>Entry One: Introduction

>“I’m headed to China.”

“What for?”

“To teach English.”

“Are you going to see the Olympics?”

“No, I arrive after the Olympics are over. Thank God.”

“I heard somewhere they have 8 billion people!”


“That’s what it said!”

“That’s what what said?”

“Oh the news or something. But they got 8 billion people!”

“Well they do! You better be careful!”

Sometimes the best response is no response at all.

Then again, if it is no response, is it truly a response or simply their interpretation of my silence as a response?

No matter the case, I am going to China next week to teach English for nine months at the Wuhan University of Science and Engineering. My teaching level will be students of sophomore standing, and I am slated to teach conversational English, and perhaps a class on American culture.

China categorizes me as a Foreign Expert Worker, my area of expertise being English. I applied for and received a Worker Visa (type Z), and once I am there, I will apply for (and receive, hopefully) a Residence Permit, which allows me to legally stay there and avoid any messy incidents, like interrogation and deportation. At least let me stay long enough to eat a McDonald’s Cheeseburger. Then I can scratch ‘China’ off my list and be on my way.

I will be a teacher of English as a Foreign language. Getting one of these jobs is easy, if only because there is a high demand for English teachers all over the world, particularly in Asia. ESL Teaching is a hot field. It’s an academic discipline. Many books, theses, dissertations and the like have been written about it. And although an ESL is easy to obtain, it is nowhere near as simple as it may seem. In fact, I’d venture to say the same goes for teaching in general.

To do this, you need to know more than simply how to speak English. As a native speaker, that’s a given. You need to know different nuances of English from the perspective of someone who is learning. It seems obvious, since you are the teacher, but in application, it may prove difficult.

Speaking English is not the same as Knowing English.

For instance, can you explain the difference between a mass noun and a countable noun? You cannot say “I did a homework”. Why? What is the proper adjective order? “Big red balloon” versus “red big balloon”.

Better yet, can you name every verb tense in English? With examples and explanations of each one, how it functions, what it means, and when it’s used? How about the moods?

As you can see, simply being a native speaker of a language is not enough to qualify one as an effective teacher. You need a little more.

To get this job, you need certain qualifications. They do vary greatly, but usually, you have to hold at least a bachelor’s and be a native speaker, but I recommend taking ESL-training classes, read grammar books for ESL teachers, and even take foreign languages. Serious study of any foreign language gives you the chance to look at your own language from a different point of view.

You can also get a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)-certificate, the best being CELTA (offered by Cambridge University both there and in a variety of distance courses), but it’s not necessary. For example, I do not have a TEFL-certificate, though I did take classes geared towards it.

Really, it just depends. If you want to do this, talk to a professor or someone who’s done it and get their opinion. Research carefully too, and remember: it’s not getting the job that’s difficult. Doing it, and doing it well is what matters.

As far as classroom planning goes, the school will provide with lessons and materials, and presumably, I am obligated to follow these preset lessons. Again though, this is something that varies from job to job. I have heard stories of teachers tossed into classrooms with nothing but their own minds to work with. I do know that I will have a certain amount of academic freedom, as they have encouraged me to bring anything I believe will help, but as to how much, that remains to be seen.

For instance, I proposed bringing movies. Their response? No sex, politics, religion, or violence. In other words, nothing good. Thanks guys.

That’s all I had room for this week. If you have any questions, email me. I will either answer them, direct you to the appropriate source, or just read them.

Next week: more information and the week of departure.