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 Maarten van der Meer at EF Hefei in China

This school is holding interviews now, apply today!

So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
MV: After working as a freelance photographer and web designer in the art scene in the Netherlands during the outbreak of the economic crisis worldwide, the idea came to me to start living abroad and letting the artistic part of me more free and open for new input an inspiration. I started to do some research and to make a plan how to get everything arranged to get into English teaching abroad. I did my CELTA in Poland and had a great 6 months of teaching and living there. But my career options were limited because of the crisis cutting in even there, so that’s where Gold Star came in when I decided to apply for teaching jobs worldwide.

Could you give some details about your dealings with Gold Star TEFL Recruitment?
MV: Basically I hit the job boards on the well-known TEFL websites and they found me and gave me a change to create a powerful online video-resume, which got me a nice position at EF in China. Afterwards, Mark stayed in touch with me and during the process was really helpful with answering all my questions about working in China.

What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
MV: Try to get in touch with Gold Star! They really help you. Beware for scammers, just thing critical and be smart. Ask lots of questions and also ask to get in touch with teachers already working for the school that is interviewing you. Google the school but don’t read too many reviews, because there are a lot of angry teachers that are fired for a good reason and start to blacklist schools for revenge. The word ‘apartment’ means a lot on paper, but in reality it can be somewhat different though. Be strong and fight for your case and comfort, but don’t expect a golden palace. It is China after all… EF Hefei is a very good place to live and work. Close to cool parts of China, but not the real hassle and expensive living costs of those places.

Maarten van der Meer photo 5You are teaching at English First in Hefei at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
MV: Daily life is kind of quiet. Traffic can be very busy and crazy, but you get used to that. There is smog sometimes, but not too much. I can’t say that there is one single thing that I like the most. Tier one cities in China would offer a different experience, but Hefei is an expanding city and it is always very interesting to be part of that. A lot is possible for you. People are open for new things.

What do you like most about teaching English?
MV: It challenges your people skills, your creativity and language skills. Allows you to use your imagination, tell stories and you get the chance to change China a bit by opening up their youngsters’ minds and stimulating their critical and creative thinking skills as well as their social skills. Chinese people can be extremely shy sometimes.

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Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
MV: My favourite class is the Highflyer Starters, 7-8 years old, cute kids, willing to work with you even though they sometimes have a hard time understanding instructions. Their smiles and fun are very rewarding after a nice and active lesson.

Hefei riverTalk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
MV: It can start at 8 or 9 in the morning on Saturdays and Sundays, which are the busy days. Sometimes with demo classes in the morning. Demos are 30 minute classes to bring in new students. Parents can sign up their kids to see if the school is good and if their children like the classes. You may have interviews as well with students that signed up for a course.

A day is divided in 4 blocks of 2 teaching hours, every class is 60 minutes. 20 minute breaks between blocks and of course lunch. Most of the time you will teach the whole day, sometimes you have office hours or observations instead of classes. The two days fly by in no time, but if your class is behaving badly then it feels like forever. In the ten minutes between classes you run around finding flashcards and props, your lesson plan and book, starting up the computer and the interactive whiteboard for the next class. Then Saturday night will be a quiet one, but Sunday night is the ‘Friday night out’ and you will most likely hit the bars and meet your friends.

What are the teaching resources like there?
MV: Lots of useful flashcards, games, props & toys, interactive whiteboards, lots of books and teaching resources, Powerpoint games and books. Good teachers with passion and the right knowhow.

How many teachers are there in your school?
MV: 26, and it is still growing.

China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.Maarten van der Meer photo 4
MV: Hmm… Let me think… surprises.. you mean the one where the shower hose suddenly came to burst, or the one with the leakage in bathroom and kitchen sink at the same time? Or the one where winter freezes you to death at minus very cold and the apartments in general have no central heating and insulation in China? Or the one when you are cooking some food and suddenly the fire goes out and you didn’t notice until you smell a lot of gas and wonder why the safety switch in the cooker didn’t work?
Or the ones where you discover that you can eat out in good restaurants every day, and live without having to think about money, and take taxi’s all the time instead of a stinky bus or walking long distances? Or the one that people treat you like a movie star and want to take a picture with you and propose for marriage on the street!

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.