Teach in China with Buckland--Aaron Dorset

Title: Stepping into the unknown.

Story: When I first went to the CELTA training course in Sydney I was simply glad to pass a four week course so time consuming that sleep was regularly six hours a night at most. I'd been thinking, like so many, of going to teach where my Asian girlfriend came from. But no go. Instead I had to trawl through the EFL websites looking for jobs which seemed easiest for a teacher with no experience. Less class time a week, accommodation all sorted, flight payments helped with, and other benefits gave Buckland a clear edge over other, better paid alternatives in Japan and Taiwan. It seemed like a good place for an apprenticeship in English teaching.

So I passed through on a flight paid for with borrowed money and arrived in Guilin airport almost totally skint by Australian standards. Which meant that I was rich, by Chinese standards. Tracey of Buckland met me and an American guy and took us to Yangshuo, the backpacker topspot of southern China. Beautiful limestone pinnacles, a western tourist centre with western cafes and shops, near a river on which Clinton smiled over from a poster commemorating his visit herein 1998. Most of the city is for Chinese people hough, and I found myself sampling Chinese delicacies sch as batter sticks dipped in warm soy milk for breakfast, steamed rolls with a sweet interior, and rice porridge.

Within a few days, Jennifer Buckland had arranged a posting according to what I asked for - a village in the countryside. It turned out later that Buckland specialises in sending English teachers to village schools where students have less chance of seeing and being taught by foreign teachers. After being helped onto a 1950s bus that seemed to be just about in one piece by Tracey back to Guilin, and nipping aboard a taxi to a Guilin long-distance bus station, I was packed off on a bus to Nanning, a major city near the border with Vietnam. So far so good, and my being skint had caused no problems so far.

In Nanning I was surprised to be greeted rapturously by the vice-principal and some English teachers from my new school. I was their first foreign teacher, so for two weeks solid I never paid for a meal, and had to become very good at listening to an endless series of meaningless chatter. The next day I settled into the new apartment and went along to listen to various English teachers lessons. I'd trained already so wasn't't particularly worried, but did pick up lots of useful techniques from different teachers, like starting lessons with "Good morning" and finishing with "goodbye." All of those little things that never cross your mind. A few days later I was into my first class.

Aaron Dorset