The Teaching Placement
Once you have arrived in Chengdu, the team in China will then begin to match you to your placement school.
Here there are lots of options available to you, and during the recruitment process we’ll help to narrow them down to find you your perfect placement, be that in a Government School, Kindergarten, Training Centre, or a combination of schools.
If you go to more than one school you can gain experience in different environments, which will be really useful to you as a teacher – and a change of scenery can be refreshing! However, if you are in just one school then you will be able to really get to know your students well, and build a good bond with them, which will help you with your teaching and them with their learning. So, both situations have their positives!
Getting Placed in a School
Some schools will require you to do a demonstration lesson before being accepted. This can be nerve-wracking, but don’t worry! You’ll be able to use some of the skills you’ll have recently learned during your training, and Enfly will be able to give you some help and support in planning the class. If you’re new to teaching and want to chat with a more experienced teacher to get some ideas and suggestions then Enfly can pass you on to someone who will be more than happy to help you.
Remember, a demonstration class is just to show the school an example of your teaching style, your preparation, your personality and your enthusiasm. A lot of teachers feel the need to do an introductory-style class 31 as their demonstration, where they tell the students about themselves and ask the students to introduce each other. While this is fine, it’s a little unoriginal and overdone, and there is only so much that you can do in an introductory class – it might not show off your skills to the fullest extent. It would be best if you chose a topic at random that you thought you could deliver in a fun, original and interesting way – you would be more likely to stand out that way. The internet is full of exciting ideas for lessons and games, and other teachers will be able to give you some good suggestions too.
If for any reason the school decides they require a different teacher, don’t be disheartened. It’s not necessarily a reflection on you or your class – some schools will just have seen several teacher’s demonstration lessons, but have to choose only one teacher. Other schools will favour a certain style of teaching – perhaps one school places an emphasis on fun and games, whereas another may have a more serious approach. Just because your approach doesn’t fit one school doesn’t mean that there is a problem with it – another school may think it is perfect! Enfly will be able to find you an alternative placement school with ease.
Placement School Location
We have schools all over Sichuan province – in cities like Chengdu, Mianyang, Deyang, Yibin, Suining and Bazhong, as well as in smaller towns and rural areas.
If your school provides you with an apartment, it will usually be within walking distance of the school – some of the apartments actually will be 32 within the school grounds! If you do have to travel, though, it won’t be a long journey.
Enfly will help you to work out the best way to get there in terms of public transport. If you take public transport, you can apply for a transport allowance of 200 RMB a month – which will be more than enough to cover the cost of the bus or metro each month.
If you choose your own apartment, Enfly and the estate agency will help you to find accommodation which is near to your school. Or, if you travel between several schools, we can help you to work out the best location to live in so that you have good access to public transport and can get to all your schools as quickly and easily as possible. Again, you will be able to claim the 200 RMB transport allowance to help cover the costs.
(Please bear in mind that if you choose your own apartment, it is of course up to you where you live. Because of this, if you choose to live extremely far from your school then that’s your decision, and if you start to get sick of the journey, Enfly won’t be able to help you or do anything about it! So please think carefully when choosing your apartment location.)
Some of you may be travelling to several schools, and these schools won’t always be in the same area. Therefore, even if you choose your own apartment, it might be impossible to find a central location where you will have quick and easy access to every school. Or sometimes, one of your schools might be quite far away, and difficult to get to. If this applies to you, don’t worry. You won’t need to spend lots of time or extra money on public transport. You can use the Didi app to take a car to school – we will be able 33 to help you to use this app. Make sure that you ask for receipts and keep them, and then give them to Enfly at the end of each month – if you do this, Enfly will reimburse you in full each month for the previous month’s Didi fees.
Please note: Didi travel will only be reimbursed in certain situations, such as those mentioned above – where a teacher has no choice but to travel for a long distance, or where public transport is not a reasonable option. Again, if you only go to one school and you simply choose to live far away from it, you won’t be able to claim this. Or if you claim the travel allowance and have to take a Didi one day because you’re running late or don’t fancy taking the bus, you won’t be able to have this money reimbursed – you will be expected to pay for it from your travel allowance. Please speak with Enfly to see if you are entitled to a Didi allowance, as it is only for special circumstances.
Your First Day
- Your first day in a new school can be daunting, but the other teachers are usually incredibly friendly and helpful, and will make you feel welcome! You should be given a specific contact at the school – usually a teacher who’s been given the job of taking care of you. They will give you your timetable, introduce you to the other school staff, and show you around. This person should be your primary point of contact with the school – if you have any questions, just ask them, and they will be able to find out any information for you.
- Find out from your contact what the school want from you, as 34 different schools have different expectations from their foreign teachers. For example, some teachers will be asked to work from the school text book in their classes. Others won’t use the textbook themselves – the Chinese English teacher will use it, and the foreign teacher will prepare a fun class on the same topic that has just been covered, so that the students can practice what they have learned. At some schools, the foreign teacher will be given total control of their class, being able to plan lessons on any topics that they fancy. Even if you won’t be using the textbook in your classes, it might be a good idea to ask to see a copy because this will give you a good indication of what level the students are working at and what they already know.
