An Interview with Larry at American Eagle School in Chengdu, China
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
LD: I had been working with youth in the outdoors since the age of 16. After having done lead a variety of different activities in the backcountry in Canada, and working with at risk youth, I decided I wanted a new challenge.
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
LD: Know that there are a lot of different options available to you, and to do several interviews, and research several schools before making a decision.
I requested an interview with a current teacher on site, had photos of the accommodations sent to me, and requested a bunch of paperwork before accepting my position.
GS: You are teaching in Chengdu at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
LD: It is a beautiful city with access to the mountains for those who want it. The city itself is very large, offering a huge variety of activities that you can take part in. Though it is large, the transportation system is quite good, and continues to expand. I don’t find I have any issues getting around.
Being the size that it is, it has an expat community that is easy to find. The community offers many of the comforts that you may find yourself craving. The pollution can be a problem in the winter. I suggest doing some research and deciding what you’re comfortable with.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
LD: I have always enjoyed working with kids. It is amazing how quickly they learn, and you can really see their progress.
Also, children bring so much energy with them, that they can really improve your mood.
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
LD: I don’t know if I have a favorite. I really like my 3 year olds, when I enter the room they start jumping with excitement. They also sometimes get really excited and I end up in a big group hug with all of them!
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
LD: Overall, the teaching portion revolves a lot around planning, and thinking about what you can do to improve your classes.
How can I ensure my students are going to succeed? With it being a training school, our classes are often on evenings and weekends from Wednesday to Sunday, with Monday and Tuesday as our days off. The weekdays start at 12.30, with prep and planning until 4 or 5pm when classes start.
Weekends start at 10 am, with an hour break for lunch at 12 noon. Sometime things get placed on you last minute, and can cause some havoc and frustration. Though this is frustrating, if you are well prepared, you are able to find to ensure everything is getting done.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
LD: Teaching resources are numerous and easy to follow. Eagle has a well laid out curriculum for teachers to follow, with North American standard textbooks, flashcards, and even interactive materials, such as touch screen computers and e-books. If we need additional materials, we can put in a request for their order.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
LD: We currently have 4 teachers and one manager. Our manager also teaches and does demonstrations.
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
LD: Well exploring the IFS building with my friend, we asked a group of people for directions. They were so excited to practice their English that they decided to personally take us to where we were going.
On the walk, we talked, and took some pictures together. At the end, we exchanged WeChat information. A few days later, we were invited out to go explore a busy tourist area, and taken out to the Sichuan Opera.
The people here have been extremely generous throughout my visit. Evening outs often involved getting invited to join other tables, and to share their food and drinks.