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    Teaching at Training Centre in China

    When one approaches mentor in China as a professional course, there are a couple of choices available. Kindergarten, Training Centre, International School, or University. Each, a greatly different experience, with a series of advantages and disadvantages. Not that I knew any of this, as a fresh-faced graduate looking to teach and take a trip to China for the very first time.

    Fresh off the Boat

    I still didn't actually know what that involved, even as I stepped off the plane and into my brand-new position as Foreign Specialist at Starsplendor School of English. A Training Centre, for the inexperienced, is an extracurricular language school that runs outside of regular school hours. 6-8 pm on weekdays, 8 am-6 pm on the weekend; all the time, every day during the summer season. At Starsplendor, I found myself working Wednesday-- Sunday (with Mondays and Tuesdays off), teaching around 18 hours a week. Each class would be 40 minutes long, with a class size of between 15-80 (!) students. Being young, naïve, and brand-new to the industry, I had no concept of whether these practices were basic or not (they are not) however threw myself into the task regardless. Even as the summer season hit and my workload increased significantly (teaching anything approximately 12 hours a day), I had a blast in my first teaching position.

    For my 2nd year in China, I chose to seek out a more regulated kind of school, with official training and chances for professional development. I looked for the most significant name I could find in ESL, and rapidly found a job working for EF Chengdu. Another franchise of training centers, this school would teach me the nuts-and-bolts of TEFL education. In addition to the training and professional chances (I progressed to the senior teacher within my very first year), the work was more stable, and the class sizes were much smaller sized (no more than 15 per class). While training centers-- definitely the big corporate ones-- leave much to be wanted in vacation time and incomes, they offer outstanding on-the-job training and consistent working hours. Still, after two years of prancing ready to Child Shark for the amusement of three-year-olds, I was left hankering for something more.

    To Be, or Not to Be ...

    Therefore I sought out a middle school position in Shanghai, as a grade 7 Literature Teacher. As a literature graduate and a long-lasting fan of reading, this would be my dream title. Additionally, I could anticipate a large pay bump, decreased ACH (actual teaching time), and summer seasons off. Most importantly-- no more Infant Shark. Rather, I would be teaching one of my favorite stories of perpetuity ... William Shakespeare's (abridged, graded) Hamlet!

    Working as the grade 7 Literature Teacher, I presently teach sixteen classes per week (each 40 minutes long), with weekends off. Class sizes are larger than one can anticipate discovering at most training centers-- roughly 30 trainees per class-- with a much higher focus on tests and test outcomes.

    I had some experience working with older children, however none of the students I had actually previously experienced in training centers could have prepared me for the level of English at an international school like this one. While there are still some who can hardly string together a sentence, many are almost fluent; permitting me to have thorough discussions on such broad and varied topics as Full Metal Jacket and the John Wick franchise. "Excuse me," I stated to one particular student, who had actually been speaking with his classmate through the whole of my lesson. "Would you like to inform the rest of the class what you were gossiping about during your Literature lesson?" He blushed. "I was just informing him about this film I saw last night," he said ... "Friday the 13th Part 5." As a scary fanatic myself, I didn't have it in me to reprimand him any even more.

    A various type of class needs a various kind of class management system, no longer relying on sticker labels or pretend money to reward my students for good behaviour. A class of thirty or so rowdy thirteen-year-olds is an intimidating prospect, and not for the faint of heart. Instead, rewards now consist of less homework on the weekends, or a movie lesson later on during the term. Another benefit of teaching middle schoolers over language centre children is that the previous are normally more efficient in caring about their grades than the latter. Some can't be inspired, try as you might, but most can be persuaded to knuckle down when it concerns the crunch. Which is more than you can say for a class of overexcited six-year-olds who simply want to enjoy Paw Patrol instead of their set up flashcard drill.