Testimonial from an Aston English Teacher in China
Teaching at Aston was such an enjoyable time. I was a little nervous coming to a different country at first. Living in China took some adjustment, and you’re bound to run into some problems. But the Chinese staff can be most helpful, and are willing to go above and beyond to make your life comfortable. They’ll help you adjust to your new city, help with your living arrangements, and teach mandarin. And if you feel you still need some help, there’s always a capable and reliable, native English speaking staff whom you can fall back on. Plus, you’ll see how fun, adorable, and hilarious your students can be, which can always brighten your day. Once you talk to foreigners and teachers from other schools in China, you’ll quickly realize how good you have it in Aston.
Aston Zibo, 2008
My first placement in China was in a middle school in Guangzhou. I really hated having to teach large classes with no curriculum and varying levels of ability. I had a real crisis of confidence and thought I was a bad teacher because my students weren’t learning anything. Then I applied to Aston to do a Summer intensive and never looked back! I have worked in 2 Aston locations, Guiyang and Yinchuan and have had positive experiences in both. The material for all my classes was provided and all my students were grouped into the same level, so it was easy to teach. I also made many friends and experienced China in a way that you can only by living in the country. The advancement prospects within Aston are also great, and it’s easy to switch to other locations after you complete your contract.
Aston Guiyang 2006, Yinchuan, 2008
Aston has been a great place to work. Teaching children has been my favorite part. Every time you walk into the classroom you see smiles and they can really brighten up your day. It is unbelievable how positive they are and all those laughs really start to rub off. While at first I might have been a little nervous teaching in a new environment, now I look forward to each class. The other staff have also been great. They have been really supportive and helpful. I have been given lots of constructive advice and I feel like I am really able to do well under their tutorship. Life in China has also been rewarding but can be a challenge. Other foreign teachers have given me advice and together we have gone through a lot. All in all it has been a great year and I can only say I loved it.
Aston Chengdu, 2009
Before arriving in China I worked as an editor in the UK. Aston offered me the opportunity to take a brief break from this career, learn standard Chinese with the free lessons for teachers, and really enjoy living and traveling in the country. The relocation package is really helpful, giving me an apartment and taking care of visa’s and other bureaucracy that would otherwise be quite time consuming. On top of this, the children are great, full of fun and you are given all the support and training you need to really give them enjoyable, productive and fulfilling lessons.
Aston Chongqing, 2010
Having never traveled before, the idea of coming to China was very exciting yet daunting. However, after being here for over a year, I realize it was the best step I have ever made. Aston makes everything so easy for you, from providing accommodation and helping you with getting your visa. To helping you with everyday issues you may have. The staff are so helpful and will go out of their way to assist you in settling in and becoming the best teacher you can be. The free Chinese lessons are also fantastic. Above all, the children are amazing! They make everyday different, and make working an enjoyable experience.
Aston Chongqing, 2010
12 months ago I wouldn’t have known how much I would enjoy teaching. As a first timer, everything was new to me. Full of hopes and dreams, I’d left my home country for a new career in TEFL. Initially, I was anxious, wondering how I would personally cope with an the language barrier, if I’d enjoy teaching and whether I had what it took to make it in The Peoples Republic. I admit to not knowing much about Aston English or China, I honestly hadn’t even read the forums. Standing for the first time at the entrance of my new school in Yinchuan, I truly felt like a greenhorn and I knew it! Looking back now with one month left to go on my 12 month contract, it seems absurd to have had all those worries and concerns. I can honestly say I love teaching. Aston Yinchuan was a great place for me to start my career in TEFL, with a great teaching crew, excellent foreign managers and lots of laughs along the way. Teaching and learning, making a difference and exploring my city and country on my days off was all part of the fun. Now, all that’s left to wonder is, how long I wish to stay. There are so many opportunities for internal transfers within Aston and I look forward to the chance to see and work all over this expansive country. With Aston English, I feel set to step into my future with confidence and assurance knowing I’ve made my mark in TEFL. Thank you Aston Yinchuan for helping me realize my dream.
Aston Yinchuan, 2010
Overall, Aston is a great company with great ideas. They continuously look for ways to improve their curriculum and the teaching resources they offer are first rate. The learning tools range from books, CD’s, DVD’s, and in the Aston A+ schools, the rooms are equipped with Smart boards, CD-Roms, play equipment and arts and crafts. While you do have to write up your own lesson plan, there is a guidebook you can use to help you and with all of the resources offered, it’s hard to run out of things to do. The only thing the schools seem to lack are flashcards! Why are there no flashcards? I spent so much time making flashcards that would usually get ripped by students during my lessons.
For the most part the staff is friendly and helpful, but I did find there was a disconnect between the different management levels. During my time teaching, several things weren’t taken care of that should have received attention immediately, although they were addressed eventually. (Bare in mind, there are different managers for different schools depending on what region you’re in). If you ever have a problem with the program, it’s typically more effective to email or phone the foreign general managers or the recruiters. They take action and get things done, rather than let the problems pile up.
