As a new ESL instructor in China, I quickly found that ESL games were great ice breakers. Prior to learning about the Communicative Approach, two of the games I used repeatedly in class were hangman and Pictionary. The students had a lot of fun trying to guess the letters and the drawings on the board, desperately shouting one word guesses again and again. When class energy ebbed, they rekindled enthusiasm by shifting the student’s dependence on me, the teacher, to one another in a team effort. These games did little to improve their spoken English and didn’t tie into the lesson plans.
My first teaching job at a university in China was particularly hard as I had had no prior TESOL training. I studied ahead in the course books and researched material for months, but I still was not able to write lesson plans or develop a curriculum until I had begun to study through OnTESOL’s certification program.
By Jonathan Caulk – 100-hour TESOL Certificate
By Jonathan Caulk – 120-hour TESOL certificate
When I first stepped into the classroom in China, after tripping over the metal threshold, I felt dizzy and panicky. I hadn’t taught anything to anyone in my life. The closest thing to teaching on my resume was a promotion gig which involved standing in the parking lot of an amusement park, promoting a brand of drinkable yogurt. But, here I stood behind a podium which was about a foot too short for my skinny, 191 cm frame, about to teach a class of twenty-eight Chinese college freshman! What did I do? Well, I pawed at the first page of the first lesson with my sweaty hands, and…
Before starting the TEFL certification course, I taught in China for two years. I really enjoyed teaching in a Chinese university as this job made me fall in love with teaching English. Unfortunately, I was not adequately prepared to teach English in a foreign country. I knew I needed to improve myself. When I searched the internet for an online school, I found OnTESOL. I decided this school was right for me after reading many positive reviews of the courses they offered. After completing the 120-hour course with TEYL specialization, I can honestly say that I made the right decision.
I found my first job teaching English to first year students at a government-run college in the heart of the city of Guangzhou. The school was great, the salary was pretty good for the number of hours I had to teach, and they offered free accommodation! One of the reasons people choose to teach English in China is that schools provide foreign teachers with paid accommodation, but I’m going to tell you how to negotiate a higher salary and find a better place!
You should not teach English in China without the work visa. The government is now cracking down on foreigners working illegally in China, and, as a result, the school may ask you to get a work visa prior to your arrival in order to avoid paying hefty fines. Many schools, like English First, will help you get the work visa. If the school will not help you out, then read this blog.
Finding any TESOL job in China, let alone a good one, was not easy for me. As I had mentioned in my first post, I am a Canadian of Chinese descent. I look Chinese and you wouldn’t believe how often I was told by Chinese people in China that my English is very good. In my job search, I stumbled upon a forum that discussed Chinese-looking people wanting to live and work in China. The main message was loud and clear: DON’T DO IT. People reported facing difficulty finding jobs and discrimination. Still, I was determined to go.
My experiences as a Canadian living and working in China are different from most: I am a Canadian of Chinese descent – I LOOK Chinese, but I behave like a Canadian. This duality was advantageous at times, but it has also been the source of immense grief and frustration. The perspective from which I write this blog series on teaching in China will be from a Chinese-Canadian perspective, but I will try to include perspectives from the typical (i.e. Caucasian) foreigner whenever possible.