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After College Lifestyles
English as a Foreign Language
Gabriel Teaches English as a Foreign Language to high school students in Anhui, China. Gabriel graduated with a Mechanical Engineering major from Yale University, but decided, since he's still young, to travel to China, experience and learn the culture, while teaching English. Follow his Journey!
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Quick Stats on Teaching English as a Foreign Language
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Life of a College Grad English Teacher
As a quick overview, I create my own curriculum for Chinese students and then teach it. The freedom that comes with making my own curriculum and teaching my interests have been extremely rewarding. My class is a supplemental English class where my students can practice speaking. In their other English class, the focus of the class is to improve their test scores for the college entrance exam.
English Teacher's Daily Routine:
9:00 AM Wake up, make/buy breakfast, prepare for tutoring
10:00 AM Go to tutoring, (I live in the school, so commute takes 10 seconds)
11:10 AM Exercise
12:30 PM Lunch
2:20 PM Teach English as a foreign language to students (3 times, 40 min each)
5:45 PM Run extracurricular activities
7:30 PM Dinner, shower
8:30 PM Self-study (Chinese, computer programming), prepare curriculum
How To Get Into The Field
Well, I actually majored in Mechanical Engineering. I wouldn't say that Engineering was a bridge to teaching English in rural China. This job took recent graduates from my college and sent them off to teach in China for two years.
I really didn't know what I wanted to do after graduating. Grad school was an option. However, after talking to a few graduate students, I decided that I wouldn't go to grad school unless I knew what I wanted to study and could see myself dedicating several years in that field. I just wasn't ready to give up a vast majority of my time doing something that I wasn't sure I'd be happy with. I did one study abroad program in the past and really enjoyed the experience. It was definitely a highlight of my college life. I am young and not married. Heck! Why not do this now and travel a bunch? Seeing China, learning Chinese, and teaching kids seemed like a worthwhile experience, and it has been.
What Do You Really
My program sets up tutoring for me through the school, so every weekday a Chinese teacher comes and tutors me for about an hour. If I'm not preparing for my Chinese class, I am usually preparing for class. I don't have a set curriculum, so I have to create everything from scratch. Then I usually have to teach about 3 classes for 40 minutes each. After that I run or help out with a few extracurricular activities, soccer practice and a school musical/play.
Pros/Cons of Your Job
My job gives me a lot of free time and flexibility. The cost of living in China is fairly cheap, so I am able to travel and do all the things I've wanted to do. It really has given me some time to think about what I really want to do. Also, teaching is a really rewarding job. On the other hand, if I don't keep myself busy, I can easily get frustrated with living in a foreign country especially since I can't communicate all my thoughts and ideas to locals. I guess it could feel a bit isolating and the free time doesn't always help with that. I do have three other people from my college here. At times it is almost like an extension of my college career. I think people who like new experiences and need some time to think before taking the next big step in life. Also anyone who is interested in China and education will really find value in this experience.
Tour My School Accommodations in China:
Quick Stats on Anhui, China
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The Life of a College Grad In Anhui, China
What's it Like to Live Here?
The more I live here the more I realize that China is a huge place. I guess like any large country different parts of China will seem and look different. Where I live it is quite small compared to other cities in China. What I say about my experiences may differ vastly from other parts of China. I would say that the language/cultural barrier causes a lot of misunderstanding. Although once there is some cultural exchange, I feel quite at home. Most people here recognize me as one of four foreign teachers/ foreigners who live in the area and understand that I am far away from home. I almost feel like family in some ways. My neighbor who I've only known for about a year invited me and the other foreign teachers to her daughter's wedding. We even sang at the wedding. Sometimes I do feel like circus monkeys being paraded around. Mix feelings you know. Overall though, I love it. I think working with my students and seeing everything they have to go through really made me think twice about my life. The students here go through tremendous amounts of pressure. Some of them start school at 6:30 in the morning and end at 10:30 at night, 6 days a week. Despite this I feel like the class as a whole has a pure joy that I haven't seen in a long time. Some people say it's innocence because they aren't exposed to much. Maybe? Despite all that I think this experience has helped me grow as a person.
How Did I End Up Here?
I grew up in Hawaii and then went to college in California and Connecticut. After graduating from college, I applied for a job to teach in China through a program at my college. Now I am finishing up my last year of the program in China.
I have a roommate who is doing the same thing I am. We have a pretty good set-up. We each have our own room with a bathroom in them. We have a living room and a kitchen. Occasionally, we have movie nights in our classroom using the projector because we live so close to the classroom.
You are only young once. Take advantage of this time.
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