When I was a university student I studied in China for one semester, and I had such an amazing experience that I decided to come back for work. I like being an ESL teacher because I have the opportunity to help real people solve real problems. Sometimes, the problem is passing an exam, or getting a job, or studying abroad. However, for every class and student I teach, I am also helping someone.
About the author: Ian Bonnano is currently teaching English with EF English First in Shanghai, China.
Learning From Another Culture
For me the real benefit of teaching English in Shanghai is having a truly multicultural work environment. I love EF because I work with people from all over China and the English speaking world. My boss is from England, and many of my coworkers are South African. I also find the language learning opportunities to be extremely rewarding. Working in China has made learning and practicing Chinese incredibly simple and cheap. If you want to learn a language then working overseas is an easy way to accomplish your goal. .
The Challenges of Living Overseas
Getting homesick is always a struggle. Being an ocean away from friends and family can be hard sometimes, but technologies like Skype and FaceTime make staying in touch super easy. I video chat with friends all the time, and Skype makes it possible for me to call my grandmother even though she only has a landline.
Life in A Metropolitan Chinese City
In Shanghai, as in any large Chinese city, the standard of living is rather high. China does an amazing job of investing in infrastructure, so running water, fast internet and electricity are never an issue here!
The TESOL Course As Preparation To Teach
My TESOL course was a huge help because of how it was structured. The course focused on theory and big picture aspects of teaching English. It also asked me to complete tasks and answer questions that really focused on the classroom. My TESOL course was a great chance to apply what I had already learned.
The Local Perspective Of Learning English
You learn very quickly that people, governments, and companies overseas take English very seriously. I teach adults, so almost every day I receive a student who was denied a promotion for not having strong enough English skills. I also receive college students who has to pass an English exam to graduate. For native speakers, English is a unrecognized privilege. However, non-native English speakers from around the world dedicate massive amounts of time and money to accessing English language lessons. Since developing this realization, I have become much humbler.
Why EF English First?
I chose EF English First, because of its reputation for quality, and because it is a large company that offers plenty of support to its teachers. Larger schools like EF also offer more opportunities for work outside the classroom, like writing and mentoring. I also picked my current school because I wanted to work with adults and professionals, rather than children or teenagers. The lesson for others is that you can always find a job teaching your preferred age group.
Honestly, I didn’t have any concerns because I picked EF English First. The support EF offers both before and after teachers arrive in China gave me peace of mind, and I didn’t feel too concerned about anything really. I also suggest finding a quality TEFL course to prepare you to teach.
Tools For Teaching English
I teach adults general English or business English, and as such there is no textbook. However, EF does offer a textbook for their kids and teen schools. Having said this, EF has created a comprehensive set of lesson plans and guides so every teacher can track their students progress. EF also has a really comprehensive app and website students use for self-study.
What Have You Learned About Teaching English?
I have learned plenty of practical teaching skills. For example, I am now much more prepared to explain new concepts and words to students who have never heard said word or concept before. My spoken and written communication is also much clearer and more focused because of teaching English.
Advice For Teaching English Abroad
My advice would be DO IT! Teaching overseas is an amazing opportunity and if you are teaching English then you’ll be working in a booming industry. It is perfect if you crave human connection in the work that you do and if you want to acquire useful communication and leadership skills. Overall, teaching abroad can satisfy any need you have, from the professional to the personal!