An Interview with Liv at Nanhai Kindergarten – Foshan, China
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
LC: I had just finished University and was looking for something a bit different. I knew I wanted to spend some time in China; I also had a cousin who had taught English in China so I knew it was a possibility. I had some past experience of teaching/coaching roles and knew that it was something I enjoyed. Once I knew I wanted to teach English abroad the next step was completing the TEFL qualification.
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
LC: When looking at different roles, think carefully about what you want from your teaching position; What age group would you like to teach? Do you want to work at a public or private school? What part of China would you like to live in?
The recruitment and interview process itself is pretty straightforward, there will be a lot of communication via email and your interviews will almost certainly be on Skype. Make sure to ask lots of questions about your contract and what your role will be like when you actually arrive in the country. I found my interviews to be quite friendly and a great opportunity to get a full understanding of the school and the area I could be moving to.
GS: You are teaching in Foshan at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
LC: It’s a great city to live in, being a relatively new city means it’s not busy (by Chinese standards at least!); there are always new shops and restaurants opening. It is also incredibly close to Guangzhou; I have recently moved apartments and now live directly opposite the metro line to Guangzhou. I can be in the center of Guangzhou in less than 40 minutes, and once the Guangfo metro line extension is completed in the New Year it will be even faster.
Foshan is a fusion of Chinese and Western cultures, being such a new city, there is a lot of western influence, the Lingan Tinandi and Creative Park areas have a very European feel to them, which are great to wander at night, with lots of restaurants and bars and a couple Irish pubs!
I love that Foshan is in the South of China, it proves an excellent base for travel with China and further afield into the rest of Asia. It takes roughly two hours by bus to Hong Kong or Macau; both make a perfect trip for a weekend away, a short flight to Guilin and the Island of Hainan, and plenty of places to travel to within Guangdong.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
LC: Without question it is the people I am working with, the children and my teaching team. The children I teach are incredible, without fail they manage to make me laugh every day, they are constantly learning something new and thinking for themselves. I know every one says it but it really is an incredibly rewarding role. I really enjoy the more creative side of teaching, coming up with new games and activities to teach the monthly topics and making different crafts and art pieces with the children.
Every day we do something new and fun, the school had lots of celebrations for Chinese New Year and a big party for Children’s Day in May. We also tried making some traditional dumplings for the Dragon boat festival, as well as having lots water fights recently!
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
LC: At my school we each have a permanent class, I have a ‘Baby’ class of eighteen 3 year olds, in September they will move into KS1 and the class size will expand to twenty-two children. My children are developing so quickly, recently they are becoming very caring, if one child is crying there is always one child getting them a tissue and another comforting them. They are at such an important stage in their development it is so great to be a part of it. I really love that I have one permanent class, I know my children so well and already know it’ll be so hard to leave them.
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
LC: School opens and the children start arriving for school from 8am, by 8.30am the children are sitting down to eat breakfast, with the first English lesson beginning at 9am. We have two English lessons of 25minutes in the morning, and 20minutes of ‘Morning Exercise’ (this is basically three simple dances to a combination of Chinese and English songs) followed by around 20minutes of playtime. The children have lunch at 11.15am and naptime begins at 12 o’clock for two hours. The afternoon consists of Chinese lessons and ‘Home room’ from 4-5 o’clock where the children may have free playtime, time to read a book, make a craft and get ready to go home!
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
LC: I am very fortunate that the resources at my school are excellent, I was warned before coming to China that my school could have very little and I would need to bring some things out with me. I work at a new school it has currently been open less than a year, which means that resources are still being purchased; if I need anything for my teaching I am able to put in a request and have it within a week or two. There are plenty of websites and blogs online that I have found fantastic to help my teaching, YouTube is the excellent for finding new and fun songs for the children.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
LC: Currently at my school there are three foreign teachers for four classes, in September we will be opening three new classes and consequently several more teachers will be arriving. Whilst there are three foreign teachers there are around 20-25 Chinese members of staff.
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
LC: During the Dragon Boat Festival in June, some friends and I went to the local course to watch the day’s races; we had been given directions by some Chinese teachers at our school but were totally lost trying to find it. A Chinese family were sitting outside their house, and despite being unable to speak any English one lady indicated that we should follow her and she would lead us to the race course (we would never have found it without her!!), this lovely lady ended up watching the races with us for the rest of the day. This is probably because, after obliging to a Selfie with a drunk Chinese man we ended up being taken to the best viewing platform, with a balcony overlooking the river and beers for the rest of the day. The Chinese are incredibly friendly and always so helpful, but it never hurts to be a foreigner!