An Interview with Jeremy Arden

GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
JA: In 2009 I completed a 2 week TEFL course and applied for jobs in China. I think I was very lucky that it only took 3 interviews before I decided to choose the school that kick started my China experience; Wenzhou. 2 months after completing my TEFL course, I was at EF Wenzhou.

GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
JA: Prepare for it diligently. The reputation of teaching abroad might be one that it’s a free holiday. But after working in China, I have realized the competition is high and recruiters want very professional individuals.

GS: You are teaching for Disney English in Hangzhou, China at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
JG: My first impressions was that the course content was a lot more practical and there’s more emphasis on speaking and listening than reading and writing. There was also a lot of marketing events which was new to me and took some getting used to. Disney require all trainers to always be ‘show ready’.

GS: What do you like most about Hangzhou?
JA: Hangzhou is beautiful. It takes about 20 minutes to bike out the city and away from the crowds and traffic noise, to be in beautiful, tranquil scenery. There is the lake of course. But, my favorite places to go are to one of the many hills that are excellent for hiking. The botanical gardens are breathtaking too. My favorite hang out in the summer is an outdoor pool in the botanical gardens.

GS: And what do you like most about teaching English?
JG: I love my students and I love meeting people from all over the world i.e. colleagues

GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
JG: My favorite class is called Mulan. The kids are all well behaved and their English levels were already pretty good before they even joined my class. They also bring me a lot of little gifts.

GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
JG: I first check my Disney email. Then I look at the online lesson plans that are on the Disney English teacher’s resource site called ‘Sharepoint’. All lessons are already planned, but there usually a rough guide and some of the plans are not sufficient enough for a 2 hours lesson. So, you will still do a lot of planning at Disney!  On Mondays I have 3 classes. At Disney we always meet the children in an area near the front desk called the club house. We are in the clubhouse 15 minutes before a lesson ‘warming’ the kids up for class.

GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
JG: Disney has an excellent variety of realia. The Interactive whiteboard has numerous games too.

GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
JG: Currently 7, but we will be filling up very soon.

GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
JG: Too many to list here. Everyday has little unexpected adventures. My main adventures usually involve being treated like a VIP just because I’m a foreigner. I’ve been asked to model, taste and judge food in an expensive restaurant, speak on subjects that I know nothing about in front of an audience. I’ve never travelled so much and had so much fun, with so little actual holiday time, before I came to China.