Teaching in Beijing

As most students do, I was pondering what to do when I finished university. My degree had not led me down a specific path (and that was the way I wanted it!), and I had always wanted to leave the UK and experience the world. As time marched on and I was still without a plan, I stumbled upon TEFL. At first, it seemed too good to be true – I could get paid to travel the world? I felt like somebody must have been having a joke at my expense! Still, despite my misgivings, I started to look into it and spoke to some wonderful people about all the experiences they’d had whilst TEFLing and decided that it was the life for me.

I signed up to the 140-hour Premier TEFL course, and after completing the classroom session, started applying for jobs along with a friend. Within a few short weeks, I’d been offered a job in Beijing and was asked to move out as soon as possible. It all seemed a little bit hectic (how could I possible move halfway across the world with just weeks to prepare?) but from my experience, this is how many places outside of the UK hire, and in hindsight, the short timeframe was exactly what I needed to stop myself from chickening out!

Joel Collins (1)

I arrived in Beijing in late August to sweltering temperatures and incredibly humid air. I had never experienced a sub-tropical country before this, and despite all my research, I hadn’t expected it to be like
this. I was picked up at the airport by the agency and we drove back to
the apartment that the school had arranged for me. I was given the rest
of the day to try and recover from the flight, and the next few days were for training. Before I knew it, the children had returned from their summer break, and I was placed in a class of around 20 3-4 year olds. I was
lucky enough to be given a class that would be mine all year rather than having to move between classes.

In my class, there was also another Chinese ‘head teacher’, an assistant, and an ayi, or auntie (the person who would take care of the children’s’ general needs). My first lesson was filled with trepidation, and I was shaking at the front of the class from nervousness! It was over suddenly, and I improved a lot over that week, just from being thrown in at the deep end.

When I left China, I managed to secure a summer position at an elementary school in the Italian countryside, and in November I am moving to Seoul to begin a teaching position with elementary and middle school children. From there – who knows? There are so many countries that I’d like to visit and experience – TEFL provided me with the passport!

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