Going Places: Interview with TEFLOnline.com Graduate Kimberly Parker

Originally from New Jersey, via Maryland, Kimberly K. Parker has written four books on a range of topics, and has helped countless others publish their own work, as well. Prior to moving to China, Kimberly taught online English Language Arts and Writing classes to children in elementary, middle, and high school. After completing the 100-Hour TEFL Online Course in December 2013, Kimberly moved abroad and is currently teaching English in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China. Kimberly is married and has four children. Both she and her daughter plan to collaborate on a book about their experiences in China.

Are you wondering where your TEFLOnline.com certificate can take you? I spoke to Kimberly about how her course took her to the Far East.

What made you choose China as your teaching destination?

Most people find it challenging to fathom my story. How I ended up in China is most unusual but 100% true. I didn’t choose China. China chose me. In January 2013 I literally woke up one morning and with pure spontaneity said, “I want to teach children English in China.” With that, I created a vision board with these words: ‘Get to China free.’ Then, I contacted English First and shared my desire. They simply told me to send them my resume. I gladly obliged, but was disappointed to learn I did not qualify. They required teachers to have a degree in English plus a couple years of classroom experience, neither of which I had at the time. Still, I never lost sight of my dream to teach children English in China. Then on October 23, 2013 I received an email from English First stating their requirements had changed and they wanted me to reapply. It was at that very moment I knew my dream would come true! I resubmitted my resume, interviewed with two different English First locations in China, and was hired as a Foreign Teacher in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China in a matter of 18 days! One of my desires was to bring my eight-year-old daughter with me as well. English First Zhenjiang completely supported the idea and has remained supportive since we’ve arrived. All of my colleagues have taken a strong liking to me and the feelings are mutual.

Do you feel that your TEFLOnline.com 100-Hour course prepared you as a teacher?

My full schedule as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur would not afford me time to commute to and from a location to take classes. The online course was wonderful and offered me the flexibility I needed. Time was of the essence; English First wanted me to start in January 2014. I was aware TEFL Online gave six months to complete the course. Therefore, I knew, on average, it took students six to twelve weeks to complete the course. However, in order to honor the start date, I had to complete the course much sooner. In a very short time, I earned an ‘A’ and successfully completed 13 modules, 27 quizzes, 28 tests, 25 essays, and watched 21 videos—I also completed the “Course in English Grammar” component!

What is your school like? Do you teach adults or kids?

Our center’s classrooms all have modern interactive whiteboards that allow teachers to access the Internet, use eclectic resources, or create our very own materials. Our office is full of resource materials ranging from ESL textbooks and photocopy-ready texts to an assortment of regalia and board games. I teach children as young as three-years-old and as old as 17 for up to six days a week at times.

What tips would you give someone who is considering teaching English in China?

The first tip I would give is to believe it’s possible to live your dreams! If you want to teach in China, you can. Second, inquire about the dress code and other expectations before you arrive. I packed so many clothing items I did not need and, perhaps, may not use. I could have used that suitcase to pack other comforts from home. This brings me to my third tip: pack as many comforts from home as you possibly can. There are certain Western items that, if you can find them in China, have a high price tag. Since most of the essential Chinese items I purchase are well below cost, I don’t mind paying 60 renminbi ($10 US) for a box of Maple and Brown Sugar Quaker Oatmeal now and again. My last and final tip is don’t be a stranger to hard work. Helping young minds learn a new language is quite challenging, but not impossible. Be creative and try new ideas as long as it does not conflict with the terms of your contract. Most importantly, never lose sight of your goal to make a difference in the life of another person.