Information on Teaching at Jinzhou Medical University

(in development)
I'm not a recruiter. I just thought prospective teachers might want more information on the school. We enjoyed our time there. If you're interested in applying, you should write (maybe covered CV) to Gavin at: jmu_foreign_affair (-at-) 126 dot com
More pictures and information available at this link to the Foreign Students at Jinzhou Medical University
The school
Jinzhou City is in the DongBei (Northeast) region of China. It is located in Liaoning province. There is another Jinzhou (different characters) in Liaoning that is an industrial zone outside Dalian, one of the major cities of the province. Jinzhou is a fairly gritty, industrial town in the process of rejuvenating itself.
The campus is located in the northern part of Jinzhou. It is about a half an hour bus ride to the center of town. It is located on a street called SongPo Lu. The streets in Jinzhou follow a basic organizational pattern. The streets that run North/South are “jie”, and the streets that run East/West are “lu”. The campus is easily reached by taxi from the central train station in about 15 minutes. Click here for an English map of Jinzhou. The city will be described in further depth below.
The campus is pretty small. It takes about ten minutes to walk from one end to the other. It is very clean and well-maintained. There always seem to be groundskeepers actively watering, pruning and mowing the many lawns and ornamental trees. There are many amenities here, which will be described below.
Class size varies, but the usual undergraduate classes consist of 60 students or so. Almost all classes meet once a week for 50 minutes. The Oral English classes are ungraded. In addition to the Oral English classes, students are also taking English classes preparing them for their CET (College English Test) exams, which must be passed if the students are to graduate. These classes are taught by Chinese English teachers. In addition to their English classes, the students have a full load of medical courses.
Most of the classes are taught in an AV lab setting in building three. Some classes are taught in a lecture hall. The AV classes consist of cubicles with shared computer monitors. There is a column of two, an aisle, a column of four, an aisle and another column of two. There are eight rows of this. The monitors are controlled by a terminal in the teacher’s desk. Teachers with an interest in CALL will find this layout offers many opportunities.
Student proficiency level
The English proficiency level varies greatly. Many of the students have a developed passive vocabulary. While there is a lot of speech reluctance, many students are eager to improve their English. Most students struggle with tense and gender pronouns. Very few students are anywhere near fluency, and the best speakers use unnecessarily complicated language.
Foreign experts are contracted for a teaching load of 16-20 50 minute periods per week. The actual teaching load has been much less this semester. Most teachers have 11 or 12 classes per week. One had 9 teaching periods for the first 3/5 of the semester, and she now has 13 teaching periods per week.
Additional responsibilities/lectures/English Corner
Due to the light class load this semester, the foreign teachers have also been asked to deliver 2 one-hour lectures on a topic of their choice. One of these lectures is delivered to the Chinese English teachers. The other is delivered to the students. They have been very interesting. In addition to the classes and lectures, foreign teachers are also expected to attend an English corner, where students are offered the opportunity to practice their English. It meets once a week for one hour on Thursday night.
Living arrangements
Foreign teachers are housed in a separate wing of a special “hotel”. There is a front desk where all visitors must be waved in. There is someone on duty 24 hours a day, though the gates are locked around 11 PM. In short, it is a very secure building. Unfortunately, due to security issues, a loosely-enforced curfew is in place. Teachers must be in the building by 10:30 PM on weekdays and 11:00 on weekends.
One room is provided for each teacher (so couples are provided with two). It is a plain vanilla box a little smaller than a standard US hotel room. There is a small entry corridor with two closets and the door to the bathroom. The room itself is about 150 square feet. Each room is equipped with a wardrobe, a desk and chair, a sidetable, a small refrigerator, an electric kettle, a television (reception of channels varies - some have CCTV - 9, the English language channel), and a bed (twin for singles, queen for couples). Each room has at least one large window with southern exposure. Some room have eastern exposure, as well. Some rooms have balconies. In addition, central heat is provided by a radiator in the winter, and the rooms have individually controlled air-conditioners for the summer heat.
Pan of room
The bathroom is comfortable, but it takes getting used to. It is essentially a tile-lined box with a drain in the floor. It is about 25 square feet. The toilet is western style. There is a water heater mounted on the wall that connects by hose to a shower head. There is a sink and mirror. It is lit. No windows. No shower curtain. When you shower, everything else gets wet. Use a squeegee to push the water down the drain when you are done.
Picture 027
One of the major selling points of Jinzhou Medical University is the kitchen. There are two standing refrigerator/freezers, a water-cooler, three hot plates, three smoke hoods, two microwaves, two sinks and AN OVEN! A full size oven. These are very uncommon in China.
Laundry room
The foreign teachers have their own laundry room equipped with two washing machines. In lieu of dryers, they are equipped with spinner baskets to remove excess water after washing. There is also another laundry room used by the foreign students who live in the building. There are eight machines there. The hotel courtyard has laundry lines strung up for outside drying. There are also lines strung up on each floor of the teachers’ wing.
