Alumni Fest 2018: Meet Sophia!

I’m teaching AS year English with a focus on TOEFL & IELTS preparation. I enjoy my current job very much because I have the freedom to design and use my own materials, students are cooperative and respectful, the management team and the whole working environment have been supportive and very professional. In fact, the principal Dr. Lei Dongdong has very rich experience in managing international schools and she has great vision, shows amazing leadership and is well-loved by staff. The vice-principal is also someone who I have worked with very closely before I went to UK and whom I respect a lot. Besides, very sensible working hours, passionate and lovely co-workers, relatively good benefits… All these make my job enjoyable. Basically I have found the best school to work at in Shanghai, well, for me at least. Of course, I haven’t got the pay rise as I would like. But that’s the market — ESL teachers are less well-paid than maths, chemistry or other subject teachers and local teachers’ pay is sometimes half or even 1/3 of a foreign staff. But still, it’s reasonably well and sufficient to support myself in Shanghai. Back to your other questions. I had two offers before coming back to Shanghai.

I contacted my previous friends who were working at different schools to ask if there were openings. My friends had known my abilities, work ethics and they had also been following what I did at King’s and how well I did. They managed to help me secure offers — one teaching Literature and the other ESL. King’s is a very prestigious university and my MA experience definitely was one of the most important factors that got me offers when there were few openings.

I think the MA programme at King’s and CELTA training at IHL have made me a better teacher. All the courses were very useful and practical — designing and adapting materials, checking students’ comprehension, understanding learners’ needs, motivating students etc. — everything I had tried very hard to learn, to practice, now I can do naturally, or at least with ease. I enjoyed every bit of the programme and the training at IHL, despite the fact that those four weeks I was constantly starved, exhausted after lesson preps and even by dreams about class being evaluated. If there is anything I wish could change, that would be some of the class schedules. All the optional modules were very interesting and some were put at the same time and we had to choose.

Personally I would have taken or observed more classes had they been on different days.

…take initiative of [your] studies and make the most of [your] time at King’s and in London. Be active in class. Make good use of the library resources and academic workshops available.”

I would like to advise the current students to take initiative of their studies and make the most of their time at King’s and in London. Be active in class. Make good use of the library resources and academic workshops available. It’s also very important to reflect on your own experiences as a teacher or as a student when you are teaching at IHL, writing an essay or just participating in a classroom discussion. Your experience helps you see who you are and what kind of a teacher you want to be, and the education this programme offers bridges the gap. Besides, try to find a good balance between studying and enjoying life in London. I spent most of the time studying, which was very fulfilling and rewarding, but I didn’t get to enjoy more other activities such as joining a society/club or even watching a musical which was literally within walking distance of the campus. I know, time is very limited. A year is very short and we cannot do everything. So prioritise what you do.

“Being a King’s graduate is significant but getting a job requires more than a degree. You also need to understand what qualities and skills the schools are looking for and try to match with their expectations.”

Oh I forgot one thing, King’s career service was also a very valuable resource for checking CVs, preparing for interviews, etc. Make good use of all the university resources when looking for a job. Being a King’s graduate is significant but getting a job requires more than a degree. You also need to understand what qualities and skills the schools are looking for and try to match with their expectations. Good luck with your studies and future career!

Don’t forget that you can leave any questions for Sophia below this post and she’ll answer them! 

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