We loved following Clare Wilson’s blog during her time on the ‘Teach in China Internship’ and were very sad when it was over – I mean, what will we read during our tea and biscuit break now?
Luckily for us, Clare was kind enough to get in touch to let us know what to do after an internship ends, which is something that we know is on a lot of peoples’ minds when they’re considering booking a space. If you’re sitting there questioning this right now, then prepare to get your answers.
Why did you decide to start teaching English?
It was a means to an end – I wanted to get out of England, see the world and earn a bit of money.
Did you do a TEFL course before you started teaching?
Yeah, I did. I signed up for the China Internship, so completing the TEFL course before I went was one of the requirements. I had no idea about teaching before I did it, so I found it really helpful, especially the classroom module.
What attracted you to the China internship?
I needed to scare myself out of a rut, which is why I picked China (I’d never been or thought of going) and teaching, because the idea of it scared the hell out of me! But, I also decided to be sensible and since I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy teaching or not, I needed to give myself a bit of a safety net. I didn’t want to be stuck in a long contract, and I wanted the support.
What age kids/adults are/were you teaching?
Kindergarten mostly, 18 months – 5yrs, but a couple of classes of older kids from 8 to 14 years old.
What were they like?
Kindergarten was completely terrifying to begin with – and I think the kids were as scared of me as I was of them, but as soon as I got them having fun (literally the easiest thing in the world, just get them jumping around) it was easier. The older kids were a lot of fun, I could actually teach them something and see results. Kindergarten felt like a lot slower progress.
How are you finding/did you find the experience of teaching in China?
I really enjoyed myself overall: it’s very different to teaching in the UK (from what I remember of being taught and talking to teachers over here), and I spent a lot of time feeling like a show-pony foreigner in the Kindergartens rather than a teacher. With the older kids, I found it much more rewarding but I think I got the most out the overall experience of living in China and of blogging for i-to-i rather than the teaching itself.
What did you do once the internship was over?
After the internship, I moved to Beijing and worked for a travel website for six months; and I’m currently back in the UK saving hard for more travels.
How would you rate the experience out of 10 and why?
7/1o. The reason being, I really enjoyed myself, but there were plenty of niggles from myself and the other intern teachers I was friends with. These were partly just unavoidable cultural differences (baffling organisation within schools, lack of notice of events etc) and partly personality clashes.
What would be your advice for someone thinking of joining the China internship?
Keep an open mind, be flexible and go with the flow or you’ll go crazy. If you can do all the above, you’ll have a great time and you’ll meet some great people. Also, try the street food wherever you are, avoid baijiu and don’t leave the house without loo roll!