Andy Catherall

My experience of teaching English in China has been fantastic and I would like to take this opportunity to thank TEIC for being there in the beginning and making it all happen.I loved my year with TEIC so much I have since stayed in China for a further two years.

I was initially placed in Xiangtan, Hunan and had only one, small problem with dirty accommodation and a lack of a computer. This was quickly remedied after one telephone call and as such is testament to the support offered by TEIC and the Chinese affiliate CEAIE. Apart from that I had no major problems or negative culture shock.

I completely immersed myself in Hunan-living; eating great spicy food every day, talking with locals and drinking rice wine with my boss and his friends. Xiangtan locals were so friendly and Chinese hospitality is second to none— you will literally be taken out for dinner every night!

You will also feel somewhat of a celebrity if you are placed out in the provinces. From my first day to my last the same people, despite knowing my face, would still shout “HELLO!” from across the street. It annoys some people but for me it shows just how friendly and happy Chinese people are to see you and have you in their country. Living in the relative countryside was also great for my Chinese. I learnt basic Mandarin much quicker than I had ever expected. Every day provided new opportunities to practice and people are very patient and mostly very encouraging.

As for teaching, my classes were initially a bit rocky. In fact my first class was terrible! I completely forgot I had a blackboard and couldn’t control the students—the result being 60 young Chinese kids going mad. Do not let this put you off, you will quickly learn and as long as the kids are speaking English and having fun it’s all good.

I have now been teaching for three years and things still go wrong. My best advice for a new teacher is; always have a contingency plan, a good reward/punishment system and have FUN. Teaching will be challenging but its well worth it when your students begin to use phrases you have taught and you really begin to build bonds with them. I found that the more effort I put in and the more experience I gained the better my teaching became.

Another excellent benefit of working with TEIC is the holidays. As a result of being placed in a state-school, I must have had at least 2 or 3 months paid holiday. Impromptu holidays due to exams or festivals happened frequently and with the competitive wage offered you can travel wherever you like. In that one year, I travelled to Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, Chengdu and South East Asia and had some of the best times of my life.

Ultimately teaching with TEIC is a great way to begin teaching in China. You will benefit greatly from the security and support of the organization, gain valuable teaching skills, make a difference with your students and have an excellent time!