An Interview with Sergey Kozlovtsev at a university in Shanghai, China
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
SK: My Bachelor’s degree is in business; however I have always wanted to travel and work in different countries. In 2010, an acquaintance who is a local teacher in Europe helped set up a job interview for me. I got that job and have been teaching internationally ever since.
GS: Could you give some details about your dealings with Gold Star TEFL Recruitment?
SK: Gold Star contacted me via email after I posted my resume online and replied to a couple advertisements myself. They offered a number of lucrative positions in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities. Gold Star is definitely the best recruitment company I have worked with. That was actually the second time I was contacted by Gold Star, the first time they were equally professional but I received another offer. In retrospective I should have gone with Gold Star.
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
SK: Applying for a work visa can be a lengthy process. Research the company you plan to work for. Make sure that their teaching approach fits your style. Ask: How long are the classes? How many teaching and office hours are there? Are there bonuses? Will you be teaching adults or children? Read what other people say about the company. You can also visit China on a tourist visa, see which cites and which schools you like the most. Once you have a work visa you will only be able to work for that company until your contract expires; it can be tricky trying to change a work visa in China.
GS: You are teaching in Shanghai at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
SK: I teach at a university in Shanghai. It is one of the more developed and westernized cities in China. It is easy to meet other expats here. Compared to small cities people mostly ignore foreigners. In smaller cities they will look at you and talk to you more. There is a lot to do and see here. Drivers are not as crazy. Urban infrastructure is more developed and is better suited for pedestrians.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
SK: I like being with university students. They are old enough to be able to discuss complex issues, yet are young enough for the teacher to be able to make a long lasting impression on them. I am sure many people had a university teacher who they still remember and who had a strong influence on them.
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
SK: I don’t really have a favourite class. They are all good students. If I could I would adopt all of them!
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in China.
SK: The first class is from 8am to 9:40am. Classes are 90 minutes long with a 10 minute break in the middle. After two morning classes there is a two hour break for lunch or lesson planning. The third class is 14:00 to 15:40. Typically there are three classes per day, four days per week. We get one day per week for lesson planning and professional development; there are no classes on that day. Individual teacher’s schedule may vary but our employer makes sure that all teachers have the same workload.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
SK: The University has a copy shop and a couple places for printing. Teachers also have an office with computers and a printer. Every classroom has a projector and speakers hooked up to a computer. There is Wi-Fi available everywhere on campus.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
SK: Around seven who teach on this campus, and more who teach in other locations.
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
SK: I’ve had a lot of unexpected adventures here. Depending on the city, people can be friendlier or a little more distant. Sometimes Westerns think that it’s difficult to get people to help you here, which is not the case. I recently moved to a new apartment and hadn’t memorized my address and my phone was dead. So I had a police officer drive around to try and find my apartment. Another time I locked myself out my apartment without my phone and had to try and find a locksmith, which is not an easy task without a phone and with only basic knowledge of Mandarin. Another time a sales woman in a convenience store asked me to help her son with his English homework. There is always something unusual happening. Overall I found people to be friendly and have always felt safe.