Let me tell you something about Hayo English. My real name is Hayo Venema and I was born in Holland. Here’s how I started teaching in China.
First of all, I want you to know that I have never done an official study to be a teacher. Teaching in China was simply thrown on my path. And it’s been an amazing and wonderful journey since.
To start at the beginning, I graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in June 2009. My first real job was for a large international company. A great company with great colleagues. But I wasn’t ready to be attached to a career, a mortgage and all that. I wanted to travel and see the world. I had always been fascinated by the Far East, so I made the plan to travel through Asia for half a year. I booked a one-way flight to Mumbai and quit my job March 2011.
What changed my life was meeting English teachers in China. I had never heard of ESL, English as a Second Language, before. I was told about the many teaching opportunities in China and it got me excited to give it a shot.
I thought of it as a good way to earn some money and travel on. But once I got into it, I loved doing it so much, I didn’t want to quit! I love kids; they are so cute, funny, sincere. I’m still a big kid myself. This has helped me a lot in my teaching career; seeing the world through their eyes.
Teaching ESL to children is challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. Having so much fun in class and seeing the kid’s happy faces is worth all the effort and energy you put in.
My first job teaching in China
My first teaching job, in Shenzhen, China, was at a terrible training center. Teaching English is big business, so there are many of these. They didn’t have any study book material, no curriculum, barely any flashcards, only some story books. The management was replaced a lot and the foreign teachers came and go. I tried to make the most of it and to learn as much as I could from the other teachers, but after ten weeks I quit the job, feeling lost there. I went back home for Christmas for a big 6 weeks holiday and returned to China to find a new teaching job at a better school.
Teaching English at a kindergarten
I did some demo classes and choose to work at a kindergarten this time. No more commercial training centers. It was part of a chain of seven privately owned kindergartens. It was a blessing! It was well organized and structured, with a head foreign teacher who had set up a curriculum for us to follow. I was allowed to watch another teacher in the beginning before I was put in front of class.
I was the only foreign teacher at my kindergarten and taught all children English there, aged from 2,5 to 6 years old. Each class consisted of around 30 kids and I would teach them once a week, at 25-30 minutes a class.
In the morning I would arrive around 8 o’clock and stand at the gate to greet the children and parents. At 9 or 9.30 my first class would start. Three classes each morning, with five minutes break between classes, which was enough. From noon to 2 o’clock is lunch break and I was free to go wherever I wanted. In the afternoon I didn’t have any classes, I was free to plan my classes in the teacher’s office. Often I would walk around the kindergarten and play with the kids and see what they’re up to. They were always so excited to see me, screaming my name and jumping. So much fun and happiness!
Teaching at a training center
After a year I started working extra for Ambow Education, a popular English training center. This was a new challenge as I got to teach children who were a bit older (7 to 12 years old), too. It’s great as you can have more conversations and jokes with them, and they are less noisy. The classes are smaller, from 4 to 10 children in one class. Lessons were 90 minutes, including a ten minutes break. Two lessons a week. Typically one lesson on weekday evenings and one lesson in the weekend. This was great as I really got to see the student’s progression.
I had worked there a year until Bond Education asked me to work for them. This was an awesome opportunity as Bond is one of the biggest and most professional English training centers in China. They put up posters of me everywhere through the city and I taught courses at five different centers. It required a lot of traveling.
After traveling so much for Bond I wanted a steady base. I switched training centers and started teaching English at POP Education, a very nice smaller training center with about 150 children. I was the only full-time teacher here.
I had taught English at POP for over a year and had really loved it there, but I was ready for a new challenge. I went on to travel more, from Asia to South-America. Now, my mission is to help people becoming a great ESL teacher for kids. Not just teaching in China, but teaching children all around the world!