GRADUATE BLOG: My experience of TEFL in China, Oliver Wessely

UoY Careers Balloon illyGuest blogger, Oliver Wessely, a recent York graduate shares his experiences of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in China.

“I am a University of York graduate currently based in Shanghai teaching English. I graduated in English Language and Linguistics in July 2012. Now with this Bachelors in hand, Teaching English abroad was one pathway I could follow given that we had done a module of TEFL in my second year. However within this line of work I don’t think what you studied at University is too important, what counts is that you went there and can speak English to native level.

The reasons why I chose to do TEFL are because like many I didn’t know what I wanted to do added to the lifeless job climate in Britain, my desire for a new challenge and a ill-nourished crave for travelling, I made the choice to leave the UK and go work in China for a year.

If I hadn’t, I honestly think I would have been in York every other weekend trying to relive some of the memories. Unfortunately there’s only so long you can cling on to being a student.

Therefore in the summer, I did a CELTA course in Reading. These are impeccably taught courses training you to be an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher. I had a commute of about an hour every morning, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The certificate you get at the end of it is in my mind priceless. It is a world-renowned course and it helps you a lot in the next stage.

I then went about applying on websites like for English jobs abroad. Most of the job opportunities arise from China, which is where I have ended up. I went through an agency called Saxoncourt and they placed me in Shanghai with this company Shane schools.

Going through a company has its pro’s and cons. You might not get the best deal with money, but they do support you quite well especially when you are acclimatising to your new surroundings.

Teaching has its ups and downs. There are times where your classroom resembles Wrestlemania and all your own banging and shouting in the world will not change that, but then there are times when you get to teach students who find the English language ‘beautiful’ and are utterly fascinated by you and your culture which makes the job deeply satisfying.

I don’t think you can really prepare for this job; it is more having the ability to adapt to being in charge of a classroom with 30-45 students which is an exhilarating experience when you get used to it.

Post university, I think is the perfect time to do this in your life. You’re still learning a lot but  also working and earning which helps. The pay is usually good for your host country, but not really enough to pay off the student loan. However CV tools of self-independence, resilience, working in foreign conditions and a new language under your belt are quite priceless, as is the magnificent experience you get out of being the foreigner in a foreign city.”

If you want to find out more about Oliver’s experiences in China you can follow his blog at: