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Volunteer Review: Shaun P., Teach English and Other Subjects in China

I am currently doing a teaching placement here in the bustling metropolis that is Shanghai. I know it's the biggest cliché ever but I can honestly say that it is an experience quite out of this world. I'm teaching a wide range of students from pre-junior (11-12 year olds) to junior two students (14-15 year olds). Their level of spoken English exceeded my expectations so settling in was much easier than anticipated.

Typical classroom

I usually get up at around 7.30 on a weekday but it's no holds barred on a weekend, particularly if one has hit every bar on Hengshan Lu the previous night! I live on the school campus, which means that my journey to work is easy enough and I don't have to enter into the fray that is the dicey business of getting on the metro at rush hour! I usually talk with my supervisor, without whom I would be lost, teach my classes for the day, liaise with the staff, mark books and find a slot for lunch. I originally thought that it was going to be difficult to come up with lesson plans for each lesson of each day, but you find inspiration from literally anything and before you know it: you've got a week's worth of lessons. Just make sure that, if you're doing a teaching placement, you have a hefty inventory of games, postcards, posters, and photos - literally anything you can lay your hands on - from your native country. These are your secret weapons!

Shanghai buildings Crowded streets

Working in Shanghai is quite different from working in the UK. You may perceive it to be a city very similar to London where everyone needs to be somewhere and reaching that deadline is of the utmost importance. This is partly true but the Chinese do some things differently: at 11.30 queues come to a complete standstill as the people you are standing in line to see disappear for their rice and noodles. Shanghai may be a contender for the accolade of "The City That Never Sleeps", but it's quite common to find people taking a little siesta at their desks in the middle of the day! Despite their workloads, the Chinese find time to look after themselves and fall over themselves to ensure that their visitors do the same. This is the way they work and it may seem a little strange or unorthodox to us Westerners with out 24 hours a day, seven days a week lifestyle, but it makes perfect sense.

Overall, this has been a trip of a lifetime. I would not change anything about this trip - not the city, the placement, the people or the organisation. For me it has truly been a perfect experience.

Shaun P.

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.

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