Life after the course - teaching in China

We chatted to Estelle Potgieter on her teaching experience after the course, here’s what she had to share:

When did you complete your TEFL course?

February 2019, at the Samui training centre.

Where have you been teaching since completing your course at Samui TEFL?

Peoples Republic of China.

Tell us about the area where you live and work. Is there much to do? Are there other foreign teachers living and working in the area? What do you do for fun outside of school hours?

I live and work in Zaozhuang City, Shandong Province, I have a lovely apartment about 5km from the CBD. It’s surrounded by upcoming apartment blocks. My apartment is close to the stadium. We are 4 South Africans and one Irish girl. We have only spotted one other foreign teacher at a nearby centre.

Tell us about your school?

ABIE is the name of our learning centre. It’s location within Wanda Plaza (a mall) we have well equipped bright classrooms (the centre recently celebrated its 2nd birthday) We teach via smart board and pre-loaded courseware with pictures and unit songs. We have to do our own lesson plans, create our own extra flashcards, and downloaded our own songs as needed.

What is your average workday like?

On an average day, you have to be at school from 14:00pm until 20:10pm, weekends from 9:30am to 19:00. On Fridays we have a teachers meeting and demo lessons for potential new students wanting to join.

What subjects and ages do you teach?

English only, I teach the little ones, Kindergarten and younger.

Is the reality of being a TEFL teacher what you expected?


Is there something from the course that you specifically remember and call on in class – something that you are glad you learnt? Do you think the course prepared you well for teaching in the real world?

Probably our Italian lesson - these Chinese kids really don't understand, it reminds me of Chiara's lesson in Italian... I was totally lost and confused, which is probably how these kids feel most days!

Any tips or anything you’d like to say to someone considering doing their TEFL course?

While on the course, take less notes and rather LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and volunteer as much as you can in class. Even if the kids don’t understand I do get nervous especially during parents day. I want everything to be perfect and run smoothly.

Anything else you would like to add?

If considering China, do us much research on your city as possible, as it can feel lonely and isolated if you are not around other teachers or expats.

‘Best of luck Estelle, it’s great that you are gaining valuable experience in China. Even if this is not your ideal location, the time spent there will equip you well to move on to another location after your contract. ‘

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