A Self Introduction – Part One: Coming to China

Stig Photography: 2014.09.17 - PPT Self Introduction &emdash;

I thought it would be nice to meet, before I start rambling on about my experiences, advice, recommendations and what not. So let me go first and I hope, you will introduce yourself in the comments below.

My name is Mikkel. I am 26 years old and I have been working as a teacher in China for the past 4 years. When I came to China, I had no teaching experience, I had only just finished my bachelor´s degree at university and I honestly didn’t have much of an idea, of what was going to happen next. I had decided that I wanted to go to China, I had decided that my home country, Denmark, was boring and didn’t really offer what I was looking for, in terms of employment at the time. I decided that I wanted to go and try something new, and so I did.

Touchdown!

Stig Photography: 2014.09.17 - PPT Self Introduction &emdash;

They actually spelled my name wrong on my name card. My last name is Larsen, not Larson. People thought I was Swedish, and while Sweden is my neighbor, I guess I am proud to be a Dane!

I arrived in China in late July 2010 as part of a group of 8 Danish teacher trainees. We had all signed up for a program called Teach and Travel China, hosted by a company called IES Global who have now changed their name to ImmerQi. The premise was simple. We would receive 120 hours of intensive TEFL training in Beijing, along with some practical teaching experience at a local primary-, middle-, or high school and then we would be sent all over China to work as teachers in training for about 4-5 months (one academic semester). In total, I think we were around 85 or so trainees from many different countries.

For the month of August, we all studied hard to complete the theoretical part of our TEFL certification. 120 lecture hours spread out over a 4-week period, with sightseeing and traveling arranged for the weekends. During the theoretical training we were given assignments to complete and our progress was monitored to make sure we met the goals. Upon completion of the theoretical program, we were all assigned to different schools around China. Myself and 5 others, went to Changsha in Hunan province to our practical experience. Our school was a privately owned primary boarding school run by Shazitang Education Group who also owned about 4 other primary schools in the city along with 2 kindergartens.

And So My Watch Begins

Stig Photography: 2014.09.17 - PPT Self Introduction &emdash;

I started out as a trainee at this new public school, but I quickly found that even with the language barrier, I still had a talent for connecting with these children, make them laugh and enjoy the time I was with them, but perhaps more importantly, the students were listening, because they thought I was interesting. I had similar experiences back home in Denmark, where I used to coach handball to a group of small children aged 4-6 and the response from the students and parents was amazing. I used the same methods with my new students, tried to make everything fun and interesting, and it paid off.

It meant that I taught less efficiently, meaning I covered less content, but my students did seem to understand it better. Unfortunately, as I was new and still in training, I also made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t make the material suitable for their age and level, and my lessons were, more often than not, too difficult. But with help and guidance from the trainers at my school, and the end of my semester at Shazitang, I had given public demonstration classes to parents and to government educational officials and I had been invited on several occasions to come and observe Chinese teachers to give feedback on their English and their teaching methods because they found that while I was not the most effective teacher, I was definitely very much loved by my students.