Teaching English in China


Sophie Jones

You’ve just finished university, and you’re not sure what direction you want to head in life. Or maybe you’re looking for a career change, but you’re not sure what options are available to you. You know you want some excitement in your life... something different, the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures.

I have spoken to some friends in the past who have said they would love to come to China to try teaching, but they were worried that they would be limited in their options. I’m going to give you the rundown as to why a career with EF is the best of both worlds, and a great choice.

Not just for those who are looking to add a years' worth of teaching experience to their CV, but also for anyone looking to stay for longer and develop a career in the global market. EF has plenty of opportunities for you to grow transferable skills, and not just in the classroom.

Sophie: Band 3 Teacher at EF Kid & Teens - since 2019
Nationality: British
City: Chongqing
Degree: BSc in Biomedical Sciences & PgDip in International Public Health

I’m a relatively new teacher here in China. August 2020 marked my 1-year anniversary in one of Chongqing’s Kids and Teens branches. While I’m now a Band 3 teacher and have learnt so much about the academic side of the company and I understand the career progression available to me within the academic departments, I wasn’t sure what other opportunities were available within the company. So, I made it my mission to find out as much as I could about the other areas of the company. I have interviewed 3 people in 3 very different positions, who all work with EF China. I discovered that there are countless options to progress and develop within EF, all while having the adventure of a lifetime living in one of the most diverse and beautiful countries in the world.

So let me introduce you to the EF team!

Matthew: Director of Studies- with EF since 2016
Nationality: American
Education: Degree in Communications
City: Chongqing

When did you start with EF?
“I started with EF as a teacher in July 2016, I then progressed into Senior Teacher and became a DoS around 2 years later in 2018.

What do you like most about EF?
“In EF those who are pro-active are rewarded. Your success and your career path are merit based, not time based. They value innovation. If you see a problem and you find a way to fix it, EF will make time for you and give you room to grow and develop. I enjoy that about EF.”

What are the biggest differences moving from Senior Teacher to DoS?
The stress that being Dos Creates is very different from the type of stress at ST level. As a ST you work to your own goals, but as a DoS you’re making the rules and you’re responsible for the direction of your staff. It definitely comes with more social pressure. Working as ST helped to build skills I needed as DoS though. As a ST you can develop your soft power skills– the ability to influence others through suggestion not demands. You’ll find that a suggestion can be more powerful than order, when you have taken the time to build and develop relationships, trust and influence over your team. It’s a very necessary skill as a manager.”

What’s a daily challenge you find in your role?
“Finding ways to challenge my team and putting them in positions where they’re able to grow and surprise me. My team find a way to impress me and make me proud. When you have a well-trained team and you’ve developed that relationship and trust, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

What’s advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your career path?
“Every single thing you do, ask yourself; what did I do well? What did I do poorly? If you can’t find a weakness or an area you can improve on, then you’re not going a good enough job at growing as an individual. I never actually made it my goal to be DoS. It was a position I found myself in because I was the strongest candidate because I followed my rule.”

Why did you choose China?
“I never actually wanted to come to China, it wasn’t my goal. I wanted to work in Switzerland, but I had a difficult time finding a job abroad. But then I saw an ad for EF and it really captured me “Education through travel” I strongly believe in this. I think travel is beneficial to the soul and mind. So I chose China with EF as a long route to my goal of Switzerland. But then I found I actually really love it here.”

What’s been your best memory of China so far?
“I’ve really enjoyed having Chongqing as a hub from which I can travel, in my 4 years here I have been able to travel to 4 countries and 7 different places in China. I was able to take a road trip driving all the way from Chongqing to the Vietnamese border, we got to see all of Guilin which was awesome. Some of the best places I have visited have been Taiwan for their beautiful culture and architecture. And one place I will always recommend to visit is Bhutan, they have an amazing structure of government and people which values future generations and social consciousness.

As for my favorite experience in China, I have on distinct memory of my 1st year teaching here. I was on the subway carrying a big bag or oranges and this toddler grabs my leg thinking it’s a bar and tapping at my bag of oranges. I bent down and gave him one of the oranges and locked eyes with his grandmother who met me with a beaming smile. I really liked that moment because it was an experienced that showed me in the end, we’re all just people.”

Is there any final piece of advice you want to give?

“Make sure when you jump into another culture, you jump in with both feet and an open mind. I’ve found that those who don’t succeed when moving abroad never took more than half a step.”

Another sentiment I agreed strongly with. It can be easy to fall into a rut and find reasons or excuses why you can’t give this experience your all. Something I have been guilty of myself. But from talking to all these different people, from very different walks of life. I can see that it’s just the culture you need to jump feet first into. You also need to jump into yourself, and your willingness to grow, learn and try new things as a person and within the company. I have now taken it upon myself to try my best to grow who I am, and within the company. EF has offered me numerous ways to do this. From becoming teacher ambassador to writing pieces like this. I don’t know where I will be in a years’ time. But I do know I’ll probably still be with EF.

EF director of studies

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