The EF English First Blog is proudly supported by dedicated bloggers and teachers from various centres across China. Our bloggers are on a mission to inform, educate, entertain and inspire those who are looking for a new adventure teaching English in China. Through stories and experiences, our team will answer burning questions, dispell myths and give you an insight into what life is really like in China. Learn more about the team behind the best blog in ESL.
Craig – Hangzhou
Craig is a keen writer and travel enthusiast, who moved to China in 2018. He currently lives in Hangzhou, where he spends his days off hiking the mountains, or lounging in the coffee shops. He once wrote a book about the first dog in space, but he doesn’t like talking about it.
Susan – Taizhou
- Hometown: San Francisco, California, USA
- How long spent in China: I’ve been in China since 2016
- Current Profession: Teaching ESL as an international teacher with an EF Franchise in Taizhou, Zhejiang.
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: I love dinner parties! Right now my dream dinner party would be with my two daughters, Maddie and Ellie, and close friends (Guita, Rose, Sadie, Cherry). The ideal evening is one where we cook together, drink copious amounts of good wine, and talk into the wee hours – anywhere in the world!
- What keeps me here: It’s several things. First I have fallen in love with this tiny town called Taizhou in Zhejiang and her people; Taizhou now feels like my second home. Next, I have found a new career in teaching English as a second language which satisfies my altruistic nature! Finally, I love learning and being with people. Working with EF gives me opportunities to learn something new and to meet new people nearly every day.
- Why I like writing/blogging: I am a storyteller at heart and know that a single well-placed word, can make all the difference. Writing is in my blood; I just can’t help myself!
- Cool facts: Several years ago I considered a second career as an immigration and family law lawyer and took the L-Sat on a whim (and I scored pretty well)! I found, however, that my passion was in living in different countries with different people to learn more about them and myself. Now here I am teaching English as a second language in China! Wow! Besides being a writer and working on the great American novel, I am also a coloratura soprano, (first attended university on a music scholarship when my dream was to be a jazz singer) and I’m also a photographer and watercolorist.
Read Susan’s Blog Posts
Finding my way, while living a dream
The 10 most important things you can have in China
Walks with Penny: community vegetable gardens
Some plain old fun
The bikes of China
The doors of China
The chairs of Zhengzhou
Goals for the Coming Year
Farmer’s market finds in China
How do we choose the books we read?
Spring Festival 2019
Managing your finances while working in China
What to pack for a year in China
Medical care while in China
5 Things you should know before coming to China
They Told Me Not to Go…Really?
Is ESL Teaching Still A Good Job Option?
How to Teach English Abroad and Live the Life of a Blogger
Getting A Teaching Job in China: Pros and Cons
Americans Abroad: How to Live and Work in China
Items That Are Surprisingly Cheap in China
Benefits of living and working abroad
What it TRULY takes to teach English in China
ESL and EFL: What is the difference?
Taizhou in Zhejiang Province: My Home-away-from-Home
Ways to Share your Holiday Traditions when Living Abroad
A Foreigner Living in China: First Impressions
Arianna Bennett – Taizhou
- Hometown: Hello! My name is Arianna Bennett, and I’m originally from Tampa, Florida, USA.
- How long I’ve spent in China: I’ve been teaching at EF Kids and Teens in Taizhou, Zhejiang, China for just over a year now.
- Current Profession: International Teacher for EF in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: At my ideal dinner party, I would invite Ernest Hemingway (for intellect), Leonardo DiCaprio (for entertainment), and Julia Child (it is a dinner party, after all).
- What keeps me here: I love that every day is a new chance to experience Chinese culture and to look forward to exploring other Asian cultures.
- Why I like writing/blogging: I’ve always found writing to be the easiest way to express myself, and I fell in love with blogging when I realized that I could inspire others to reach their travel goals the same way I had.
