Thomas Galliford

Teach Enrich Empower

Pupils, Peppers and Pandas

My name is Thomas, I’m 23 and I come from Luton, England. In 2014 I was about to finish my degree and I had no idea about what kind of career I wanted to go into, 2 years on and that hasn’t really changed!

I had to think about what I wanted to do next with my life before I reached an age where I had to settle down. During my time at university I’d developed a love for travel and after searching ways you could travel for longer the internet pointed me towards teaching English as a foreign language. It wasn’t long before my girlfriend and I were booked up with the TEFL Academy to do their 120-hour certificate. I liked the fact you had the weekend spent in a classroom environment rather than completely doing the course online, it gave us a taste of standing in front of a class and presenting a lesson plan.

Whilst I waited for my girlfriend to finish her studying I taught English online to Chinese students, they were passionate about English and would constantly tell me how amazing their country was – this made me want to visit! On one of my many searches on the TEFL Academy’s jobs board I spotted a 4-month internship in China. The length of time suited us, we’d never taught in a classroom or been to Asia so we were obviously nervous but one semester seemed manageable. So here we are, teaching in beautiful Sichuan province, China. Home of delicious (and spicy) food, lovely people and most importantly… panda bears!

 “It wasn’t long before my girlfriend and I were booked up”

We are teaching in a college and a University in Wenjiang, a district in the west of Chengdu. For some of our students we were the first foreigners they had ever met, they were so excited to meet us and have really helped us settle in. They’ve introduced us to some of the famous Sichuan cuisine, taken us to sing karaoke and we have plans to visit some of the local landmarks with them. We’ve only known the students a month or so but they’ve already made a big impression. The highlight of my teaching so far was a lesson on descriptions. Chinese students have a habit of repeating the teacher, sometimes when they aren’t actually meant to. I was demonstrating to them and said ‘I have a beard’, roughly 20 girls shouted it back at me before they all giggled with embarrassment.

After China I still won’t be ready for a dull 9-5 job in England, I’ll be looking for another location to teach. Learning Spanish is one of my goals, I think it’ll be a bit easier than Chinese to pick up – hopefully! I’ll look at what jobs are available in the Spanish-speaking countries, South America is a continent I’ve not been to yet. Luckily for us the world wants to learn English, we’re spoilt for choice for places to go to. I’d recommend anyone considering teaching abroad to go ahead and try it, it’s a cliché but it really is an unforgettable experience. I’m glad my TEFL adventures are only just beginning.

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