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 Paul Hodges at English First Chongqing in China

A review of the day to day life of an English First teacher in China, inside and outside the classroom.
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GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?

PH: I first started teaching English in China at the beginning of February 2009. I was in a bit of a low with my current job & life to be honest, people kept telling me I should teach as I have the right attitude. So I looked online for teaching jobs and TEFL kept coming up. I looked for jobs where I was but the ones I found all wanted experienced teachers, so that was when I decided to come to China for a year to gain the experience I needed. I studied for my TEFL and took the plunge. Ha, that was over 4 years ago and I am still here.

GS: Could you give some details about your dealings with Gold Star TEFL Recruitment?
PH: I first started dealing with Gold Star back in May 2011 I think it was, I had moved up to Senior/Head teacher with the school I was at but future prospects there were limited and I also wanted to gain more experience elsewhere. Jim found me a position at an International school in Baotou in Inner Mongolia, they follow a scholastic curriculum which is similar to Montessori and this was something I was interested in. So I took a step backwards to gain some more experience. After nearly 2 years I decided to get back into management and that was when Jim found me my current position as Director of Studies.

GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?Paul - English First Chongqing 2
PH: Just be yourself, research a little about the school you are interviewing for, speak to the staff at the agency you are dealing with as they will have or should have a vast amount of information that you may find useful. Most interviews will probably be conducted over the internet via Skype so make sure your connection speed is good and you are in a private place. Some interviews last up to 2 hrs.

Write down a list of questions you want to ask and as it is a teaching job you are applying for then have a draft of answers ready relating to different aspects of teaching (experience of difficult situations, how you turned a bad lesson in to a good lesson etc..)

GS: You are working as a Director of Studies for English First in Chongqing at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
PH: The city is HUGE, situated in Sichuan province and being one of the 5 national municipalities in China then you can expect and understand it to be vast. It is not like a vast amount of other Chinese cities where you are the flavor of the month with people staring at you all the time. With two zoo’s, an amusement park, Wal-Mart’s, Carrefour’s and plenty of bars along with all the nearby scenic and tourist spots, Chongqing has plenty to offer.

What do I most like about living here? I like everything, the weather, the people, the atmosphere (very westernized), public transport is great with subways everywhere, taxi’s start at 6RMB. Food, if you like spicy, is everywhere but even if you don’t like that then you can still get really delicious non spicy food.

GS: What do you like most about your work as Director of Studies?Paul - English First Chongqing 3
PH: I enjoy the variety of work that I deal with. I teach but I also get involved with other duties that come along with running the academic department. Recently I had to go into the countryside 3 hours drive out of the city to train 220 local Chinese English teachers. This involved a lot of planning and preparation and it was an experience I will never forget. It’s these experiences that make us the people we are today.

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GS: Talk us through a typical day at work.
PH: My day normally starts at home at about 8am during the week and 7:30am at weekends. As it’s a private training center we work the weekends as this is when most of our students are available and have our days off during the week.

Once I get into the office I check my emails etc. (after I have made myself a cup of coffee of course, important things come first). Then, depending on the day I will have my meetings and training workshops to deliver. Preparations for classes that I teach I try to get done well in advance which leaves me free to deal with other issues like planning for upcoming marketing events or demonstration classes. I also have my reports that I need to get completed and sometimes it feels like there are not enough hours in the day.

Again depending on the day I will either leave to go home at about 6pm or teach any classes that I have in the evening. Typically we don’t work any later than 8:30pm and if my teachers are working late then I try to schedule them for a later start the next day.

GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
PH: Teaching resources are very good. We use our own books and teaching materials but we also have access to a large amount of resources either online, from other teachers or from head office. As we use our own material we also have teachers’ guides to pretty much everything that we teach and we hold weekly training workshops for all of our teachers. We also have in place a very good induction course for all new teachers to the school and this covers everything about the school to each level that we teach.

GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
PH: My school is still a relatively new branch; I have 2 foreign teachers and 2 local teachers. I am hoping that soon I will need to be looking at a 3rd teacher to bring our head count up to 6 including myself. The other 2 schools are different and between the 3 branches in Chongqing there are about 12 foreign teachers here.

GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.Paul - English First Chongqing 4
PH: My whole time in China has been an adventure. I have witnessed things such as people riding into rubbish bins because they are too busy looking at me and not where they are going to being surrounded by hundreds of people all asking for photos and autographs.

The most recent adventure was as I have previously mentioned when I went into the countryside to teach the local teachers. We were picked up in a private car and taken the 3 hours journey to the school; we were booked into a really nice hotel and then shown around. On the second day we were taken further into the countryside to look at the local beauty spots. The local teachers were really friendly and the hospitality we were shown was just overwhelming. It still amazes me to this day the amount of friendliness there is in some people.

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.