Teaching Review and…I’M BACK!

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I’m Back! Its been a while, but after the disaster with my visa debit card ( another post) and only just getting the internet, my blogging has unfortunately been at a standstill…. Yet no more! I shall (hopefully if I’m not too terribly busy) be posting new blogs up here again. During my time with no internet, I’ve written 2 posts at once, so I’ll post them together. Enjoy!

Teaching Review

Since January, I have signed a contract to work with another company for 1 year. This means I’m actually a FULL TIME teacher, with an actual wage this time. From September 2013 to the beginning of January 2014, I was on a teaching internship for one semester.

I know reviews are especially good for people who are thinking of joining a company; one of the reasons why I applied for the job I now have is because I met a person who works there and he told me that It was a good place to work, so I know personal experience is important.

The company, i-to-i is a company that I found online. I knew one of my friends was doing a TEFL course online and was going to Japan to teach, so I researched and found this one. After completing the 120 hours online, I decided to apply for the Teach & Travel China Programme which was advertised on their website.

You can choose the China, Vietnam, Thailand or Poland internship. Each programme starts on 2 different semesters. Speaking about the China internship, programmes start in February (Winter Programme) and August (Summer Programme). I chose the August programme, where I was shipped out with about 150 people to Beijing. Most of the participants were English, but there were about 20 Australians, 14 Irish, 4 Canadians, 1 American in my group. There were many more that arrived 1 month earlier to do their 140 TEFL from a lot of European countries.

The first week was amazing, where we saw the Great Wall, Acrobatics Show, Saw the Beijing Olympic Stadium and ate Peking Duck in Beijing. We then travelled to Harbin for our orientation. It was great being with a big group of people where every day you would talk and hang around with different people in the group. Everyone was there for the same reason; to do something different.

After that we were sent to our teaching locations. Around 50 people went to Sichuan, where people were placed in Chengdu, and about 50 went to Guangzhou, where most people here were placed in Guangdong. The rest went to Beijing, Harbin, Inner Mongolia, and near Shanghai.

Of course you’re going to hear bad reviews about companies, I’ve even read about them myself, about Teach and Travel China and thought “did I make a mistake?”, but as I say, everyone’s experience is different. Some people might have had a bad school, living conditions, bad neighbourhood and so on. Luckily, I was very fortunate; I had a good apartment, the school was fine and nothing major happened. My location however wasn’t great, where I was 1 hour away from the city centre.

So here are the good things and bad things about doing the i-to-I and Teach & Travel China Internship.

Good
• People are in the same boat as your-self.
• You’ll most likely be placed with someone. This will be living together and in the same schools, living together but different schools, or living by yourself but being near other interns.
• You won’t go through it alone. There will be like 150 other people starting their teaching at the same time so you won’t be going through it by yourself.
• Apartment and school is guaranteed for you. There is no worrying about finding schools.
• Guaranteed a minimum of 2 hours Mandarin/Cantonese lessons.
• Everything is provided for you in the apartment; kettle, cups, quilts…
• Given an advisor at your school to help you throughout your internship.
• Don’t have to pay rent or bills. (that’s if you don’t go over your bill limit)
• Maximum of 15 teaching hours.

Bad
• Expensive. From applying for it, to getting your visa, the cost adds up.
• Might be placed with someone you don’t get on with… and your stuck with them for 4 months.
• Don’t know where in China you will be placed. This means it’s difficult to pack when you don’t know the climate you’re going to live in. You could also be placed in a really remote area.
• Don’t know what age group you’ll be teaching. If you pick 7-14 age for instance, you may not get it.
• Wages aren’t great. You can live off it, but you can’t go mad spending.

These are my own opinions about the good and bad points about the internship. There are plenty of people I’m sure would say “ NEVER DO IT, IT WAS THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!”. I’m sure some people did have a terrible time on their internship, I’ve read about them. But on my own accounts and experience, if nothing majorly goes wrong with your internship, you’re blessed.

Because I’ve had a good experience of my internship, I would tell people to do it. It lets you have a taste of teaching but it also lets you live in a new country, even just for a few months.

The choice is up to you…

Aisling.

Teaching!

Had my first lesson today! Finally after a week of doing nothing since I arrived, it was good to actually start doing what I was meant to be here for. The class was 90 minutes long. 45 minutes, 5 min break, then another 45 minutes. It was quite daunting, trying to think of things to do in those minutes. I was teaching an elective group, who were studying Automotive Engineering, aged 17-19 years. They are apparently really clever, it’s just their English isn’t great.

Although I started teaching.. . my god was it challenging. My group just wouldn’t answer my questions. It was like trying to get blood out of a stone. I quickly realised who was the best at English, firing questions at me. What made it worst though, I can’t actually understand the students. They say something to me and I have to ask them 3 times to repeat it. I just can’t understand them. Hopefully after a few more classes I will be able to catch a few phrases.

I also have a teaching assistant. .. I never saw the day where I would have an assistant. They got the power point ready for me, had a copy of my information, and they also brought a ball for me to use in the class. I was even asked do I want them to actually MAKE my power point before class! How mad is that? Their main job however is to translate to the students what I’ve just said. It kind of defeats the purpose though in my opinion. . . but apparently its necessary because they are really bad at English. Even their teachers (who aren’t great at English themselves) state they are ‘not very good’.  My teaching assistant for that group is called Liang, he is so funny and nice. He only had to interpret what I said once to the group which was good. My next class is tomorrow at 3:15. My latest class runs from 7pm to 8:35pm at night!

 

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I also forgot to mention my Great Wall experience. It was AMAZING. We had brilliant weather too, so we could see for miles in any direction. It was such an experience I will never forget. I actually made it to the top of our section… it was STEEP. I couldn’t get over how steep it was. My legs were aching by the time I reached the top, but I was so pleased with myself. I was ready to quit near the top, but I said to myself ‘when will I ever get to do this again?’ So I pushed on and made it! I will never ever forget it. 

After the Wall, we went for dinner, then went to see the Birds Nest. We didn’t have a lot of time because we left late from the campus (nothing is ever on time in China) so we just got to go up on a bridge and look at it from there. We then headed to Tiananmen Square for a nosy. Nothing exciting was happening there. After that we got food…aka Peking Duck. I enjoyed it but with a large table of about 10 people, there wasn’t much left after the Lazy Susan got to everyone.  A Lazy Susan is a turntable in the middle of the table which spins. The food sits on top so everyone shares from the same dishes. Later we headed to the Acrobatics show. It was really good. There were girls spinning plates, balancing umbrellas, men throwing hats… I assure it was a lot better than what I described! All this happened the day before I left for Chengdu, so it was nice to be with the group one last time. 

I went out last Friday night and met up with the Chengdu crowd. I have never seen half of them before because A. I just never got to talk to them before, or B. they were with the Love Tefl group. I actually had a great night, just would have been nice if some of my friends whom I met on the course were there.

And it’s ‘Teachers Day’ tomorrow. I’m not going to be expecting much, or anything for that matter from the students. An answer to a question would be nice though.

Aisling.