Teaching English in China: How My Journey Started
Updated: May 4, 2020
Sometimes life comes around and knocks you down, right? Think about a specific time in the past when this has happened to you.
Well, the next few paragraphs that you are about to read is my story.
Since I was a little boy, I had big aspirations and dreams of traveling all over the world. I dreamed about visiting and seeing all the beautiful places most people only ever see on Instagram pictures. But, you know, life happened. I worked for a company where I didn’t fit in. I was stuck in a career that I did not enjoy. At that time, I knew something had to change. After some setbacks on both my side and my girlfriend's, we found ourselves sitting in our living room one night, in tears and full of frustration. This got us talking about a topic that we have talked about in the past: TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
At that very moment, we decided that we are going to press the reset button. We decided that we're going to start our TEFL journey. We decided to embark on this TEFL journey in order to save up money, travel the world and figure out our next step. We immediately went online and started searching for places where we can get our TEFL certificates. We found i-to-i TEFL online, but we were still unsure of the exact course we needed.
After inquiring on the i-to-i website we received an instant call back. Since we were so impressed with the customer service, we chose to go with i-to-i (Read the full i-To-I review here). My girlfriend and I chose to complete slightly different courses, as she already had teaching experience and as for me, I had ZERO! I purchased the 320 Hour TEFL Course, whereas my girlfriend signed up for the 300 Hour TEFL Course. The major difference between our courses was the 20 hour practical session included in my course. (Read the practical session review here).
Enrolled in our courses and full of excitement, we started looking for teaching jobs online and found a tremendous amount of job opportunities. Of course, there are many scams out there, but never let that deter you from this amazing opportunity (read our safety tips when deciding on a job).
We set up some interviews and found two great opportunities in both Vietnam and China, but eventually decided on China, because money talks. In general, TEFL teachers in China are paid more than TEFL teachers in Vietnam. After following these safety tips we both signed our contracts for these new jobs in a city called Shijiazhuang. (We couldn't even pronounce the city's name at the time!) We started the applications getting the right documents to teach TEFL in China after wiping the tears of our parents faces when they heard the news of us leaving. Within 3 months our bags were fully packed and we were on our way to Shijiazhuang, Hebei via Beijing. When we arrived, we met a representative from our new school at the airport. We spent a few hours in Beijing before catching the bus to the train station to travel to our new home in Shijiazhuang. The high-speed trains between Shijiazhuang and Beijing are extremely clean and the seats are more spacious than any airplane seat that I have ever sat in. The train is quick and reliable.
We arrived in Shijiazhuang and made the mistake of not exchanging money. On top of being hungry, thirsty and extremely tired, our bank cards weren't working - we were trying to buy food at small retailer close to our apartment. Luckily, our school’s representative gave us some money and helped us to properly settle in the next day. We had to open bank accounts, register at the police station etc.
After some informal training and exploring, we started teaching. We loved working for Hutchin Education (Haoqian Education). We had an amazing boss, great colleagues, made many new friends, had the opportunity of travelling and saving up some money. For me in particular, saving up money was very crucial at that time because I had to buy a ring! The time was right. I was ready to propose to my girlfriend on The Great Wall of China. (More about our travel as TEFL teachers)
A lot of wonderful things happened that year. We had opportunities that very few careers can offer, really. I would recommend TEFL to anyone and everyone looking for a reset, looking for something fun and who is longing for change!
When you consider to make the TEFL move, you have to be comfortable with change and be willing to adapt and accept the way they do things in other countries.
If you are wondering: ‘’Is TEFL still worth it and is it still safe?” My answer would be: DEFINITELY! TEFL is definitely worth it. You just have to be open-minded and smart when you pick your job and your destination. If you are still unsure about all of this, perhaps you should consider teaching TEFL online. You'll still have the opportunity to travel.
Get in touch if you have any questions or need advice finding work abroad or online.