My Kindergarten Teaching Experience in China

Traveling vs. Teaching

I mentioned before that traveling has always been in my blood. Well, so was the teaching. I discovered my teaching passion when I was in at secondary school. As a geek (yes, I used to be a typical grade-grubber), I found helping others with their homework very enjoyable and rewarding. I was always around when someone needed my help with Polish, English, Chemistry or even Maths. My mom, my aunty and most of my cousins have been or still are working in education in some way. If you asked me what was first – teaching or traveling – the answer is Teaching.

A young teacher with Chinese students
Me and my Chinese kindergarten students. From the left: Yuki, Jess, me, Nick, Anna, Elaine and Murphy

Why Teaching in China?

My decision to teach English in China was not completely random. I did my Bachelor degree in Education at the university, worked as a teaching assistant (voluntary service) in a primary school for two years during my study and I always enjoyed working with kids. The last year of my study was crucial and at some point I had to decide what I was going to do once I graduate. I knew two things: I was the happiest person in the whole world when I was either traveling or teaching. One day, one of my Chinese friends advised me to go ahead and travel to China where I could develop both of my passions and skills. I asked Cez what he thought about it and he was like “Just go for it!” That was it. I sent my CV to a few Chinese schools located all over China (which you can find too in here), got my first interview, got the job on the spot, booked my flight ticket and I was off to go to China!

A girl just arrived at the school in Dongguan
Just arrived at the school in Dongguan

My First and Second Impressions

I firstly came to China in August 2011 where I worked in a high school in Huayuan (a small town located in picturesque Hunan province) and private learning center in Xiushan (a small city in Chongqing province). At first, I was a little bit scared, but I quickly adapted to a new teaching environment. I enjoyed my teaching job more and more each day.

After my 10-month contract expired, I left China for 8 months. I thought I would never come back. In the meantime, I was teaching English in Siem Reap, Cambodia and would never think of moving to China for another year. Why? I needed new adventures and fresh start. I felt like I knew China well, actually too wall. It was no longer a challenge for me.

Entrance door to Bowen Kindergarten in Dalang, Dongguan
The entrance door to my new workplace – Bowen Kindergarten in Dalang, Dongguan

As it turned out, I should have never said never. I’m back in China right now teaching 2-6 years old adorable kids in Bowen Kindergarten in Dalang district, Dongguan. After spending some time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand or Sri Lanka I started missing China. I was missing Chinese schools, students, morning breakfasts, Chinese culture and my stress free lifestyle. I booked my tickets, flew to Hong Kong and took a train to my former workplace – Huayuan. I was teaching during winter camp, but after a month Cez got a job in Dongguan and we moved here together. I was overwhelmed with the city – its huge shopping mall, supermarkets with plenty of foreign foods available, cinemas and theaters around, a huge train station and bus station. Something I didn’t have living in rural Huayuan.

Officially one of the team members
Officially one of the team members

I got a job immediately and started right away. It was a little bit different experience to me. I worked with high school students and primary students before, but never with kindergarten kids… The real adventure was just about to begin…

Bowen Kindergarten: the reception and my office desk
Bowen Kindergarten: the reception and my office desk

Teaching Kindergarten Students

It is, above all, a lot of fun. Fun, fun, fun. These little Chinese “monsters” want to play, dance, mess around and laugh a lot. They are extremely active and amusing. There is no way you can enter the classroom without being noticed by them. Once they see me, they touch and kiss my legs, grab my hands and twist them, scream “Hello teacher!”, give me some candies and chocolates and send me some kisses. That always makes my day.

Bowen Kindergarten
Bowen Kindergarten

Being around little kids makes me feel much younger and more energetic. My English classes look like fitness classes. We jump, we scream, we sing songs, we nod our heads, we tap our knees and we can’t stop it! The more fun they have, the more happy I am. This is the only one way to keep them focused and involved into the lesson – through games and exercises. Surprisingly, although they are so little and don’t speak proper Chinese yet, their English is impressive and I don’t struggle much with attracting their attention.

Some of the art work made by my students on the wall
Some of the art work made by my students

Meet My Students

Although they don’t understand everything I say to them, smile speaks all languages. I smile when I’m pleased with them and make an angry face when they get naughty. They perfectly understand my gestures and tones of my voice.