The pay is pretty standard for teaching in China and you don’t have to pay for your apartment, only utilities. The contract’s not bad. You get an end of the year bonus and there are several different contracts you can choose from (20 vs. 25 hours a week, etc). Nights and weekends are the busiest, but during the day you usually have free time. At my busiest, I was teaching 15 hours a week, spent 2 hours working on lesson plans, had 2 hours worth of demonstrations and another hour for the weekly meeting. I was on the 25 hour contract. You also get two weeks paid vacation (for a year contract), plus local Chinese holidays. Fair warning, there aren’t many Chinese holidays. The learning environment is fun and most classes are half-an-hour to an hour. Classes are small (typically no more than 8 students) and there’s lots of room for being creative in class. If you teach at Aston A+ you’ll get to partake in ‘club activities’ which usually happen every several months and can be anything from playing laser tag to going to a fun dinner.
Working at Aston really was a great experience. It wasn’t hard (although frustrating at times due to a lack of communication), the learning materials made class fun and I met some really great people. I also saved a fair amount of money and had plenty of free time to take up extra hobbies or travel. While I experienced a few mishaps during my time teaching, they’ve all been addressed since and I recommend Aston’s program for anyone looking to teach in China.
Aston Xi’an, 2011
Aston was recommended to me by a good friend. She’d had an interesting experience so after graduating in 2011 I decided that I would give teaching in China a try with the same program as her. I thought I’d do 6 months and then move on to another country. Little did I know that I would enjoy it so much and enjoy my China experience that I would want to make it last a lot longer – I’ll be here until September 2013!
Aston has been the perfect entry for me in China. I’ve experienced 2 schools in the time I’ve been here and therefore have been able to see a lot of China and meet a lot of new and interesting people and students!
The cities I have been in have few foreigners in, (Ordos, Inner Mongolia and Zhangzhou, Fujian) which may not appeal to some people, but for me this was perfect as it has also given me the chance to pick up a bit of day-to-day Chinese which I am confident to use when traveling around.
The program offers ongoing learning and training for the teachers, as well as the chance to get involved with various activities to help promote the schools and get involved with recruiting new students. The school in Zhangzhou I am at now only opened in March 2012 so I have been a lot more involved in this than I was in Inner Mongolia.
I have had western managers who have been great at passing on helpful information and advice about wherever I’ve been living, so that has been really useful too. Lesson planning is easily explained and after the first few weeks it becomes a lot easier and you become a lot quicker at it! Ongoing feedback is also available and everyone shares new games and ideas which makes it easy too. I teach a range of ages, from 3 years to adult, and this variety keeps me interested from day-to-day. There are various different contracts available, for hours and lengths, which can suit various people and what they are after when working in China. Each has various bonus and holiday opportunities too.
Nitty gritty – I have never had a problem with being paid on time. I have had help opening a bank account and also with buying a phone and local sim card wherever I have been. Pay for China is good and you don’t have to worry about rent as you are given a free room in an apartment usually with other foreign teachers. Whatever program you decide to choose in China, you must always remember that you are representing your country in China. You will constantly get stared at by the Chinese if you are somewhere with few foreigners, so you have to be comfortable with that notion. Coming to work for Aston has been a great experience and I always urge anyone with a sense of adventure to come and try out the Chinese life!
Aston Zhangzhou 2012
I worked for a month as a foreign teacher at Binzhou Aston English School’s summer camp, with the guidance of Kit and Ben: the managers there. Even though I am a seasoned traveler, leaving for a culture as different from mine as China, caused me a great deal of pre-departure jitters. Kit and Ben smoothed those jitters away with plenty of pre-travel advise, worked hard to help me to know the other foreign teachers before I got there, and did wonders to help me arrange transportation and lodging from Beijing to Binzhou. Working as a foreign teacher there was an awesome experience. The managers’ knowledge of Chinese Culture made it easy for me to get around on my own if needed and helped me feel at home. They made my visit very pleasant by making sure I was doing my job, but still enjoying myself. My trip to China as a foreign teacher was an amazing life experience. The bonds I created with the kids I taught were wonderful. The opportunity to "teach the teachers" helped me to step up my own professionalism. I would be pleased to work for at Aston again, and would strongly encourage anyone considering teaching kids in China to take a long look at Aston English School. They are the best!
Aston Binzhou 2012
I taught in Jinan with Aston on my first international job. The interview was pleasant and professional. The expediting of the letter of invitation and passport were done to specifications. When I arrived the only thing that wasn’t told to me as a beginning traveler is the time change and layover times. I would have preferred the school to have a contact person with the airline to make the transition smooth. The people were kind and loving yet with concern of curriculum and teaching props, the school were fine. The apartment left much to be desired very hot without air-conditioning and very cold with out heaters on. The floor heating is not enough and too expensive. All and all the schools administration took great care of me and kept me in safety with concern during my off days. I would prefer that the teachers had more input to each semester and changes that could assist the children, but I guess you can’t have everything. The hours of work are great for me and the area is a mixture of city life and traditional people. Aston is well worth the chance for beginners, intermediates and those looking to advance.
Aston Jinan 2013