“I’m only going for 12 months”. That’s the typical ESL teacher line you hear all the time. Guess what, though? I’ve been working at Aston for more than 2 years now. My experience is a little different to most as I had lived in Shanghai for university in 2010 before I later decided to come back and work. Having already lived in China, albeit it in one of the most westernised parts, I already knew I loved it. This time around my main concerns were improving my Chinese and trying something new. As much as I loved Shanghai and all the conveniences it offered I knew the abundance of foreign culture would hold me back from really honing my language skills. So I went in search of smaller cities for my 12-month teaching trip. I found Aston’s website pretty easily and considered it before finding a recruiter to help me check out some other options. As fate would have it this guy also recruited for Aston and one of the best deals he found was with them. I chose Aston because of the security that comes with working for an established company.
I taught for 10 months in Xiangyang Aston, Hubei province and really loved it there. Not to heap on the cheese but I made friends for life there who I still go back and visit often. I started this job having previous training only teaching adults and hoping that I would get older students. Now, after trying it all, it turns out my favourite classes are the teeny tots so don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! There are so many fun parts to teaching kids, from the adorable mistakes they make, like calling a TV a KTV, to when they run up and hug you after a class or track you down in the office for a chat just because. A few weeks ago we were doing an Easter treasure hunt and as the students waited for it to start one of the students, Jack, threw back his head and bellowed “I’m soooo happy.” Everybody cracked up laughing and it’s stuff like that that makes this job so enjoyable.
After 10 months I decided that my time had gone too fast and that I wanted to stay in China as long as I could progress further in my work. This is something a lot of people don’t consider much when teaching abroad but Aston offers plenty of opportunities for people to progress within the company if it interests them. After 10 months as a teacher I moved schools and became Foreign Assistant Manager at Weinan Aston and it’s been a great experience.
For me the best part of Weinan Aston has to be the staff. Weinan’s manager and most of the Chinese teachers have all been here for years and years. Every single one of them knows their job so well that the school is run extremely efficiently. Every class and event is planned well in advance, down to the last detail and teachers are given ample notice for everything. Every teacher knows their students, many of which have studied here since they were toddlers, really well and genuinely care about their learning and progress.
The most rewarding aspects of being Foreign Assistant Manager have definitely been the chance to give real input into marketing events and training and making sure that new teachers settle in and enjoy their work. Knowing that your efforts have had a positive effect on the schools enrollment numbers or helped to give students and parents a positive impression of the school is amazing.
Aside from a positive work environment, Weinan Aston also offers plenty of leisure time for teachers to explore the rest of China. Often times Weinan’s manager is flexible and affords teachers an extra day off. With up to 4 days free to travel there’s no excuse not to get out there! This is pretty unusual and gives you such a great opportunity to use your time off for amazing travel. Just some of the things I’ve had the good fortune to experience are a bungee jump in Yichang, a nighttime climb of Mount Hua to watch the gorgeous sunrise, a tandem bike ride along the coast in Xiamen and a visit to Harbin during the breathtaking Ice and snow festival. Even having done these things there is so much left to do and as it comes around to the end of this contract I might just stay a little longer…