An Interview with Phil
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
PV: A good friend traveled to Japan to teach English. He returned with the most amazing stories and a different perspective on the world. It inspired me to travel and work abroad when I had the chance. After graduating from university I contacted a recruiter, sold my car, and jumped on a plane!
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for teaching jobs?
PV: As always, when looking for new employment, you need to follow a few rules. Do your homework. Prepare for common interview questions. Be professional. Be open-minded.
GS: Can you tell us about your first impressions when you first arrived?
PV: I was completely blow away by the experience. Everything was new and exciting. Routine tasks such as ordering breakfast or getting a haircut suddenly became fascinating. To travel to Asia is to see the world through the eyes of a child once again.
GS: What do you like most about the area where you live?
PV: It has a great balance of lifestyles. There is something for everyone. I can work hard and advance professionally, or go surfing every day. I can dance until the sun comes up, or I can go hiking in the mountains after work. There is a thriving economy, modern transportation system, international cuisine, and yet strong local culture.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English abroad?
PV: Because foreign teacher salaries are so high above the cost of living, we are free to invest our time or money in other endeavors. In the past three years I have been free to travel every 6 months, pay off my student debt, and live quite comfortably.
GS: What are the resources like where you teach?
PV: I teach in a modern elementary school. It is equipped with computers, projectors, a/c, copy machines, swimming pool, library, gymnasium, outdoor track, a school store, kitchen, staff office and attached kindergarten.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
PV: 8 Foreign Teachers and 60 Chinese Teachers
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
PV: My favorite class is an afterschool home tutor. I travel to the student’s home and help with homework and test preparation. I am welcomed as an extended part of the family. It is so wonderful to see their skills develop.
GS: Talk us through a typical day at work.
PV: I work Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. In a typical day I will arrive at school and greet the children in my homeroom. Each day they must write all of their homework in a communication book to be signed by their parents. I spend about 4 hours each day teaching. During my office hours I spend a lot of time communicating with Chinese teachers, attending meetings, preparing for class, checking homework, and drinking coffee. We have a 10 minute break between each 45 minute class.
We have 45 minutes for lunch, provided by the school. We also have a 30 minute nap right after lunch.
GS: Living in Asia is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you’ve had recently.
PV: A friend and I attended a music festival together. We decided to camp out with tents and enjoy nature between dancing and partying. One evening we went down near the beach for a break from the crowds. We stumbled on a small drumming circle with several musicians from the bands of the festival. Each took turns soloing for the group and the rest would improvise around their lead. It was such an unexpected and wonderful moment. The kind that made strangers feel as old friends.