* All the information contained in this post about teaching English in China at First Leap is 100% my opinion. This is NOT a sponsored post, and no money was exchanged as an incentive to write this post. Feel free to ask me any questions – I’m happy to share photos and talk with you about my first hand experience.
*Visa process has changed. The process is different and based on which center you will be working at in China.
Most of the people coming to teach English in China at First Leap are looking for the same thing in life; change and a new adventure. One of the great aspects about taking a teaching job with First Leap in China is that they are a large company, and they provide training for new teachers at their headquarters in Beijing, China.
Once you arrive at the headquarters for training, you will quickly meet other teachers from all over the world who share the same passion and desire as you. Any uneasy feelings that you may have had about whether or not you are doing the right thing will quickly vanish as you begin to share your story with your fellow teachers. This training for new teachers at First Leap is a great time to make new friends, and to realize that you are not alone.
Getting to Beijing and First Leap HQ
There are may ways to find a job teaching English in China. Once you have signed your contract and you are ready to start working as a Foreign Teacher for First Leap in China, then you will prepare your visa paperwork and fly over to Beijing. This initial flight cost needs to be covered by you, the teacher. However, after you have finished your contract First Leap will give you a sizable flight bonus for you be able to fly back home, or anywhere in the world you would like to go.
Your First Leap recruiter will be in touch with you daily, up until your flight over to China. So if you have any questions, they will be there to help you feel at ease with your flight and visa into China. Thinking back, I know that I asked some crazy questions at first, but they were extremely patient with me and answered everything in a timely manner — no matter how silly it may have been.
You will also be given a list of common questions about moving over to China. They even provide recommendations on what to bring, all the way down to what clothes you will need to bring with you. Honestly, I believe that they do their best to give you all the information you need to feel comfortable ahead of your trip. And they are there to assist you with everything.
WATCH First Leap China Video – On-Boarding Process WATCH NOW
Will Someone Pick Me Up? Where Do I Go?
Once you have booked your flight to Beijing, you will let you recruiter know your arrival time so they can arrange for someone from First Leap HQ to pick you up and take you to your hotel. It’s reassuring to know that as soon as you step foot out of the airport into China, someone from First Leap will be there to assist you (you might even run into some other new teachers too). They will then escort you to your hotel and help you to check in and get settled.
The First Leap staff will also let you know about where you can get some food to eat, as well as some advice on “good” and “not so good” food to eat. Always helpful in a new country!
They the staff will arrange a time to meet you in the morning and help guide you to training for the first day (you will want some help navigating your way in China and using public transit!). You will be assigned a roommate at the hotel for the training, unless you say differently to your recruiter. I did not mind this. With my years of traveling the world and staying in hostels, I don’t mind. Plus, it’s a great way to meet others in the same situation as you.
Having a roommate immediately gives you a friend to go around out and experience a new culture with. But if you decide to get your own room, you will still be in the same hotel as other teachers.
The hotel will be located close to First Leap location that you will be doing your live teaching training at later in the week. Luckily, my hotel was less than a 5 minute walk to where I was teaching and doing my live training. So it worked out great.
Getting Escorted to HQ By First Leap Staff
The next morning, you will meet in lobby of the hotel with a First Leap staffer who will guide you to HQ for training. Depending on where you are doing your live teaching training, your hotel may or may not be close to the First Leap HQ. Beijing is enormous — the map of the subway lines is enough to make your head spin! But don’t worry though, you will be guided on your first day to HQ and they will teach you how to ride and read the subway system. Then after the first day it is up to you to get to HQ by yourself.
First Day of Training at First Leap HQ
On our first day of training, we were met by our Head Foreign Teacher Trainer, Trevor. Trevor immediately made everyone feel at ease with his laid back personality. He is originally from California and has been with First Leap for 3 years now.
In my training class, there were 12 of us from all over the world. Some from the USA, a married couple from Canada, and a few recent graduates from Ireland, England, and France. They were from all walks of life and everyone seemed to get along great.
On our first day, we were welcomed by the heads of the Teaching Department, and I got to meet my recruiter who I had become friends with from so many question and answer sessions via Skype. We filled out more paperwork and did several games to help get to know each other.
During this first day, the First Leap staff answered all of our questions thoroughly, and made us feel even more comfortable with our decision to teach in China…and for choosing First Leap. This day flew by, and by the end of the day we were all given directions to the centers in which we would observe a full day of teaching at First Leap.
What Does a Full Day of an English Teacher in China at First Leap Look Like?
