Teaching in China - What it's like? (teacher's post)
Typically, work during the weekdays starts at 3:00pm and ends at 9:00pm, this allows me to have a longer lay in in the mornings. I tend to get out of bed at 10:00am and prepare breakfast, usually cereal, luckily close to my apartment, there is a huge Vanguard (华润万家), which is like the Chinese version of Tesco. This allows me to get brands that I am already used, even allowing me to get Tesco long life British milk. After breakfast, I usually relax, go to the gym, go swimming (since my apartment complex has a pool), or go grocery shopping.
I usually leave for work around 2pm, as my centre is about 40 – 50 minutes away. Luckily due to the time, the metro is not usually too busy, sometimes I’m even able to get a seat. I usually arrive a little early, allowing myself to get a snack on my way into work. I arrive in the office by 3pm and usually plan my lesson, each lesson is 65 minutes. On average, I have can have up to three classes on a weekday, preparing classes usually consists of going through the PPT and making any changes I feel are necessary, printing out homework, preparing the necessary flash cards, and preparing any activities that are needed for the class. The first class start at 5:15pm, so I usually go for a meal at 4pm usually with a few of the other teachers. Both the other foreign teachers and the local teachers are very friendly, making new teachers always feel welcome. The kids are in an age range of 3 – 12 and are put into classes based on their age and their level of English. The kids between the ages of 3 – 5 are taught modules from Big Fun, and the kids between the ages of 6 – 12 are taught modules from Big English. My classes tend to be Big English, so the kids are a little older, and therefore require different techniques to teach them.
Occasionally we teachers will also be given demo classes, which are free classes that the children can attend with their parents. These are 45-minute classes that give the students a taster of how the teachers are, and how well they can teach English. There are two main demos that we usually teach blow bubbles (for ages 3 – 5) and fire fighters (for ages 6 – 8). If you manage to sign children to the centre, you can also get a bonus!
The last lesson usually finishes at 8:50pm, so work is usually over by 9pm. There are still many things to do at this time, there are many bars that you can find to go and meet more people. Coco park and Shekou are very popular areas to go to in the evenings. They have many bars and restaurants where you can meet both local Chinese people and expats. KTV/Karaoke is also very popular among some of the local teachers, so it’s a place to go and sing your heart out to a large variety of songs (Chinese and Western.
When working in training centres you usually work on weekends, so you will get two days off during the week instead. Weekends at my centre either start at 8:30am and finish at 4:30pm or start at 1:00pm and finish at 9:00pm, depending on that classes you have. There are usually more demo classes scheduled on the weekends as well as regular classes. Lessons usually finish around midday, allowing us to get lunch. The training centres are in malls, so this gives us a large variety of places to go for lunch, for example, Sichuan food, Cantonese food, Korean food, and many places to get western food. Chinese food tends to be very cheap, for example, a bowl of beef noodles can be between 15 and 25RMB (less than £3) and they usually give complementary water or tea. Afterwork on the weekends and on your days off, you have much more time to explore, and there are many places to explore in Shenzhen alone.