Life in Taiwan: The First Day of School

Life in Taiwan: The First Day of School

This is part of an ongoing series about living and teaching in Taiwan. You can find the previous article here: Living in Taiwan: Finding a Home

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I always dreaded going back to school as a child. I’d be worried about if my classes would be difficult, worried about if my uniform looked cool enough and worried a ridiculous amount about what people would think of me. I’m sure that goes for most students. Therefore, it seems to make little sense that I made the decision to put myself back in a classroom environment. The great thing is, that first day of school, that first day of teaching, still felt exactly the same as it did when I was eleven years old – I still worried about if my classes would be nice to me and I still worried what they thought of me, only now I had the added pressure of making sure they could communicate in English.

After Teacher Training

Once you’ve completed training, head office has left you to fend for yourself, and you find yourself with ten minutes to go before the start of your first-ever class in Taiwan, what you’ll immediately feel is a pang of nausea followed by the impulse to run away. Ignore that impulse. There’s something highly intimidating about walking into a class of children for the first time. I’d quite happily stand up in front of my peers, but when you subtract twenty years off their age and factor in that your job is now to spend a large portion of your time making sure they succeed, that first lesson can feel like the scariest thing in the world.

And It Begins…

I remember waltzing into my first class: they were at the end of Spec 1 and I had eighteen pairs of eyes watching my every move. I can still feel the burn in the back of my head when I turned around to set up a scoring system as they sized me up. The first few minutes were rocky, I did that thing that teachers always used to do in school and pronounced names hideously, and then tried to recover with something that went completely over their heads. Sure, those first few moments were not smooth sailing, but after a few minutes I got into the swing of things, I pronounced their names correctly and I think they might even have learned something. That class has been my favourite from the very beginning and we’ve reached a point where the class is so easy and fun and friendly that I’m a little sad when it ends every day. Now, I find it laughable that I ever thought they were an intimidating bunch of kids.

As with a lot of things, the first time is not the best time, and teaching a class of Taiwanese children certainly won’t be a walk in the park on your first day. But, it gets a whole lot easier.

For more on living and working abroad, visit our Teaching Abroad Blog. Or get the lowdown on professional development at our Teacher Training blog.

About the Author

Ella is an English teacher in Taiwan and has been living and teaching in Asia for the last two years. She has loved seeing kids enjoy learning English. In her spare time Ella has been learning Chinese, climbing mountains and finding hidden waterfalls in Taiwan’s beautiful countryside. You can check out her adventures on her Instagram or read about them on her blog.