Alan Ng, English Teacher in China | ALI TESL/TEFL Program

Alan Ng - ALI TESL/TEFL graduateAlan Ng decided to enroll in the TESL/TEFL program at the ALI because he wanted certification and to become more qualified to teach English abroad. He chose SDSU because of its excellence as a university, close proximity to his home, and the opportunity to learn from real professors in a classroom setting.

Before studying at SDSU, Ng held a number of varied and interesting jobs – security guard (he was the guy in the red polo short who inspected your bag at Petco Park, Qualcomm Stadium, and Comic- Con), YMCA summer camp counselor, Target backroom associate, dining host at Sea World, and clinician.

As much as he enjoyed his numerous positions, he wanted to travel abroad and teach. Ng’s most recent jobs have been teaching positions in China. He has spent the last two years working at a medical school called Jilin Medical College in Jilin City as the foreign expert teaching oral, writing, and reading classes to medical majors of all kinds. His current teaching job is as an English teacher at Dalian Maritime University in Dalian, China.


Successfully live and teach English overseas. Over 100 TESL/TEFL Certificate graduates have been employed in over 40 countries with the help of ALI’s job placement assistance program. Learn in a combined format – solid teaching with hands-on practical classroom experience. Program Highlights and Goals

  • Worldwide Job Placement Assistance
  • Lesson Strategies and Plans
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Technology
  • Language Acquisition


Program Highlights
For me, the highlights of ALI’s TESL/TEFL program was being taught by qualified professionals who had years of experience under their belt. I also appreciated having the opportunity to go into a real ESL classroom in the afternoon and observe professors in action, watch how they interacted with students, and discover the activities they used and the methods they employed. I can truly say that having the opportunity to “be in the field” or “trenches” of the ESL battlefield helped me a lot when I went overseas to start my own job as an English teacher.

I have to tip my hat off to my mentor during my TESL/TEFL formation period. I learned a lot seeing how he ran his classes, how he organized his content and delivered his lesson plans. I actually “stole” many of the activities he used and implemented them in my own classes in China to great success. Of course, I am also indebted to all the other fine teachers at ALI as well.
I also had a lot of fun meeting the foreign students who came to ALI, working with them and learning about their backgrounds. I met many nice students from Japan, Korea, China, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia during my time as a TESL/TEFL student.

Program Setup
I think what makes ALI’s TESL/TEFL program unique is the way they set up their classes. For four hours you study the theory of second language acquisition and are given an overview of how language teaching has evolved through history. In the second half of the class, you go into a real ESL classroom with your mentor and can work with him and his students for four weeks. I thought that was very cool, having the balance of theory plus practice. Also, bringing in different professors with different specialties is nice. I also liked how at the end of the program you get to teach a class of your own and get filmed while doing it. It’s a great way to put everything you have learned throughout the four weeks into practice.

Classmates, Homework, and Instructors
My experience with the TESL/TEFL program was great! I loved it. All of my classmates were nice and friendly and we got along together well. The homework was reasonable and not too much. The instructors were top-notch and very informative. Also, studying on the beautiful SDSU campus is always a bonus and having the different dining options like cafeteria or outside restaurants was enjoyable.

Simple Advice
Well, from the program director the advice was “Keep things simple stupid!” or KISS, and “Make class doable and full of success.” I still strive to follow these principles everyday while teaching my students. I also have now learned to “Keep the students moving,” and to draw them out with games and physical activities. Don’t let them settle into their “territories.” Also, have a movie playing in the background when the students walk in. Find ways to engage your students, physically if possible, to keep their attention and interest. Incorporate variety into your class and sprinkle in some total physical response (TPR), if possible.

Job Opportunities

I did not utilize the ALI instructors to help me find a job abroad, as I was fortunate enough to land one on my own via the Internet. My target country was China and after trying several recruitment agencies I learned that the “official” Chinese policy for hiring English teachers was that you needed to have two years of experience before a school could hire you. However, I was lucky enough to get into a Catholic Volunteer program called Maryknoll that had a “China Teacher Program” for recent college grads. With my newly acquired TESL/ TEFL certification from SDSU and bachelor’s degree, I was an ideal candidate for them and broke into China that way. I have been working here ever since.

Alan Ng's Class in ChinaChina
I took a family vacation to China three years ago after I graduated from college and went to many cities like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Guilin, Xi’an, Beijing, and Shanghai. During one of our tours, the tour guide told me that job opportunities were plentiful in China and that one could get a job easily if one had a bachelor’s degree. Since I had just walked on the Great Wall of China, saw the Terra-Cotta warriors of Xi’an and the beautiful rivers of Guilin, how could I pass up an opportunity to live in this country with 3,000 years of history and culture?

It was after this family vacation to China that I enrolled at ALI’s TESL/TEFL program.

I have had a blast these past two years working in China. Not only have I gained valuable teaching experience but I have made lifelong friends, both Chinese and non-Chinese. The people you meet when you travel abroad will be some of the most interesting that you will encounter in your life. The Chinese students are some of the most respectful and hardworking you will ever meet. They are also very helpful and will come to your aid whenever you have problems. China in general is undergoing massive changes as it attempts to modernize and climb out of its third-world country status. Yes, there are the glamorous cities of Beijing and Shanghai but that’s a small slice of the country. The rest of China is not that wealthy or developed. The average monthly salary of the Chinese in my former city Jilin is 3,000RMB or $476. Imagine living off of that money in the U.S. It’s impossible, yet that is roughly how much money the average person makes in Jilin City.

With regards to social structures, much revolves around the single child, since families are only allowed one child and most of my students did not have siblings. (There are exceptions of course. If you are from a farming family, are an ethnic minority or both of your parents are single children then they are allowed to have more than one).

Alan Ng teachingLiving abroad in China has been an enriching experience for me personally as I have learned how to live on my own in a foreign country, speak a new language, and adapt to a new environment. I guess this is another point worth mentioning and another benefit of teaching EFL abroad: If you want to become fluent in any language, move to the country that speaks that language. Obviously, this is nothing new, but after living this for two years I can attest to its accuracy. While I was living in Jilin City, no one but a small fraction of people in my social circle spoke English. As a result, whether I was taking a taxi, shopping at a mall, ordering food at a restaurant or watching a movie, I had to speak Chinese to accomplish the task. I was able to use the language every day with native speakers and have my pronunciation and output corrected by them.

Consequently, my spoken Mandarin has improved tremendously after two years. My brain forged tons of new neural pathways to understand Putonghua (Mandarin) and is still etching new ones in at the moment. This is another perk of living abroad and teaching English in any country, if you’re serious about it, not to mention how you will personally grow living in a totally new culture. The way you view yourself and think about yourself will also change as people operate differently and treat you differently as a foreigner.


Alan Ng in Dalian ChinaDalian, China
Dalian is a major city and seaport in the south of Liaoning Province. It is the southernmost city of Northeast China and China’s northernmost warm water port, at the tip of the Liaodong peninsula. Today it is considered a financial, shipping and logistics center for Northeast Asia and has had a significant history of being used by foreign powers for its ports (the British, Russians and Japanese all occupied the city at one point).

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  • ALI Recommendation
  • Reflective Teaching
  • Teacher-Mentor