Me and Foreign Teachers
How I came to China
In the beginning
I took an interest in Asia at an early age after my father showed me a Bruce Lee movie called 慐nter the Dragon.?Later, I started learning Shotokan Karate a Japanese Martial Art because there was no Chinese Martial Arts at the time in my hometown. In May 2004 I was a student in my 2nd year at Bolton University, UK. I made semi plans heading to go to Connecticut in America to do a year there. One day passing by a billboard advert saying 揕et抯 go to China for a month September enquire now?Bolton University had a Student Exchange Programme with Zhaoqing University, so I enquired about it and thought ok and I needed the extra 20 credits to graduate the following year. Luckily in the Halls of Residence I was sharing with 3 Chinese students who were government workers were sent out to do their MA抯 (masters) so I asked them a lot of questions about Zhaoqing so they filled me in and recommendations where to go.
Picture below @ Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, USA, to pay my respects to my hero October 2009,牋
Picture left in between Foshan and Shunde, March 2009.?The new Bruce Lee museum is.
So I headed out to China in September of that year landed in Hong Kong and caught the ferry to Zhaoqing. After arriving I was shocked how different everything was the heat, air, the scenery, etc. I visited the local attractions like Ding Hu Mountain, 7 Star Lake, etc. I was amazed not everyone could not speak English and just relied on body language some situations were difficult and some were funny.?I was surprised how many restaurants there are and night market eating vegetables, meat products, etc from 7pm to the early hours in the morning. That was really really cool we don抰 have anything like that in UK. So going to night market eating was a regular thing for me. People were friendly many would say 慔ello?or the parents would push their kids to say something like 慦here are you from??What抯 your favourite food??etc. So Zhaoqing reminded me of my hometown being a tourist city. After finishing my course at the University I had 2 weeks left before I depart back to UK. I went on a multi trip north with a few friends we had to go to Guangzhou to catch the train.
Picture right: Deqing local food Chern Fung Beef rice food Rice Noodles
To this day I still don抰 like Guangzhou. I tried to like it a few times but I still dislike it. The city is dirty, too many people, too crowded, humidity and air pollution etc. Ok, Guangzhou has changed a lot over the years I have heard from Foreigners and Chinese people say the same thing. We are there just to work.?
Anyway, like I was saying, we got on the train and we were on a 6 bunk hard sleeper, which was an experience it was a 28 hour train ride to Xi抋n. I liked Xi抋n I liked the old buildings and the gates they have around the city. I visited the Terracotta Army and a few temples. Our next destination we headed for Beijing for a 4 day trip. We tried the 4 bunk Soft sleeper, that was better and it was a closed room so it was quieter than the 6 bunk. Getting to Beijing I found it much cooler walking around we visited the local tourist places to the square and up to the great wall. I never knew getting to the great wall is a 3 hour bus ride there.
In UK 3 hours travel is a long time for us, but here it抯 nothing, so I got used to travelling over a 3 hour ride going places. In when I go back to UK for a 2 hour, 4 hour, 7 hour travel is nothing to me now. Our next destination was Wuhan and then back to Zhaoqing. I don抰 really remember too much about Wuhan and can抰 recall taking pictures we were only there for about 5 hour stop and then had to get back on the train. 燙oming back to Zhaoqing I had only a few days left and started to wonder more around Zhaoqing getting to know my way around Zhaoqing. Then I came to conclusion. I love Zhaoqing, it抯 not too big and not too small, it抯 a good size and easy to get around and I抦 coming back after I graduate. Nowadays Zhaoqing is getter bigger and starting to look like a big city, more roads have been built more cars on the road and now there is a Sheraton Hotel going to be built.?
On my way to Hong Kong
Leaving Zhaoqing by boat I spent 2 days in Hong Kong exploring the tourist attractions, the peak, the HK ferry, Kowloon Mong Kok area, etc. at that point the 慉venue of Stars were under construction and heard there will be a Bruce Lee statue placed there paid by the Bruce Lee Fan clubs around the world.
?i>Picture left: Me on Avenue of stars. Kowloon, with the all new Bruce lee statue, Hong Kong, April 2006.
First impressions of Hong Kong
I still LOVE Hong Kong, I really do. I always get excited going to Hong Kong, it may be crowded and noisy but I can tolerate that and I can easily get my way around Hong Kong and I go back at least 2 or 3 times a year for a walkabout or shopping. I love walking up Nathan road in Kowloon and cutting off going down the small roads discovering unique shops and getting some good deals. I love going to the night market on Woo Sung Street in Kowloon to eat the delicious spicy crab and sometimes go to the Thai restaurants to have Papaya Green Curry along with a Thai beer. Hong Kong may be more expensive on some things hotel wise I don抰 mind paying a little extra. My favorite hotels are The BP International Hotel, Evergreen Hotel and Metropark. Prices vary depending on the season. The downfall of these hotels you have to pay extra for breakfast and can be quite pricey $HK120 per person. I don抰 bother I just go to one of the local restaurants and some of them do serve full English Breakfast at a reasonable price. When I go back to UK or going somewhere on holiday I will always try to depart from Hong Kong Chep Lak Kok International Hong Kong Airport and coming back. After a holiday I like to land in Hong Kong and stay a day or 2 for last bit of shopping and also a warm up before going back to the mainland. Hong Kong just seems to be getting better there is a new Harbour Plaza shopping mall down at Kowloon bay that has everything in it. It抯 so huge you can get lost. There is a big supermarket in there now called 慍ity Super?it has got all sorts of local and foreign foods in there. I go there for any foods I need to take back home. 牋
I have been to Macau a few times taking friends and family members. My last trip in July 2015. Macau has changed there is this new area Estrada do Istmo. s/n, Cotai, Sands Cotai Central. An all indoor with top chain hotels like the Sheraton, The Venetian and top brand names you can spend days there visiting all the shops. With a huge Casino on the ground floor that抯 open 24 hours 7 days a week. They even have live shows playing.
