As a volunteer teacher in China you have the opportunity to teach conversational English to students at kindergartens, primary, secondary schools or even colleges. The teaching program focuses on listening, comprehension and speaking ability.
Requirements for Volunteers
- Native speaker of English
- 18+ years old on program start date
In Yantai, we place volunteers at boarding schools where students range from 6-18 years of age. Students are middle-class, mostly from Yantai, and they live at the schools from Monday-Friday then go home on weekends.
Each school has an English-teaching department. The average class size is about 40 and classes are typically 40 minutes long. The students who are 15-16 speak very good English. There are normally several volunteers at one school.
One of the typical middle schools in Yantai for volunteers is the Bi-Lingual Experimental School. This boarding school has 1,000 students, ages 7-16, with 100 teachers (10 for English). It is located about 10 minutes by bus from downtown Yantai. Click here to see photos of the school and students.
You will teach 3-4 classes per day, at 40 minutes per class, with the option to take on more classes. You have the choice to serve as an assistant teacher or lead a class on your own.
In both capacities, you will mostly follow the students’ normal curriculum in their standard English books. However, especially with the younger children, you can bring your own ideas, lessons, creativity, and materials like flash cards, into the classroom. A good book to help you with ideas is Lessons From Nothing.
The assistant role is more common in classrooms with Chinese students from 6-12 years old. The full-time Chinese teacher is needed to provide instruction and guidance to the students in Chinese, while the volunteer teacher works on the students’ lessons and pronunciation.
Volunteers stay from one to 10 months. The program schedule varies at each school, although you must arrive at the beginning of the semester for your teaching program. Keep in mind that school exams take place at both mid term and end of term which will affect your teaching schedule.
The annual school schedule:
• Spring Semester: March 4 – July 16
• Summer Program: Mid July to early August
• Fall Semester*: September 2 – January 10
*With option to return home December 20 for Christmas.
Volunteers accommodations are at the boarding schools. You will live in a private modern room with your own bathroom, shower, refrigerator, television, washer/dryer, and (usually) a stove for cooking. All bedding and pillows are provided by the school.
Volunteers have three meals per day, seven days a week, in the teachers’ section of the cafeteria. There is a wide range of food, including vegetables, beans, rice, fish, chicken, beef, fruit, and and eggs. You can also walk to grocery stores in your school’s neighborhood to buy things like snacks, instant coffee, and soft drinks.
You will have free 24/7 Internet access at the school, in one of the teachers’ offices. You can receive phone calls from home on the landline phone in your apartment. To make calls, you would buy prepaid phone cards which are widely available in shops in Yantai. We suggest that you buy a mobile phone in Yantai ($40) to stay in touch more easily with your family and our local Coordinator in Yantai. Your neighborhood will also have Internet cafes with broadband access (20 cents/ hour) and phones.
When you are on the school campus but not in class, you can do things like assist the phys-ed teachers with sports activities like basketball and kickball, play games like jump-rope with the students, and of course just talk and spend quality time with the students who are always eager to practice their English and learn about you.
At night, you can get together in town with the volunteers at your school and nearby schools. Yantai has many restaurants, shopping malls, fast food places, beaches, museums, and bars (for over 21’s). Buses rides are 20 cents and taxis to town are about $1.50 (10 min).
On weekends, you can visit some beautiful coastal towns such as Qindao which hosted the sailing events of the 2008 Olympics. Another is Penglai with its famous Pavilion and pretty beaches. For longer weekends, you can take the 50-minute flight to Beijing ($70) and visit the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and see the world-famous Chinese acrobats perform.