Evan - Teaching English in China
As an English graduate I wanted to pursue a career in teaching. While I was looking for various jobs online, I came across a Lanhu Cultural Exchange Center post for a teaching position in China. I thought it was a great opportunity to start my career in teaching and gain experience whilst travelling in Asia. So I applied, went through an interview, got accepted, packed my baggage and here I am! Living and working in China!
Chinese culture is very popular and historically, it had a massive impact in the world offering art, literature, philosophy, music and cuisine. Therefore I had to experience this culture to the most while I was here, by accepting what this country had to offer to me and indeed it had so much to offer, I started to enjoy my time living and working in China.
When I first arrived in China I cleared all the negative thoughts surrounding my mind and started to realise the present moment. My first thoughts were: “what was I going to do in order to explore and absorb the Chinese culture while I was going to be here for the next ten months”. Quickly enough, I came to the conclusion that I simply needed to adapt, accept, learn, sit back and enjoy what China had to offer to me. To be honest, living in China in the beginning was not the easiest thing for a Westerner, however it took me a few days to start to realise that I was actually in China and that I had so much to learn from this culture. Luckily enough, LHCEC took care of the first days in China, by organising an Orientation Week packed with TEFL training, exciting go-karting, movies, philosophy classes, Chinese language lessons, meals, nightclubbing and wild karaoke nights! I would definitely recommend to anyone intending to teach English through Middle Kingdom to consider attending the Orientation Week! It will help you adapt to the lifestyle in China, boost your confidence in teaching, have a lot of fun and make many new friends!
The most noticeable aspect of Chinese culture is its hospitality, kindness and warm welcome! When I arrived to my school where I teach, I was greeted by the warmest welcome possible by everyone in the school. They welcomed me at the start of the school year ceremony were I gave a speech followed by a meal, in honour of my presence and the beginning of the new school year. From the school members to my wonderful pupils, who were excited to meet me and learn English from me, I was fascinated by their kindness and humbleness which made me feel welcome in Xiangtan city.
Chinese culture in general is very welcome and most of the people are willing to treat you with big meals and drinks. From the day I arrived in China, I have forgotten how many times I’ve been invited by Chinese people to dine with them! The school teachers at No. 12 Middle School of Xiangtan have invited me many times to have dinner with them treating me in an act of appreciation to my effort and cooperation with them in the school. They do the most to make me feel welcome and comfortable during my stay in China.
Hunan Province is very popular for its food and indeed the food in Hunan is so tasty! I realised how good the local food was especially when I was on holidays in Hainan Island during the Mid Autumn Festival week. I missed Xiangtan food so much while I was away and realised how good it is. Although it can be very spicy for a foreigner that is not used to spicy food, luckily enough, I like spicy food so I try different dishes every day. To say the least, so far I haven’t been disappointed! It is also interesting to learn eating with chopsticks although it can be difficult in the beginning for a foreigner, when you get used to them, chopsticks are very convenient for eating Chinese dishes.
Another interesting fact about Chinese culture is that people tend to do everything with emotion rather than reason. From eating harmoniously with chopsticks, to inviting you spontaneously to their home for a big meal being very happy and excited to meet you and show their kind hospitality. I have noticed everything in China tends to happen with emotion in opposition to the West were everything happens with reason and it is very interesting to learn from this behaviour as we have ‘forgotten’ about our emotions in the West.
I consider everyday an exciting adventure in China because you never know where you will end up and what will happen. Because everything is so different for a foreigner and you don’t have the ability to understand what exactly everything is, mostly due to the language, China is full of surprises when it comes to exploring! From working at the school, followed by a big meal with my colleagues and ending up to karaoke KTV nights spontaneously is very common in China. People tend to do things instantly when they feel like it in contrast with the West were we plan everything according to schedule.
I was blown away when I was taking my first walks in the streets of Xiangtan and saw crowds of people singing and dancing as an everyday activity in their lifestyle. It was interesting to see people socialise every day while exercising and having fun in parks and streets of the city. When I first started exploring Xiangtan city, I noticed the streets where very crowded with people talking and shouting loudly while drinking alcohol and eating food with chopsticks. It was nice to see people socialise and gather together in restaurants bonding and having a good time.
People in China tend to stare at you for the fact that you are different. Wherever I go, most of them stare at me as if I am an alien from another planet! Particularly in Xiangtan, which is a smaller town of Hunan province, people are not very familiar with foreigners and most of them have never seen a foreigner before. The feeling of being stared everywhere you go in China is definitely that similar of a celebrity and it can be fun. After ten weeks I am used to being stared at almost everywhere I go and it’s a great opportunity to meet people and make new friends as they are always interested and willing to meet a foreigner.
Regarding my teaching experience, I am currently a full time employed English Language Teacher at No. 12 Middle School of Xiangtan in Hunan Province. I teach English language to around 800 pupils a week from Grade 1 and Grade 2. The majority of the pupils successfully co-operate in class following my English lessons with success and a strong interest to learn English. Interestingly, most of the pupils are motivated with a strong passion to learn English Language in China which makes the job position for the foreign teacher very enjoyable if you have a passion for teaching. Teaching English Language in China can be very fun! It requires creativity, effort, dedication and passion for teaching to enjoy it as much as possible. Pupils in China are very interested in Western culture, they want to know all about the West and it’s a great opportunity to offer a cultural exchange to them along with the English language teaching.
The first lessons in my school were amazing! The children loved me from the very first moment they saw me. In the beginning, I got all the attention at my school as I was the only foreign English teacher. When I first entered the classroom, I was welcomed by a very loud and long round of applause with some whistles and cheering! Once again I felt like a celebrity! The children constantly asked me questions about my life and my hometown. They followed me around the school and stared at me as they thought I was strange. It’s very funny and enjoyable to see the children appreciate you so much and get excited when they have lessons with the foreign English Teacher making teaching in China more than just a job. My experience so far living and working in China has been very satisfactory. It has been a great opportunity to explore the culture and learn new aspects of the society on a daily basis. So far, I have made very good friends in Xiangtan and I’ve had the opportunity to travel and explore some of the world’s most beautiful places! If you like teaching and travelling, this is a great opportunity that will definitely be unforgettable!