ABOUT THE TEACHING
For many people simply the thought of standing in-front of a classroom teaching students English is enough to make them feel nervous and uneasy, and this fear is what often deters people from applying altogether. This fear is quickly lost however once applicants begin teaching at their school and find that the job is a lot more fun and less demanding than they had initially expected.
Below we have listed some of the most frequent questions that we receive about foreign teachers in China. If you have any other questions please feel free to check out the FAQ page or contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I HAVE NO TEACHING EXPERIENCE
The graduate programme that we run has been specifically setup to help people with no previous teaching experience find teaching placements across China. Included in our programme all of our applicants will take part in a FREE 120-hour TEFL course (60-hours online and 60-hours in person). The contents of the course (checkout the TEFL page) will provide all of our applicants with the teaching theory and methodology of teaching in China. The TEFL qualification will also make it legal for all of our applicants to teach at (any school across China!) as they will be provided with a Foreign Expert certificate on completion of the course.
Applicants will also be formally invited by our partners (CEAIE) to attend a 2-week summer camp in Beijing (checkout the Summer camp page) that will give our applicants time to put their TEFL theory into practice. During these two weeks all of our applicants will be involved in an intense schedule teaching real classes (sounds scary but it's very rewarding) which will help our applicants improve their teaching abilities before heading to their schools.
The schools that we are partnered with are aware that many of our applicants are new teachers and are there to provide our applicants with support (teaching or otherwise) when needed. Many of these schools will provide a teaching assistant (TA). The role of the TA (generally another Chinese teacher that can speak some English) will be to sit at the back of the classroom and make sure the students behave themselves. Your TA may also help you by providing teaching advice which is very useful for developing as a teacher.
WHAT ARE SOME GENERAL TEACHING RESPONSIBILITIES?
All foreign teachers are expected to follow the general working responsibilities that would be required at any school/company such as attending classes on time, completing lesson plans, and teaching lessons to a suitable standard. In general teachers are hired to improve the oral (speaking & listening) English abilities of their students with much of the grammar and writing requirements being left to the Chinese English teachers to teach. Applicants may be required to follow office hour rules (depending on the school) or certain dress-codes (in a few stricter schools). Applicants may be asked at some schools to teach lessons other than just English (Science, Art, and Sport to name a few) but again this will be taught using oral English.
HOW CAN I TEACH STUDENTS WHEN I CANNOT SPEAK CHINESE?
Schools hire native English teachers to provide their students with an immersive English speaking environment. For those applicants that teach at middle school level or above it is very likely that many of the students in the class will have at the very least some conversational skills (as these days many students in China have a good comprehension of English). This is especially true for the largest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
For applicants that teach at a primary school you should be provided with a teaching assistant in all of your classes (and if for some reason your school doesn't provide one it's something that you can ask your school for). The teaching assistant has two main roles in the classroom. The first is to keep the students listening and to make sure that they are behaving correctly. The second is to make sure that students understand what is being asked of them. The TA will act as a translator for any of the harder material during the lesson. Applicants at primary schools may also be encouraged to use more pictures and interactive elements to improve understanding and engagement.
WHAT DOES A GENERAL CLASS TIMETABLE LOOK LIKE?
The timetable of an applicant teaching at a school really does depend on the school that they are placed with. Some applicants get extremely lucky and find themselves teaching only 5 lessons per week while a few unlucky teachers could have up to 28 per week (around 35-40 mins per class). A general rule for the number of lessons is how central the school is in a city. If it is in the downtown area you are more likely to have an average of 20-25 while if you are in a suburb or less developed city you may have around 8-10 classes. Applicants that select the standard option should receive a placement that is towards the lower end of the spectrum while those on the Pacican option are more likely to have the higher end.
HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE IN EACH CLASS?
Just as with the timetable it is impossible for us to tell you until you arrive at your school as timetable planning can change at any given school. The only thing we can do is work on the feedback from previous teachers at those schools to provide a rough estimate of the number of students that the school will have per class (and the likely timetable scheduling). Some schools have been known to have as little as 15 teachers in a single class with a good estimate being around 35-40 students in a single class. This sounds like a lot and it is more than we are used to in western countries but is more than manageable once an applicant develops some teaching experience and has a teaching assistant present in the room.
WHAT ARE THE AGE RANGES OF THE STUDENTS THAT I WILL TEACH?
We have placements available at primary schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities meaning that our applicants can teach a range of different age groups.
WILL I HAVE OFFICE HOURS?
Office hours generally just means that you must stay within the school during certain time periods. Many teachers use this time to plan lessons for the upcoming week or develop a new hobby/skill such as learning Chinese.
It's possible that applicants may or may not have Around 50% of applicants may have 'office hours' included in their contract. Office hours mean that during the hours that the teacher isn't teaching they must stay in the school.