The Oxford TEFL Blog

Stella: Where are you now?

We got in touch with Stella, one of our Trinity CertTESOL graduates, to find out where her certificate took her after the course. One of the great things about the Trinity CertTESOL is that it is recognized everywhere by employers. It can literally take you anywhere in the world! Find out here what Stella is doing now with hers:

1.     Which location and date did you take your Trinity CertTESOL?

I took the Trinity CertTESOL on site program in Prague last August, 2015. 

2.     Why did you choose that location?

I decided to choose a city I had never visited before, Prague. Moreover, if I was going to spend a month studying, I’d rather do it in a beautiful city.

Teach English china

3.     Where are you now?

Right now I’m on a year-long contract teaching for a Sino Canadian School (bilingual school) in Hefei, Anhui Province, China.That’s very close to Nanjing and 1 hour by plane from Shanghai.

4.     Why did you choose to go there?

I didn’t really choose it, China chose me. I only knew that I would be doing my Trinity CertTESOL in Prague for a month and then I would start applying for a job in Japan. One month before coming to Prague, a friend of mine had been offered a job in China, and while she was visiting my hometown for the summer holidays there was a new opening. She asked me if I’m interested, I thought about it for an hour and said “why not?”. It was harder for my parents, especially my mom, to accept the fact that I was going thiiiiis far away. She’s really coming to grips with it, so I am more than happy.

5.     Was it easy to find work?

I can only tell you that I’ve been looking for a new job lately and I have had several interviews so far. I believe that China has such a big demand in foreign teachers right now, that anybody well-qualified can easily find a well-paid job with all the benefits that come along.

6.     Where are you working and for how many hours?

I work 40 hours a week, weekends off. I have 4 to 5 teaching periods a day, the rest of it is prep periods or office hours as they call it. I use these hours for lesson planning or correcting homework/papers.

7.     What type of classes do you teach?

I teach English Language (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking) to middle school and high school students, which means students aged between 15 and 18. 

8.     What are your students like?

Most of them are very respectful and interesting and they wish to study abroad too. Of course I have students who are not interested in the foreign language classes but I believe this is mainly because I work for a private school and children here are more relaxed in their overall approach towards life. What really shocked me in China was the fact that students have to spend more than 12 hours a day at school, which leaves them exhausted. They can practically sleep while walking around. So it takes a bit more energy to keep them interested in the class, but I have no problems with young adolescents and we really get along. They often invite me out or ask my opinion on things, so there’s a friendly atmosphere in the air. They were also very pleased I am Greek because they know a lot of stuff about my country and its history, so it kind of broke the ice during the first weeks. 

9.     What is the pay like?

I am getting paid triple the money I was earning back in Greece for the same amount of work. Plus I receive a bonus for my MA degree. And bear in mind that back home I had to do three different jobs to make ends meet. Moreover, as I came to realize, depending on the institution, the pay can actually be way higher than what I’m getting right now. Especially if you move to a bigger city, like Beijing or Shanghai. The best part of working as an ESL teacher in China is the benefits package. They usually pay for your accommodation and/or food, the flight to and back, so most of your daily expenses are covered.

10.  What do you miss most about home?

My family and the social life. I live in a campus located in an area that’s 30 mins away from dowtown by cab. This means my only chance of going out and meeting people or doing stuff is during the weekends. I am not really used to this kind of living. Back home even if I were exhausted from work, I would always meet friends to go for a beer or at least a walk. Here that is quite impossible, but I’ve started planning long weekend trips around China this semester to spice things up.

teach abroad china

11.  What do you usually do at the weekend now?

Trips. The coming weekend I’m going to Guilin, southern China, for three days. And then I have another four trips planned until June. I’ve also found this amazing place where you can have traditional Chinese massage. This has become a weekend routine. I also study Japanese during the weekends, so I’m keeping myself busy. Bars and restaurants are always part of what my friends and I do during the weekends.

12.  Where do you plan to go next?

The ultimate goal has always been Japan because I’m interested in the Japanese language and culture. I’m probably staying in China for another year or so to work on my Chinese and see the country before eventually applying for Japan. My not having a passport from an English speaking country has made access to Japan a bit tricky last year (which is totally ridiculous given that native speakers I’ve met so far in Asia teach without a degree of TEFL certificate whatsoever), but the mentality towards ESL teachers coming from non-English speaking countries is changing and I hope I will get enough experience and money to move to a small rural town of Japan in 2018. That would be awesome for me.

If you would like to study or work abroad, you might consider taking the Trinity CertTESOL course in one of our centres. Get in touch to find out more or apply for the course here.

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