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Fuzhou, China English Teaching Q & A with Amanda Martin
Written by: Amanda Martin
Last Updated: February 18, 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Taught English abroad previously
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
When I was in university, one of my best friends did an internship in Shanghai for almost a year. She came back with so many amazing stories and photos. I was jealous of her experience, and it made me want to have my own adventures. I was at a crossroads and wanted to change up my life a bit. So I decided to attain my TEFL certification and see other countries for myself.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My main concern was the language barrier that I would face.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My friends and family were initially shocked that I decided to teach abroad. But once I started taking my TEFL course and talking about it more, they became excited for me.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I had been thinking about teaching abroad for a while, but I kept pushing the thought to the back of my mind. It was always something that interested me. One day, I decided just to do it. I looked up different TEFL programs online to see how I could go about the whole process. The International TEFL Academy was naturally the best option for it. They had so much information and the overview of the courses was detailed. It was the best fit for me.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I loved the course. It went over everything that you needed to know as a future TEFL teacher. The instructors were great at giving feedback and emailing back when I had a question. I am happy that they include a practicum (live practice teaching) in their course. It gives you the opportunity to be in a real classroom setting. You get to get over your teaching jitters in the practicum.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
The TEFL training helped me immensely. I had worked in schools back in Texas before, and it provided me with information I didn't think of when it came to teaching English as a foreign language. If I ever got stumped in the classroom or with a lesson plan, I was always able to reflect on my TEFL training.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in China in the city of Fuzhou. The only reason that I went to Fuzhou is because of the school that hired me. They were a great school and really helped me every step of the way.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
A year and a half
What school, company, or program are you working for?
During which months does your school typically hire?
They hire all year round.
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
Yes, I interviewed in advance and secured a position with the school a few months before I flew there.
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of visa did you enter on?
Tourist visa - then work visa.
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I decided to attain a tourist/L visa when I first initially entered China. Once I was there, my school was great about helping me get my documents together for my Z/work visa. They paid for my travel, room, and board to go to Hong Kong to take care of it. When I came back with it, they took care of the paperwork for my residence permit. They did that there in Fuzhou, the city I was living in.
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers?
- Bachelor's Degree
- TEFL Certification
What is the best way to apply?
Online/Email - You can apply at this page: https://www.yorkenglishcareers.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
York English is a private school, so the working hours are when the children are not in public school. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, you work in the late afternoons from about 4:30 to 8:30. On Saturdays and Sundays, you work from 8:30 to 5:30. The weekend is Monday and Tuesday.
Pay is: 8,000RMB-10,000RMB/month ($1,160 USD - $1,450 USD) for inexperienced teachers. For experienced teachers its 9,000RMB-11,000RMB/month ($1,300 USD - $1,600 USD). You also get an airfare reimbursement of 8,000RMB ($1,1160 USD. You have 10 days of paid annual leave and all national Chinese holidays paid in full. In total, you get five and a half weeks of paid leave per year. They also pay for you visa and pay for your medical insurance & accident coverage.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
The school provides you with accommodation upon arrival. They rent out apartments for all of the teachers and pay the rent. So you don't have to worry about that! They normally place you in an apartment with another teacher from your school branch. The apartments are normally close to the school as well. If you don't want to take the free apartment, you have an 1,500RMB/month allowance ($220 USD) for one.
On a scale of 1 - 10 please rate your experience with this school.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
The great thing about teaching in China is that you are able to make so much money, and the cost of living is low. Most schools pay you really well which allows you to save and travel. It is so cheap to travel around Asia once you are there. There are cheap trains and flights that take you all over.
It takes a while to get used to the Chinese culture. It is a little intimidating at first but you really just have to dive in. The food is great. The vegetables and fruits are amazing. It's nice to always have that fresh produce. Beef is expensive since most people don't cook with it. There is an abundance of chicken and pork. However, they don't cut meat well and its not always the freshest. So you have to be careful and really choose your meats well.
There are quite a few nightclubs and bars in Fuzhou. They are getting a lot of import beers at certain places which is nice. The Chinese people are friendly when they see you out and about. They are usually curious about Westerners, so they will try to strike up a conversation. They also love taking photos so they might try to snap a few selfies with you!
Public transportation in Fuzhou mainly consists of the bus which gets extremely crowded at times. Most people have their own scooter that they use to zip around town; that's really the best option. Taxis are also really cheap.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
My rent was paid for by York English. The utilities I paid for were electricity, water, and gas. All of them come separate. Water and gas are always ridiculously cheap. The bill that cost a bit more was electricity, but it was never a "large bill". At most, I paid 75/100rmb ($10 - $12 USD) for my share of the electricity.
Produce is extremely cheap. You can buy a ton of vegetables and fruits for no more than 20rmb ($3 USD). Like I mentioned before, meat is the more expensive food item. You can buy a bottle of water for 1rmb (15 US cents) and take out food for 10/15 rmb ($1.50 - $225 USD).
York English also provides you with a SIM card and a cheap phone. Its a prepaid phone card that you can just top up as you need to.
How would you describe your standard of living?
The standard of living was high.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I was making 8,000 rmb ($160 USD) a month, and I was living very comfortably in Fuzhou.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
The advice I would give is to travel with an open mind. You are going to be teaching in another country with a different culture and way of doing things. Be open to all experiences, the good and the bad. Enjoy the experience for what it is! I would highly recommend teaching English in China. It is such an eye opening experience. With the money that you make it always you to travel not only in China, but throughout Asia as well.
An ITA Graduate, Amanda Martin is from Poteet, Texas with a BS in Forensic Science with a Minor in Psychology from St. Edward’s University in 2011. She was a Teacher’s Assistant for the public schools in Texas for two years before deciding to fly off to Fuzhou, China, to teach English. Since then, she has not stopped traveling and teaching.
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