My Experience Teaching English for 1 Year with My Partner – Q&A with Rachel
*Note: Ceyllaway assists various English teaching institutions to recruit English teachers and is authorised to share testimonies from their employees.
Whether you are about to move to China, are already working for an English teaching institute, or just happen to have stumbled on this whilst scrolling through the internet, I hope this will give you a little insight into life as an EFL teacher in China.
“My name is Rachel, I am just a few months shy of my 30th birthday and one month ago I finished working in Beijing, China. My partner, Kay and I had both graduated from university and were working in jobs that we didn’t want to be the start of our careers.
We often took mini holidays together and realised just how much we love being immersed in a culture different to ours in England. We went for a walk on New Years Day 2016 and decided we were going to actually go ahead with a resolution and make it happen. So we did. By the end of that year, we were living in the capital city of China, teaching English to students aged 3-12 years old.
I am now writing this on a sun lounger in booming sunshine from Gili Air, which is a small island off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia.
The two of us worked very hard for 13 months, loved it very much, and are now enjoying a 10 week holiday across Asia.
How did you first hear about English teaching opportunities and what was your first impression?
My partner, Kay and I had completed a 120 hour TEFL course, and upon completion we started applying for jobs instantly. One night, we started looking at jobs on www.theteflacademy.co.uk (which is the company we completed our TEFL qualification with) and handpicked around 7 jobs that suited us. We applied to them all. We woke up the next morning and to my amazement, one of the places had replied. This was within about 6 hours. The reply was from a recruitment company working on behalf of an English teaching institution, and they wanted us to do a Skype interview that morning! Now, Kay and I were a little bit skeptical (being stereotypically English, thinking it was a scam, far too good to be true). We also had work commitments so could not speak with the company that day, but arranged it for the weekend.
From the get go, it sounded very exciting and ideal for us. We both studied Drama at university and were eager to use our creativity in the classroom, which is suitable to the position offered to us. We were asked to prepare a 10 minute lesson on a topic of our choice and state what age this was aimed at when performing the lesson. This was done over a Skype interview which sounded scary at first, but actually after the first 20 seconds of jumping around our living room looking at a laptop screen, it got easier!
After both being offered positions, it all happened very quickly and within 3 months, we were saying our goodbyes at Heathrow Airport.
Describe the training process in 50 words or less.
There was a variety of theory and practical which made it engaging. However, the days were long, and packed with information, which at first was a bit daunting. On reflection, the only way to do it is to dive straight in and it made me feel more ready to get teaching.
How did you prepare for the average class?
Something that sets our employer apart from other companies is the fact the lessons are pre-prepared for the teachers. In saying this, you soon learn that the more you prepare, the much better quality your classes will be.
I would look at the lesson itself, which is a flip chart made up of slides that are interactive for both the teacher and students. I then wrote down what I wanted my students to learn from this lesson, and then would create a couple of activities to bring the lesson to life and involve all students.
What was it like working at your centre?
Blooming great! Our centre was in Huilongguan, which is about 50 minutes on the subway from the centre of Beijing. Luckily, Kay and I wanted to be out of the city and closer to work, so our commute was only 25 minutes (from our apartment door to our desks at work). The area was surrounded by cheap restaurants and local shops, which made it very convenient when you had a sudden craving for some chocolate! *Disclaimer, if you’re a chocolate lover you can’t get Dairy Milk, so bring supplies*
Did you have time to travel whilst teaching?
Yes. Over the 13 months, we went to Shanghai, Suzhou, all around Beijing, Thailand and Tokyo.
We arrived in December 2016 and Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) fell at the end of January 2017, so we used money from our first pay to go to Shanghai which was amazing. Spring Festival was the longest holiday at around two and a half weeks. In the summer, there was a period of ten days, where there were no classes, but demos to bring new students along. We were able to book a week off at this time, due to each centre only needing one to two teachers around for this. The rest we did on weekends. We were also fortunate enough to welcome both of our families over for a visit to Beijing which was really special.