Sarah is an Aston English alumna who spent a year as a Foreign Teacher in Wuhan, China. During her second year of teaching in China, she was promoted to Foreign Manager. Sarah is from Scotland, and she’s currently residing in Lucena, Spain where she continues to teach English.
How would you overall describe your experience with Aston?
For me, the opportunity to join the team in Wuhan will always be remembered as absolutely invaluable to me. I was able to grow as a person, teacher, team member, and part of the local community I joined.
How was your transition to China, and how did Aston help you adjust?
As well as being provided with accommodation and cultural advice, paperwork and documentation, etc., we had a lovely group who showed me around Wuhan, local restaurants, malls, the riverside, markets and much more! Immediately when I arrived, I had a small support group. I think more structured language courses for teachers would really help with both the transition into the school, chatting and reassuring parents, and also integrating into the wonderful, authentic community environments we live in.
Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
I think that we had a great team in Wuhan, and it would be really useful to make the whole of Aston in China a much closer endeavor. Towards the end of my time, I made more contacts throughout the company and it helped both myself and my colleagues to understand things like expectations, aims, teaching methods, and just share stories with other teachers from schools around China. We shared marketing techniques, lesson plans for upcoming curriculum and found people who were facing the same obstacles and opportunities.
Would you recommend Aston English to a person interested in teaching abroad? Why or why not?
I would recommend Aston to people looking for a job abroad, providing they were prepared for China! There are so many schools to choose from, in so many places, that I would advise people to ask all their questions and do all their research to ensure they are making the right location choice. I’m very easy going, but the extent of the cultural shocks faced upon arrival in China can be too much for some! If you are open, flexible, adventurous, and have a passion for teaching, then I recommend Aston. I care a lot about the company, and I think a lot of people join up because they fancy a year out and TEFL seems like an easy job. If you are ready to give 100%, then that is what you will get in return from Aston!
What aspects of teaching with Aston English do you like and dislike?
I liked the variety of ages and abilities that I taught. It gave me a chance to try out so many different things and really understand the needs of the students. I equally liked and disliked being part of a franchise. It meant I could travel to different schools on different days and have a change of scenery, but also that I had to sometimes travel between schools on the same days. That was extra tiring. However, it was always an excuse to get out my book or magazine, or switch off and watch the world around me!
What sort of advice would you give a person considering Aston?
Aston is a company which encourages development and supports teachers who want to move up in EFL. I think that if you wish to grow and explore your options, or simply learn some new lessons in a good, challenging environment, then this is the company for you! You must be flexible, and you must be ready to deal with clashing cultural ideals or new, umm… ways of communicating! Give in to your growth mindset, be humble, and work hard.
What sort of things were you able to achieve in China with Aston that you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish at home?
I spent most of my time exploring Wuhan as I made friends all over the city and even in almost two years, I couldn’t see it all! We travelled easily to Shanghai, Beijing, and even Bangkok and the Thai coasts. But the majority of my great experiences were in the quiet corners, the bustling parks, the garish alleys, and the local terraces with friends from around the world. I did happen to make it onto Chinese news also, after returning a (rather plump) wallet I found to its owner with the help of Chinese social media platform, WeiXin.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experiences?
Just a thank you to everyone I met along the way and to Aston itself, you never know what will happen in the future, so SAVE ME A SPACE GUYS!