In the last post, I discussed life matters and occurrences with Jessica Hill, and she was kind enough to provide some deep insights into teaching English in Thailand.
In this post I’d like to introduce you to Richelle who has a blog over at AdventuresAroundAsia.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading Richelle’s blog, where she shares her deepest emotions about friends that quickly turn into “dust” and about her desire to have a travel-partner boyfriend and such issues. And then there’s the occasional giggly moment that I personally have, like when I read this:
“This month I’m leading a summer camp through work for a new crop of Chinese high school students. Today I dressed up as a banana and threw candy at children.”
I don’t think Richelle even considered this to be amusing, but I found it hilarious. Sorry Richelle, it’s just my odd humor kicking in.
Anyways, I can really identify with this young lady of a mere 25 years, and yet, I’m almost twice her age. Funny that – how age poses no boundaries to relating closely with another person’s inner emotion and intellect. Oh, and she has a penchant for spicy food, so we’re potential eating buddies, too!
Her blog is truly compulsive reading, so, if I may suggest, do sign up to her newsletter over there so you can be regularly treated to her fascinating insights on China, on teaching English, on travel, and on life in general.
Richelle’s Blog: Adventures Around Asia
Let’s turn our attention to the feedback that Richelle provided to my questions about her experiences of teaching English in China…
- What made you want to teach English as a foreign or secondary language originally?
I’ve always been very interested in other countries and cultures, specifically China. I studied abroad in China in my third year of college, and was dying to go back after graduation. The best and easiest way was by teaching English! I had some experience tutoring a student in English from my time studying abroad, and I thought I might enjoy the job. I was also excited to live as an expat in China, and spend my free time traveling and exploring what my city had to offer.
- What steps did you take to make that become a reality? Examples: Experience gained; your degree if you have one; did you also undertake a TEFL/TESOL/ some other form of language training certificate? Did you make any other preparations for life abroad?
I had a bachelors degree from George Washington University. I also obtained a TEFL on the ground in China through the program I applied with: Ameson Year in China. Honestly, I don’t really recommend Ameson Year in China as a placement service. I think you’re much better off finding your own job in China and purchasing a TEFL yourself. Since I had already lived in China, I wasn’t too worried about moving abroad to teach. I did get a one-month job at a summer school teaching in Beijing before my program started, which helped me feel a bit more confident in the classroom.
- How did you feel when you first arrived at your new place of abode and work? Were you confident in your abilities or particularly hesitant (like I was)?
To be honest, my arrival was a disaster. Ameson Year in China promised us we would all be placed in cities with other Ameson Teachers, and they put me in the middle of the Chinese countryside by myself! I had no idea my school was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by factories until the day I arrived at the school. Talk about a surprise! While I thought I was prepared for anything, I definitely was not ready for that revelation and I almost decided to quit and find another school myself. I eventually decided to stay, but it was a tough choice!
- Please feel free to relate to the readers any outstanding experiences during the time you were teaching. For example, any major successes; any real embarrassing moments? And, how long were you/ have you been there?
I actually have a ton of crazy stories and embarrassing moments from my time abroad, that I wrote about in my post: Confessions of an ESL Teacher in China. I definitely suggest you check it out if you want to be entertained!
[Note from Joseph: I did check out your post, Richelle. Massively entertaining, and something of an eye-opener, particularly for those who are thinking about teaching abroad, but have yet to venture forth. I used to teach not far from Ningbo, actually – in Wenzhou, just to the south.]
- If you wouldn’t mind sharing, approximately how much were you earning? No need to be exact, it’s just to give the readers some insight into what can be expected as a foreign teacher of English in individual countries.
As a teacher with the Ameson Year in China program, I was earning 5,000 RMB per month (about USD750) with free flights, housing, TEFL certificate, round trip plane ticket and health insurance. This is actually pretty low for an ESL teacher in China. A company like Disney English will give you all of these things for free, but pays you 10,000 RMB per month (around USD1,500). You only need to purchase the TEFL certificate on your own before you are hired.
- If you have moved on from that job, what did you then do?
After my year teaching in the Chinese countryside, I earned my Master’s in International Communications at the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China. Then I moved to Beijing where I’ve been working as a college admissions consultant, helping Chinese students apply to American universities!
- In what way do you feel the whole experience has helped you in life in general?
Overall, I think teaching abroad has helped me in so many ways. This experience taught me how strong I am and improved my self-reliance. It also shattered stereotypes I had about Chinese students and China in general, and gave me the confidence to travel solo! It was the loneliness of teaching in China that inspired me to take my travel blog seriously. Since I didn’t have people to talk to, I was able to express my feelings and tell my crazy stories through writing instead.
There’s no way I would still be in China right now if it weren’t for my year teaching abroad.