An Interview with Zhara at Best Learning – Beijing, China
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
ZF: In my last semester of college I decided to pursue a teaching career. I wanted to improve my skills in teaching and gain experience for my professional life. I heard about the TEFL/TESOL course, and was told by a few friends that taking this course could be an interesting start to teaching. I finally decided to take the course during the last year of my undergraduate studies. Additionally, I wanted to explore a different culture, learn a new language, and China was something very different to other places I have been to.
As a trilingual person, I am always interested and willing to improve my communication skills. Therefore Mandarin became a new challenge in my life. My interest in becoming a teacher came from my desire to teach others what I know and to learn a new language and this is what brought me to Beijing, China. China was not the first option, but its popularity and my interest in learning a fourth language appealed to me.
GS: Could you give some details about your dealings with Gold Star TEFL Recruitment?
ZF: When I finished my TESOL/TEFL course I started my search with many agencies provided by my school. However, many of the agencies had very poor quality in helping teachers to find the right schools. Most of the recruiters took too long in answering the e-mails or creating the link with the schools. Gold Star provided me a very efficient help with my search. Mark was the recruiter who helped me to begin my new adventure in China. Afterwards, everything went so smoothly following the submission of my documents. Mark replied to me very quickly, and provided me the information of many schools well suited to my needs. I spoke to Mark about what I was exactly looking for as a teacher overseas.
Finally, Mark found the school that fit all my needs and expectations. Mark was always very focused and consistent in his search for schools. In spite of the fact that I was not successful with a couple of agencies at first, Mark never hesitated in searching.
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?
ZF: It is important to keep in mind the difference of cultures and the goals you want to set in your life when making the decision of moving overseas. It is very essential to absorb the positive changes and improvements the experience will have on your life.
On the other hand, you must be patient, sometimes the search takes a few months. However, the more you prepare your resume and train for your interview, the more efficient and successful the process will be. Prepare yourself for a new change in your life, and make this opportunity the most beautiful, professional, and exciting experience for the success of your career and professional life.
GS: You are teaching at Best Learning in Beijing at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
ZF: Teaching at Best Learning in Beijing has become one of the most interesting experiences I have done in my life. Despite the fact that I have made many trips all over the world, I still find the different cultures and lifestyles in this part of the world very interesting. China is one of the countries that I know possesses a completely different lifestyle compared to the many other countries I have visited. The change in my life has been very prominent.
Beijing is a city that is becoming very populated for foreigners; therefore sometimes I feel a small piece of home around me. The American population and the culture of the country create a good combination of home and at the same time a different life.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
ZF: Teaching is one of my biggest passions. I love what I do. I definitively feel rewarded and satisfied every moment that one of my students improves or discovers something new in my class. I also learn new ideas and ways of teaching from the students. In every class, they help me to learn more about personalities and the different ways students may learn. I enjoy getting to know each of my student’s personally. The individual relationship I have built with each of them helps me teach in a better way during class.
GS: Can you tell us about your favorite class at Best Learning Beijing the moment?
ZF: My K-level class is one of my favorite ones. I believe the older the kids are the more interesting. Older children may establish a conversation with you and teach you about themselves. I enjoy teaching them new topics and correcting their grammar and vocabulary. Despite the fact my K-level class is not at a high level of reading and writing, they are old enough to come to class with new stories and make the class more interesting with their ideas.
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in Beijing.
ZF: I usually wake up fairly late. The classes from Monday through Friday begin at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. I usually have two classes during the day, and they are different levels, which makes the job more interesting as I get to know students at different levels and ages. Afterwards, at 8:00 pm when the classes are done, I go to my office to prepare everything for the next day. The day officially ends at 8:00 pm. Once I get home, I take a good rest so that I’m ready for next day.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
ZF: The teaching resources are great. Best Learning has the classroom well equipped. Each classroom has a computer, a white board and a projector. These materials make the classes more interesting and entertaining for the children. Also, Best Learning has a well prepared repertoire of lesson plans which really helps keep the teachers organized. They provide the books, lessons and even material for the activities with the students. All these material make the classes to be more efficient.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
ZF: My center is one of the first centers to be established, and it is the biggest one, right now we have about 23 teachers.
GS: China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
ZF: A month ago, I went out with some of my co-workers who invited me out for dinner. I met some Chinese friends and they invited me for a trip in Chengdu. I gladly accepted. This trip became one of the most surprising and exciting experiences I have had up to now. I got to know more of the other side of China. Chengdu is a sort of country town. I could see a more rural side of China, its culture, music and the peace you always find in the mountains. I will never forget this beautiful experience.