Ildiko Demeter

Teach Enrich Empower

How I teach a thousand Chinese kids

My name is Ildiko, originally from Hungary but when I was 24 years old I graduated from The University of Edinburgh in Business Studies and Spanish.

Right after graduation I started working in retail and I enjoyed my job, but I soon felt that emotionally I gain back very little from the effort and passion I put in my job.

I started to look around for an opportunity to find a job that is both meaningful, exciting and allows me to explore the world more. I already spoke fluent Hungarian, English and Spanish at this point, so when I found out about an opportunity to teach English in China, I instantly felt that this is the greatest job for me. I knew what difficulties and obstacles students have to face when learning a second language. I knew what challenges I will have to face moving into a new country and integrating into a new culture. Initially, I did the TEFL course as part of my application for the job, but since I started teaching I realised that it is not just a piece of paper that I needed to become a teacher, but the course has really helped me giving practical advice on how to engage better with my students.

I have been teaching English for half a semester now in Xiling International Primary School in Yichang, Hubei province China. It is part of a Jin dong fang education group with other primary and middle schools and a boarding campus of kindergarten, primary school, middle school and high school. In my school I am the only teacher and I have 29 classes with 40 students a class (from 6 to 12 years old) and 35 minutes a week with each of them. It is a great challenge to ensure my teaching is benefiting the students but it is almost impossible to know all my 1160 students well.

“The course really helped me giving practical advice on how to engage with my students”

I think mine is an extraordinary example, as in most other schools foreign teachers are expected to be involved in the curriculum and have fewer students but more classes together throughout the week. If it wasn’t for the TEFL course I would have struggled a lot, however it has given me lots of examples on how to teach in large number of classes and great ideas of games, exercises and tips that I can use to make sure my teaching still stands out. Chinese teaching can be very monotonous and strict and large classrooms make it difficult to engage more with the students, yet I believe I managed to bring a little bit of Western style into my classes and I am proud to say that I now know at least a few hundred kid’s names and I am hoping that next semester I will get to know even more of them.

Every time I walk through the corridors I have hundreds of kids running beside me, playing their games, fighting, singing, dancing but always shouting my name from far away and waving at me, I never pass them unnoticed. The other teachers and the school also respect and appreciate me; if I have any problem they do everything to make sure I enjoy my time in China.

I now don’t just enjoy my job but certainly get back a lot of love and appreciation for what I do and there is nothing more that work can give us.

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