Zac joined our programme in Dongguan (Winnerway Foreign Language School) in the summer of 2017, please read on for his feedback.
Please can you tell us about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?
My school had a few excursions (such as a museum and the cinema) and a water fight, which proved fun as you could bond with the children without having to stress over improvements to your lesson (it mainly involved me playing with them and therefore acting like a child). The first proper day in Yangshuo was nice as it involved everyone on the programme doing the same activities together (visiting a cave and mud-bath, swimming in an outdoor pool, and bathing in a hot spring, where in my school we were split into groups who couldn’t see each other often.
Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?
For me the main highlight was the water fight, as I could fight back against the kids without having to worry about hurting them. Every kid I taught, aimed (successfully) to get me, and I initially got them when they were filling up their pistols to begin. Another was during a day where the kids visited a farm near the outskirts of Guangzhou, in the afternoon while watching some of the class to climb a ladder, some of the kids taught me a little bit of Mandarin (it helped their English as they had to explain what the word meant) and were excited when I wrote the character correctly.
How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?
It definitely helped me to adapt and use my initiative, as we were given a timetable with vague headings that we were supposed to plan (including resources) and create lessons out of. In the beginning, we had to plan a lot and our plans would not cover the entire lesson, so we would have to think of activities for the children to do during the lesson, in case our lessons were too short. Another thing is confidence as we were supposed to behave in a certain way to maintain the kids’ attention, so initially we had to front confidence, which grew throughout time.
What was the best thing about your experience in China?
I found that the ‘culture shock’ had no negative impact on me, in fact the opposite. Every day, I spent there I felt that I was learning something, not only about teaching, but the way that the culture works: such as the good restaurants are the small ones that I would avoid in England, and that you don’t have to be fluent in a language to survive in that nation (though I would advise learning it) that I couldn’t learn in the UK, so that I can apply these lessons in the future and further understand other cultures.
Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?
I would because it teaches you how to live without the Western accessories taken for granted, such as clean taps and good internet, so that you can learn to live without them and appreciate them more. Additionally, it would teach them what I have learnt, and give them the same skills that I have gained over the summer. The TEFL gained out of it would also boost employability and give them plenty of stories to tell for an interview or entertainment (though part of me wants to keep the experience to myself).