See also  Capture the Color: Inspired by Tibet and China

I know I keep saying that, but my students are like little angels. They are adorable, cute and innocent. You simply can’t be angry with them for longer than 5 minutes. If you see them cry, it breaks your heart to little peaces. When you see them smile, you can’t stop smiling with them.

Chinese kindergarten students smiling
Boys from my K1 class

They all were given English names I still try to remember. It’s difficult though when you work with more than 120 students every day. The good news is… they all know my name!

Chinese students coloring some pictures
My nursery students coloring some pictures

In total, I teach 6 classes:f N1 (nursery students) and K1 A and B, K2 A and K3 A and B. N1 students are the youngest, while K3 students are the oldest and they surprise me with their high level of spoken English every day. I spend most of my teaching time with N1 and K1 (younger students) and Cez with K2 and K3 (older kids).

Chinese students color a picture of hen
It’s time to learn the H letter

My Teaching Tactics 

I prepare my classes according to the book I was given on my first day of work. Different book is used for different level. I mainly follow the book plan adding my own ideas to make the classes more interesting.

A foreign teacher is dancing with Chinese students
Dancing to “Listen, listen, what’s this?” song with my K1A students

Each of my class is divided into 6 different stages:

  • Greetings (saying hello to my students, asking how they are).
  • Warm up (singing songs, dancing to get them back on the track of using English again).
  • Teaching (introducing new vocabulary, teaching them how to pronounce new words).
  • Interactions (role plays, partner information share, memory games to make them use new vocabulary as much as possible) and Activate stage (drawing or coloring the pictures, doing some tasks in student book).
  • Follow up (review of everything we have learnt during the class).
  • Saying goodbye (saying goodbye to my students).
A foreign teacher and high five with Chinese students
What a high five!

My lesson plan is prepared a week in advance and then approved by Belinda – the principal of the kindergarten and Jeff – the owner. I have plenty of CDs and DVDs in my office so I never run out of songs or movies. When my students do well in the classroom I prize them with stickers. I often stick them to their foreheads or noses.

Teaching stickers apples, flowers and stars
A variety of stickers I use for my classes

With my K3 students the job is much easier as they speak basic English. Students are 5-6 years old. I warm them up by playing various games (partner information share, sevens), having discussions with them (what did you do last weekend? information research, finding out information) and sharing with them some interesting pictures and histories which makes them back on the track of using English again. Afterwards, I go from engage to study stage where I explain the language, teach them new vocabulary, language constructions (drilling in pronunciation, spelling, word order, analysis of the word, tongue twisters, hangman, word search, filling in gaps and crosswords).

A foreign teaching is teaching students a new song
Teaching my students a new song

The class finishes with activate stage where I encourage students to use any or all of the language they know and they’ve learnt, they should use it as freely as possible (role play, surveys, drawing pictures or producing materials (leaflets), debates, discussions, story building, interviews). So far, my students seem to be enjoying my classes, we crack jokes together, I always keep them updated on how my family and friends are doing and what places I have been to or I’m going to visit next. My lessons go smoothly!

Chinese students dancing
My K3 students dancing
Chinese students are dancing
Let’s dance together!

Working Schedule

The job suits me perfectly with my blogging and traveling schedule. I have 4-6 x 30-minute classes every day from Monday to Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favourite days as I am off work at 12:00. I stay till 17:00 for the rest of the days having an extra English afternoon classes. I have 10-minute break between my classes and there is an afternoon nap break which lasts 3 hours (12:00-15:00). Every class lasts 30 minutes for K1,2 and 3 students and 15 minutes for nursery students.

A foreign teacher is teaching fruit vocabulary to Chinese students
Teaching fruit vocabulary to my students

I still manage to travel at the weekends and blog during my breaks at the kindergarten. I try to keep the balance between both – my job and passion. Teaching is the main focus at the moment as I want to get good references and I’ve been really enjoying myself here.

Chinese students are drawing pictures
Let’s draw

Why Teach English in China?

There is our first China guidebook coming out very soon, where together with Sarah of thefurtheradventuresofbennett, we share our teaching, living and traveling experiences in China where you can find plenty of valuable reasons and tips why you should try to spend a year in the Land of the Dragon and the Rising Sun teaching English to Chinese.