Washing machine
There are two restaurants in the hotel. One is fairly upscale, though not expensive. The other offers passable fast food, both Chinese and Western, to satisfy any late-night french fry yearnings.
Gym/Athletic facilities
There is also a large gym in the hotel for students. It is free for foreign teachers. It has a large selection of weight machines, dumbells, plates, benches and a smith rack. There are no cardio machines, but aerobics classes are held twice daily, as well as what seems to be a hip-hop dance class.
Internet access
Teachers are provided with free, high-speed internet access through the school’s network. It is pretty dependable, but does occasionally go on the fritz for a couple of hours. In that event, there is an internet cafe across the street from the main gate.
The FAO is named Gavin. He’s helpful. Pay comes on time, and most reasonable complaints are dealt with.
The city
Jinzhou is about five hours east of Beijing by train. It is another 5 hours or so to Dalian. Shenyang, the provincial capital, is a little more than 2 hours away. Shanhaiguan, where the Great Wall of China meets the sea, is about an hour and a half to the west. There isn’t a lot around Jinzhou.
There are 3,000,000 people living in Jinzhou prefecture. 770,000 of them live in urban areas, but there are several smaller towns around Jinzhou city proper.
Make no mistake; this is a modern city. Everything is paved. While some of the buildings are starting to show their age, there are new ones going up all the time. Many students find Jinzhou to be a little on the dirty side, but there is plenty of green space, too. The reservoir that forms one of the borders of town is planted with weeping willows and has a beautiful promenade. There are a number of well-groomed public parks where the city’s residents gather until late evening. There are mountains for hiking nearby.
Downtown is busy. The sidewalks are full of window-shoppers. Stores blare advertisements and techno to draw shoppers in. There are vendors hawking their wares. Buses, cars, motorcycles, scooters, pedicabs, bicycles and pedestrians perform a chaotic ballet at every intersection.
Cost of living
At the current conversion rate (The PRC basically pegs their unit of currency, the Renminbi (RMB), to the dollar), one dollar is worth about 8 RMB. The starting salary for teachers with BAs is 3,500 RMB per month. This is easily enough to provide you with all of the necessities. In fact, you can live pretty luxuriously. Budgeting a little more than 100 RMB per day, you can eat Peking duck for dinner every night. Peking duck for two is about 30 RMB. If you’re feeling more frugal, try a plate of delicious fried dumplings from a vendor across the street from the school’s main gate. A healthy serving will set you back 1.5 kuai (a unit of measure used with RMB - think one “buck”). That’s a little less than $.20. A cab from campus to the center of town costs about 10 kuai. Or you can take the bus for one kuai. Some foreign brand cell phones cost more than 2,000 RMB. Some domestic brands cost a few hundred. A new DVD player costs about 300 RMB. Newly released DVDs (of questionable origin) at the electronics market cost 5 kuai. A half-liter of local beer at a sidewalk cafe can cost as little as 2 kuai. A 12 oz. Coors Light at a “western” nightclub can cost 20 RMB. One freshly-brewed cup of coffee at an upscale cafe can cost more than 25 RMB. It all depends on what you want. The more foreign (to China) your tastes are, the more expensive things are. Two pounds of lychees cost a little less than one US dollar. Sunkist lemons are three or four times that.
Four seasons. Summer is in the 80’s. Winter is in the 20’s. Spring and Fall are pleasant. Jinzhou also gets the occasional dust storm in the springtime. Dust blows in from the Mongolian plains. It turns the sky a really amazing yellow hue. During the dusty weather, locals wear cotton face masks. Snow is uncommon. So is heavy rain. The air is pretty dry.
Other universities/Expat community
There are more than 4 universities with foreign teaching staff. I'm not sure of the total number of foreign teachers when the private schools get counted, but it is at least 40. An artist and some industrialists, too.
Getting around
Local Bus
There is a bus stop in front of the main gate of the school. The bus that stops there costs 1 RMB per ride. It takes about half an hour to get downtown. The bus runs on a loop in both directions. Buses come every 5 or 10 minutes. The bus terminal is also on SongPo Lu. I think the bus runs from 6AM to 8PM.
Taxis are usually parked in front of the school. The base fare is 5 RMB. It costs 10 or 11 RMB to get downtown.
We can't remember what to call these in Chinese, but these 3-wheeled motorcycles are a little cheaper than taxis. Make sure to negotiate a price before you get in. It should only cost 3 or 4 RMB to get to the railroad tracks. Because they produce more visible exhaust, they aren't allowed into the heart of downtown.
Things to bring
There are plenty of "what to bring" lists for people considering moving to the PRC. This is a list specific to the program at JMZU.
Bring books. The program doesn't issue textbooks, and no teaching materials are provided. There isn't a faculty copy machine available to you, so all photocopying needs to be done in the fax/computer/long-distance room. Copies cost you 1 jiao or more each. Copies for classes of 64 can get expensive quickly. Pay out of your own pocket or take a collection from your students at the beginning of the semester.
If you don't have/bring a computer, the school can provide you with one.
A smile. You're never fully dressed without one.