An Interview with Joe at Gao Xin #1 Kindergarten in Yuxi
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
J: I graduated from university in 2013 and worked for a year in a bank. I wasn’t enjoying the job and wanted to try something a bit different so I decided to apply for the British Council China scheme. I arrived in Yuxi in September 2014 and worked for a few years in a high school before I joined my current school. I originally only planned to come to China for one year but five years later I’m still here and enjoying every day still!
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for teaching jobs in China?
J: Take some time to decide where you want to live in China. I don’t like the hectic pace of life found in some big cities in China so I chose a smaller city. It’s also important to choose a school that’s right for you – do you want to teach adults or young children? Do you want to work
in a public school or private training school? Once you’ve picked a school, take advantage of the recruitment and interview process to learn as much about the school and city as possible. The more you can learn before you come to China, the easier it will make your life when you arrive.
GS: You are teaching in Yuxi at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
J: Yuxi is a great place to live. It’s a small city and the people are really friendly. At weekends I like to go hiking and I also play football for a local Chinese team. The food here is amazing too! Because it’s a smaller city, the cost of living is also a lot lower than elsewhere in China. If I go out for dinner at a restaurant with friends, it generally won’t cost more than about three of four pounds. Finally, Kunming (the capital of Yunnan Province) is only 90 minutes away and Kunming airport is a bit of a hub for travel in SE Asia. In the last few years I’ve been to Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
J: My favourite thing about working with young kids is being able to see the progress they make with their English, almost on a day by day basis. There is also a lot of variety in working at a kind
ergarten – one day we might be doing kung fu class, the next day baking cookies and decorating them in art class.
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
J: My two favourite classes are the two international classes we have at the school. Because we have a lot more contact with them than the other classes, you can really notice the improvements they are making in English. It’s so rewarding to know that we’re making a difference in their future.
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching in English in China.
J: An early shift starts at 7.30 and we spend all morning with one of the international classes. After breakfast and morning play we will normally start English class about 9.15. Then, it might be art or P.E. class then we will take the children to play outside before getting ready for lunch. On the later shift we will typically have four English classes of 20 minutes in the morning then in the afternoon we will be with one of the international classes. They will have their second English class and normally go outside to play before they have dinner at 4.15. School finishes at 5.10.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
J: The school provides everything we need for English class (software, PPTs, lesson plans etc) and if we ever need any special equipment for P.E. or art class the school will help us order it.
GS: How many teachings are there in your school?
J: Currently, there are five foreign teachers at our school and around 50 Chinese kindergarten teachers.
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
J: I am the only foreigner in the local football league and a few months ago we played a match against a team from one of the surrounding villages. When we arrived, the opposition team all came running over asking for photos. After the game, they invited me to eat dinner at a local restaurant and of course more photos were taken! I felt like Leo Messi – I just wish I had the football skills to match!