Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has been assisting teachers secure the very best teaching jobs in China since 2009 and has close connections with China’s leading schools. For details on teaching jobs with English First and other major language schools have a look through our website and submit an application today.
Read more interviews with teachers in China here.

An Interview with Elizabeth Grenon at English First Daqing, China

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GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
EG: I suppose that I have always been interested in teaching. Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. I love kids and I love teaching so it seems like a natural path. I have some older cousins who taught English overseas several years ago and the stories they told were so cool. They had such amazing experiences that I was inspired to do the same. I took my TESOL course and went to China!

GS: Could you give some details about your dealings with Gold Star TEFL Recruitment?Elizabeth IWB
EG: Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has been really great. They helped me line up several interviews, which is sometimes difficult when searching for a job in a country that one knows nothing about. It is also difficult to do it from outside the country and over the internet because many times the schools one applies to get so many applications, they may just gloss over many of them. Working with Gold Star helps to get the attention of a school and be seen over other candidates.

Gold Star has also been really great with following up after job placement, making sure that I’m OK and that things are going well. It can be really difficult to move to a new country where one doesn’t know any of the people, let alone speak the language, and it helps to know that there is someone to check in on you once and a while.

GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
EG: My advice is to be yourself! Be calm, sincere, and honest. Show them what you know but don’t get crazy with showing off or you might find yourself in a situation that is more difficult than you expected or can handle. Perhaps it is a good idea to do a little bit of research first on classroom management and teaching techniques/procedures, before the interview, so that you are able to answer those types of questions if asked.

It isn’t so different from applying for jobs/interviewing in a Western country, although keep in mind the time difference! You don’t want to be late for or miss your interview due to a misunderstanding of time.

GS: You are teaching at EF Daqing at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
EG: Daqing is a pretty cool city, although the winters are a bit cold. There are festivals and activities throughout the year that one can watch or take part in. It is not a huge city – there are only about 3 million in the whole GMA and maybe only 1 million in the city proper. If you want to get a taste of Chinese life and spend a lot of time with Chinese people, Daqing is a good place to go to. You could go for a long time without seeing anyone foreign or speaking any English at all (except at school of course).

There are many things to do and there are many shopping areas, although there is not a lot of Western fare. However, it is also possible to only spend time with foreigners and only speak English, so it is a city big enough for people who are nervous of being totally immersed in Chinese culture but it is small enough that one is more than able to do so. This is what I like most about living here – that one is able to be immersed in Chinese culture but also can spend a lot of time with foreigners.

The group of foreigners here is big enough to provide a support network that really helps take the edge off of culture shock but there are plenty of opportunities to make Chinese friends, learn Chinese, and to learn about the culture.

GS: What do you like most about teaching English?Elizabeth activities
EG: My favourite part about teaching English is when students come to me after class with questions and a desire to speak in English. I love to see my students succeed and I enjoy teaching the ones who are really interested in learning. It is really rewarding when they are genuinely interested in the lesson and they want to know more afterwards.

GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
EG: I suppose my favourite class is a class of 4-year-old children. I have them twice a week for one hour at a time. They are very well-behaved, very smart, and full of energy and fun. They are only 4 years old but already a couple of them are beginning to read. It’s really cool when you can ask them “cat starts with…?” and, after some time spent learning and practicing, they can answer “c”!

We love to play games and they are really enthusiastic about playing, even the students who aren’t as strong. I teach them all sorts of games that are adapted from games I can play with my friends. It’s just a lot of fun and I look forward to this class every week.

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GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
EG: Well, I suppose that depends on the day. I have an odd schedule since I teach at a private school where the students come after they are done with public school. Thus, I teach mostly evenings and weekends.

During the week, I teach a 1-hour class in the evening so my day is pretty free. On the weekend, my day is busier. I have class from 8am-9:45 am or 10:15 am, depending on the day. A short break after that and another class from about 10:30 am-11:15 am, then lunch! I am lucky though, I have just over 3 hours for lunch and my next class does not start until 3:15 pm. Then I have another class from 4:30 pm until 6:15 pm, which ends my day. Saturdays and Sundays are the longest days but the time usually flies and having a break in the middle of the day helps a lot.

I have some office hours on Friday afternoons when we have our weekly teachers’ meeting and this is when I get my lesson planning done. Our school is pretty laid back and does not require us to be in the office the whole day. As long as we have our work done (i.e. lesson plans prepared and records updated), we are free to come and go as we please.

Teaching English in itself is a bit of a challenge because many of the students are not there because they want to be there, they are there because their parents make them go and so they can be unmotivated. Finding new ways to motivate them (e.g. playing games) can sometimes be challenging but it allows the teacher to be creative in how they will teach certain topics and how they can turn almost anything into a game, especially for the younger students.

We have a TA in our classes (a Chinese teacher) who can help with discipline and explanations when needed but for the most part, we speak only English in the classroom. We teach in English and expect the students to speak in English unless otherwise necessary.

GS: What are the teaching resources like there?seatwork
EG: We have fairly good resources – books (student books, teacher’s books), realia, toys, puppets, flashcards, songs, movies, computers, craft supplies, interactive whiteboards – and generally, if a teacher needs something for a class that is not readily available, the school will get it for them.

GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
EG: There are 11 foreign teachers and 12-13 Chinese teachers. At the moment, the foreign teachers are from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
EG: The trip was long. We drove from Daqing to Harbin to Shenyang to Huludao and back to Daqing. The last day was the most difficult, but the most exhilarating, the most beautiful and the most magical. I have seen fireworks before in my life but this… this was something else.

Spring Festival in China lasts for roughly 2 weeks and many businesses and restaurants are closed during this time. The tolls on the highway are free for a week and many tourist destinations are deserted. We stopped at monasteries and stayed in a nearly empty hotel by a frozen ocean. We ate in restaurants where we were the only people and drove down back-roads and through small towns.

On the last day, anxious to get home, we decided to drive the remaining distance in one go – a good 800km, beginning at 7 pm. So we drove. Because of the New Year, people everywhere were lighting off fireworks. There were so many people selling them – vendors standing on the street, one after another, with piles of fireworks for sale. Mountains of fireworks being sold and being set off all day and all night. We had heard the non-stop explosions throughout the day of firecrackers and small fireworks but as night approached, the bangs, pops, and crashes became louder and more ubiquitous, closer together and more visible.

And we drove on. As the sky darkened, we began to see bursts of light in the distance. Boom, boom, boom. The horizon became dotted with fireworks as we drove along the nearly deserted, night-blackened highway. Boom, bang, boom. We were driving through a tunnel of fireworks, one of the most awesome displays one can imagine. It’s not that the fireworks themselves were extraordinary. They were not expensive shows that lasted for hours or that involved huge explosions ranging in colour and shape. They were not put to music or planned by any city official or neighborhood council. No, it was every family with their own set of fireworks setting them off in their own time that made this night so special. For over 4 hours we drove through a seemingly endless hall of fireworks, bursting out in colourful celebration of the coming year, the year of the horse.

This school is holding interviews now, apply today!

Read more interviews with teachers in China here.

Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has been assisting teachers secure the very best teaching jobs in China since 2009 and has close connections with China’s leading schools. For details on teaching jobs with English First and other major language schools have a look through our website and submit an application today.
Apply now

INTESOL Course

Realise your dreams of living and teaching English worldwide with INTESOL.