Conall (Teaching Review)

CONALL McGREGOR

My China Teaching Experience

I had never considered teaching prior to the CTE, I signed up primarily because I wanted travel once I graduated. To say that teaching aspect was an afterthought would be an understatement. Probably not the most well thought out plan I’ve ever had but alas here I am 6 months in and I’m loving it.

The teaching experience I had previous was minimal (none). So the TEFL online course was necessary, it gave me the framework to plan for classes, it explains basic teaching techniques as well as practical day to day advice for living in China. It’s definitely not the most time consuming, a couple hours a day for a week or so but the content really is invaluable.

All the internet training in the world can’t really prepare you for the real thing, that’s what I found standing in front of 30 kids all staring at the funny looking foreigner. Some people took to it like a duck to water, I definitely didn’t. There were a lot of awkward silences and funny looks to begin with. It took me a few classes to feel at home standing in front of a chalk board. I had spent my whole child life as the student, so to have the roles reversed was a bit daunting. But now, coming up to 6 months of teaching things are quite different. My lessons run smoothly, no sign of any earlier disasters; the students enjoy it and we are improving all the time.

The classes have been a blast, I have complete creative power over my lessons, I can literally teach them what I want. On the first day the head of English said “your job is just to get them to talk”. That was it. I figure I might as well make it enjoyable while we’re at it. I’ve taught them classic songs, Scottish slang, we’ve done scavenger hunts and have had discussions on how immoral homework is (they’re pretty good for 13 year olds).

My working week works out at roughly 16 hours a week so there’s plenty of free time and it’s by no means a high stress job. The worst I’ve had to deal with so far is having my classes being cancelled and no one telling me, impromptu week off. I don’t think I will teach forever, but over the last 6 months I’ve had so many new experiences, been in strange situation (good and bad), learned more than I ever have and gained a bunch of memories I will cherish. Whether you want to travel or are interested in teaching it really is a great experience.