2 minutes reading time (437 words)

Intern Update: Siobhan Rehman

After a few days of settling in, Siobhan, who is doing her internship in Beijing as a teacher, is ready to get down to work.

“Just had my first class ever! It went surprisingly well, considering my class requested an American accent, which I don't know that I totally fulfilled,” said Siobhan. “Most students just wish to perfect their English speaking skills by talking to a native, so the lessons are quite straightforward. Plus my class was very friendly and jokey, so it took away any nerves – or doubt in my new accent!”


Siobhan says the work environment was not what he expected, something many foreigners who work or intern in China often note.

“I was most surprised about how relaxed and straightforward teaching was. I've always suffered from stage fright, so I took a teaching job as sort of a shock therapy! It seems to have worked – I recommend it as a cure!”

Relaxed is certainly right. Although many Chinese work long hours and face a tremendous amount of pressure (there’s a reason for China’s outstanding economic growth over the past 35 years), foreigners who work or intern for a Chinese company are often free to create their own schedule and work on projects at their own pace, allowing for a work environment that is often more flexible and fluid (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the job done!).

That being confident in what you're doing is more important than preparation or teaching technique - no one will notice you missed exercise 7b, but they will notice you stuttering and acting flustered!

Another reason why Siobhan came to China was to learn the Chinese language, and she’s quite excited to begin classes.

“I've got this really good phone app with all the basics you need to get by. I've got 5-10 phrases down so far that I've been whipping out and impressing my other expat friends! I won't lie though, I do sometimes cheat and just show them the word on the phone, so I will have to use classes as incentive to learn more.”

Mandarin is vastly different from Latin, Germanic and other Asian languages (although it does have some similarities with the third group), and learning it – although wonderfully awarding – has its challenges. For Siobhan, it’s the “accent.”

“I feel like I'm saying the word right, but all I get is a blank stare, so I assume I haven't!”

But she has a few tricks up her sleeve for survival.

“Miming and pointing between butchered sentences has gotten me by.”

We’ll check back again soon, Siobhan. Keep up the good work.
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