Teach Enrich Empower
I Love The Little Monsters and Never Want To Leave Them
My name is Laura-Jayne Panter. Before applying for the Teach and Learn program I attended Sheffield Hallam University (studying a Bsc Hons in Tourism Management with a module in Mandarin Chinese for four years).
During my first lesson in Mandarin, I was 18, sitting there staring at a book full of characters I laughed with confusion before fully accepting the challenge, I sat back and without a doubt in my mind said; “I want to go to China and teach kindergarten kids English”, five years later I completed a The TEFL Academy course and sat on my 13-hour flight to Chengdu.
I thought this was my dream, but 3 hours into my flight I shed a tear or two…was I truly ready for this? I had travelled and lived away from England before, spoken languages such as Welsh, Spanish and Swahili.. It was then I realised China would be the biggest culture shock I would ever experience.
I was told that I would be teaching at a brand new private school in Nanchong, I was incredibly excited, I had met some great people during the orientation week whom I found hard to leave, luckily I continued the journey with a new friend whom I genuinely got along with.
“The children are incredibly cute and they are the reason I have fallen in love.”
Dragging our suitcases behind us, we boarded the bus to our new school.. we arrived in Du Jiang Yan, which was a beautiful small picturesque city rich in mountains.. it just wasn’t Nanchong; It was quickly explained that our school was not ready yet so we had time to settle in and create our syllabus, thankfully I had completed my TEFL certificate to distinction so felt prepared to tackle the task, the TEFL Course provided me with confidence, knowledge and resources, not only this but assisted in attaining this incredible internship.
Once creating our syllabus we made our way to the new school to have a look around. I believe that exact day allowed me to understand the unusual opportunities I could be faced with during the next four months, before Hannah and I knew it. we were dancing to a song we had barely rehearsed which we did not recognise due to the lyrics being in Chinese, on stage, in front of many leaders of private schools within the area, teachers from the school in Du Jiang Yan and, we later found out the song was in fact twinkle twinkle little star. it was hilarious, confidence testing and the kids loved it.
A month later I had been entered into a Chinese clothes fashion show and I found myself hosting China’s tourism promotion event to a room full of people and on television. In May I will be competing in the half marathon taking place along the Great Wall of China in Beijing, I am currently fundraising for a Charity in Beijing called Chunmiao Little Flower which works with abandoned and orphaned children so if you have time, take a look at my page, share on social media or if you can… donate! every penny helps and support goes a long long way!!
We’ve accepted that moving to Nanchong is fading out, but love that we have settled in to Guang Ya Kindergarten, Du Jiang Yan, the children are incredibly cute and they are the reason I have fallen in love with this internship, one of my classes of 5-6 year olds are always joking, for example, I walk in to class and say “Hello everybody!” some of them shout “see you later” or “see you tomorrow” or “bye!” then fall on the floor laughing. I genuinely feel it has been mutually beneficial, they’ve provided me with my newly discovered passion..teaching. I love the little monsters and never want to leave them.
I would say my biggest challenge so far is being a vegetarian (this being because there is NO such thing as vegetarian in China, all it means is that you prefer vegetables) before coming I suggest you either come to terms with eating less, eating more boiled rice, removing meat from your meals or bringing more money to eat out or cook for yourself and accept that meals aren’t included.
- Get a good VPN: Install this to your phone and computer before arriving to China
- Useful Apps: Pleco, WeChat/QQ, APP
- Attempt the Chinese phonetic alphabet, it will make so much more sense if you do
- Simple visual way of learning characters: Chineasy
- Bring home comforts and things you may struggle finding i.e: Yorkshire tea bags, peppermint tea, your favourite make-up, deodorants (ideally roll on/block deodorants when travelling on a train or bus, they will throw spray in the bin/trash!! plus deodorants are expensive here!)
- Don’t eat your food if you drop it on the table, it might as well be on the floor, the 5 second rule will no longer apply, Chinese spit their food on the table (e.g. fish bones). Chinese don’t blow their noses, they prefer to.. erm.. spit phlegm on the floor. This happens a lot.
- Respect culture. just because it’s not like home, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way of doing things, it just means it’s different
- Prepare to love China, the language and the locals. Oh and; expect to extend your visa.
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