- It’s also a good idea to find out what approach the school wants you to take, as some schools want the foreign teacher to prepare fun, active classes where students can play games and do activities to practice their speaking and listening, whereas others might want more serious classes where you’ll cover speaking, listening, reading and writing. It’s just best to know what they want from you as it will make your life easier when it comes to lesson planning, and you’ll be able to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Some of the placement schools will provide teachers with a Chinese Teaching Assistant to act as translator, or some will ask their Chinese English teacher to sit in on your classes to provide you with assistance should you need any. However, not all schools will do this. Often it depends on the age group you are working with – if you’re in a kindergarten or working with young children you will probably have 35 someone in your classes, whereas if you’re working with older primary students, or middle or high school students you may not. If you don’t have assistance and you feel that you would benefit from having some, please speak to you school contact.
- If you don’t have a translator in your class, one good idea is to use the PowerPoint to provide any translations you may need, whether that’s vocabulary or instructions for games or activities. You can ask a Chinese friend, a teacher from your school, or one of the girls from Enfly to translate the words for you when you plan your class – it’s best not to rely on online translators as these are often inaccurate, which can cause a lot of confusion.
Your First Lesson
Try not to be too nervous – if you’ve done a demonstration class, you already know that the school like you! Just ensure that you are well prepared for the class.
The best way to ensure everything goes smoothly is to prepare a detailed lesson plan containing the activities you will be doing, with a realistic estimate of how long each thing will take. It’s a good idea to prepare flexible activities that can work for students of slightly different abilities, because for your first class you probably won’t be 100% certain what level your students are or how much they already know.
It might also be a good idea to prepare a little too much for this class. If you have a 40-minute class, for example, prepare enough to last for 1 hour. This way, if your students are a higher level than you expect and complete everything quickly, you won’t 36 suddenly find yourself with 10 minutes left until the end of the class but nothing to do!
You should always prepare a PowerPoint presentation to accompany your class – it will make explaining things easier for you, and visual aids are good at helping students understand things. If you don’t prepare a PowerPoint, Chinese staff might mistake this for your being a little unprepared, which of course you don’t want on your first day!
When it comes to preparing your first class, hopefully your TEFL-in-China training will still be fresh in your mind, and you will have a few good ideas from this that you can use! If you still need some more ideas, there are loads of sources that you can use to help you. You can find all sorts of great resources on the internet – games, songs, videos, activity ideas, worksheets, etc – which you can discover just by using a search engine. Most of the stuff is also free to download. Some websites, like ESL Kid Stuff and British Council provide full lesson plans which you can download and take ideas from.
If you are worried about not having enough ideas, there are some great books you can buy to help you. ‘176 English Language Games for Children’ by Shelley Ann Vernon and ‘100 Great ESL Games’ by Adrian Bozon are a couple of examples of books that provide clear instructions for loads of great games and activities – covering a huge number of topics – that students of all ages will enjoy. If you want to talk to a more experienced teacher for some help and advice, then please contact Enfly who can put you in touch with someone who will be more than happy to help you!
Remember, all teachers know how nerve-wracking first classes can be, and the Chinese staff won’t judge you if something doesn’t go perfectly according to plan – they’ve been in your position themselves! Sometimes it takes a little while to get to know your students and find out what works best for them. Try to relax and enjoy the class.
Chinese class sizes are often much bigger than you’ll be used to – primary, middle and high school classes usually have between 45 and 60 students per class! Kindergarten classes will be a bit smaller, with 20-30 students per class.
Larger class sizes bring their own challenges, but you will quickly learn how to deal with them effectively. One good idea is to put the class into pairs or groups to do activities and exercises, and into teams to play games.
Big classes can be more difficult to control than smaller ones, but you can ask their Chinese teachers for advice – they will probably have some effective techniques that you too can use. The best thing to do, though, is to keep the class interesting so you don’t lose their attention – make sure you have enough activities prepared so that you can move on if an activity turns out to be unsuccessful. Even if an activity is going well, know when it is over – even something really fun can get boring if it goes on for too long! Similarly, even the most fun games can become old if they are played too regularly, so try and find a variety to keep students interested.
Use the PowerPoint to your advantage – using things like pictures, videos and songs will keep students interested, whereas just listening to you speak and seeing you write on the board might get boring for them.
Your school prepares your timetable, and although they will do their best to ensure that your class times are close together, they can’t always guarantee this. Some days you might have all of your classes in the morning and be able to go home at lunchtime, but other days your classes might be more spread out throughout the day. Obviously, everyone would prefer to have their classes one after the other so that their working day is shorter, but there will be times when you have breaks between classes. For one thing, lunchtimes here are quite long – a lot of schools have almost two hours – so if you have classes before and after lunch that’s something to bear in mind.
Some days you might just have a few free periods between classes. If you have a really long break, feel free to go out, or go home – you don’t have to stay in school. If your break is not long enough to go 39 home in then you can try and use your time wisely – if you spend your free periods planning lessons, for example, then you will have no work to do when you get home!
If you are really unhappy about your timetable, please let Enfly know as soon as possible and we can speak to your school about the possibility of rearranging some of your classes to make a timetable that you prefer.
But please be reasonable about this as it might not be possible. Lesson timetables are planned with all the teachers in the school in mind, and it might be simply impossible to move your classes without a huge amount of time having to go into preparing a new timetable, and a huge amount of disruption caused for all the other teachers who will inevitably have to have their lessons moved.