I began teaching in 2010, the US economy was absolutely terrible and it was the height of our last recession. The job market was that great and I felt stuck, but wanted to see the world and experience new cultures, so I decided to teach ESL abroad. I began in the Republic of Georgia, and then taught in South Korea for six years and now I’m in China.
What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about what previous teachers might have complained about or what they thought was positive. Ask to speak to a current teacher, if that’s possible; most schools will allow it. Really make sure you have a clear picture of what you’ll potentially be doing from day to day and what you’re personal life might be like as well. It can all help the make picking the right recruiter and job easy, and give you a good idea of what the transition will be like from your life at home to your life in China.
You are teaching in Shenzhen at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
Shenzhen is a very dynamic city with many diverse neighborhoods, from the artist District in Dafen, to the nightlife downtown or in Shekou. Even the outer district I live in, Longgang, has so much to offer. There’s really no shortage of things to see, and locals always want to test their hand at English, so it’s easy to meet many people. The fact that it’s next to Hong Kong doesn’t hurt, either.
What do you like most about teaching English?
When you work with a student and you finally see them have an “ah ha moment” and make a breakthrough in English, it’s such a rewarding fulfilling feeling that I don’t think any other profession could offer.
Can you tell us about your favorite class at the moment?
My favorite class is grade 6, easily. I teach at a combined elementary and middle school, and the grade 6 students still have their young sense of wonder, but aren’t jaded like the older kids are, yet. They work so hard, they always have a great attitude and they’re just a blast to teach.
Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
I get to school and look at my schedule for the day. I’ll generally have planned my lessons all beforehand, but I like to take some time in the morning to look things over and make sure I have my plan, down pat. Then I go to class. Each class follows a typical format: greeting, lesson, activity, closing. Some days the activity will be speaking exercises, sometimes a a game, but I always try to have fun with the kids.
China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
I don’t even know where to start. Taking an e-bike taxi can be an adventure in and of itself. I guess I just like wandering and finding new things. A new place for some good street food and music bar with karaoke all the time, and meeting new people wherever. Recently I also found an outdoor roller skating rink in my neighborhood, which I’m definitely going to have to get a group to go to. Every day is full of adventures and surprises and that’s one of the things I like most about living in China.