Tom Hunter's Blog

posted Jul 9, 2014, 7:33 AM by Barbara Hanvey   [ updated Sep 13, 2014, 9:19 AM ]

Tom Hunter's Blog


Hi - I'm Tom Hunter.

I had wanted to teach English abroad for a while, and realised that while I had taught English as a volunteer for a few months, I needed to be better equipped to teach English as a job for a year. 

I discovered that most TEFL courses were quite expensive, and out of my price range as I was a volunteer at the time. I was very pleased to discover the English Language Centre did a useful course and that they offered scholarships covering the entire cost of the programme. I applied and was very pleased to be awarded a scholarship. I was assigned a tutor and got to work on the course, which I completed quickly. My tutor was very helpful on giving feedback on assignments. The course stood me in good stead for what I wanted to do, as it is broad and yet focused on some of the more important aspects of TEFL teaching.

Once I had completed the course I applied through the Careers Service to teach in Asia. The careers service was very efficient and I was quickly rewarded with a place in a school in the city of Ningbo, China. I was very excited to go to a different country for a year!

I was amazed when I first arrived at the welcome I received from my school; I was taken to restaurants and was even shown around the city by some of my students. The school that I taught at was a special Foreign Language school, apparently one of the best in the Province. I had my own classroom, which was fully equipped for PowerPoint. The school also had lots of facilities and was situated outside the city next to a beautiful lake.

My job was to teach oral English, which was a lot of fun. My main aim was to get my students talking English and we had a lot of fun, my TEFL training helped me to think about how I could plan my lessons better and how I could engage my pupils. I taught pupils new words about topics they were interested in, as well as formulating conservation questions for group discussion, debates, presentations and other fun activities and games.

We only had to teach 16 lessons a week, which made for quite a relaxed timetable, especially as an English oral teacher we had no marking to do. We also had numerous short breaks such as when the students had exams. In addition to this during the spring festival holiday I received a whole month off, which I spent travelling around China and southeast Asia.

It was quite sad to say goodbye to my students at the end of a year. Most of the students are very well behaved and eager to learn and practise English. They really like having an international teacher and wanted to learn more about British culture. I got to like one class especially; they were great fun to teach. I will return to China for another year to teach English as the experience of living and working in such a different culture was amazing. 

I would definitely recommend teaching in Asia - while it may be difficult at first, it is very rewarding and I made some great friends in China!

Tom