November 14: Teaching in China

This week I want to talk a little bit about my job as a teacher! Before leaving, I got asked a lot of questions about what types of things I would teach, how I would know what to teach, if I would be able to communicate with my students, etc. I figured it was finally time to give some updated answers.

On a daily basis I teach between 2-5 classes. They could be one hour, two hour, or even some specialty classes. On the weekdays, I teach only 1 hour classes (usually 2-3 per night). Because kids have to go to school and parents have to work, we only teach in the evenings on the weekdays. Here’s what my weekday schedule looks like:

Mondays: I teach 2 classes. Both of my classes are 4-5 year olds.

Tuesdays: I teach 2 classes. My first class is 3-4 year olds and my second class is 4-5 year olds.

Fridays: I teach 3 classes. I teach 3-4 year olds, then 4-5 year olds, then 5-6 year olds.

Is it exhausting teaching very young kids all week long? Yes. Are they adorable? Also, yes.

The board behind me is actually how I do classroom management! Each kid gets to pick a color and an animal at the start of class and they get stars for following the rules. I also take away stars if they’re being naughty. At the end of the lesson, they get stickers if they were good and have a lot of stars!

The weekends have more variability to them. I teach kids between the ages of 3-13 on the weekends and it’s kind of crazy. On Saturday mornings I teach a class of 4-year-olds and then teach a class of 11-13 year old students immediately after. It’s a weird switch.

The curriculum is already designed, so I just have to plan the lessons around the language set out in the curriculum. For the little ones (under age 7), my classes usually consist of: lots of games, songs, drilling new vocabulary with flashcards, table time (workbook time), phonics, videos, writing, and reading. For example, in a regular class, I start with a song, do some classroom management stuff, teach new vocabulary, play a few games, have table time, play another game, sing a song, and then it’s time to go! The lessons are very fun!

Playing a game with one of my students using flashcards

To answer the question about whether my students can understand me: sometimes. I make sure to speak in really simple sentences and try to use vocabulary they already know. So I say the same things every week basically. When they come into class and I want them to give me their books I say: “Can I have your books, please?” Since I’m repeating the exact same phrase every lesson, they start to understand what it means even if they don’t know every word. I also have a TA (well, 60% of the time) who is Chinese and can speak English (maybe not super well, but enough). The TA can help if a kid has a question and I can’t understand them. I never use my TA to explain something or to communicate with my kids.

In classes with older students, we still do all of the same things, but we don’t really do songs or videos (occasionally we will, but not every day). The games we play are also more complex. My favorite thing about teaching older kids is that you can play games that don’t necessarily correspond to what I’m supposed to be teaching, as long as the kids have to speak English, it’s okay to play.

Sometimes on the weekends, I get to teach specialty classes. That could mean anything from making a craft to a dessert, to having a holiday party. This weekend, I’m in charge of the Thanksgiving party at my school! We have crafts, games, and food for the kids and their parents.

In this class, we taught students how to make mooncakes and then made them! We finished with making decorations and boxes to put their mooncakes in.

That’s it for now! Next week, I’ll be writing a special blog post celebrating my 3-month mark of living in China! In the post, I want to answer as many questions as I can about living in China/teaching/traveling/etc! Send me your questions on Facebook, email (, tell my parents and they can tell me, or however you want!

See you all next week!


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