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Talking to teachers – An interview with Sakari Nichols
Author: EnglishTeacher    2021-11-16

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So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?


I was volunteering a few years ago in China as well as participating in a culture exchange when I met a group of local children. They would speak a little English to me and I would struggle to create my sentences to respond to them in Chinese but somehow it all worked. Being able to immerse myself in another culture while contributing back was always something I’ve enjoyed. My love of learning new languages and cultures brought me into the world of volunteering and travel, which in turn introduced me into the world of teaching English.


In the early stages of trying to get back to teaching in China, I had hit a brick wall with all the outlets I knew of. I had read somewhere that using an agency was best during this time and so research ensued. I didn’t know of many agencies but I did find a few on some job boards. Now it’s always up to someone to do their own research which is what I ended up doing. 


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What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in China?


Totally be yourself! The recruitment process was honestly thorough as you have to upload documents to verify your degree and background if needed. The interview was straight to the point and super professional yet the environment was relaxed enough where it felt like old friends catching up. During the interview you can bring up any specifics such as teaching in certain areas or age groups, but overall just have an open mind and be prepared for anything.

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COVID restrictions have made getting the work visa and flying to China a lot more challenging. Can you give an overview on your move to China?


How long can this answer be? Haha. First and foremost, I think the most important step before even thinking about moving to China would be to ask yourself if this is something you want to pursue during this time? If yes, then you’re already a step ahead of the game. Make sure your documents are in order. Your diploma, your teaching certifications, these are things you’ll need in order to get your visa. Coming from the states you’ll have to deal with closed Embassies or Consulates working on modified schedules, working online, other areas being modified etc.


If you’re up for researching about where to send documents, how to get documents returned and well equipped to be checking your emails constantly, you’ve entered the world of state side COVID restrictions. I’m only speaking from an American perspective here. A lot of things must be scheduled ahead of time such as consulate appointments or document pick ups, so prep for that. Make sure you’re ready for COVID testing and lots of them. But truly, if you have your documents in order and you’ve done your research, even during this difficult time in history, you don’t have much to worry about. 

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You are teaching in Shenzhen at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?


As someone who has visited Shenzhen a few times before, I’ve always found the city to be alive with endless things to do. This is still true. Coming from the US, I’m still amazed by the amazing Metro system this city has. The bilingual signage in both English and Chinese is very helpful for an expat like myself as well. China overall is amazing with the digital system and applications used for everyday life. It’s even helpful to use these apps during COVID because you don’t have to physically touch many shared surfaces. I love the greenery around the city as well, although it’s filled with buildings, there is nature to be found. This city is filled with people riding bikes and taking walks almost everywhere and it’s something I enjoy doing myself. Overall my life in Shenzhen so far has been a nice change of pace. I’m still making new friends, enjoying walks and bike rides as well as locally traveling around to discover new places I’ve never been before. Each day presents a new adventure to me and I’m enjoying it a lot.

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Can you tell us about your favorite class at the moment?


As I’m awaiting to teach my littles at a Primary School, I can say that I’m excited to get into the classroom. I’ve passed a few kids on my way to the shop and the laughter and questions are amazing and endless, even though most of the questions are in Chinese. From previous experience I expect to help my students develop a curiosity for English and a comfort to speak the language.


China is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.


Oh gosh. Shanghai. It was in Shanghai. So after quarantine I had to get my final two COVID tests done and I was able to walk to the location myself. Well once I had arrived, it clicked that I could only speak basic Chinese. Like, very little Chinese. So I pulled out this paper I was given previously and showed it to two guards who began speaking to me in Chinese, and I’m standing there like a deer caught in headlights. There was an English woman walking by whom said, ‘return at 1:30.’ I shook my head and said, ‘okay,’ as I couldn’t even process the time spoken to me. I know basic Chinese but apparently my brain was a little slow to catch up that day. So long story short, I’ll be brushing up on my Chinese and doing a lot more listening practices.


Source: https://goldstarteachers.com

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