateful that On the Mark Education found me a English teaching job in Thailand. Beijing in Bangkok makes finding school supplies in Thailand easier.

Finding School Supplies in Thailand

Planning It Out

I find it extremely helpful to plan out the majority of my lessons, activities and crafts the week before so I know what material I will have to buy over the week or weekend. I make sure to keep in mind what materials I already have in my classroom so that I don’t accidentally buy more of what I already have. I also try to keep the majority of my activities and crafts very simple so that I do not have to buy expensive materials. It’s good to keep in mind how many kids you have in your class, and to always buy a little extra just in case something goes wrong. I also make sure that the materials needed for my activities and crafts are age appropriate and safe for my students to handle, you don’t want any choking hazards.

Where To Shop

I was very surprised at how both easy and difficult it can be to find supplies for my classroom. Many of the supplies that are easily available back home can be non-existent in Bangkok, while other materials that you never knew existed are everywhere. When buying supplies for my classroom, I shop at a handful of different stores. Tesco and Big C are two of the main places that I find it easy to shop at, they don’t always have the most diverse selection, but they provide high quality materials for a moderate price. I also shop at some smaller local shops, such as Mr. DIY, where I tend to find the best prices. A store that many of my colleagues shop at is B2S, a major craft store where you can find basically anything you can think of, though I tend to think shopping there is a bit too expensive. Another great place to find materials are the many local markets around Bangkok, such as Chatuchak and China Town. Some of these markets have more than you could ever imagine, though if your school requires receipts for tax purposes, you may want to stick with the more established stores.

Finding School Supplies in Thailand

Be Creative, Use Resources, Save Money

Sometimes being creative about your materials can save you a lot of money and time. Use recyclable materials from your house for crafts. Try and save a lot of your cardboard, toilet paper and paper towel roles, anything that can be used for future crafts. Try and keep a lot of scraps and un-used materials from previous activities and crafts, they can definitely serve a purpose in the future. Use the Internet! Google and Pinterest are your best friends when finding fun, cheap, and creative crafts. Finding School Supplies in Thailand shouldn’t be too troublesome if you know where to look.

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3 Things to do After Arriving in Japan

Teach English in Japan

I’ve taught English in China before, and to be quite honest I was babied through the whole thing. I got a cheap phone on arrival, I had an interpreter with me when I opened a bank account, and most importantly- there was a very large group of us so I never felt alone. Now, I am teaching in Japan and on the other hand; I knew it was going to be very different- mainly because I was going alone. No amount of “googling”and research can really prepare you for moving to a new country on your own. Of course there are some great tips online- but after two months you start realizing that these blogs are out dated and none of the things they talk about are relevant any more. Here’s a list of things that I had to do when I arrived in Japan.

Registering at your local ward/city office

Teach in Japan

This is the most important thing you need to do when you arrive in the city you will be living in. You must register your address at your city office within 14 days of arriving. This process didn’t take me long- I’d say about an hour. Make sure you carry your passport, and residency card (you would have received this when you entered Japan), as well as your physical address in English and Kanji (Japanese alphabet). I live in Yokkaichi and I had no assistance in English- but everyone was pretty helpful and they understood what I came there for. After filling in some forms they took my residence card, I waited a few minutes and they gave it back to me with my address written on the back. Voila! Done! Every time you change addresses you will need to repeat this.

Health Insurance

I was lucky because where I registered for health insurance was the same building as the city office! This may not be the case in other cities- so just ask around! No-one here spoke English so we relied on Google translate. Bring your residency card (WITH your address). You will be registering for the NHI (National Health Insurance). It pays 70% of your medical fees and you pay the rest. In my city, the fee is distributed over 10 months- usually from July to April. The amount you pay depends on your salary. After registering, I had two options- either to have my insurance card posted to me, or wait about 30minutes and I’d get it. It’s very important to note that if you delay in signing up for health insurance, when you eventually do- you will be charged for the months you hadn’t signed up in…so rather do it as soon as you can.

Opening a Bank Account

All I can say here is SHINSEI BANK! It was super easy as they have English speaking staff at their branches. You need to bring your passport and residency card. I have noticed that there’s a rumour going around that they don’t give accounts to people who have been in Japan less than 6 months- this is only part truth. Initially I was told I can’t get an account but there are exceptions- it all depends on the number of employees the company you work for has. I recommend Shinsei because they also have a very easy online banking system which is rare with Japanese banks! The process took me about an hour. I was lucky to get my cash card same day as I wasn’t picky regarding the color I wanted. Sometimes they post the card to you. Just note that the cash card is exactly that- a cash card. Which means you cannot make online purchases with it or swipe! After opening a bank account Shinsei sends you a security card which will help you log into your online banking.

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