Jayde Walker - English Teacher, Teach International, China

Jayde Walker
'Teaching English overseas allowed me the opportunity to get the best possible experience out of living in a foreign country while providing the security of an income and somewhere to live, and also giving something back.'

Having opened their home to Chinese international students over the years, Jayde Walker and her mother became interested in teaching in China to learn more about the culture. Once they completed their TESOL certificates, the numerous job opportunities for English teachers in China allowed them to take off with Jayde’s then three-year-old daughter, Farryn, in tow.

Jayde has since returned to her home town of Brisbane where she works for a recruitment agency recruiting Chinese staff to work on cruise ships. Jayde’s mum is still teaching in China, and her daughter Farryn is the first foreign student to have completed grade one at her school in China.

What motivated you to get your TESOL qualification?

I was definitely ready for a change and itching to travel again. Teaching English overseas allowed me the opportunity to get the best possible experience out of living in a foreign country while providing the security of an income and somewhere to live, and also giving something back.

Was it difficult to get a working visa for China?

No. Once we had our letter of employment from our agent, along with our travel itinerary, it was pretty straightforward.

What teaching jobs are available in China?

All levels of teaching are available – everything from early childhood, right through to universities, business English and private classes.

What are working conditions like in China?

Schools have very minimal resources. In the classroom you often just have a blackboard and chalk. There was no heating in winter or air con in the stifling hot summers. I taught around 20 to 25 classes a week, not including private lessons. My contract included a round-trip airfare, furnished accommodation, and a monthly salary. The conditions change from school to school, and whether you go through an agent or are employed directly by the school. I have done both, and for me, I found being hired by the school a much better option. I received holiday pay, sick pay, utilities and meals. The school also treated me to regular outings such as visiting many of the local tourist attractions.

How did you get your job?

Both mum and I posted our resumes on a website for teaching in China. She and I were inundated with phone calls. Originally we went through an agent; they placed us in the schools, organised accommodation and helped us settle in. When our contract with the agency came up for renewal, the school we were teaching at offered us a contract directly which we accepted. I would definitely recommend negotiating a contract with a school, as you cut out the agent, and receive all the benefits you are entitled to, such as holiday pay. We also opted to teach private students who were referred to us by our school. This was additional to our contract.

How long did it take to get your TESOL qualification?

I had never taught before, so enrolled in a 100-hour foundation course with Teach International. This included a five-day in-class component which allowed me to prepare lesson plans and have mock classes. It gave me the tools for a smooth transition into an unfamiliar territory. Without the comprehensive training I doubt I would have had the same success.

What cultural differences did you find?

I learned that when someone gives you a gift, it is impolite to open it in front of them. You should also never take your shoes off in public, such as in a park, as this is considered to be extremely offensive.

What would you say to people wanting to teach English overseas?

As Nike would say ‘Just do it!’. Doing a course really is the fundamental building block to a stress-free teaching experience. The information you gain is invaluable, and it’s also reassuring to know you have ongoing support even while you’re away. I also strongly suggest you start learning the language before you leave! It makes things infinitely easier if you know the basics already. It’s challenging, frustrating, overwhelming, exciting and rewarding!

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