Teaching Intern: Be Prepared for Anything and Say Yes to Everything!
…is the best advice I can give about teaching in China!
There are a lot of things that happen in China, that you won’t see or experience anywhere else.
Compulsory military training for middle school students, the headmaster handing out roses on teachers day, travelling around China during Golden Week, working on a Sunday to make up for a public holiday, toilet cubicles with no doors…
were some of the interesting things we witnessed.
There was no typical day as a teacher, we had 50 students per class and it could be a challenge to keep them all focused for 40 minutes at a time!
We tried to do a different activity every week for each grade to keep it interesting.
sometimes the activities failed horrendously, Pictionary was one that always got the students far too excited.
They would yell and scream the words at their teammate and often I had teachers from other classes come in to see what the noise was about and give us disapproving looks.
The students loved it, and they were using English but I didn’t continue to use that activity for long.
Just before Halloween, I was asked if I would be able to do a special class for grade 7. All the students.. in one lecture hall.. for 2 hours!
Of course, I said yes, but secretly I was freaking out thinking how on earth would I entertain over 250 students at one time!
A little bit of preparation (actually a lot of preparation!) and some help from my partner and fellow teacher, Joe, we came up with a series of activities that worked perfectly for a large group.
It ended up being one of the best lessons I gave all semester even though I was incredibly nervous it would all go wrong!
I had tongue twister competitions, some new Halloween words to practice, watched a video on pumpkin carving (that the students loved, so we watched it twice!).
I went through a quick history lesson on the origin of Halloween and ran around the lecture hall to ask questions about what the students knew!
The best part was the end, where we watched the opening song to the movie Nightmare before Christmas.
Before I played the song, I asked the students to stand up every time they heard the word “Halloween”.
If you don’t know the song, Halloween is said a lot, especially in one part it’s used about 6 times in a row.
It was hilarious. All the students were getting into the activity and bobbing up and down to the word. Possibly helped along because I was walking around handing out lollies (candy) to the students!
We finished up the lesson by handing out the lyrics to the song and singing it together as a group.
I was totally exhausted, but I had an amazing time and thankfully the students and other teachers did too!
By the time we had finished learning the new words the class was over. I asked them if they would like to write letters back to Australia for me before the next week – but I didn’t have to wait, every single student stayed back in their break to write a letter!!
Amazing! Of course, they all wanted me to read each and every letter before I left the classroom, which almost made me late for the next class!
ALer my Halloween lesson, I knew all my students loved to sing. My grade 8 lessons were themed around friendship, so for one lesson, I used a Bruno Mars song called Count on Me.
The lesson idea was from another intern who was teaching in Suzhou, she always had great ideas and it was a valuable part of the program to be able to speak with other TEFL teachers during the semester.
The lesson included lots of group work so it meant that all of the students were involved and interested. It was such a buzz to walk around the classroom while the students were all singing along to a new song that we just learned together.
Some days teaching in China could be incredibly challenging and test everything that you knew about teaching. However, when it all came together and you had a great lesson, the buzz was like nothing I have ever experienced in any other job.
The people we met and the students that treat you like rock stars made all the challenges worthwhile. The memories will stay will us forever!
Danni Scott, from Australia, a teaching intern from Teach & Travel China Program Winter 2017 intake, was placed in Weifang, China.
Get to know more about the programme here! About Teach & Travel China Program