Taught English in China: summer 2014
Current Job Title: PGCE student
Careers after the placement
Our teachers gain lots of skills through their work in China, like communication skills, leadership ability and experience with public speaking.
Prospective employers value initiative, and the ability to take yourself out of your comfort zone and thrive.
It means that you have lots of careers options upon completing the programme.
A number of our recent teachers pursued a career in teaching, while others now work in finance, the civil service or for NGO’s.
What did you do after teaching English in China?
After completing my Summer Internship, I finished my BA in Philosophy at Cardiff University and am now working towards a Primary PGCE at Southampton University, hoping to become a special needs teacher.
How did teaching in China help you make a career decision?
After teaching in China, I realised how much I enjoyed not only planning and resourcing the lessons but teaching them. I was so nervous before I started that I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but the energy and excitement of the children was so exhilarating that I just couldn’t wait to teach again and again. It also showed me that I had the ability and the resilience to keep up with the long hours and hard work needed to be a successful teacher. It was therefore from this amazing experience that I went home and decided to apply for a position on the Primary PGCE course.
What skills did you gain on the programme that helped you in your career?
There are a number of skills I learnt from this programme. Firstly, I learnt the basics of how to plan and teach a number of lessons. I had never taught before and had no previous knowledge of how to plan and resource lessons so I was definitely thrown in at the deep end! But the other teachers are there to bounce ideas off and soon enough we were all coming up with weird and wonderful lesson plans that kept the children engaged and that we didn’t mind teaching five times a day!
I also learnt a lot about time management. The days were long, tiring and often there would be things to do in the evening as well as planning and resourcing for the next day. This meant that some days it was very difficult to motivate myself to plan, especially in the heat, while other days it was just a matter of having the time! But as long as you’re willing to work hard and commit a good amount of time to preparing each lesson, the days are not only more fun but the time off is that much more appreciated!
I also learnt how to adapt lessons and think on my feet when things didn’t go quite as planned! Whether this was the children already knowing the information I was trying to teach them or the air conditioning breaking across the school so that the children barely had the energy to move, I needed to be able to always think of a back-up and implement it as if it were exactly what I had been planning to do the entire time!
Finally, I learnt how to communicate with the children and to build relationships with them even though we didn’t speak the same language. This would often involve signs, drawing, pointing and put me in good stead for supporting children with English as an Additional language in my teaching.
What’s your advice in terms of boosting your career through teaching in China?
In getting a place on my PGCE course and in getting a job, I have given my experiences in China predominance, not only as it relates to my chosen career but perhaps more importantly because it is something different and unusual that provides a talking point for the interviewer and makes you stand out from the other candidates. It also demonstrates your initiative and drive, to undertake such a challenging experience in your own time.
Also, teaching and living in China has really increased my confidence in new situations and surroundings and dealing with numerous different circumstances as they occur. It’s therefore important to remember these experiences when it comes to advancing yourself in any career path.
Gabriella Cox (2014 programme). Career after China: teaching