a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
Don’t get me wrong, China is incredible, but it’s tough. I’ve lived there on two separate occasions, so there definitely is some sort of attraction to the country, but at the same time I found it really difficult. Anyway, seeing as China is such a popular choice for TEFLers, I thought I’d help prepare you for the reality with the 5 reasons I didn’t enjoy China:
5. The Language
Even though this is something we experience in most countries, in China I found it extremely trying. Besides the fact that a conversation in Mandarin or Cantonese is more of a screaming match (just my impression), I have never found a language which is so specific. In my feeble attempts at Mandarin, even if I thought I was pronouncing a word very similar to the authentic word, people would look at me with complete and utter incomprehension.
This was obviously not the fault of the language or the speakers but rather my linguistic skills, but oh so frustrating to deal with on a daily basis.
4. The Food
I need to qualify this. I was living way down south in a tiny little not-very-pretty industrial town. I ate at the school where I was working, and the only cooking method that seemed to be available was boiling. Everything was boiled beyond recognition – a colourless, nutritionless bowl of…something. And then I went to Beijing, discovered dumplings and realised what I was missing.
3. My Teaching Assistant
Many teachers would love to have a teaching assistant, and I thought I would too. Instead I ended up in a weird territory battle with mine, who took charge of general admin and all the fun stuff and left me to do everything else. Preparing lunch, serving lunch, making sure there were no fatalities during lunch, cleaning up after lunch (sweeping, mopping, washing tables), supervising nap times – all no small feat with a class of 25 6-year olds. I worked flat-out every day from 9 to 5, and then I still needed to find the time to prep and teach English, Music, Sport and IQ.
Let me just say there were many grumpy pants moments at school.
Not their fault, but these kids were absolute nightmares. Of course it didn’t help that there were so many of them and my assistant seemed to disappear every 5 minutes, but every day was chaotic (and often disastrous). Every. Single. Day.
Who am I kidding? I loved those little ones, but I just couldn’t handle it without any support. So totally not their fault. But I wouldn’t do it again.
1. My Agent
The number one reason I didn’t enjoy China has nothing to do with China.
I don’t like talking about him, so I won’t. Just a word of warning: agents – don’t do it.
So there we have it: 5 reasons I didn’t enjoy China. But as I said, I went back there a few years later and the different circumstances made it a really enjoyable – if still crazy – experience.
I think that’s all I can say. If you want crazy, go to China.