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My First Week as an ESL Teacher | by Courtney Straker

My new office in my new role as an ESL teacher, is approximately 10 minutes walk from my flat – I timed myself. I couldn’t be happier. Public transport here in Fuzhou is more than adequate but I have no legible timetable, and the buses appear to arrive as and when they please. Being able to eradicate the stress of timing my journey to work gives me indescribable pleasure, and delays my need of an inevitable E-Bike. Ssshh, don’t tell my Mom!

ESL teacher

Located on the street corner, above a small but convenient supermarket, of which I find myself in almost daily, a KFC, of which I hope not to find myself in except in emergencies, and a live frog restaurant, of which I confidently believe I shall never step foot inside, is the brand spanking new Da Ru branch of York English, my new employer.

The sliding doors into reception bring a welcome relief of shade and cool air. The building is fresh, clean and very cute! My allocated desk has been decorated with essential supplies, a kid’s stick windmill and a mini welcome poster. It’s all very snazzy and comfortable.

There are eight brightly decorated and fully equipped classrooms, smart looking interview rooms and a spacious and welcoming waiting area for parents, filled with books, games and computers for the children to use as they wait for their class to begin.

ESL teacher

ESL teacher training begins with a well thought out guide for me to complete, and a timetable of observations and workshops. Week two will consist of team teaching, where I will have the opportunity to be more active in the classroom and practice my modelling skills.

The most difficult part about this week was, by far, trying not to fall asleep! Lessons and workshops were by no means difficult or boring, and the time difference meant I was more adjusted than most, but jetlag is inescapable. Several times I nearly snapped my own neck as my head almost fell off my shoulders – often in full view of the parents who crane their own necks to peak a view at their precious gems singing an the ‘Hello Song’. I sensibly opted for a few early nights and by Saturday was feeling much more refreshed.

york english

Newfound ‘refreshedness’ in place, I arranged to have a spot of dinner with fellow teachers Issy and Matt from a different school, who I’ve been chatting to since early August before arriving to China. Saturday I spent at a much busier Xihu (pronounced ‘she-who’) branch where I observed the lovely Louise and Ed.

After a lunch of Shanghai dumplings I met with Issy and Matt for burritos and sweet potato fries. It was lovely to finally meet some of those I had spent many an hour debating and discussing a shared future with. They gave me the heads up on what to expect and I nailed my bus journey home alone, in the dark. Winning. I love how safe I feel here in Fuzhou!

courtney at work

Sunday night being my new Friday night, Lauren and Ryan from my branch drove me to a YH Bravo, a local chain supermarket. This particular one was a beautiful indoor food market with seating outside for diners. I didn’t get a picture as despite mobile phones and the snapping of photographs being quite commonplace here, I haven’t quite gotten over my awkwardness at being caught taking a photo in public, especially not in a supermarket!

I won’t do it justice in describing it but it had a large seafood corner serving lobster and all sorts of fish and sushi, a large meat corner serving some glorious looking steak, a huge fruit stand with fruits I’d never seen before, a bar, and a bakery section serving all sorts of loafs and cakes and desserts I can’t wait to try. It’s a wonderful spot to unwind after a hectic but enjoyable week. The weather is still warm enough to sit outside and it’s a great opportunity to meet teachers old and new from other branches.

My ESL teacher training gives me the time and space to explore different teaching methods, phonics and the use of resources such as the Interactive White Boards that have an array of programmes for PowerPoints, games and classroom activities.

esl teacher

So next week I begin a week at work team teaching, which I am definitely nervous about, but less so thanks to all the kindness and support of my co-workers. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this teaching malarkey but I’ll give it my best shot!

Team teaching will enable me to ease in to the role of a teacher rather than being thrown in at the deep end, and as someone who has never taught before, this is huge blessing. Taking part in classes from different courses, age ranges and abilities, and practicing both the opening and closing of a class as well as the activities in-between can only help improve my confidence as well as my skill as a teacher.

I am only a week in as an ESL teacher, but so far I am very happy with the welcome and training provided. The guides and courses are clear and well planned. The support is fantastic and the working environment relaxed yet passionate. The rest is down to me, so here’s to hoping I’m not too shabby!

Courtney is a teacher from the United Kingdom at our Da Ru branch. 

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