See also  The Beauty of Xi'an

Let me share my personal reasons. First of all, it was a great opportunity for me (I want to be a professional teacher) to figure out whether this is what I wanted to do in the future or not. I got a lot of teaching experience, learnt a lot from my colleagues and tried out new teaching tactics in the classroom. For the first time in my life I was in charge of my class, my students, my schedule, my lesson plan and my teaching materials. I got more mature and confident as a mentor.

Chinese students are learning letter H
My nursery students learning how to pronounce the letter H

Secondly, the job is stress free. Nobody puts any pressure on you, there is no competition between teachers, everyone is loving, caring and helpful. You are surrounded by people who truly care about you and they are ready to give you a hand when you need it. Thirdly, the working hours are short and you get a decent salary. Most of schools provide teachers with free food and accommodation so you can save up a lot of money for your travels.

A foreign teacher is teaching English book
English class

The last, but not the least reason is to be able to live like a local. Working in China gives me an incredible opportunity to learn Chinese language, get familiar with the local community, culture and traditions. I spend every Chinese holiday here with a bunch of Chinese friends, picked up some Chinese, understood their way of thinking and living. I made new friends with locals and seen the incredible places (Avatar Mountains, Fenghuang Town, Yangshuo River) I would never see if I hadn’t come to China to teach in the first place.

Teaching board
Teaching board

To sum up, China feels like home right now. I feel fulfilled as a teacher and a traveller. There are ups and downs, but at the end of day I smile and this is what really matters, right?

See also  Can Non-Native English Speakers Teach English in China?

Teaching English in Chinese Kindergarten – how does it sound to you? 


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Picture of Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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68 thoughts on “My Kindergarten Teaching Experience in China”

  1. Avatar of Angela

    It sounds and looks great! Those kids are so cute and it seems like such a rewarding job. Teaching them something they will use the rest of their lives. Also, you get to eat Chinese food every day and you get to work on your blog. It seems to me you have done well!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      I try my best, but it’s not an easy job, believe me. I am currently cooking some European food at home. Been so tired of Chinese cuisine recently, need a break :) !!!

      1. Avatar of sam

        hi … i really enjoyed reading your blog … but i want to get a little help from you …. i am going to give a demonstration class for kids .. i have to teach them fruits names like apple , banana … etc .. i am in china and its a great opportunity and a chance for a start … so please tell me how can i make my demo class exciting so i can get this job…. please reply me soon … as next week will be my demo class…

  2. Avatar of kle

    I totally LOVED this post! Not a surprise as you can imagine! as i’m living a very similar experience here in Thailand. And i was just planning to write a similar post with pictures of my little monsters:)! I have momentarily given up the morning classes, to be able to work on my blog more, and honestly? i miss them so much that i go to the school from time to time to just cuddle them a bit :)
    We have a very similar structure here, the singing and dancing are quite fun! In the beginning i was shy but after a couple of days i felt more secure (it was my first experience as English teacher). Your hours seem quite reasonable too! I just showed your post to my Bf (he’s been a teacher here for many months before me and he’s absolutely great with kids), and he thinks that Chinese kids are more disciplined than Thai ones… In our classes we have both Chinese and Thai and the Chinese are really quiet and well behaved. I know you’ve been to Thailand, even if not as a teacher. Did you notice this difference by any chance? just curious :)
    Anyway, awesome post!!!love the pictures..xx

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Thanks babe! I hope to teach some English in Thailand one day!!! It’s so true… Chinese kids are more disciplined, especially the older ones. I guess it’s because Chinese teachers are strict with them. I mean they don’t beat them or anything, but yell at them a lot when they are naughty plus they love foreigners and they behave well in the classroom to show off ;-). I have never taught Thai students, but worked with Khmer kids when living in Siem Reap. Khmer kids were also well disciplined, but they were very loud in the classroom and definitely more active than Chinese. I hope you will get back to teaching soon. I understand though how hard it can be when you need to combine your full-time job with blogging (it’s a hard work!!). Thanks!!!! Sending my loooooove to you and your boyfriend.

