Backpacking Across China: Teaching with Smart English in Your Rucksack

Yangshuo County from the nearby TV Tower Hill

I must say I miss working in the smaller towns around China; magical amazing days of initiation into TEFL that will forever stay close to me. The attitude and way of life is completely the opposite to that of say Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu or Shenzhen.

Things are always done in a more relaxed and less formal manner and it’s easy to get work, especially if there is a big tourist influx. Take Yangshuo (Yangers to the local expats) near Guilin for example. There are schools all over the place just ready to take on any foreigner for any length of time. People stay for a weekend, a week or a month. Even those who consider themselves regular teachers really only ever stay for around a year. Take your pick!

Yangshuo (click to enlarge)

I have to admit, I was reluctant to start teaching to say the least. I guess it was a mixture of extreme laziness and “Hey, I’m on holiday, why the hell do I need to get a job?” Actually, the trick is not to see TEFL as a job and that’s all there is to it. ( Tx to Wikipedia)






There’s a stack of reasons for choosing to teach when you’re travelling in China:
• Being able to stay on the road. The small towns may not pay that much but if you have dwindling resources then you can earn as much as you need and then move on.
• Being able to stay in the same place and really get a feel of it. When I was in Yangshuo I was able to get a wicked flat near the river for next to nothing.
• Experiencing Chinese festivals and celebrations.
• Learning Chinese. People on the road rarely start to get past the beginners barrier. If you stay put for a while your know-how will definitely start to grow.
• Joining the school’s day trips to fantastic places at the weekend.
• Hanging out with your students if you are teaching adults. They will no doubt invite you to all sorts of places you never expected to go to.
• Gaining a deeper experience of what China is about, something that doesn’t really happen if you are moving quickly from town to town.
• Getting treated like a superstar by your students and royalty by the management.

Plenty of trips out of town at the weekends

The English speaking competition and our esteemed judges.

Lunchtimes in the canteen.

My amazing flat by the river that cost me £50/$70 a month (2 bedrooms, kitchen, large living room and WC). Nice!

Material: The Smart English Package

If you are on the road in China, chances are you will be asked by one of the many schools to come and teach English or at least put in some kind of guest appearance. If so then having a heap of great lesson plans ready to go stashed away on your Kindle doesn’t get any handier (More info here). After all, who needs to be planning lessons when you’re living out of a backpack?

Most schools will provide one of the many standard textbooks to work from. Some places will only provide student books. If you have to teach every day, then you will find that your students will quickly get tired of the same material and may even complain to the management as if it’s your fault.

The mountain of great tried and tested material that’s on offer here can easily be used in any class involving speaking practice. After countless experiences of being dumped in at the deep end with the ‘same old same old’ text book, these lesson plans have been written exactly for times such as this. What’s more your class will love them!


Categories: 02 - About the Lesson Plans, 09 - About Teaching in China

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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