Reflections on Teaching English as a second language

I left health care in 2017, as a result of having gotten a teaching certificate in 1970, I have gotten certified as a teacher.  Its been a steep learning curve.

Outline

  1. How to qualify
  2. Courses
  3. Cost/Benefit
  4. Jobs
  5. Time
  6. Chinese culture
  7. Tech support/.Zoom App
  8. Student assessment
  9. Lesson plans on line
  10. Lessons learned/surprises

1. How to qualify

  • Supply is limited and demand is endless so there will always be a job
  • Supreme court decision on class size in BC made teachers a scarce commodity
  • Education
    • Degree or TESOL certification or teachers certificate
    • Certification – not always necessary
    • Courses for certification are expensive but under a year in length
    • In person
    • On line
    • practicum
  • Personal qualities
    • Flexibility
    • Adaptability
    • Like to chat

2. Courses

3. Cost/Benefit

  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Social good
  • Fun factor
  • Job satisfaction
  • Travel
  • Pay – $ 25-$ 30 -$ 45
  • Can work 5+ hours a week

4. Jobs

  • The company I have worked for does all logistics.. Finding students, collecting fees, booking class times etc.

5. Time

  • different day and hour of the day in China
  • Vancouver is not a good time zone as students time slots are usually 5 am-8 am. Eastern Canada /US better
  • Work at least a year to make it worth while for both student and teacher and company.
  • I usually teach in the evening 5-10 pm including weekend. Max 10 hours a week.. 3 students 3 x a week for an hour each session during the summer break in China.

6. Chinese Culture

  • Parents are very hands on
  • Some do not speak English
  • There is intense competition in China for university spot
  • Poor English teaching in schools in China
  • Many preparing for entry to high school in Vancouver
  • Tech support not available in homes

7. Tech Platform.. don’t be afraid.

8. Assessment

9. Lesson plans on line

10. What did I learn?

  • I can do it without a lot of experience
  • The students are fun ..mostly
  • It takes more time than you expect
  • Students learn no matter what you teach

Surprises

  • Parental and student concerns re mentions of modest references to sex in reading material
  • Learning difficulties common among students
  • Students have limited knowledge of western culture and history.
  • I was asked to do a video for promotion for the company I work for.
  • Chinese people revere older people and teachers – put them on a pedestal
  • Wide range of competencies among students
  • Some students don’t have printers or know how to use computers
  • Refreshing change from health care culture
  • The limited wifi (Telus) on a rural island is beyond frustrating to say nothing of power outages.

 

Merry Christmas from Hornby Island

This is my first Christmas on Hornby Island after past xmas1Christmases at Puerto Vallarta, Costa Rica, Phoenix Ottawa and Vancouver. This will be a very different Christmas. This morning the power went out for the third time since I came in June. By now I have acquired both candles and the skills to start a fire in the wood stove AND make cowboy coffee on the wood strove. The pot of hot water heated faster on the wood stove than the electrical stove.  The power came on at 8 am, just in time for the co-op radio program that I had been invited to guest DJ. The station only broadcasts to the island and only half of the island can get the transmission so that’s a possible an audience of about 500 would be listening if everyone was up at that hour of the morning.  All did not go well. I had a small set of Christmas music I had hoped to play for my new Hornby friends, but the technical elves were up to their old tricks. My new Iphone 7 had a different jack than the radio station and my back up plan of a USB stick could not be read by the machines. So I will be getting some training on the equipment next week.   I have been invited to host a once a month classical radio show.

Following the radio follies, I took my weekly trip to the recycling center to feed the deer this week’s organic material.   Lots of mandarin orange peels but they don’t seem to fancy them. I hit on another real find at the Free store.. an ottoman for me and my landlady’s cat. (see above)   She (the landlady) is in Mexico.

I came home and baked a huge apple crisp for the potluck dinner at New Horizons tomorrow.   I got the apples from the heritage orchard on Hornby which has been in existence for about a 100 years. The orchard has now become a community project. The apples taste better than the ones from the store.

I have to teach on-line for an hour tomorrow to a group of nine grade 7’s in Ontario. They are all English speaking but are wanting enhanced reading experience. Managing 9 kids online at the same time seemed like a bad idea to me but everyone seems to be on their best behaviour.   The book we are about to read is called Replica-Lyra which is about cloning. It was their choice not mine!. Very topical. The other student I have is a grade 2 child in an international school in Shanghai which means English immersion. She is on a 3 week snowboarding trip at the moment but we are still having classes.

Tomorrow night is a house concert at a Yoga retreat on the island. I have had very good things about the musicians and have not been to the yoga retreat.   Then Sunday is the life drawing session, followed by the Hornby Island Photo club. We have to bring 4 photos of Leading Lines.

Next week a new Hornby friend from Victoria is coming to stay for a few days. Although many people leave Hornby for Mexico in the winter, I haven’t made any plans to go south yet but if the power frequently goes out I might consider it. I think the Christmas period will be quieter and I hope to get back to doing some watercolours that I have been leaning by myself but started a few years ago at Emily Carr.