      1. Avatar of kle

        So it’s true :) we have a Chinese little girl in class and he’s so disciplined compare to the screaming Thai Kids!
        With your experience i think you’ll find a job in Thailand in 1 day now… oh and i’m still teaching but only the afternoon classes.Meaning ballet and private English classes. But i really want to go back to my cute little monster soon. I’ll give a kiss to my bf for you :P i ignored the poor guy all day to work on my blog, he’s going to throw my computer on the bin one of these days!! :)

      2. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
        Agness Walewinder

        To be honest, I prefer morning classes. I am off work for the rest of my afternoon and I can enjoy blogging and stuff. HAHAHAHA, I can see your boyfriend is very supportive :P

  3. Avatar of Noelfy

    I am sure I am not the only one willing to teach in China after this post!! This seems to be an amazing opportunity for foreigner to live and work in China for a while :) I can’t wait to read your guidebook!! :D

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Hahaha! I am still thinking of those cruise jobs you told us!! The guidebook’s coming out veeeeeery soon! Will definitely send you the copy! :)

  4. Avatar of Erika

    Agness: I really enjoyed reading this! It is so awesome that you get to combine two of your passions together: teaching and traveling! :) How exciting!!!

  5. Avatar of Kelly S

    This was a beautiful post! So touching. First, I loved the pictures. You look so cute. And those adorable children! How do you not just want to scoop them up and pinch and kiss their cheeks all day! Second, I love what you said about teaching. In all the places we go I always wonder how we could connect with the people, or “locals,” better. You have found the perfect way to connect! Thank you for sharing your classes with us!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Hi Kelly, thanks! Teaching in various countries I travel to does indeed keep me closer to the local community. I’ve been enjoying it a lot. So glad you liked the photos!! :)

  6. Avatar of Freya

    Hi Agness those kids are so cute, looks like you found yourself the perfect job and you get to combine your 2 favorite things to do teaching and traveling. I love those photos, it all looks like a lot of fun.

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      They are indeed, cheers! Yes, there is nothing better than combining two of your favourite hobbies together! :-D

  7. Avatar of Emily

    Your teaching experience sounds great!! I especially like how you format your classes. The 6 stages is an excellent way to keep structure.

    Your students sound adorable. When I teach at the kindergarten part-time, I also get the leg hugs and kisses. So cute!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Emily. The 6 stage class format is what I was taught at the university and during my TESOL course. I know, my students are so adorable especially when they sleep during the afternoon nap time :).

  8. Avatar of Aggy

    What a great job and you seem to be so passionate about it!
    I love teaching children, I used to teach English and computer basics for older children and I understand the joy of having the children smile and call your name out – it’s simple but a real pleasure!
    Well done Agness!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Thank you my dear! Have you been a teacher as well? Great, we have more in common than I thought!! x

  9. Avatar of Vanessa

    I can’t stop squealing from these cuuuUUUuute pictures!! Your students must absolutely love you. I totally agree that if you aren’t having fun, the students won’t have fun. When my boss wonders why my students (and me) are sweating by the end of class, I try to explain that idea, but some people just don’t get what makes a good teacher. Great job keeping high energy and caring for each of these precious kids! :D

    p.s. Does the little girl in the 6th picture from the bottom have a random celebrity paparazzi picture on her shirt?? hahaha!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      I know – the sweat actually makes you a good teacher at the end of the day!! So true. As for the girl’s t-shirt – YES it’s so cool!! LOOOOL

  10. Avatar of Dana

    This is a great article, Agness! I can really feel the joy and passion you have teaching the little kids through every word and picture. Used to be a kid in one of those English centers too (in Vietnam, though), this article just brings back so many good memories haha

  11. Avatar of Maria

    Wonderful post – you’ve actually created a great resource here in one post for anyone thinking of following in your footsteps and teaching in China.

    Funny where life will take you when you least expect it – I’ve learned to never say, never. :-)

  12. Avatar of Arti

    Wow! Lucky you, Agness. This sure sounds like fun! What I like about teaching kids is that we can learn so much from their innocence as well, they are so pure. Love what you are doing and the way you are doing it, wish you all the very best. :)

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Arti. True – kids are so innocent. I learn from them how to stay active all day long as well :). They never stop smiling!!

  13. Avatar of Franca

    I’m so glad to read that you feel satisfied for the choices you made with your job, travels and passions. It seems like you found the perfect balance, not an easy task :)
    Looking forward to know what it’ll happen after the Chinese adventure.

