Teach Enrich Empower
Chester to Chongqing!
Hi! I’m Freddie, I am 21 years old and from England, currently teaching in the South West of China.
After completing a Geography degree at the University of Chester, I was in the uncertain and confusing limbo that most graduates experience, with the big life question of what to do next. During my third year of university one of my lecturers mentioned the possibility of teaching abroad, and although I have not travelled much in the past, or had any teaching experience, the idea stayed strong in my mind. I started to look into possibilities and decided a TEFL course was perfect for me; the programme offered the support that I felt I needed, and being online meant I had the flexibility to do it in my own time.
I completed the TEFL Academy 120-hour course and booked straight onto the February 5-month China internship. After an enthralling induction week in Chengdu where I got to meet lots of other foreign teachers and get my first taste of life in China, two other interns and myself were placed in the Fuling district of Chongqing. I have been in Fuling for nearly 2 months’ now and everyday something or someone has amazed me.
“The TEFL course has provided me with the foundations I need to feel confident and assured”
I am living on campus at a high school in the new town area of Fuling, working at the school, as well as another middle school in the same area. I was prepared for fairly large class sizes, however nothing can prepare you for stepping into a classroom and seeing 80 10-12 year olds staring back at you. Once the initial shock of this had set in, teaching has been a blast, and I have been both surprised and proud of my teaching ability in the sometimes challenging environment. Teaching has a big learn-on-the-job aspect to it, as lots of things you cannot prepare for, however, the TEFL course has provided me with the foundations I need to feel confident and assured. Learning how to prepare lesson plans correctly have been extremely helpful, as well as lots of classroom activities that the students love!
Everyday something crazy or unexpected has happened, for instance on one of my first days I was asked to speak in front of 2000 students, a nerve racking experience but certainly one I will never forget! Only last week I took part in the school’s talent show, and this weekend I am attending my first Chinese wedding!
The generosity of my students and teachers means an initial culture shock was not as apparent as I foresaw; I have been taken for dinner many times, on day trips fishing or for a mountain hike, and even hit the Karaoke clubs with many of my teachers! They have taken me in like a family member and do everything they can to make me feel as welcome and settled as possible, it has been a truly humbling two months. However, there are aspects that have taken some getting used to with squat toilets being the big one! The positives of life in China outweigh the negatives a million to one and so far there is nothing I would change.
On my return to the UK I plan on applying to study for PGCE, either this year or next. Using the experience, I have gained in China I am confident that teaching is something I’d like to pursue for a career. However, I still advise a TEFL for those who know they do not want to teach long-term. Many of the foreign teachers I have made friends with are like this, and have still gained so much out of their time. TEFL gives you the chance to explore a new country and become part of a new and exciting culture.
Finally, the advice I can offer someone planning to teach English abroad is to expect the unexpected, be open to all sorts of crazy new things, and try anything once!
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