Greetings! We’re here today with Georgia Bennett, a Kiwi native now calling China home. After living with her family in the USA for five years, Georgia decided to hit the road again — this time to Asia.
We love Georgia for a lot of reasons (we don’t just let anyone into our paid China TEFL internship program, after all!) but we’re especially excited to share her story with our readers who want to teach abroad without a degree. It can be done!
She’ll tell you how.
What inspired you to go abroad?
Ever since I was little I’ve always wanted to travel, I have watched both my brother and sister travel to different countries all around the world and have always wanted to follow in their footsteps. I had been working with the same company as a Purchasing Agent for a little over two years and although I loved my job and the people I was working with I felt like I was sitting stagnant. With no idea what I wanted to study in college, I decided that this would be the perfect time for me to go abroad and do what I’ve always wanted to do.
After your varied work experiences, what made teaching English as a foreign language an attractive job option?
When you’re teaching English as a foreign language you’re opening up your student to the rest of the world. Without this language skill, their options are limited and once they can speak English it can help them make new friends who they wouldn’t have ever been able to communicate with before, or help them move up in the company they are working in because now they can communicate with foreign business partners.
Why did you choose the Premier TEFL China Internship program?
I initially was interested in the Spain Internship but by the time I had come across it online I had missed the due date, that’s when I started looking into China and kind of just fell in love with the idea. I thought the Chinese culture and way of life is very interesting and I wanted to not only learn about it but experience it too, plus the internship itself was very affordable which was an added bonus!
What has surprised you about life in China as a foreigner?
How much people stare, people are constantly staring at you. A large percent of Chinese people have never been outside of China, for the most part, they’ve only seen a white person on T.V, in a movie, or when they quickly passed by on the street, so you get A LOT of attention basically everywhere you go. They’ll shout out “Hello,” sneak pictures of you on their phones and sometimes even ask you if you’ll take a picture with them, it’s mind blowing!
Do you feel like you have experienced added difficulty in your job search because you do not have a college degree?
Without a degree, I am not qualified to teach and would not be granted a working visa to work as a teacher in basically any country so yes, I do feel very limited.
What is one piece of advice you would give anyone considering the life of an ESL teacher abroad?
Although wanting to travel is a huge part of why many people would choose an internship like this, make sure you’re doing this for the right reason. If you’re just here to travel and don’t care about the teaching, don’t do it, it isn’t fair to the children/adults who are relying on your to teach them this valuable skill, and it’s not fair to all of the people behind the internship that put the effort in to get you here. Also, do lots and lots of research before you go abroad, make sure you can handle and respect the cultural norms and the people’s way of life, you’re the foreigner, this isn’t your home, so don’t expect everything to be done your way, part of being here is seeing how others around the world do things.
Describe a day in the life of an ESL teacher in China.
Wake up at 7.30am, get ready and get on the shuttle bus that takes me from my dorm to my kindergarten around 8.25am, arrive at school by 8.45, first class starts at 9am, I have seven classes from 9am to 11.30am, planning period for an hour, lunch for two hours, then I have six classes from 2.30pm to 4pm and then I hop back on the shuttle and it takes me home.
What has been the most difficult part of teaching abroad, and the most rewarding?
The language barrier. Chinese is a very hard language to learn and many of the teachers for my classes speak very little to no English so explaining new games or asking the teachers questions can be very very difficult sometimes.
Any other insights into the world of TEFL that you can share with our readers who also have not attended college?
Don’t be afraid to give it your all and apply for the internship. Don’t feel inferior or like you don’t know what you’re doing because you don’t have a degree. Just do your best in every situation and it will show. At first, it may seem a little overwhelming, but it won’t take long for you to get into the swing of things.
Thanks so much Georgia! We’re certainly glad you figured out how to teach abroad without a degree. Best of luck in China and beyond.