Hello there! My name is Emily Rose Chapman. I am from Omaha, Nebraska. I have resided and worked in China as an English teacher now for a little over 9 months. I live in Jurong, which is a little unique town that lies within Jiangsu province and is connected to Zhenjiang.
There are many reasons as to why I decided to work and teach abroad. I have always found the Chinese culture to be fascinating, not to mention the food is yummy! I had worked in the medical field ever since I had graduated from high school almost 10 years ago and realized I needed a change after completing my bachelor’s degree. I craved a completely new experience with new people and new scenery. I also plan to enter nursing school when I return back to the States so this job has allowed me to save so much money and become financially more stable which has taken a huge burden off future debts.
I was randomly looking for jobs in the Google search engine and typed “bachelor degree jobs”, and this job popped up and first thing I saw was “teaching English abroad” and that excited me, although I did have some normal suspicions as to if it was legit or not. I researched it, applied online, interviewed with my recruiter online, and sure enough aced the video assessment required.
It was such a spontaneous thing for me, but I couldn’t be happier that I made the choice to do it. Sometimes you just need to be brave enough to take the opportunities that are right in front of you and make a big change! Career China made it such a smooth process to get all the required documents and prepare for this dramatic life changing experience. They explained the entire process and answered all of my questions very well.
My journey to China has had its ups and downs as it would with any foreigner. The biggest challenges that I have met were all communication related. It’s so nice if you know the language before you come or even know the basics. I have learned some basic Chinese to survive my time here but at first that was the hardest challenge for me. Communication barriers can be tricky and translation software apps don’t always translate correctly, which can lead to some pretty good laughs also.
Acclimating to the culture and understanding the way they do things here is helpful. You will feel culture shock which is normal. Another thing to consider is the environmental change. The air, water, pressure is all different. Your body will take some time to adjust. I alleviated this with lots of vitamins and living as healthy as I possibly can and getting enough rest. If I ever had questions about anything I would just ask someone. I made friends with my apartment neighbors so I can ask them for help anytime and my managers are also very helpful too.
At first I was indifferent about my little city because I wanted to have a subway line and more to see and do. I realized over time though that I actually really enjoyed living in a small city because its quiet and you can find everything you need a lot easier.
My apartment is literally a 5-minute walk from work, so living in a smaller area alleviates having a long commute to work. I also bought a e-bike when I first arrived to my city so I can get just about anywhere on my e-bike which is great!
During my off time from work, I love to workout at the gym, get massages, get my nails done, walk to the beautiful parks we have here and just enjoy my time in my apartment watching movies, reading, studying, and talking with friends and family on the phone.
Living in a small city is a very unique experience and the people here are so friendly and all know you which is kind of cool. The great thing is that I am in between 2 big cities, Zhenjiang and Nanjing, which are both about 45-minute bus drive away, so I feel as if I got the best of both worlds in that aspect.
This year has had a lot of change in events and various materials to learn. We first learned the old material, then the new material, and then we went online due to the corona outbreak. I actually really enjoy teaching online because it allows me to enjoy work from the comfort of my home. I can get a lot of things done while working, which is great. I still work with my same kids so I get to at least see them most days.
During this outbreak time, I saw a lot of the country side of China which was such a lovely experience. I studied for my future nursing school materials, involved myself with some online work-related activities, cleaned my apartment, worked out at home, and watched a lot of movies. I actually really enjoyed our lock down and tried to make the best of it as much as I could.
Switching online has been great! I really like the function controls and how user friendly it is. It’s a great system and I wouldn’t mind continue to teaching online. I do miss seeing my kids face to face and receiving all their love too though!
I like to engage my kids by asking them questions of previously learned knowledge to see if they can remember target concepts and words. I like to use reward systems like stars or fruits! If they do well they get a fruit or a star. Reward systems are extremely encouraging for the students.
I also like to be super enthusiastic with them and laugh and smile a lot because I know as a teacher if I can be super engaging, they will reciprocate that in their learning. I play games with them and try and ask conceptual checking questions to ensure they actually understand the materials.
I make sure I build rapport with each student so they feel more comfortable with me. I found it helps them to open up more and not be so shy. The target goal is to make learning fun so that each class is so enjoyable for them, including myself. With the online teaching there is a podium function to drag the students down so the teacher can speak with them one-on-one. I try and use that function as much as possible so that they each feel equally involved.
Read more: 10 Ideas To Engage Your Online ESL Students
My favorite thing about teaching in China is that it’s just a completely different and new experience. It was nice to get away from the same old way of life I had back home. I love the children so much and they are so fun to work with. I love the food, I love the people, I love the work.
I was told by some of my old college friends that teaching is one of my skills but I never believed them until I came here. Teaching here in China has given me so much confidence and I feel as if I am a whole new person. You build a lot of resilience with acclimating to a new place and starting a completely new career. With that I can say I am extremely happy to have made this decision.
Some memorable moments I had with the kids was on Halloween, I dressed up as a skeleton lady and they all loved it! We took pictures together and handed out candy. They are always wanting to take pictures with me and wanting to give me hugs. I love the classes that go really well when I can really make them interested in learning the material. I love when they get interested and ask me questions about just anything and everything. I have told them about my life in America and showed them pictures of home and my family. They are so curious and I love it!
Some of my older students are so funny and we’ve had quite a few laughs in class and during our online teaching. These are some moments I will always cherish. I want to thank Career China and First Leap for making this year such a great and memorable experience!