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English Teacher
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and go somewhere I knew very little about - China seemed the perfect place. I was curious to learn more about life in China and its culture.

How did you find your placement/internship?

There was a representative for Gotoco at fresher's fair.

Application process

I had to submit my education background/any relevant teaching experience in an application form, in addition to my motivations for teaching in China. After this phase, I had a Skype interview with one of Gotoco's contacts in China, from Xi'an English House. Upon being accepted, I was required to pay a deposit (to prove my commitment- it was returned at the end of the placement), and then given advice on how to prepare for teaching.

Main responsibilities

Teaching English to Chinese students at various ages (from 4 years old to adults)
Drafting and submitting lesson plans every day.
Recording correct pronunciation of vocabulary.
coordinating games and activities for the children.

Typical day

A typical day would involve my first class starting at 08:30, a class of adults/high-school students whom I taught lessons about life in the UK and practical language skills e.g. ordering in a restaurant, visiting the doctor's, booking a hotel etc.
Finishing at 10:15, I'd then go and join my co-teacher, Luke, in order to teach a class of 8-12 year old children. The class normally focused on phonics and writing basic sentences. Finishing at 12:00, we'd go for lunch. At 15:00 I'd teach another class of 8-12 year olds. Finishing at 17:00. At the same time, Luke would be teaching a class of 4-5 year olds; we alternated each day.
Finally, an evening class at 19:00 of 6-7 year olds was the last task of the day, if the lesson plans had been written during the day and audios had been recorded for pronunciation.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I enjoyed teaching students about UK culture, as well as learning about Chinese culture. It was also rewarding to see the students learning new things and remembering words from the previous lessons.

Challenging aspects

There were some poor communication issues initially; when I was interviewed by Xi'an English House, I was asked whether it would be a problem if I was moved to another school elsewhere in China. I said it was not a problem. However, they only told me that I was being moved from Xi'an English House to somewhere in Shandong province (didn't even mention the city) the day before I left the UK. It was only after being in Xi'an for 4 days, that I was told I was being moved to Tai'an, 1000km East of Xi'an.
The air pollution in Tai'an was at a dangerous level, at a point where one could see, taste and smell the smog. On a clear day, Tai'an is overshadowed by a large mountain. However, often the smog would completely cover any sign of the mountain. Aside from the long term health risks, the air pollution was mentally challenging in that it was gloomy.
Maintaining Discipline in a class of young children was also a new challenge for me; I had limited prior experience teaching English thus I had to learn to adapt; keeping the children's attention was paramount to maintaining order.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

Learning foreign languages has made me more sensitive to other cultures, as well as being able to convey English in a way comprehensible to non-native speakers.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

I think it has shown to me that I do not want to be a teacher in the future- however I see teaching is a great way of travelling the world and influencing others. Spending time in China has made me consider the possibility of doing a masters in Chinese Studies, so that I may find a greater understanding of such a vast country.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

If you're considering doing a placement, go for it! It's a productive way to spend your summer and you'll gain a lot of life experience even if it's not necessarily related to your future career.

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Form completed: 15 Sep 2017

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