I stood there, 21 years old, degree in hand, fresh out of university and thinking I knew it all. Problem is I didn’t really have a clue. I had no real work experience and all I had ever done was what my parents/society expected of me: go to school, get an education and find a job. The issue was which job did I want to get? You’d think I would have figured it out by that point.
I jumped online and decided it was time to go abroad and find my calling, but with 3 years of student debt hanging over my head this wasn’t exactly a realistic option, either. That’s when I found Aston and thanks to their varied contracts I quickly realised I’d hit the jackpot. It changed my life forever and it can change yours, too. Here are five reasons why …
- Develop an entirely new skill set.
Teaching Chinese learners who are young, old, beginner, advanced, slow learners, quick learners, naughty and well behaved requires you to adapt, especially when they’re thrown together in one room. Working with different types of people throughout the day forces you to apply different styles and different skills constantly. Even better, this is something you carry forward with you no matter where you go.
- Become someone you never knew you could be.
In my opinion there are two types of teachers: (1) born-to-be-teachers and (2) teacher-enactors. Some people are natural teachers who can confidently lead a classroom and have students’ hanging on their every sentence from the word go. Others have to enact teaching or even become an extension of themselves. I fall into the latter. For me, teaching involves playing the role of what I believe a teacher should be and in doing so I gained a whole new level of confidence.
- Learn a new language.
When you’re thrown headfirst into an entirely new country you’re going to learn a new language. Whether that’s on purpose or not you’ll pick it up regardless, because everyone does. What better language to learn than Chinese – an ancient language with the most speakers in the world. If that isn’t enough, the fact that China continues to dominate the world stage should be a good enough reason for anyone to learn Chinese.
- Open your mind.
Teaching in China will expose you to never before seen sights, sounds, tastes, people and experiences. The challenging language barrier and minefield of cultural conundrums will force you to open your mind, examine situations from different perspectives and think differently … literally. I say literally because studies have found that speaking Chinese requires using a part of your brain that processes tones, which is unused by English speakers and other non-tonal languages.
- Stand out from the crowd (and become psychic).
I didn’t mention this at the beginning, but as it happens, I’m psychic. Upon returning from China – assuming you do – I guarantee you I know the first question that your family, friends and future employer will ask you. It’ll go something like this: “Huh, so China, what was that like?” When this question comes up (and it will constantly come up) you may find that you’re lost for words. To condense your experience of teaching in China down into just a few mere sentences is damn near impossible. Words will fail to express anything close to what happens in this amazing, strange, incredible country.
Regardless of which story you decide to divulge from your treasure trove of China tales, one thing is for sure: it’ll be a good one. It’s that experience which will make you stand out from the crowd for the rest of your life and it’s that same experience that will change your life, forever.
So, what are you waiting for?
Written by Lawrence Smyth
A former employee of Aston Location 3, Xi’an, Shaanxi
Employed between March 2012 – March 2014
Currently an employee of Anker Electronics in Changsha, Hunan Province