For many volunteers the participation in assistant teaching is by far the most enjoyable and rewarding part of their China experience. You should have been informed before arriving about the age, level of English and number of students you will be helping to teach (if not, the school should happily tell you what you need to know). It might be a good idea to have a think about any teaching materials you might like to bring with you—stickers and sweets are usually pretty popular and can help to control a noisy class. The students are generally very enthusiastic, and both they and the teachers will be really grateful to you for giving up your time to assist in the teaching of English. The most important qualities are enthusiasm, patience and commitment to your role. English culture and language may be just as unfamiliar to the children as Chinese is to you, so bear this in mind and adapt your lessons as needed.
Teaching methods in China are generally very different from language teaching in England; while the language lessons you may be used to will likely have incorporated games, creative tasks and group work, the way English is taught in China is quite focused on rote-learning. Often, lessons consist of ‘drilling’ (you’ll have learnt this in your TEFL course–this is a method of teaching whereby a teacher reads a word/sentence and the students repeat it back to them numerous times). You might therefore be surprised by how enthusiastically the children respond to games and other fun teaching methods (or perhaps by their reluctance to get involved), as it might be the first time they have been taught in this way.
Similarly, you might be asked to help out in lessons by simply reading out of a textbook and asking the children to repeat back to you. This may seem a bit boring or ineffective, it is the method which the students will likely be used to and most confident with. Feel free to innovate! The schools are usually happy for you to bring in your own ideas too, and as you spend more time with your classes you will start to get to know which methods work best.
Read through the Gotoco TEFL documents carefully before you come out and start to prepare lesson plans based on information provided by your schools. The TEFL course includes general teacher training, as well as China-specific tips on class management, school hierarchies and effective practices.