Here are a few of the frequently asked questions about teaching ESL in China at Aston schools.
Is the instruction textbook based or are teachers expected to create their own lesson plans?
We have a curriculum and textbooks in place that we require teachers to follow at a set pace to ensure consistency and satisfy the demands of the parents. The style of presentation, however, is left up to the teacher.
Teachers write lesson plans adding their own activities or additional material as they see fit to complement the lesson. We encourage a personal approach to teaching rather than straight “textbook” study. Aston Schools provide help to teachers through initial orientation and on-going support. Orientation includes teacher training and information on living in China.
Managers and teacher trainers may schedule a time with you to sit in on your class to give you ideas on how you can make your job easier and help your students learn. Aston has teacher trainers experienced in the specific needs of Chinese students to help you throughout your time here.
Do the schools have a resource bank of lesson plans, books with teaching ideas, etc.?
Yes. At this time our Education Department, has collected sample plans for almost every lesson. There are also many teachers who have been here for a while and are familiar with most of the books to help newcomers with ideas. Schools have extra material in the form of idea books, activity resources and such but the amount depends on the size and age of the school. Aston Schools use a variety of textbooks, and classes are organized by English ability, not age. Please see our English Services page to learn more about the classes we offer.
Teachers are required to write out lesson plans to maintain quality, keep attendance records so that absent students are contacted, keep records of on-going assessment so parents can follow progress, and write a short class follow-up in the event a substitute teacher is required. While Aston schools do have strict curriculum and procedures you’ll be expected to follow, we also encourage teachers to bring their own teaching style and ideas to every class.
How are the schools equipped (photocopiers, overhead projectors, computers, Internet, etc.) ?
China has not developed very far in this area. All of our schools have computers and Internet for the teachers. While all our schools also have additional teaching materials such as posters, activity/idea books, games, toys for young learners, balls, flash cards, and other odds and ends–the amount may vary according to the school. Visual aids are available to help with younger students and each school will have a limited selection of supplementary texts.
Technology is slowly making its way into the Chinese classroom but for now the expense to provide them to all teachers in China is prohibitive. TVs, DVD machines, and tape players may be available in your school and when used need to be integrated into clear lesson objectives.
All Aston schools try to have what our teachers need and are open to the suggestions from the staff on obtaining more items. If you know of something that would benefit the students then please ask the Location Manager.
Are teachers assigned a level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) or a mix of levels?
You’ll be assigned a combination of different levels. Since Aston schools have 14 levels of instruction for children and 9 levels for adults, its safe to bet that you’ll teach beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. You will not, however, have these various abilities in one class.
What will my teaching schedule look like?
The answer to this question depends heavily on the type of contract you decide to sign. (Click here to review the different contracts we offer.)
Essentially, a 25-hour teacher’s schedule might look like this:
Saturday – Up to 8 hours of classroom time – anytime from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM teaching kids from 6 to 17 years old. Classes are two hours with a break in the middle and time for lunch. Lower levels are taught by a Western teacher and a Chinese Teacher. Sunday – Same as Saturday. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday OR Tuesday and Thursday – One class of adults in the morning. One or two classes in the late afternoon. MWF adult classes are usually 2 hours. The classes are usually 1.5 hours.
A 15 hour teacher might have a Saturday and Sunday schedule similar to that described above with an English Corner on one day during the week.
A 20 hour teacher would have a Saturday and Sunday similar to the schedule described above as well as one TTH adult class or a full afternoon of classes on Wednesday.
The above examples are not rigid rules; each school may vary schedules slightly depending on local market needs. Teaching schedules are set by the Location Manager so any scheduling requests such as certain days off or vacation time are made with the school. Teachers may be scheduled for a substitution class, an outside company class, or other events such as English Corners to fulfill contract hour requirements.
Is class enrollment strictly limited to 18 or less?
What is an interactive whiteboard
The easiest way to describe an IWB is to say that it is a large computer touch screen, a virtual filing cabinet of resources. The board can be used as a normal classroom board but can also be used to design classroom activities such as matching or gap fills.
Aston A+ has IWB activities available for the course and is constantly developing more. Basically, any activity you can do on a computer you can do on an IWB, the main restriction is your own imagination!
Can I contact my school administrator about what he/she expects before I arrive
Yes. Once your application is successful we mutually agree on a city before you commit to teaching at Aston and sign a contract. You are then put in direct contact with the location manager who takes over answering your questions.