Janeske van der Merwe

Teach Enrich Empower
JANUARY SALE 01/25/2022

Teaching in China

Da jian hao! My name is Janeske van der Merwe. I’m 23 years old and I have just left the safety and comfort of my home in South Africa to teach English in Hebei Province, China (Yes, it was quite terrifying).

It's cliché to say the experience will “help you grow”, but that is what happens

I graduated as an English teacher at the end of 2017 and decided to take on a big challenge while I am young and brave enough and where better to find adventure than the vast, vibrant world of China.

During my first week in China, one of the teachers asked me how China differs from South Africa. My answer: “Absolutely everything!” The locals are extremely curious and friendly, and I can’t walk down the street without 10 people excitedly asking for a photo or inviting me to lunch with them. Suning is a very small city and hardly anyone can speak English, so I’ve been doing an online course for 10 minutes a day and practising my hand signals.

The lively streets are always filled with markets, music, children flying kites in the park and interesting shops to visit. Everything is very easy on the wallet (I’ve already bought clothes, 3 kites and 6 bags full of stationary) so make sure you bring an empty suitcase with you if you end up in China.

So, what about the actual work? I am teaching English to grade 6 and 8 students at Suning Yuying Secondary school. I have about 80 learners in each class, which sounds impossible, but the learners are bright, friendly and dedicated to learning. They are extremely well disciplined and can find it quite challenging to hold back their excitement about having a new teacher from a faraway land. At times I have to repeat a question 20 times before they understand, so you will need some patience.

The TEFL course with The TEFL Academy equipped me with physical and mental tools that have enabled me to execute successful, fun lessons. The modules are full of techniques and skills that I have used in every class. In a few months I was familiar with various levels of students, different methods for discipline and motivation, and a knowledge of the fundamentals of teaching every aspect of English. It also provided plenty of opportunity for critical thinking and analysing of practical examples that boosted my creativity and confidence in the new classroom.

Whether you visit the local tea shop or climb The Great Wall of China, you will experience the magic of this beautiful, enchanting country. For those of you considering taking on this challenge, here is some honest advice. It is scary and overwhelming. You will cry a few times during the first few weeks, but that is all a normal part of moving to a new place that you know nothing about. You need to push yourself to explore, even if you just walk down to the stationary shop down the street. Once you start getting familiar with your surroundings and its people, you’ll start to realise how easy it actually is and that there is something wonderful around every corner: A lovely bakery, a beautiful kite shop, your new favourite dumpling restaurant.

It is very cliché to say that this experience will “help you grow”, but that is exactly what happens. You do face unfamiliar, daunting challenges that you must overcome all by yourself. You experience a completely different way of seeing the world. You realise how much you are actually capable of. And you get to experience things and make memories that you will never forget.

I desperately wish I had more pages and more words to make you understand the beauty and adventure of this whole experience, but you’ll just have to come see for yourself.

It's cliché to say the experience will “help you grow”, but that is what happens

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