I went to see Beauty and the Beast. It was great how they did the special effects to a live audience. The bonus part of all this you can apply for a club card to raise points so whatever you buy and spend including food, clothes, see a show, gambling you gain points. Now we have gained enough points to get a free day room for 1 night at wither of the hotel within the complex.
The currency you can use either Hong Kong dollars or Macau MOP both of them are the same value. In the future I will make regular trips there as a quick getaway.
How I became an English Teacher.
While I was studying at Zhaoqing University I had teachers and people on campus and on the street asking me to teach their kids English. I heartily responded 慚e, an English teacher? Naaa.?Before I left I re-thought about it and asked my teachers back in Bolton to find more information they recommended me to do a TEFL course (Teaching English as a foreign language). I did a 5 day intense course and passed and headed back out to China a couple of months later. After arriving back in Zhaoqing I did odd jobs from Kindergarten抯 to College Students and worked in a training centre called 慡ummit Cambridge?for 5 years until they started to take an advantage and cheat me it was heartbroken leaving because I really did enjoy working for that training centre. So I applied at Zhaoqing University, had an interview and got accepted and been here since 2010.
Interacting with University Students.
For Freshman (1st year) Oral English Class they are really shy and do not wish to open their mouths, the first day I always introduce myself so they know a little bit about me. The first method I give them is the most basic. Dr Seuss rhymes 慤p pup. Pup is up.? 慉ll tall, we all are tall.?This breaks the ice and start having fun they start to open up I do Dr Seuss for about 3 weeks with more difficult tongue twisting exercise. You can see a difference in them and start to talk. In time they will get used to your tone of accent and be able to understand you better and they always like to help you if you are in need. A few of them helped me as extras for the haunted school. In return I took them all out for a BBQ dinner in Dong Men Guang Chang (picture right). This is one of my favourite places to eat for BBQ. I go regularly. They have various types of food to eat. The main dish is the lamb leg on a rack and you D.I.Y (do it yourself) carving on a heated grill. The prices are reasonable and it抯 good to go as a pack of people to enjoy the atmosphere. 牋牋?/span>
Knowing the in抯 and outs of teaching
I was really nervous on my first day of teaching I was teaching a kindergarten in town but luckily I had a teaching assistant and gave me some hints and tips for example smile, laugh, do silly faces and telling them what抯 good and bad. Flash cards I was comfortable repeat 慉pple?慉pple? 態anana?態anana? In time I got better and confident and started to be created not just saying what the material is on the book but be more creative on supporting the material. Teaching primary up to University students I follow their books and support with my own material which I have downloaded and 90% of the time it works. I discovered I had natural teaching talent for example I have my lesson plan and if something happens I see, a look, a word, and a sentence something clicks into my head and do this and I go off my original lesson plan. Natural teaching is something you cannot teach another teacher. Either you抳e got it or not. I feel a good teacher should be patient, active, friendly and a passion to teach and be able to move around the class and express with their bodies on what they are talking about.?Sometimes teaching can be like acting on stage. When you give out energy and you get energy back from the students you give more back out to them and turns out to be a good lesson. However, I have experienced I get negative energy from the students so I go back to basics to the book and slow it down. I then wait a spark to happen and the students get active and the energy has risen again and then off I go. In teaching the teacher never stops thinking and watching and observing on ideas what can be used for the next class. Today I constantly look, listen and think and see if it can be useful in class. Lately, I find students are aware of western festive seasons but don抰 know too much in depth. So voila!! A lesson can be on a festive season this helps students to know more and vocabulary words. Every Christmas I don抰 talk too much about Santa Clause and the North Pole. I talk about the story 慉 Christmas Carol?it抯 about Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge who despises Christmas and is haunted by 3 spirits to make him change his ways. The story was written by Charles Dickens a British famous 19th Century novelist who wrote many stories including Oliver Twist.
Travelling and Settling down Every year I try to go on holiday I have been to a lot of places around China for sightseeing and tasting the local foods when I get the chance. I also have travelled to China抯 neighbor抯 countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. I did live in Japan for 10 months travelling roundtrip, teaching and doing courses on Karate for the experience. I found Japan is good for a holiday but to live and work is difficult. After staying 7 months in Tokyo has putting me off living in a big city. 營t was just tiring going from one station to another to get to a destination on the Tokyo subway. So I came back to Zhaoqing, within my time I have so many friends here and my parents come to see me at least once a year. In 2007 I met a very special Chinese lady who has the same interests as me, we dated and travelled together and tied the knot in October 2009. 燬he opened a training centre downtown and at times I help out with classes.
What抯 happening today?
I have been in Zhaoqing for 9 years now and I still enjoy living and working in Zhaoqing. I bought myself a Motorcycle to do round trip travel during through the holidays I抦 planning to do more trips on the bike to discover places. I抦 now a father & loving every minute of it (when the mother in law is not there). I still have no intentions moving out of Zhaoqing. Only time will tell in the next 5 years.
An interview online 2011 from Zhaoqing TV
By Derek Blair Buick
From: England, UK.