One of the things that can seem daunting about going to China through The China Teaching Experience is, of course, the teaching itself. Having very little experience in teaching, I couldn’t have been less qualified to teach a classroom of 45 children who do not speak my language. Despite this, I absolutely love my job in China, and I’m certain anyone who goes to teach there will love it too.
I teach at a primary school where the age ranges from about five (grade 1) to twelve (grade 6). There are 31 classes in the school, each with approx. 45 students – I have every class meaning that every two weeks I teach about 1,400 children! Madness! Despite there being so many of them and just one of me, I have still managed to form friendships and rapports between me and each class. Their enthusiasm to learn English from a ‘real life English person’ means that they try hard in my lessons and we get along really well despite the language barrier. Grade 1 & 2 will jump up screaming with excitement and attack me with cuddles as I enter their classroom to teach – not a bad way to start a lesson!
Looking back to my first lesson, I was petrified! Due to delays in attaining my visa, I ended up arriving in China around mid September and completely missing the Beijing teaching camp in August. This seemed, at the time, like one of the worst possible things that could have happened – I was thrown in at the deep end and turned up on a Monday morning with Grade 4 smiling eagerly at me ready to be taught English. I hadn’t received the training from the camp so all I had to go on was the online TEFL course – I was convinced it was going to be a train wreck of a first lesson. It was, of course, absolutely fine and I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t wait to go and teach my next class! As long as you talk slowly and have the patience to wait for the children to figure out what you are trying to teach them, there is no reason anyone would struggle with teaching primary school level in China. I thought I would be given guidelines and curriculum to help me plan my lessons but it became clear in the first few weeks that as long as I teach them something in English, it doesn’t really matter what I do!
I didn’t actually think I would end up enjoying the teaching aspect of my year in China as much as I do. Although it is a scary prospect, I don’t know any foreign teachers out here that struggle with or dislike their job, and many people do extra tutoring and teaching on the weekends to bring in extra money. With the online TEFL course and the training in Beijing, anyone who comes to China with the China Teaching Experience is qualified enough to teach, even if it doesn’t seem that way – take my word for it!