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Personal Teaching Experience in China and Russia

Personal Teaching Experience in China and Russia | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In this topic, I will be talking about my own “Personal Teaching Experience” in two Asian countries that I’ve had the privilege to work in and teach such as, China and Russia. So you might want to ask yourselves, What’s the difference between teaching Chinese and Russian students? Well honestly there is a huge difference so let’s get started.

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


First of all, let’s start with the cultural differences in the classrooms between Chinese and Russian students. Let me mentioned to you that in both countries I’ve had jobs mostly in private institutions. In Chinese classrooms, it was always custom for a Chinese T.A. to be in the classroom with me and help me control the children and translate for me if there was a need to but we mostly focus on speaking English at all times. In the Russian classrooms, there is absolutely no T.A. at all and therefore since I don’t speak the local language my students have no choice but to speak to me in English regardless even if they don’t speak it perfectly I managed to understand their points and what they are trying to communicate across to me.

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In China it might seem convenient to have a T.A. to help you get the children in control (since that is the biggest market for teachers there) but at the same time it’s a downward spiral as the children know that there is someone there that speaks there local language and won’t push themselves to retain more English vocabulary because they can communicate with the T.A. and not with me .

Whereas in Russia (the markets are for all ages) my students vary from small children to business people, basically it ranges from all ages and all different levels and can only communicate directly with me. Also another thing that I forgot to mention was that in the classroom I like to write my student’s name on the board, just to help me remember their names and give out points to encourage them to do better and keep them motivated, however though in China you aren’t allowed to write anyone’s name in red as it symbolizes “ death” and people take it very offensive if you write their name in red, whereas in Russia they believe that red is the “Teacher’s Color”. I had just come from China when I moved to Russia and when my students told me that they don’t get offended by the red color, I thought to myself” Poof! What a relief”.

Personal Experience

Let’s continue to learn a bit more about my own experience in China and Russia as an ESL Teacher. While I was working in China the classrooms were fully equipped with touch screen projectors, speakers, laptops and the classrooms with very children friendly decorations where it felt nice and welcoming for any children to walk in the classroom and want to sit down to learn.

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Teaching Materials

They also provided me with all the teaching materials where they pretty much stuck to a more “Drilling type” of style learning in the school I worked for. They had lesson plans laid out for me, but I will still get together with my T. A. and improvise the lesson plans to make them more exciting and add more games as to keep the children interactive and learning with me throughout the entire hour and not make them lose their interest in learning English. They provided me with flashcards, bought any extra materials or games if I needed them to. But the main focus was to show the kids flashcards and have them do a drilling exercise followed by a complete sentence on how to use the word in the flashcard in a sentence.

However though after a few weeks I would see that most of the students were forgetting what they had learned in the previous unit or last month and therefore it wasn’t too effective for children but the school wouldn’t let me change the teaching style even when I pointed out the obvious to them. In Russia the classrooms aren’t too well equipped and so to say as “sophisticated” looking, as a matter of fact the classroom decorations are quite boring and dull, there is only a few desks, chairs, and a whiteboard to write on with an old school CD and Cassette player to listen to audios. I am not provided with lesson plans and have to create every one of them on my own by myself with no T.A. to assist me.

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Teaching Methods

However though the teaching style is a lot more different where we focus more on learning an actual textbook that requires me to teach them how to read, write, listen, speak , and all the essentials of grammar and somehow I see that it is very much more effective than just teaching flashcards and my students are able to captivate a lot more and seem to be improving their English skills and memorizing everything that is being taught to them.

I try to maintain an ESA pattern in every class sometimes I switch up the patterns in every lesson, I do either a straight arrow, patchwork, or boomerang, which are the techniques that I learned while I was studying this TEFL course and decided to give it a try in each of my different classes and found it to be very effective and engaging for my students here in Russia. In Russia, you can feel the power of teaching and making a positive change into my student's English knowledge whereas in China it was more of fun experience with games and cards but not much teaching.

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Here are some of my experiences that I had the honor to live through traveling to different countries in my teaching career. I can go on for days and probably write an entire book about my teaching experience but here you got to know about my experiences in two different countries not too far from each other but somehow their way of teaching is a big difference from one another.

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