Aaron Blake

Teach Enrich Empower

They Called Me Explosion Hair Teacher!

Towards the end of my Art degree it began to dawn on me that I’d need to look for work in a few weeks. I’ve never had a job before and the thought of handing out CVs back home was not exactly thrilling.

It was around this time I noticed a poster for TEIC (Teach English in China) outside the lecture theatre. I started to ponder what teaching abroad could offer. I’ve always had an interest in Chinese culture; I actually began learning Mandarin during 1st year so the thought of living there for a year seemed like something I had to do.

After completing my degree I decided to pursue a 120-hour TEFL qualification with The TEFL Academy. The 10 hours of classroom teaching made me feel like I could survive in front of any class. And with every module I completed online my excitement grew. Before I knew it I was preparing for my journey to Shanghai. At 21 years of age I had never travelled unaccompanied outside of England and now I was set to start my first job abroad. With my start date a month away I started to feel anxious.  What have I done? Can I handle this? I’ll be exposed as a fraud. What’s “help me” in Chinese again? Then my plane was ready.

Throughout the week of orientation I felt my anxiety drop. Other than hearing the specifics on working in China (how not to get fired) most of it felt like a rehash of the TEFL course which put me at ease long enough to settle into my new surroundings before my first class. I lived on Chongming Island, 2 hours’ from downtown Shanghai; I was virtually the only foreigner in my town and so I could feel all eyes on me whenever I left my amazingly cheap, 3 bedroom apartment. I quickly got used to the stares and found just how welcoming my neighbours were.

 

“There’s an exciting world out there waiting for you to teach it English!”

Monday morning arrived and it was class time. I had a lesson plan in hand, a memory stick in my pocket and a lot of butterflies in my stomach. As I stepped into the class my presence shocked the students into silence immediately, but as the 35 minutes passed there were nothing but smiles and students speaking, trying valiantly to impress me. I forgot why I was so nervous. For every lesson thereafter, I grew as a teacher whilst 700+ Chinese children developed their English. I can’t explain just how rewarding it feels to know you’ve made such an impact on the lives of your students. It was simply the best year of my life.

From the student who insisted on having the English name “Dolphin” to the frequent challenge of making lessons fun and stimulating, I take a lot of great moments and experiences from China. It’s strange to think it was actually a year of work.

There’s an exciting world out there waiting for you to teach it English and it starts with TEFL.

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