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Ross tells his story of teaching in China on the Sichuan TEFL internship

China, Guest posts

Hello there

So as my front cover states, my name is Ross and I am a 23 year old civil engineer from South Africa.

I arrived in China at the Chengdu airport on February 17th 2016, where I met quite a few people on the plane who were part of the same program, and instantly started to ask each other questions, getting to know each other - some connected a lot more than others, but that is always the case. I still keep quite a few of the other interns I met as friends, and hopefully will for a long time.

Anyway, after arriving at the airport we were met by several of the volunteers from the China TEFL internship program, who instantly wanted to get to know us, this made us feel very welcome - or at least this is how I felt, we were then taken to the Sichuan Normal University which is where we would be staying for the next week or so - the orientation week is a lot of fun! especially if you are wanting to learn, this is seriously so much fun!

I was placed at the Sichuan College of Architectural Technology, due to my University qualification, and instantly I started to merge myself with the Chinese culture as best as I could, classes only started on the 1st of March and because I arrived February 23rd I had plenty of time to get to know my surroundings a bit better, and better understand the city I was placed in and who the expats are - the university is in Deyang city, on the Saturday after my arrival in the city I was taken to the university foreign affairs office where I was given the list of classes that I would be teaching for the semester, as well as what I will be expected to submit to the school at the end of the everything, I was not given any textbook to work from or any syllabus to follow - but mind you, this is not a bad thing as it allows you to open up your creative side.

As classes started to progress through the semester my lessons started to relate better to the students - or at least this is how it felt, the first lesson should always just be an introduction about yourself, who you are.

What I have come to understand about teaching English as a second language in China is that you should not expect most of your students to be entirely interested in learning English - the ones that sit in the front are often the ones that are really eager, with interest decreasing the further your students move to the back, cell phone usage in classrooms by the less interested ones are common and doesn't really become a problem but students often talk during lessons and that can make teaching very difficult, especially when your classes are between 40 to 45 students.

So, what I have learnt from trial and error with all of my classes is that keep your lessons really simple, try and teach them words or sentences that they can relate to and would use on a daily basis - be it how to ask for directions or trying to hold a conversation with a foreigner, learning how to write is one step, but practicing pronunciation is another very important one, just remember to K.I.S.S - Keep It Simple Stupid, and you will never go wrong.

I hope that this will give the intern who teaches at my university better insight of how to go about planning lessons and what to expect when arriving - however please don't only consider my experiences as final, you should make your own as I have made my own. Remember, do whatever you have to do to relax, be it going on a solo adventure and getting lost in your city or getting together with a group of expats - "there is no time like the present".

We are now accepting applications for the China TEFL internship. Find out more here

Previously: Teaching Teenagers