People often say that they have never been to busy since they retired, and I have to agree. Even here on Hornby it is common to be double booked. There are fitness classes, the bridge club, the community choir and many many volunteer opportunities that I have not yet explored. Everywhere I go I run into people I know or who know me after about 5 minutes of chatting with me. This is so much better than Vancouver or even Mexico. And walks, like everything, are within a 10 min drive of where I live.xmas 6

The downside has been trying to find housing over the winter. There are some strange rules and regulations from the Islands trusts about long/short term rentals that take a lot of the housing off the market in the winter. xmas 7Crazy making if you ask me. Not unlike the strata council in my condo in Vancouver that has banned rentals of less than 12 months. Thus my continued stay on Hornby!!!!. Fortunately the BC government has just released their housing task force report that recommends banning condo rental restrictions. I have been fighting with my strata council about this since May and I am glad to see the tide may be turning. So far they have fined me $ 500 for some short term rentals I did over the summer on AIRBNB.   It’s a crazy world. The summer rentals here start at $ 1000 a week. The other downside is that I haven’t had much time to update my blog.

I hope to see more visitors to Hornby next year. I have two futons for guests and 2 bathrooms so lots of space. It is however a 6 hour trip from Vancouver via 3 ferries. Still, it is a pretty scenic trip and well worth it. Save it until the summer to enjoy the beaches and kayaking.

My best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy 2019. Can’t believe it will be 2019!!!

Ann

Condos that have passed by-laws against short term rentals… What can you do if you want to rent your condo out on a short term basis?

Background

In the fall of 2017 the property management company for my condo passed a bylaw to ban rentals of less than one year.  The property management company seemed to think there has been complaints about disruption of residents’ peace and quiet due to short term rentals.   The ban includes rentals, home exchanges and rentals to home stay students. Most owners in the building are in their 40’s and I am one of the few seniors in the building. The controversy around housing in Vancouver and Airbnb has been ongoing for several years and the clamp down on Airbnb rentals is collateral damage.

Municipal policy and regulations

“City of Vancouver Short-Term Residential Rental Policy 2018  implemented new regulations concerning the operation of short-term rentals through services such as Airbnb and VRBO, with the objective of protecting Vancouver’s long-term rental supply, encouraging neighbourhood fit, enabling supplemental income for operators, supporting the tourism industry, ensuring health and safety, promoting tax and regulatory equity, and encouraging regulatory compliance”.

The city wants more short term rentals and has made an arrangement with Airbnb to monitor the licensing, supply and safety of accommodation. The City of Vancouver has specifically set up the licensing program to support short term rentals in Vancouver.  This involves buying a business license for $100 which is required when creating a listing on Airbnb. You are not eligible to buy a business license if your strata council does not permit short term rentals.  Thus the bylaw passed by the strata council is contrary to the direction in the City of Vancouver.

The city has a list of requirements for the business licenseBefore you apply for a license:

Strata properties   Make sure your building’s strata bylaws allow for short-term rentals.

Building and fire safety   Confirm your home is a legal dwelling unit.   Provide 24-7 contact information.   Post a fire plan at all entrances and exits.   Have interconnected smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.   Have a working and accessible fire extinguisher on every floor.   Have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor if there are gas appliances.   Have a fire alarm in the building if it has more than three dwelling units or 10 occupants.   By January 1, 2023, have an automated sprinkler system or fire separation between units with at least a 45 minute fire-resistance rating, unless a higher resistance rating is required for the building type by the Building Bylaw or Fire Bylaw, if your short-term rental accommodation is attached to another dwelling unit.   Inspect, test annually, and keep related records for smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors.   Review your insurance policies and cover any costs or damages that come from operating your short-term rental business.

How widespread is this problem of strata councils banning short term rentals? Where did it all start? What is the perceived vs actual risk.

  • New South Wales has banned restrictions on strata councils restricting short term rentals and found no evidence of negative impact of short term rentals.
  • In Queensland, it is written into the act that strata bylaws can’t be passed which restrict the lawful use of a property (so if council zoning allows something, then nothing strata can do about it).

Here is what I have done to try to get around the problem and resolve the issue.

I have submitted a letter to my strata council to exempt me from the regulations.

In accordance with the requirements of the Strata Property Act, please accept this letter as my application for an exemption from our rental restriction bylaw # 2.12 on the grounds of  financial hardship and I believe I am exempt from the rental bylaws as I purchased my unit prior to Oct 31 2005.  I also believe that a 5 week rental will have minimal impact on anyone and that a short term rental is keeping with the policy adopted by the City of Vancouver re: short term rentals. Furthermore the Strata Council Act grants a one year exemption to a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals. As per the Strata Property Act, I am requesting a hearing with the strata council to discuss this matter should you feel the grounds for exemption are not adequate. I understand that an exemption granted by the strata corporation may be for a limited time and that the strata corporation may not unreasonably refuse to grant an exemption

So what processes are in place to fix this problem?

  1. The strata council can rescind or revise the bylaw.
  2. The strata council can grandfather in my suite so that the by-law will not apply to my suite as long as I am the owner
  3. I can apply for a waiver of the by-law based on financial hardship as suggested by the Civil Disputes Resolution.  The Civil Disputes resolution site has a place where you can make a complaint about anything to do with the strata council and they said that a strata council cannot limit your rentals if you have a case for financial hardship.
  4. I can make a complaint to the City of Vancouver about the strata council limiting short term rentals as this is contrary to the policy of the City of Vancouver. See The VanConnect app.
  5. There is a one year exemption from the date of passing of Rental Bylaws according to the Strata Property Act.

Have you had any success keeping your condo open to short term rentals?   What have you done?

 

Teaching English in China

http://blog.oxfordseminars.ca/our-grad-talks-about-tattooing-and-teaching-english-in-china/
For anyone thinking about a new career teaching English as a second language with low barriers to entry and opportunities for travel, this article tells you how to do it.