Briana, a native of Tampa and graduate in Music Education at Clearwater Christian College, didn’t know that her future path included teaching English abroad in Beijing, China!

After teaching herself Mandarin with the help of Chinese movies (impressive!), she knew there was one destination for her: the Middle Kingdom itself. Learn more about Bri’s journey to the life of an ESL teacher in Asia!

Tell us about your path to teaching abroad—Did you always know you’d end up in China?

As a teenager, I went to several different countries, volunteering and being a teacher’s assistant. I was always open to the thought of teaching abroad, but I never thought China would be the place I’d end up. After college, I got married to a Chinese fella, which is another story for another time! My family is in Beijing, so I’m there, too!

Briana taking a picture with her husband on their wedding day.

Have you worked at the same company/school your entire stint as an English teacher in Beijing? Tell us about your career path in China, if it has varied over time.

My career path is a winding road of story after story, but I started out being a freelancer. During my first years in China, I focused mainly on private tutoring. Then I learned about online teaching and delved into that realm.

I prefer online teaching or tutoring one-on-one. I’ve taught with multiple online education companies and learning more and more about what a futuristic classroom will look like. My dream career path/niche would be to get hired in a company which focuses on AI technology in the classroom.

Briana taking a picture with her friends.

What is your favorite age-group to work with and why? Would you consider teaching other age groups?

I love elementary aged children! They are so much fun and excited to learn! This age group is more “common” to teach online in China because the children learn English at a very early age. By the time they reach middle and high school, their college entrance exams keep them extremely occupied. I’d prefer to stick with elementary age to give them that foundational boost to aid their studies as they graduate into more difficult studies.

My life right now is constantly adjusting and adapting (in busy China!) so I’m always interested in new things. I wouldn’t mind teaching older students, but I feel fulfilled after teaching youngsters.

China tour banner.

What was the most helpful portion of your TEFL certificate experience? Do you feel like you draw from your course experiences regularly in the classroom?

I chose Premier TEFL because they easily answered information I needed and clearly provided the most important things I need to get a teaching visa. I can relate well with the content and am excited to learn more.

After being a graduate for 5 years, it’s good to brush up on some things I had forgotten from college days! This TEFL course pushes me to be a better teacher, cultivates my experiences, and boosts my achievements. What more could I want?

Briana taking a picture with her milkshakes.

What is one thing about the life of teaching abroad that you never expected/weren’t prepared for? Our readers love to get the inside scoop!

I am shocked how much pressure children (and adults) can handle in China. Everyone is pushed from very young to learn and compete amongst other students. They have pressure from all sides, from family, from grandparents, from teachers, from other students, to try and out compete all the other students around them.

If they don’t fight hard enough to get into good colleges and land good jobs, their future and family will suffer for it. There’s not much I can do to help, but I’m forecasting that if my students have a sweet childhood memory of learning English, that is enough to help a little bit!

Briana Liu taking a selfie with her student.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher abroad?

I am always amazed at how happy and excited every student is once they see my camera turn on at the beginning of class. It’s like magic watching them light up and laugh and smile. Getting their attention is easy, but when I can find out what is their favorite toy or get them to show me their art, that makes me feel so fulfilled. Teaching is more than getting the student to show good results or grades.

To me, teaching is more about getting the student to express their hearts and minds and emotions in a safe and encouraging environment. When I see a student comfortably show their personality and creativity, I really feel like I’m cultivating their future in the best and brightest of ways!

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