Shannon Lawlor

Teach Enrich Empower
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Teaching in China

Hi, my name is Shannon. I am 26 years old and I have been teaching English in Beijing, China for four years already!

I love those kiddos so much that when I have summer vacation I even miss them, they miss me too.

I think it’s about time I share my amazing and ongoing TEFL journey with you. I think my TEFL journey is quite a unique one, in that it paved the way for me to meet my wonderful husband, with whom I have a beautiful half Chinese half British baby boy with! Let me start from the beginning and we will get to today soon. After finishing up at university, I wasn’t ready to delve into the world of work, I knew that a normal 9-5 job just wasn’t going to cut it for me, I wanted something more, something fresh, an adventure. One day while browsing YouTube I came across a few videos about teaching English abroad, I listened to many TEFL teachers talking about how much fun they were having and how rewarding a job it was and so I continued my research for a few days before signing up with TEFL Academy. At first, I didn’t have any plans to go far away to teach, I wasn’t even sure if I would use my TEFL certificate, it was just something to keep me busy, add to my
resume and be used as a backup plan.

I quite enjoyed the 120hr course, it was interesting to learn how to teach English as a second language as I only ever had experience teaching it as a first language. I did the 100 hours online and then 20 hours in Belfast city. Once I received my certificate I decided to play around in searching for jobs, just to see what’s out there and if I really qualify. I applied for one job in China and one job in Spain. I first heard back from the Chinese employer who wanted to do a Skype interview, so I woke up one morning at 3am ready to be interviewed! (time difference). I was told I got the job immediately after the interview and I pretty much decided that I was going to do this, I was going to China for a year. My family were surprised but supportive. When I first arrived in China there was a lot to take in, China has such a rich culture and Beijing is still rather traditional. One thing I had to adjust to was using chopsticks as local Chinese restaurants rarely have forks (foreign restaurants do).

I first worked in a training center for 6 months, it was a good way to gently immerse myself into teaching as I had both teaching and office hours and plenty of time to get to know my Chinese colleagues. I taught children of all ages there and had so much fun with them. However, after speaking to other expats (Beijing has a large expat community), I wanted to teach in a kindergarten. I wanted to have my own class of kids who I can teach every day instead of seeing groups of kids once a week on different days. I have been working at my current kindergarten for almost 4 years now, and I absolutely love it. I love those kiddos so much that when I have summer vacation I even miss them, they miss me too, I even had a little girl video call me while I was in Thailand because she wanted to chat (so sweet!). I’ve grown very close with some of my students, especially those who I taught since they were 3 years old and now they are ready to go to primary school in September. The great thing about teaching is that you have the opportunity to form wonderful and meaningful relationships with your students and colleagues. Obviously, teaching can be tiring at times, but not a day goes by when I don’t get a good laugh or a smile. I feel that I have developed a lot as a person since coming to China to teach English, I have become more social, more confident, I have learnt a new language (yes I can speak mandarin!), met great friends from all over the world, travelled far and wide and fallen in love with a new culture.

I originally planned to stay in China for one year, however, three years later I’m still here and will probably stay for many more years with my husband and our son. Who would have thought I needed to travel to the other side of the world to meet my future husband? Life is full of surprises, you just need to be brave enough to take a risk now and again. So if you’re contemplating whether to do TEFL, I say go for it… you never know who or what could be out there waiting for you!

I love those kiddos so much that when I have summer vacation I even miss them, they miss me too.

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