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TEFL Trained in Thailand and Employed in China!

Novelist and EFL/ESL Teacher Sean BunzickBy Sean Bunzick

Prolific Novelist and Trained
Full-Time English Teacher

Trained in Thailand and Employed in China

The purpose of this writing is to tell you about my experiences as a TEFL-trained teacher, for the benefit of anyone who may be thinking of doing the same.

The truth in my case, however, is that I pursue two full-time professions: that of novelist and also English teacher. There is no conflict; in fact, I draw inspiration for my books from many sources, including not least from teaching the delightful Asian students who attend my classes.

I also am fortunate that as a writer I seem generally to be blessed more than others in not being greatly afflicted with so-called “writer’s block”. I love writing, and almost continually plots and stories pour forth from me as characters I like to regard as ‘fascinating’ begin to take shape. I have written and published quite a number of books, and am particularly noted for my John Harwich Adventure Series, several novels of which are currently available for purchase online at Amazon.

As for teaching English, I don’t teach English to make a living while I write, but rather I teach English because I love people and I love to teach! In fact, getting books published is a slow procedure anyway, and before one gets published I am usually able to finish two or three more books, while at once teaching dozens of happy and enthusiastic English student groups!

My English teaching career actually began in 2008, when I happily attended an utterly fantastic TEFL Course at TEXT-AND-TALK Academy and achieved my TEFL certificate from the Chiang Mai branch in January of that year. Indeed, receiving that certificate was one of the happiest times of my life!

The study was great also, as TEXT-AND-TALK instructors go out of their way to help you learn the best ways to teach an English class, particularly in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Of course, I had previously done some freelance teaching in my second home of Chiang Mai, as well as for a brief spell while in Binh Duong, a suburb of Saigon, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, if you will).

But the next teaching maneuver after my TEFL Course ended up being the longest one I’ve had and also the best!

On the web site “Dave’s ESL Café”, I saw that a facility in China was offering to take in teachers in Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, to indoctrinate them in how to teach successfully in that country – and they were seeking help in getting recruits familiar with the ways of that work, and of living in China itself, before assigning them to teaching jobs in one of the provinces they serve.

As I’d always wanted to visit the Middle Kingdom anyway, and the idea of going there to learn how to become a teacher for Chinese students really appealed to me in a most exciting way, I contacted the advertising organization (the Buckland International Education Group), wherein the extremely friendly and helpful woman who deals with people such as myself – Miss Ping – couldn’t have been any nicer when she said that a man with my experience in Thailand and Vietnam would be more than welcome to join their next training program in January - February of 2011.

I admittedly was somewhat scared of leaving the much more familiar worlds of Thailand and other countries of Southeast Asia for China, but I thought it would be a great challenge, with many rewards possible – and, as it turned out, that indeed was the case!

I flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong, and then after getting stamped in by customs/immigration officials in China, got a taxi to take me to a bus station for a ride to Yangshuo – a major tourist destination in China, and one which is well-known for the incredible limestone peaks that have inspired Chinese painters for centuries.

The people at Buckland were equally as professional and warm-hearted as those of TEXT-AND-TALK Academy, so I fit in right away. The preparatory course was two weeks long, and explained so many matters about teaching in China that I had never even thought of previously.

Then, the next thing I knew, Ping and the other Buckland officials were taking my class out for an excellent “Congratulations & Farewell” dinner at a luxurious restaurant in Yangshuo!

My next move after that was on to Hunan Province, where I taught for one term, from February to June, at the Shaoyang 3 School. It was a very different world from what I had experienced in Thailand and Vietnam, but I soon took to it, after which I was sent here to Shaanxi Province in late August of 2011 to do my second term at the Yao Shan Middle School in Pucheng – a small city-town that has become one of my favorite places in Chung Kuo – the Middle Kingdom.

I taught two terms of high school-age students there, plus two terms of the same level in the nearby city-town of Weinan and one term in the beautiful mountain city of Ankang.

Currently, I am teaching at the Longgang International School here in Hanzhong. This is the best school I've worked for, and like Pucheng, Weinan and Ankang, it is a location with very friendly people who hardly ever see Westerners – as a result of which you never feel like you are in ‘Touristy-Expat-China’ (Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Yangshuo) – but you are, in fact, really deep in the true heart of China.

The pollution here is, of course, a nightmare, while the 24/7 horns honking can drive you mad, and it’s brutally cold from October to April. In any case, I still need to learn a lot more Mandarin to communicate better, although – on the other side of that same coin – I find that the bulk of my students really do want to improve their conversational English skills, while the Chinese teachers are also kindly.

The apartments we live in rent-free are actually glorious, and upon arrival in China I get picked up at the modern international airport in Xi’an (the capital city of Shaanxi Province) by a member of Buckland whom I have become good friends with, and who gets me back out there at the end of the term for a flight to either Chiang Mai or Boston.

I also always get paid on time at the end of the month via wire transfer to a Chinese bank account; my apartment has a computer with free Internet service; and Buckland helps me get the proper visa from the People’s Republic of China Consulate in Chiang Mai. The list of positive realities is a long one, as far as both Buckland and teaching here in China go.

Although I do indeed miss my beloved Chiang Mai on a daily basis, I also love it here in China.

So if you want to try teaching somewhere other than Thailand, get a good job, and have students who really do want to improve their English and all the while get paid for your teaching on a regular basis, I recommend that you first train in the TEXT-AND-TALK Academy TEFL Course – and then take China into consideration for your destination, and Buckland for your employer.

More than likely – as it happened with me – you won’t regret this choice!

Finally, there is also no law against your holding down some other profession at the same time, as I do, as that only serves to enrich the experience of living – and if that is true of you, you should go for it – though in no way should you neglect your teaching or your students.

In the meantime, when I myself do get back into Thailand on break, I generally enjoy myself in Chiang Mai for a period of time, then whenever possible hang out with two great friends, who are also a couple of Thailand’s most popular and successful novelists, Christopher G. Moore and Dean Barrett …

… and perhaps meet up with a girl or two I know after that!

Last of all, if you ultimately do decide to teach English, I wish you a career as happy as my own.


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