I get asked lots of questions about teaching English at a Chinese Kindergarten:
- How do you communicate with students still learning their first language?
- What’s your daily schedule like?
- Are you even working? Don’t you just play with kids all day? 😉
I thought it would be fun to answer some of those questions here and make a video about it! If you’re curious about what a day teaching English to three- and four-year-olds is like, check out my Youtube video below!
A DAY AT A CHINESE KINDERGARTEN
TEACHING KINDERGARTEN FAQS
WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE?
My kindergarten is a little different than other schools in China. It’s more like a kindergarten in a Western country where I’m with the same students every day instead of teach many different classes. I basically work 8:15 – 11:30 a.m. every morning M-F with office hours in the afternoons twice a week. I teach English for an hour every morning and then help with anything else they need. My job is to create an immersive English learning environment for the students not just in English class but also outside of class!
If you want to read more about my daily life in a kindergarten you can also check out my previous post about it: Welcome to Kindergarten in China!
DO YOU PLAN YOUR OWN LESSONS?
My kindergarten and most others will have a book to follow. Ours is from Pearson Longman. My class is Small Class 2 and we use the Pockets 1 book. There are 9 units in the book so I do one unit a month. Each unit will have vocabulary words the kids need to learn, and it will also have some craft and game ideas.
If I only taught the vocabulary words from the book they’d get bored or I’d run out of material very quickly, though. I always bring in my own songs and games for the unit, as well as teaching more topics. For example, this unit we learned about pets from the book, but we’ve also been practicing shapes, colors, and counting up to 20, and the kindergarten asked me to talk about spring and growing plants during the month of March.
I spend a good amount of time finding new ideas and resources to use online. I have a lot of freedom and flexibility with my lessons, which is nice. The kindergarten also wants me to plan arts and crafts to go along with my lessons, so I have to be creative and plan activities that are appropriate for their age level.
HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE WITH CHINESE CHILDREN?
Chinese kids are the same as any kids – they love songs, games, videos, anything fun and interactive. Kids will pick things up very quickly, too! They’re so smart. So in my lessons I try to make things as fun and engaging as possible. They’re learning English words and having fun at the same time so it doesn’t feel difficult.
You can read about some lessons and activities I’ve done with my students here: Tales of an English Kindergarten Teacher in China
I also learn a lot of Chinese from my students and love to practice with them!
YOU JUST PLAY AT KINDERGARTEN ALL DAY DON’T YOU
Well….yes 😉 But also no!
In my video I just show the fun highlights! But working at a kindergarten can be challenging. You always have to have high energy…not to mention high patience. Not just in teaching an English lesson and managing 31 students, but also in other parts of the day.
I do exercises with them, games, breakfast, lunch, fruit time, everything. I’m responsible for keeping the kids entertained and engaged in the activities, and also making sure they’re safe, not fighting with each other (they fight over their chairs and toys all the time), checking to see if they wet their pants, wiped their noses, drank all their water, etc!
I really do have SO much fun at the kindergarten and I love my students so much. I can’t imagine not seeing them every morning now. But there is a lot of hard work that goes in before, during, and after work at the kindergarten. And I’m only there half the day – I have so much respect for the other Chinese teachers there and anyone else who teaches young kids on the daily!
I’m sure there’s a lot I haven’t mentioned about my job, but I hope this gives you a better idea about life in a Chinese kindergarten! Til next time, Xiao Pengyou!