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My Omeida Experience

My Omeida Experience

                                               by Celia Wade-Brown

After twenty fascinating and rewarding years in local government, including two terms as Mayor of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, I decided that I was ready for a different challenge. I began my CELTA training while I was still Mayor which was very busy, and qualified in December 2016.

In my twenties I’d qualified as a secondary school teacher and had taught children, teenagers and adults since but I’d never taught a formal English Language lesson except for some volunteer work with refugees. At Omeida there is a good induction programme to support teachers and regular teaching meetings to share good practice and discuss any problems. Jake makes plenty of lesson plans available for the level you’re teaching or you can use your own materials. For some classes a textbook is provided although lesson planning is still essential for effective lessons. Permanent teachers and other summer teachers are generally very supportive and there are good Internet, printing and copying facilities. Many teachers have lots of experience. Some have had interesting other roles so Omeida staff include ex-judges, authors and climbers. Teachers come from many countries including UK, USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines which makes for a lovely multicultural atmosphere. The Chinese teachers work well on aspects of formal grammar.

Omeida English Language College is well organised and committed to good teaching – the induction, resources available and support are excellent. You can tell exactly who will be in your lesson. The classes are small – between four and twelve. The vast majority of students are pleasant and well-motivated although a few miss their parents a lot which can reduce their ability to learn of course. They have lots of interesting activities from BBQs to music competitions, tug-of-war or visits to a local tea plantation. Students come from all round China.

I’ve wanted to visit the Guilin area for a long time and the sights were even more beautiful than expected. Yangshuo is a great base for afternoon or day visits or you can go a bit further for weekends because there’s a high-speed station fairly close. I spent one weekend exploring the Longji Rice Terraces, with lots of narrow paths between stunningly beautiful narrow paddies. I went to Sanjiang and beyond to see the famous Wind and Rain badges that the Dong minority build without any nails – artistic carpentry par excellence. Teaching at the summer school is from Monday to Friday which means weekend trips are possible. The Yulong and Li rivers are easy to access for an evening stroll or swim. Food is fresh and cheap at the canteen or nearby street stalls. There is Western and Indian food available when that craving for pizza or curry sets in too. There are many different fruits – mango, pomegranates, apples and ones I’d never seen before like “yellow skins”. The accommodation was convenient, quiet, clean and air-conditioned, with private bathroom, kettle and free wi-fi.

My conclusion is that two months teaching at Omeida is a rewarding experience for teachers of all ages. You can learn Chinese culture and language, meet Chinese adults and students, eat great food, and explore a most beautiful part of China in a very supportive environment.