An Interview with Elaine at Her Public School in Shenzhen, China
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
ER: Back home in Ireland I have been working towards a career in Psychology and I have always enjoyed working with children. I really wanted to experience living/working in a new country and wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone. As many of my friends have gone abroad to teach English, I was persuaded to give it a try. I fell in love with Asia when I first visited Thailand on a summer vacation. Having researched different countries and talked to various recruiters, a public school job in China
appealed to me. So then I hopped on a plane and here I am in China!
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
ER: I would advise you to do your research; read different blogs about the area where you may be working, join Facebook groups for expats in your area. This helped my boyfriend and I make decisions about what we wanted with regards to type of school (kindy/primary/middle/high), the area we would like to live etc.
It is also a good idea to talk to a teacher who is already working over here as this can be very reassuring
to hear firsthand about their life here.
It is a good idea to make a list of important questions (housing/school/visa support/start up costs) so
that you can establish clear and honest communication throughout the entire process.
GS: You are teaching in Shenzhen at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
ER: Shenzhen is a beautiful city. Although it is a bustling Chinese city it is also full of green areas- grass, mountains, parks. It has a higher air quality compared to other Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing. The weather is generally warm and sunny with some rain to help you cool off. Winter brings colder temperatures for a short spell but I’ve heard it doesn’t get as cold as it would in northern China, so that’s a huge plus because I hate the cold!
Shenzhen is a young city and there are people from all over China living and working here. There are lots to do in Shenzhen, new things to see whether you go North, South, East or West. There is also a great expat community here and different activities/clubs you can get involved with, for example hiking, tag rugby, football, quiz/open mic nights in western bars, book clubs, etc. I play Gaelic football on Friday
nights and this has been a brilliant way to meet new people.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
ER: What I enjoy most about teaching a huge classroom of 50 children is seeing them smile and have fun using the English language. It is a great achievement if I can instill in Chinese students a sense of enthusiasm in learning the English language.
I also enjoy how I am learning and improving in different aspects of teaching and behavior management.
GS: Can you tell us about your favorite class at the moment?
ER: I’m not sure if I have a favourite class. I would say my favourite grade is grade 1. They are small, cute
and hilarious. They are full of enthusiasm – I show them a new word or a new song and they are full of
excitement. Their energy is contagious and I really enjoy teaching them.
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
ER: A typical day; Wake up, go to school (20mins by metro and walking), go into the office, get my lesson
plan and teaching materials and teach 1-4 classes per day (40mins per class). I have 13 classes per week.
In my school breakfast is at 7:30 and class starts at 8:35. Lunch is 12:00-14:00 and afternoon classes run
from 14:35 to 16:10.
The rest of the time, when you aren’t teaching, you have office hours, where you can prepare for your
classes. We have WeChat groups where we share teaching materials and advice.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
ER: My school has a computer in each classroom and in our offices. I am responsible for obtaining my own teaching resources in my school but I use the school computers and printers of course. The internet isn’t always reliable. My resources include ppts, songs, videos, realia, worksheets, etc. As mentioned
above we can avail of WeChat groups where we share teaching materials and advice.
GS: How many foreign teachers are there in your school?
ER: Not really sure, possibly 50+ teachers!
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
ER: I recently went to Shanghai with the Gaelic football team for a weekend to compete in the All Asia Gaelic Games. There were teams from all over Asia and players from all over the world. We went to a Disney themed banquet to celebrate the end of the tournament and our team dressed up as ‘The Mighty Ducks’. It was a brilliant weekend!