Working for Birmy English in China Is an Experience I Will Never Forget
The moment the plane took off for Shanghai, I got a bit scared and thought I would be in big trouble. English wouldn’t be the predominant language in the place I was heading to, and I couldn’t speak even a single word in Chinese. Thankfully, though, a staff from Birmy English School went to the airport to pick me up and accompany me to a police station for registration.
Did I experience any culture shock?
Since it was my first time to travel in China, I didn’t have any specific expectations of how my life there would be. But just to prepare myself for what may come, I read blogs about Chinese culture, food, and its people. I also read a couple of forums online to know some stories from people who have actually worked in China as English teachers. But well, I think there could be no right amount or way of preparation for an experience like this. A few days after I arrived in China, I realized that I was in for an adventure. I then decided that I would enjoy this experience as much I could, and that’s exactly what I did.
Was it hard for me to earn the respect of my Chinese students?
I was very enthusiastic to teach the English language to Chinese students. I felt like I had enough experience in teaching, which would make it really easy for me to share everything I know about my own language. But I guess not all my students were as enthusiastic as I was.
At Birmy English, I was assigned to handle teenagers who were between the ages of 13 and 16. I think it was on our third day of class that I realized how uninteresting English was for them. I found it hard to hold their attention, and it was even more challenging to encourage them to communicate using English. I’m just so thankful that the other English teachers at Birmy English were so friendly and they were willing to help me out.
I was invited to a training program for teachers where new ESL teachers were given tips on how to handle Chinese students. I was also given plenty of teaching materials, which I found very useful later on. I realized that my teaching ability wasn’t enough, and I had to be very resourceful and creative in my classes to make sure my students would pay attention to me and get engaged in our class.
Would I come back to teach in China?
I worked at Birmy English School in Xiamen for two years, and now I’m planning to return for another contract. There are so many reasons to love teaching in China so I would definitely want to come back several times in the future.