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Yes, I try to keep the balance between blogging, working full-time and travelling. I’m happy with my choices and what I am currently doing does really make me a happy girl :).

      1. Avatar of Marybeth Labrador
        Marybeth Labrador

        Hi Agnes,

        I like your lifestyles and experiences. We are somewhat similar in many ways. Yes I have teached colleges, universities in my country. I have also teached high school but what makes me enjoyed most is my recent teaching in China. I am teaching kindergarten. I simply enjoy their facial expressions…how they talk and love me in their own youthful way. Yes wherever I go they would always call my name that made everybody notice if im coming. They would ease our problems and made us happy if they are responding to our teachings. This is my second year of teaching here in china.


      2. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
        Agness Walewinder

        Hi Marybeth. That is so amazing you found me. Whereabout in China are you teaching? I love my job although it’s so challenging. Have you been travelling a lot these days? Hope to meet up one day xx

      3. Avatar of mathias

        from mathias ssentale: ug

        Wonderful post friend_thanks its grad to read this post its really good I have a friend here in china teaching English but he always saying to me that its really had job But i thank GOD that i got one saying that its really esay….
        I Think will come soon

  14. Avatar of Casey @ A Cruising Couple

    I loved reading about your experience teaching in China! It sounds remarkably similar and different at the same time to what we are doing here in Taiwan. I have to say, I am jealous you view your job as stress free. We tend to work extremely long hours…often ten hour days. It’s good because we get paid by the hour, but not-so-good when we’re trying to blog and whatnot. My students make it all worth it though, and at times I wonder if I am meant to be a teacher after all! Very inspiring you have found a way to make your passions possible :-) Your kindy kids are adorable. I’ve taught one kindy class, 12 hours a week, for the past year and a half, and I can’t believe how attached I have become to them :-) Our time in Taiwan is ending in just five weeks! When we do our roundup on teaching here, I’ll have to link to your post to show people another nearby teaching option!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Casey for sharing. 10 hours per day? That’s a lot. We have 4-5 classes per day, 30 minute long and spend some hours in the office as well, but it works perfectly with our blogging routine. Yes, so true – I am very attached to those kids. Although they sometimes play on my nerves, I can’t wait to see them after the weekend.

  15. Avatar of Martin Růžička
    Martin Růžička

    Hey… I am glad I have found this blog:-) That is great!!! I actually wanna go to to China as well – to teach English, although I am Czech. It’s good to know there are also opportunities for non-native speakers.

    Did the school sort out the work visa for you when you were in Poland? Or did you go there on a tourist visa first? Many people are also telling me that I should just go to Hong Kong and get a business visa there. They say that it is the easiest way to get a long term visa to China. What do you think about it?

  16. Avatar of Jess @UsedYorkCity

    I so enjoyed reading this blog post! I’m also a teacher by profession here in the states, and have to say, being on summer vacation now makes any of the stress of the normal school year worth it! (Lol, I guess teaching inner city New York public schools can be a bit more stressful than our Chinese counterparts!;-) So glad you have found a nice balance, and it’s great to see how passionate you are about the profession! Cheers!

  17. Avatar of Marisol@TravelingSolemates

    Hello Teacher, can I enroll in your class? You look like a fun and great teacher. And very pretty, too:)!
    Agness, love this post. Keith and I can’t get over the first photo of you and with your super-cute students. It looks like you really enjoying what you do. I was surprised to read that teaching rewards you more than traveling. I think that’s vey commendable. You seem like a natural teacher.

  18. Avatar of Michelle

    Those kids are adorable! And you seem like a really good teacher! I spent a year teaching English abroad in Germany…I always thought I’d enjoy teaching the older kids, but I definitely had the most fun with the little ones most! :)

  19. Avatar of Tim Moon

    Hi Agness,

    Sounds like you found a great school. Was it difficult to sort out the visa? How did you go about finding your job?

    Things have been going well here in South Korea so far. I teach elementary through middle school (8 yrs old – 16 yrs old). I’ve already been here a month! The time is flying by.

  20. Avatar of Kirsty

    I totally agree, I started teaching in Thailand around the same time you first went to China. I loved teaching little babies as you know they are learning something new every single day.
    In fact I loved it so much I came back to England to get a teaching qualification. Here I’m teaching secondary kids but can’t wait to get back on the road again and travel and teach at the same time!

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