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.

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.

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?

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

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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. Hi!

    I have just come to China to start working as an English teacher. I have very little experience and the experience I do have is with teaching students who are 12-13 years old. Upon arriving in China I found out I will be teaching kindergarten students who are 3-5 years old and I am beginning to feel a little uncomfortable and nervous thinking about my first day. I love kids and the idea of teaching but my limited experience with 3-5 year olds combined with it being a foreign language leaves me feeling anxious. Do you have any suggestions or tips on starting off a class? Any tips on how to introduce myself and an activity to follow it up? I have tons of ideas just not sure how to start the first class off right. Anyway thanks for your blog it’s a great read and any suggestions are greatly appreciated. (By anyone)

  2. Must for Wanderlust

    Thanks for your comment on one of my posts, without I wouldn’t have discovered your blog! Great post, I’ve been considering teaching english abroad after my au pairing is up, but not quite ready to make the move to Asia yet. Seems like such a great opportunity though & the kids you teach are absolutely adorable! x

    1. Agness Walewinder

      My pleasure. I will be visiting your blog on a regular basis for au pair tips and advice. What you do is awesome! It’s ok, take your time and go teaching when you feel like you are ready :). All I can say is that this is an amazing experience.

  3. Hi! I am an English teacher who is working in Heyuan, Guangdong,China.Unlike you, I have never been out of my country.So your experience of teaching your mother tongue overseas inspires me should do so. Hope everything goes very well with you!

  4. if i would have the chance like you , travelling to china and teach angels like them i will do my best to live this experience even though for a minute

  5. Hello! I am applying for a program to teach english in China and I am so excited about it. However my main concern is the status of the air pollution there. How is it nowadays? Thank you!

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Believe or not, after I read your blog first time in February, I got so excited that I decided to come to China. And I am here since the middle of March :)
    But, I am trying to find the an answer to some questions.
    The most important one – the schedule.
    I am teaching in 5 kindergartens and that means I see each class only once per week. I was provided with weekly plans, etc…, but according to those weekly plans, I should be teaching the same class five time per week.
    I am trying to figure out how, what and why, but it’s not easy.
    So, if you have any idea or suggestion – let me know.
    Thanks again!
    Silvia

  7. Your experience is so interesting! Do you still get time to travel? Let’s say, for instance, If I wanted to teach in China and also study Mandarin really hard and travel around China, and Japan, could I do that? I mean, is there enough time/money/vacation? I would also like to save money, yes I want it all lol! I just found out your blog, I’m sorry about all these questions, I’m gonna read all of your posts when I have time. Great blog btw! Xo

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Deborah,
      Yes, you will still have weekends to travel, all bank holidays and afternoons :).

  8. I’m really interested in teaching English in China and am reading as much about the subject as I can. Thanks for putting together this lovely and informative blog post. It really helped me think through why I want to teach in China and the pros and cons of the job. Thanks!

  9. Katie Anderson

    It would be so much fun to have an experience teaching English in China. I think it’s one of those things they are really looking for as well, to have kids come over and help with international relations. Making sure you go with the right people, and get into the right program can make all the difference in your overall trip.

  10. Hi, Agness. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I’m having an interview and a class demo at a kindergarten very soon. So, I’m currently leaping into panic mode. And while scrabbling around for ways to teach nursery and kindergarten kids, I came across your blog. I think it’s really helpful. I even noted down some points you’ve mentioned above. However, I’m hoping to know more teaching tips from you. I’m really worried about this interview. I have taught 2-3 year old- kids before, but there were only 3 of them. I cannot imagine teaching 30 all at once. Help………. Thank you!

    Jenny

  11. This is such a beautiful website. Thank you for sharing so much informative and interesting information. I am also a teacher in China. It’s really nice to see other perspectives and ideas about teaching here. I happen to be leaving the school I’m teaching at now and moving to Foshan to teach in kindergarten closer to my fiance. Do you know anybody that wants to teach kindergarten in Zhuhai, China? I hope all the best for you and thanks again for sharing your wonderful experiences.

  12. Hey Agness,

    I absolutely loved reading this post about your passion and time teaching in China.It has made me feel a lot more confident and excited for my own experince here.I have just arrived in GuanDong myself to teach English in a Kindergarden for 5 months as an intern. I am quite nervous as it is my first time teaching young children. If you have any tips or advise about teaching kindergarden students or about the area that would be really helpful and much appriciated :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hello Melissa. Many thanks for reaching out and welcome to China! When teaching kindergarten students, it’s all about fun so make sure your classes are interesting enough for your students. Do a lot of dancing, jumping and story telling using gestures and never stop smiling. Good luck and message me at [email protected] if you would like me to share some teaching materials I used in China with you :).

  13. Hey, i have to do a presentation about kindergartens in China.
    What are some requirements and grades you need to work in a kindergarten in China??

    Thank you so much

  14. hi agnes i started teaching 2 months ago here in shenyang., i really want to learn more teaching techniques., specially games and activities for the kids i hope you can help me out??? i am the only foreign teacher here so i learn things on my own., btw., my name is JAsmin and im from philippines.thank you so much. tacke care and Godbless.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Jasmin. I would highly recommend you to do one of the online TEFL courses. You will be taught different teaching strategies and methods. This is what I did when coming to China. Find one here

  15. How did you find schools to find your cv to? I want to teach at a primary school or kindergarten ideally but most job adverts online seem to be training centres…

  16. Hi, I really enjoy reading your blog.Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am also a teacher by profession in my country Philippines. We are currently here in Shenzhen China because my husband got to work here. Well, I admire you in your passion in teaching. Continue to touch the live of the little ones ??. Just wan’t to ask you if the school required you to at least learn the basic Mandarin or Chinese language before you got hired here in China school? Thanks for the time… Have a nice day!

    1. Hi Lea, thanks for your kind words. No, normally you don’t need to speak even basic Chinese. In fact, some schools prefer you not to speak Mandarin at all as it forces you and kids to communicate entirely in English. The best of luck!

  17. Hello!
    I think I’m a bit late =)
    But I love reading this post.
    I’ll travel to Chine this year, maybe in June or July to teach at a kindergarden.
    I’m from Brazil and I’m already an English teacher here.
    I’m a little bit afraid because of our huge differences, and I don’t know how to start thinking about how to plan my classes.

    Does the school offer some material to help the new teacher? Or do you have to plan everything by yourself?

    Thanks for sharing those informations, it will help a lot ;)

  18. Hi Agness, I loved this post a lot! It is truly helpful and makes me less nervous. I also want to teach in China, but what I struggle with now is this: the advertisements on the net are mainly in recruitment agency webpages, and I don’t know how can I make sure that the school I later may get an offer from is a genuine one. Do you have any tips for this? Thanks a lot!

  19. hi, it is very impressive in reading this article. My company is now running a nursery school in southern China, seeking for Native speaking teacher over the world. Can see the cheerful faces from the picture and I believe it is the key of a good nursery teaching and a very good example for others who is teacher or dreaming to be a teacher. Well done!

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