How/Where did you start teaching?

For the foreign English teachers here, how and where did you first start teaching? Did you sign up overseas with a chain? Did you go to a hostel and find a job through the classified? Did you know someone already teaching here who set up you? Did you have any teaching experience or training? or were you thrown into a class to sink or swim? Please share your experience.

Here’s my experience

I started out in Taipei (well, NeiHu to be exact) with a chain school. They, of course, gave us training in their method and materials and each lesson had a clear (though not always appropriate or interesting) plan to follow. The branch I first worked for was pretty helpful. The pay was relatively low, the quality of education was questionable, and the administration was often unreasonable, but many of our local colleagues were sincere and helpful. Several were good teachers even though they were stuck with the school’s flawed curriculum. Outside of work, they showed us around, helped us out (like accompanying us to see a doctor if we were sick), and some we went out with socially. I also feel incredibly lucky that the group of foreign teachers (all newbies) at my branch got along well and made great roommates.

What are your stories?

I was an adult immigrant chalky in Australia. Teaching migrants, overseas students etc. I still have the first two gigs I landed over 3 years ago. Found one in the China Post and the other from a newly acquired friend via the China Post application.

I studied Chinese in my final year of University and was keen to go and teach English in China after I graduated (mainly so I could learn Chinese rather than because I really wanted to teach English). A few people suggested to me that I should go to Taiwan instead. After I finished my university studies I spent a month doing the CELTA course. I then spent ten days travelling around Thailand before I arrived in Taipei.

When I first arrived in Taipei I stayed at the Happy Family Hostel. The first day or two I just wandered around Taipei trying to orient myself. On the third day I made a few phone calls about jobs. One of the schools I called was ELSI. They were very keen and the next day the director of one of their schools came to the hostel to meet me and then we went to the school. I can’t remember if I signed up on that day or the next, but about three days later I was teaching my first class.

I was glad I had done the CELTA course because it at least gave me some idea about what I should have been doing. Even so when I look back at the first few classes I taught–even though I spent a lot of time preparing–they probably weren’t great.

Since I started teaching English I have taught in Taiwan, Australia and China. It has been interesting for the most part, but I don’t see it as a long term career. In the next year or two I intend to start a career in an area related to my university studies.

I started teaching on a summer course for one summer after CELTA, then I came to Taiwan. Started with a small school (non-chain) and got a lot of experience making almost every mistake I could in the first few years.

After three years, things in the business were basically lousy, because my boss had neither teaching experience nor business acumen to any degree.

So I went part-time with another organisation, got married and developed a thriving private clientele for three years.

I’m glad I worked in the language school: learned very well how NOT to run a business, deal with customers/staff, GREAT education! To think I got paid for that, too!