Teaching in China VS. Teaching in the UK
The relationship you build with your students is vital for the best outcome of a successful learning environment. So, how does this differ from China to the UK?
In an interview undertaken by F&Y Consultant with a TEFL teacher completing their first year in China, we asked the question “how was this different to teaching in the UK?”
Amy arrived in China ready to teach English in a middle school in Wuhan, this was after she had completed 8 months as a teaching assistant in a primary school in Leeds UK.
The first idea Amy had before arriving to China was the stereotypes she had seen in films and tv; the strict Chinese parents and teachers teaching their children in regimented bleak school environments, ensuring the students behaviour studious and hard working at all times! I’m sure we can all relate to this! On the contrary, Amy’s experience of UK schools was at times…testing! She had a conclusion that many UK students did not know the importance of education until their final years when the realisation hits home; they need good grades to go to college/university. Perhaps this is because UK students are given more independence than their Chinese peers, in some ways students in the UK are treated more like adults, given responsibilities and freedom of choice, than some of those in China. The emphasis on respecting your elders is somewhat lost at times within the western culture, however this is still very much the forefront of Chinese culture.
Amy was very pleasantly surprised when she arrived at her school for the first day of teaching, the school was situated in beautiful scenery, all the children were very happy and greeted her with wide grins
The first difference Amy noticed was that the children were already sat in their classroom waiting for her arrival, in the UK she was expected to round the children up and direct them into their classroom.The teaching assistant introduced the class to Amy then it was over to her, the classroom assistant sat down at the front and all eyes were on Amy. Amy found this very intimidating at first and had expected a slower approach into her teaching English class. However, Amy very quickly adapted to this new environment and found it easier to bond with the students and get to learning quicker than if she had shadowed a teacher and taken a back seat from the beginning., like she had done in the UK.
The Differences in Teaching
1 The behaviour of the Chinese students was at all times very good in the English classes
2 The times of each class are shorter than in the UK, the students do not get distracted because of this and it is the right amount of time to do one activity thoroughly.
3 The teaching hours are less than in the UK which gives more time for lesson planning, plus time for socialising. A happy teacher is a good teacher!
4 There is a lot more freedom around lesson planning, the national curriculum does not entail strict rules for English lessons. This gives foreign teachers creativity and free expression in their desired teaching techniques.
5 Parents are increasingly involved in their children’s learning than that in the UK, parents evening is held weekly, this creates a stronger bond in the teacher parent relationship
6 Parents in China are increasingly hiring foreign teachers as private tutors, the money offered is very high and is an added bonus on top of a foreign teacher’s salary.
7 The ever-growing economy in China has put a huge emphasis on learning the English language. For this reason, foreign teachers are held with very high regard and respected by all members of the Chinese community
8 The weekends and weekdays foreign teachers have off, are spent exploring China’s great wonders. It is so cheap and easy to travel around China that the weekend can be spent hiking mountains and exploring ancient caves! I certainly didn’t have the choice of that living and working in the UK
“My overall experience teaching in China has been wonderful, I have grown as a teacher so much and my confidence levels are sky high! I have met amazing friends along the way and made amazing memories which I will cherish. I have been able to save enough money teaching in China to go to Australia for one year to carry on my adventures! I will definitely come back to China to teach English in the future, I am so thankful I had this opportunity”