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 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 Katie Evans at her School in Foshan, China

This school is holding interviews now, apply today

GS: So can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English Teaching?
KE: I took a language degree at university majoring in French and part of my degree involved me teaching English in France for a year which was arranged through the British Council. Later on I received emails from British Council about teaching jobs abroad and thought that China looked the most exciting, so I took a job teaching middle school students in a government school in Foshan.

The Foshan middle school gave me TEFL training in Beijing prior to starting and I stayed a year there. The teaching was rewarding and Foshan is great city but the pay was poor and the living conditions sparse. The foreign teacher community in Foshan is quite large as is the ex-pat business community, so I soon got to hear that there were other better paid and more enjoyable teaching jobs available.

On completing my year’s contract I moved to language school in Foshan who moved me and my boyfriend into a new flat prior to joining them and I have had a very happy year since enjoying the job and travelling around Asia.

GS: You are teaching here in the south of China at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?

 

K2 KE: Foshan has been here for two thousand years but it is only within the past thirty years or so that this small city expanded from what used to be farm land and has become the sprawling wealthy suburb it is now. Only four years ago part of the old city was entirely rebuilt into a bustling new area with beautiful Chinese style buildings retaining the old charm and a host of new shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and cafes. This pedestrian area is said to be larger than the same foreign quarter in Shanghai and is a major meeting point for city dwellers to hang out, drink, eat and enjoy the lovely ambience.

The population of some seven million is spread over the three major districts of Nanhai, Shunde and Foshan with my language school being placed in a large upmarket residential block ten minutes taxi drive from the new city I just described. Each district has its sites to explore but the immediate area of the school has all the amenities you need including shops, a swimming pool, a gym and a lovely park with a large lake a few minutes’ walk away.
My language school provide free Chinese lessons once a week but with the fairly large foreign community it is sometimes too easy to mix mainly among the foreign contingent.
Hong Kong is a four hour bus ride away which costs about eighty yuan or eight pounds and most of us visit every few weeks mainly just to enjoy the place although it is much more expensive than China.

k3
Your money goes much further here and it is possible to have a good time and save if your lifestyle is not too extravagant. Many teachers send money home to pay for old university loans or just to save in the UK so they have something to fall back on later.
Foshan is a great place to work and live and being in the South it enjoys a much higher standard of living, with better food, warmer weather and a proximity to Hong Kong and easy access to many Asian countries which I have visited in my spare time and during the main holidays.

 

GS: What do you like most about teaching English?

k4 KE: Everyone who teaches knows the rewarding feeling that you are doing something worthwhile. Teaching in China has added rewards as many simple things we take for granted in the West are of interest here and it is easy to engage the students on cultural matters which makes the lessons more interesting for them.

Some of the younger children are a delight and their enthusiasm to learn and add humour and imagination to the classroom makes it a pleasure to teach.
The older children are sometimes shy and not so enthusiastic about education as they are given so much homework and have to do extra English, Maths and Chinese in their spare time. But they seem to like coming to English lessons, again because apart from mastering the language they can find out about cultures outside China and prepare for the overseas trips that they all look forward to making.

After a few weeks you can establish a good relationship with classes which makes the work more fun for everyone and also more focused and productive. Whatever career I decide to pursue I know that the experiences of the past two years have added to my talent as a person and made me confident that I can fit in well in any organization in the future.

INTESOL Course

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

GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class?

k5 KE: The youngest classes of three to five years are a challenge to teach but they are so cute and provide endless entertainment. Some can be very shy when they first arrive and it can take some weeks before they become confident enough to join in with activities. After a few weeks one class can now sing the Beatles song ‘Love Love Me Do’ with all the actions which is quite an achievement and they are very proud of their new found fluency. Songs can be a great way to learn a language for younger children if you can get it right.

GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China
KE: I have a comfortable two bedroom flat five minutes’ walk from the school and there are lots of shops and cafes nearby with two Western food shops so I can get all the Western foods I like including fresh milk which is not the case in wilder parts of China. After a breakfast of cornflakes, toast and coffee I arrive at school five or ten minutes prior to the first lesson at 8.30am with just enough time to say hello to the other five English teachers, collect the right books and go to class. There are four lessons in the morning with a break of twenty minutes in the middle and a one and a half hour break at lunch when we sometimes go home to eat, get a take away or go to a local café for food.

The afternoon is similar and general lesson planning is minimal as the set books dictate the format and only the added games you play need to be creative. There are plenty of grammar and other worksheets to use and the other teachers are good at sharing new games so we all have enough material to make the classes entertaining.
The teaching all takes place between Thursday and Sunday, so with Sunday evening and Monday to Thursday being free we are able to travel during the week which has enabled us to visit Beijing, Shanghai, Yunnan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia since we have been here.

GS: What are the teaching resources like there?

k6
KE: The resources for younger children are very good with a large storeroom full of boxes of costumes, fruit, vegetables, fake money, cash tills, animal costumes and for the very young there is a mini theatre, two pianos and small furniture which is comfortable for them and a challenge for me to get down to that level being quite tall. We also have a larger theatre with spotlights and electric curtains etc. which is quite new and we are making use of this for the older children to bring some of the more boring lessons to life by acting them out.

The older children are encouraged to do more talking and listening so we use more question and answer based books with songs, film and discussions to enable them to practice the English they have learned. These students over twelve are quite fluent but need to acquaint themselves with the many idioms we use without thinking and popular culture helps to progress their fluency. In this instance I suppose I am the main resource here.

GS: How many teachers are there in your school?

k7
KE: There are six English teachers at here, all of us under thirty years old and from the UK with me the only girl, but my boyfriend is one of the other teachers so I feel quite at home. Three of the teachers have been here over two years and the senior teacher has been here three years. The senior teacher liaises with the head teacher and owner on any matters of concern on schedules, teaching methods, feedback from parents and TA’s etc and this enables us to work together well as a team.

There are twelve full time Chinese teachers and some twenty five classroom assistants who are all English majors from Foshan University. An assistant is available for every class making teaching for newcomers much easier in terms of keeping order, helping with any marking, games and translation.

The owners are an Englishman and his Chinese wife who spent some years in the UK studying so the school is professionally run and we all get on well in and out of the school

GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.

k8
KE: One amusing incident recently took place in a class of eight year olds, when I noticed a little girl fiddling with a box under her desk. I asked her to open it and two baby chicks came squeaking out and ran around the desk. I explained to her that the cardboard box needed some holes for air so we took care of that and after letting the chicks run around for a while returned them to their newly oxygenated home.

There are too many surprises to mention travelling around China and Asia but I should add that Chinese families in the suburbs are very friendly and they are fun to go out with, but there are many wealthy people wanting to befriend you and get you to act as a personal tutor to their child. This can work out well on occasions with pocket money from extra teaching or if you have nothing to do with your free time and enjoy their company, but accepting excessive hospitality comes at a price and parents may later expect you to accompany them on holiday to look after their little prince or princess.

This aside, China is exciting and this is perhaps why many students come here after their degree for a year and end up staying here permanently. My boyfriend and I are in our early twenties and are young enough to return to the UK to start a career in a country whose culture we prefer and suffer the higher cost of living and cold weather, but it is clear to us why so many are tempted to stay.

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 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.