How Studying Abroad in Taiwan Made Me Become An English Teacher In China
2019-02-27 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences
The following blog post is about an ITTT graduate who shares his story on how he found a passion for teaching English abroad after studying abroad in Taiwan.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Joseph S.
"What did I have to lose?"
When I began my undergraduate education, I intended to pursue a Master's degree, likely in Industrial Psychology, and then a career in that field; most likely consulting. However, as a requirement for my Bachelor's degree I needed to study a foreign language. I had studied German for several years in High School, and thoroughly disliked it, so, I was very easily persuaded by the University's Chinese Professor to try out her class - what did I have to lose? She was very friendly and mentioned several times the possibility of going with her to China as part of a special scholarship the university awards each year. I figured that it would be quite interesting to try my hand at Chinese, and, if I fail, I could always just switch back to German.
The following summer, much to my surprise, I ended up living in Taiwan and studying at National Taiwan Normal University; I had not received the scholarship from my University to go to mainland China but had won a scholarship to study in Taiwan instead. While there, I found that I genuinely enjoyed the language and culture to an extent that I did not think possible; the following summer after that I had the pleasure of traveling to mainland China.
"What do these developments have to do with my decision to pursue certification to teach English?"
Well, during my studies in Taiwan and the Mainland, I found no small number of individuals who wished for me to tutor them - as well as no small amount of enjoyment from tutoring them. By the time I finished my studies in mainland China in the summer of 2017, I was actively tutoring several individuals one-on-one, as well as a group of four. I did it for free, because, at the time, it seemed like little more than a fun hobby; a way to better ingratiate myself in the culture, and contribute something to their country in exchange for the multitude of things I had learned from them.
Later in 2017, it came to my attention that one of my students, a university student whom I'd worked with one-on-one for several months, had done very well on her TOEFL exam. At this point, I was receiving requests to tutor more and more students, help proofread documents, etc., to the point that it became increasingly difficult to think of what I was doing as merely a hobby. That kind Chinese professor who first got me involved in studying Chinese and traveling, then recommended to me that perhaps I should look into becoming a teacher.
"Teaching English in China seemed like a very risky move."
I was a little put off by it at first; an Industrial Psychologist, while by no means doing very enjoyable work, made a lot of money; teaching English in China seemed like a very risky, and very low-paying, move. However, after submitting a few inquiries, and speaking at length with my professor, I found that, at least partially due to my background and the skills I've picked up during my undergraduate career, there is no small amount of opportunities available to teach in China at very low risk - and with quite acceptable benefits.
So, I decided that I would pursue a career in teaching; I would begin most likely at a High School or International School, and then hopefully work my way up to teaching at a University - my real goal. Instead, I was very quickly made aware that there were teaching positions already available at universities in China, and that, due to my already having experience tutoring as well as coursework in pedagogy etc., I would be considered a decent candidate for such a position - one perk of which may very easily be that, despite not making a huge amount of money, I could pursue a Master's Degree while also teaching.
"I believe I will find no other career as fulfilling as teaching English."
So, here I am. Psychology, while being a subject which I love, is not a field that I would ever enjoy working in - however, it has equipped me with the skills necessary to do quite well as a teacher, and the experiences I picked up along the way have been such that I believe I will find no other career as fulfilling as teaching English. The extra courses I have taken - such as that I will receive the 220-hour TEFL Master Package certification rather than 120-hour, is solely out of my commitment to being as qualified and prepared a teacher as I can possibly be. I will be graduating with my Bachelor's degree in May, and then I will begin teaching in China the following semester.
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