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Teaching in China | My Students, My Life, My Co-workers

When I was told that I would be teaching classes of up to 50 students in China, I must admit that I was quite intimidated and a bit apprehensive. Am I able to control that many students? Could I find activities to suit everyone? 

My students

My trepidation vanished the moment I stepped into the classroom for my first lesson to a huge round of applause. Getting to teach around 800 students are such a rewarding experience; the relationships I’ve made and the genuine improvement I’ve seen makes me excited for every lesson. I don’t dread the workweek or spend my time praying it was the weekend.

 

Outside of lessons, the students love helping me learn Chinese, even though they laugh when I try and use the words or phrases they’ve taught me. They were interested to know about my favourite foods, artists and films and wanted to recommend their favourite things in return. Getting involved with extracurricular activities such as the English club’s drama production gave me the chance to become closer with staff and students in a relaxed and fun setting; helping them learn ballroom dance, finding the perfect costumes and helping them go over their lines was all done whilst laughing and sometimes doing karaoke (my students love Westlife).

 

Yes, there will be students who are distracted, talkative, or tired in lessons but their eagerness to learn and their excitement that I was there made me instantly realise it was the right decision to teach in China.

 

My first two days happened to be the sport’s days at the school and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to settle in and meet the staff and students.

My life

You have a lot of free time and opportunities to do different activities both during the school term and in the holidays. Finishing at 5pm during the week gives me a lot of time to explore the city or chill in the evenings. The staff encouraged and helped me plan my trips to different parts of China, offering their opinions on the best places to visit and things to do. I enjoy living in Sanshui, quite a small city in Guangdong, and it now feels like I’ve made a home for myself. The bus and train links make it easy to go to different cities so you can really make the most of the weekends during term time.

 

China has such an array of different cities and environments that if you like to live in a big city or a small town; you are extremely independent or like to have a large social group, there are many different opportunities to get the most out of teaching in China in a way that suits you.

 

The company go above and beyond; from my orientation on day one, setting up my bank account and getting my residents permit, they were so helpful and replied quickly to every query I had. They helped me plan my first weeks’ lesson, observed me for the first day and gave me helpful feedback on how to improve, gave me so much more confidence in my teaching ability. Both the HR and Teaching Department are great and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

 

 every member of staff at the school has been more than happy to help me with anything I needed, regardless of how much English they know or how much Chinese I can remember. It really felt like they made an active effort to go out of their way to make me extremely comfortable

My co-workers

My first two days happened to be the sport’s days at the school and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to settle in and meet the staff and students. Being introduced to the students in the grade I would be teaching, meeting the other teachers in my office and getting involved in the teacher’s sporting activities, (despite taking far too long to get a point in the basketball tournament) instantly made me feel like a part of the school community.

 

Every day since I have arrived in Sanshui every member of staff at the school has been more than happy to help me with anything I needed, regardless of how much English they know or how much Chinese I can remember. It really felt like they made an active effort to go out of their way to make me extremely comfortable, especially in my first couple of weeks when I was settling in. Whether that be an English to Chinese translation, the best teaching style for a certain class, being taken out for traditional Chinese lunch or dinner to try their favourite Guangdong cuisine or how to rent an Alipay bike; the staff was friendly, approachable and helpful in every way. Some of the English teachers even arranged a Christmas dinner to help me celebrate and feel festive.

 

To top it off, I was lucky to have a foreign teacher with me at the school who had been in Sanshui for over a year. Shadowing his lessons, getting his help setting up my school login (I am technologically inept), and getting his advice on good places to visit and eat was a great comfort to me over my first term at school. Overall I would definitely say the staff has become my friends, not just colleagues.

 


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