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My Personal Teaching Experience in Xi’an, China

My Personal Teaching Experience in Xi’an, China | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I started teaching English as a foreign language teacher in my second year of university when I was a Bachelor’s Degree student in Xi’an, China. My reason for doing so was to earn extra cash every month. I was a China/ Guyana government scholarship student and I lived on a fairly low stipend which wasn’t sufficient for a foreign student to live on. For a couple of years, I had been hearing that students could earn extra cash by teaching English on the weekends or one on one classes for a pretty penny. I asked around and got in contact with an agent.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nico R. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Hiring Details

The next Saturday, she called me to her office and asked me a few questions about where I was from and what age group I would prefer to teach. After some back and forth chatter she demonstrated to me how to teach and said she would give me a call in a couple of days. A few days later she called and said there was an interesting school and they wanted me to interview them. I quickly accepted and prepared as best as I could.

On the day of the interview I was sweating and nervous. They directed me to a small bright room that had seven teachers who were sitting staring at me. They told me to commence. I felt like a circus animal who had to dance and perform for the audience. Simply put, the interview was a disaster. I exited thinking I would never teach and told Tina; my agent; that I didn’t think it was a suitable part-time job for me. That night Tina called and told me not to worry and that I had done well and she was sure that I would get a job.

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Working With Kindergarten Kids

A few weeks later I was teaching English to kindergarten students in the northern outskirts of Xi’an. The students were aged four to six years old. My job was pretty easy in my opinion. I would go to the kindergarten at 8:30 am and would teach from nine to twelve and was paid hourly. I soon realized that I enjoyed teaching English and that teaching came easily to me.

My days of teaching were frequent and I would teach at every opportunity to earn as much money as possible. While on the job I learned many things about being a teacher and also about myself. I learned that students can mirror their teacher’s energy and mood. Whenever I was stressed, tired, or uneasy my classes would be chaotic or boring. On the other hand, whenever I was happy, energetic, or enthusiastic my classes would be fun or pleasant. I learned that I had a knack for improvising and that I could quickly come up with new games and methods to teach new content.

Also Read: Why Drilling is a Common Teaching Method in an ESL Class

Benefits and Drawbacks

Being a teacher had its rewards and difficulties as well. I followed the advice given by my co-workers and my agent and taught classes the way they advised me to. The class had four steps:

  • Step one was warm-up: I would play an active game with the students to engage them.
  • Step two ways an introduction: Students would either make a circle and introduce themselves or I would play short games like throwing a ball to them and whoever caught the ball would stand up and introduce themselves.
  • Step Three: teach the day’s content, this could consist of games and songs along with the repetition of words or sentences being taught.
  • Step four was wrap up: revision of the day’s content or previous day’s content.

Also Read: 5 Amazing ESL Activities With Flashcards

Teaching Skills in The Classroom

When it came to disciplinary actions for the students, I always allowed the teaching assistant (local) to enforce these punishments which I ensured were always lenient but just. I learned that experience and good preparation teach class/time management and that repetition is one of the keys to teaching a foreign language to students.

I taught English for four years while studying for my Bachelor’s Degree and never thought I would end up being a full-time teacher afterward. After graduation, I returned to my country and worked as an Economist for the Ministry of Business for three years as per the contract. The job was unfulfilling and I worked long hours.

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I now teach English in Xiangyang, China for Baby will English School and find it very rewarding and fulfilling. I am now able to earn a healthy salary and provide for my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and wife. I am thankful for the opportunity given by the Chinese Government and see this in some way as me giving back to China.

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