The next day was Saturday, which is our busiest day as teachers at First Leap (because it is an after school program). With our maps in hand, my roommate Matthew and I made our way over to our designated center to watch a full day of classes by a Foreign Teacher. Each center where the new trainee teachers were going all had First Leap trainers on hand.
At our center, we were teamed up with George so that we could see what teaching a class is like at First Leap. George was awesome. She was originally from just outside of England and was there with her boyfriend who was also a teacher at a different center with First Leap.
As we walked into the center, we met the other English Teachers who we would be observing and shadowing for the day. I can honestly say that everyone I met was cool, and so was John and David, who we shadowed for our training. John was from England and David was a lively chap from Scotland. Both had very different teaching styles, but both were great teachers and the kids loved them.
Even a day of shadowing teachers can be exhausting, but not too overwhelming. Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of teaching, but you do get breaks in between classes to prepare for your next class, and of course you get a hour or so for lunch. It was great to see a full day at the center and to get an idea of how First Leap classes are taught. And it was reassuring to see just how fun the classes were!
What to do with a Day Off in Beijing, China
After seeing a full day of teaching at the center, we were given a day off to explore Beijing and do whatever we wanted to do. This was Monday, which is one of our regular off days as teachers. My roommate and I took the subway to one of the most famous squares in the world, Tin’amen Square in the heart of Beijing. We had wanted to explore this area as well as the equally famous Old City, but unfortunately for us it was closed that day for some reason. Also closed were the museums located around the square. This was bummer for us, but still we made the best out of it.
Instead, we wandered around the city checking out some of the local markets and shops. It was nice to be able to stroll around the city and it was nice to have someone with me. I can imagine that as a new teacher coming to China by yourself, it could be daunting to explore a foreign city on your own (especially if you have never done it before). So it’s another benefit to being in Beijing with other teachers during training.
*Read also Why you need VPN in China*
Another Day of Training at First Leap HQ in Beijing
The next day, we were back at the training center. Over the next next several days at the First Leap Training Center, we had more observations as well as having different presentations daily on the fundamentals of teaching, from several of Trevor’s trainers.
Each training session was great and I felt as though I walked away with more knowledge on teaching English as a foreign teacher. Many of the sessions were interactive and really helpful!
The interactive sessions helped those who were a little shy break out of their shell and be able to stand up in front of others to present their lessons. The training was also valuable because we were able to get ideas on different teaching styles, lessons, and games…many of which I still use today!
The several day training sessions were packed full of information. The training for new teachers in Beijing only lasts one week, so there is a lot of information to go over in a short amount of time, but Trevor and his crew made sure that we absorbed the information and that we retained it as best we could so that we could be better teachers.
Becoming a Foreign English Teacher in China at First Leap
During the last two days of training, the teachers were assigned centers for our final teaching demo. This was extremely nerve-racking for some of the teachers who would be officially teaching for the first time.
When the big day came, we were to watch the first two classes, then we were to split the teaching with the other teacher. We worked out with the other teachers which part of the lessons we would each handle. This was a great way to ease your way into teaching a lesson for yourself. But the next day, we had our very own schedule.
When the final day of training came, some new teachers were a little nervous that they would have a full schedule to teach themselves. But we all knew this was good experience, after all we would be doing this from here on out in our new jobs! You have to start somewhere right?
The schedule had 4 to 5 classes on there, but as we were coming up with ideas on how to present the lesson to the class, we had the benefit of other teachers there to bounce ideas off of. We were given a wide range of different classes to be able to get familiar with. Needless to say that everyone was glad to be finished with that last day, and now we all had some great teaching experience to take back to our main centers all over China.
At the end of the day, all the teachers for dinner and drinks so that we could share our experiences of teaching a full day of classes. It was a great night that ended up in a KTV karoake bar. The friendships made during this training stayed with us even beyond our time in Beijing, and to this day, we all stay in touch to share ideas with each other.
When I came to China I didn’t know anyone, and I have several friends located all over China. Pretty cool.
Ready to Teach English in China at a First Leap Center
After going through the First Leap training in Beijing, I now feel like I have solid experience teaching English in China to children, which will help me to be so much better at my job. I came back to my school in Guangzhou with ideas on how to plan my lessons, and with more games to play. The First Leap training was great, and really helped me out tremendously. I felt ready to teach, and I met some pretty great people along the way. Thanks to the great staff for all the help, and to everyone else for all the great memories!
*Visa Requirements vary based on different First Leap Centers all around China. Ask your recruiter which center will fit with your qualifications.