name is Samuel Tappenden, and I signed up for the Teach English
In China (TEIC) programme in April 2008. At the time I was studying
for my history degree at Cardiff University. I always had a curious
interest in China but never really had the opportunity to discover
the country more intricately. I was introduced to Professor Phil
Thomas through one of my tutors who is a specialist in Chinese history.
Professor Thomas was extremely welcoming, upfront and honest about
the scheme he was advertising. Initially TEIC seemed too good to
be true – a significant amount of financial support, free
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) training
and a considerable amount of flexibility of where to teach in China.
Professor Thomas worked very hard to ensure I got a placement with
my girlfriend, I received the type of place I wanted to teach in
and the age of the students I wanted to teach.
There was a certain amount of organisation involved to make sure
everything went to plan accordingly. The Chinese visa service Professor
Thomas recommended was very efficient and hassle-free, and he was
always contactable through e-mail to quickly resolve any queries
I had. I also had the support from officials in China with my paper
work. Bureaucracy and administration in China is very different
to Britain: In China, everything takes a long time to happen, and
then things happen all of a sudden. Please don’t let the paperwork
put you off – there isn’t that much to do and it’s
all very straightforward.
So far I’ve really enjoyed my experience in China and I’m
really glad I made the decision to come out here. It was a pretty
big decision to make, and one which I was fairly apprehensive (and
excited!) about. In the first week we arrived in the capital of
Hunan province (Changsha) to complete our TESOL course. The course
introduced me to teaching concepts, gave me practice in classroom
scenarios and gave me a number of materials to help teach my students
throughout the year. The course was really useful, and it was great
to meet the other people on the TEIC programme. The type of people
this programme attracts ranges immensely – newly-graduates,
experienced workers to married couples.
China itself is a fascinating country. Every single person I have
met has been incredibly warm and friendly, and I have nothing but
good things to say about the Chinese people. There are some questionable
social habits, but if you’re like me and enjoy a good laugh
and have an interest in different cultures, who cares! I’m
teaching in a fairly rural school in South Hunan called Jianghua.
I teach fifteen to seventeen year old High School students. Each
week I teach twenty classes of approximately sixty students each.
The levels of ability range immensely – some students have
excellent English, while others struggle. The important thing however
is that the majority of the children want to learn and are absolutely
fascinated with foreigners.
The children are incredibly friendly, open-minded and well-behaved.
For example, each class begins with students standing up, saying
“good morning, how are you?” I’m paid 4000 RMB
each month (about £320) which of course in British terms is
little pay, but considering everything is so cheap here, you can
actually live pretty lavishly. The accommodation is clean, spacious
with all the fundamentals. We have a big living room, a double bed,
a study, a large TV, heating and so on. Accommodation does vary
from school to school, but the organisation makes sure it has the
basic requirements and is keen to ensure you’re needs are
We have plenty of support and help over here. We are well-looked
after by our Chinese teacher colleagues. In your free time you can
do a range of things – play sports, learn Chinese, visit local
sites, and so on. Teaching in China really is what you make it.
The great thing about the programme is that you have plenty of free
time. The total teaching and lesson planning time amounts to about
twenty hours a week. You also have holidays where you have the opportunity
to travel further afield.
I would certainly recommend this scheme to anyone who wants to
try teaching, has an interest in China or would like a more meaningful
way of travelling. The benefits of the scheme are numerous: You
can travel around China, learn Chinese, meet new people, discover
the Chinese culture, and improve your confidence and other ‘employability
skills’. One of the best parts of all is you get financial
assistance and plenty of support at home and abroad.
So whether you’re a newly-graduate looking for an opportunity
to travel, teach and improve your CV, or an experienced graduate
looking to try something completely different and exciting, the
TEIC scheme is definitely for you. The initial effort, organisation
and planning may seem daunting, but when you’re here and enjoying
yourself, it’s completely negligible. The idea of living in
a completely alien country for a year can be quite a nerve-wracking
prospect, and the thought of visas and bureaucracy might make you
think twice, but look past the initial misdemeanors and you’ll
open yourself up to a great opportunity which you’ll be glad
you took part in.
Sam Tappenden 05-11-2008
- Plenty of support from Professor Thomas and Chinese people
- A fantastic way to experience Chinese life
- A significant amount of financial benefits
- Free teacher-training
- Meet new and interesting people
- Free time to travel China, learn Chinese and get involved
- A great (and cheap) thing to do for graduates before starting
- Organisation and planning
- Initial paperwork
- The understandable fear of living in a different country for a
- Initial costs