- Some cool facts about me: I’ve traveled to 15 countries so far, most of them as a solo traveler, I’m currently studying Mandarin, and my end goal in life is to have a bunny farm! By the way, here is a link to my personal blog as well if you’re interested in including it anywhere: http://ariannabennettphoto.com/
Read Arianna’s Blog Posts:
Top 10 things you need to know before teaching English abroad for a year
Top jobs abroad for Americans
Insider tips on how to lower your cost of living in China
Traveling in China during the May holiday
About Amy Tan
Your first month in China: expectations vs reality
Javier Chaney – Shanghai
- Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
- How long I’ve spent in China: Since January 2019
- Current Profession: An international teacher for the company EF (Zhongshan park, Shanghai)
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: To be honest, I am not very familiar with dinner parties. But if I had an opportunity to have a conversation with anyone, the top three would be Harry Bellefonte, Abraham Lincoln and Nat King Cole.
- What keeps me here: I love experiencing new cultures and perspectives. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone challenges the individual to adapt, understand and learn. As a result, one finds growth in their ability to communicate, and in their ability to empathize with foreign ideologies.
- Why I like writing/blogging: Communication is key to finding solutions and understanding one another. If we are afraid to share our opinions and remain closed minded, will never see positive change. It is imperative that we speak freely, empathize with one another and service each other with food for thought. This is why I write.
- Some cool facts about me: Javier enjoys studying theology, culture and history. He is a self-proclaimed illustrator, writer and musician. He feels the world and its culture’s share far more similarities than differences. If one is given the opportunity to journey out beyond one’s comfort zone, it is their duty to share their learnings with others. Through empathy, patience and pure expression we cannot only progress in the right direction, we can solve global issues as well.
Read Javier’s Blog Posts:
100 RMB for 1 Day Challenges
How to beat the China summer heat
5 Personality Traits You Need to Teach English in China
6 Tips for Combatting Loneliness When Living Abroad
Volunteering opportunities for teachers in Shanghai
7 “Scary” Chinese Dishes that will Surprise You
Celebrating Thanksgiving in China
- Hometown: Pretoria, South Africa
- How long I’ve spent in China: 5 years (going on 6)
- Current Profession: Teacher
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Tom Hiddleston or JRR Tolkien
- What keeps me here: Stable job, travel opportunities, my cat
- Why I like writing/blogging: It’s a form of self-expression, it helps me reflect on my experiences.
- Some cool facts about me: I must have done about 5 to 10 play-throughs of Skyrim (the computer game)
Read Madgerie’s Blog Posts:
The road goes ever on and on
The far side of the world: traveling to New Zealand, part I
The far side of the world: traveling to New Zealand, part II
Why you should do your CertTESOL (even if you don’t want to be a professional teacher)
Teaching in China: The Pros & Cons
- Hometown: Nora Springs, Iowa
- How long I’ve spent in China: Since August 2018
- Current Profession: Teacher at EF Kids & Teens
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: my late grandfather
- What keeps me here: the incessant desire to see and learn everything there is to know about the beautiful world we live in.
- Why I like writing/blogging: I love reflecting on my experiences and sharing them with those around me!
- Some cool facts about me: I’ve been to more countries than years I’ve been alive and have a goal to always keep it that way!
Paul Chan – Associate Production Manager – Shenzhen
- Hometown: Los Angeles, California, USA
- How long I’ve spent in China: Over 9 years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Rupert Everett, Bruce Lee, Frank Sinatra, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, and Larry Bird
- What keeps me here: The challenge of running a school, the opportunity to explore Asia, and having the ability to improve the lives of people around me
- Why I like writing/blogging: It’s my passion, but I’ve always wanted outlets like this to exercise. And the additional benefit is providing value to prospective readers!
Paul has become an optimist due to the trials and tribulations working at EF; nothing phases him much anymore. Everyday running a school of over 2000 students has its challenges, and he faces daily mishaps. Fortunately, he has that internal governor that tells him everything will be alright and he operates accordingly, and the problems almost always meet their solution. Paul is also fortunate enough to have a wonderful, dynamic, and caring wife that supports his professional and charitable endeavours. He is a lucky man that is currently living life to the fullest and has a great group of schools he oversees in the east side of Shenzhen!
Read Paul’s Blog Posts:
4 Tips to ace your first English teacher performance review
EF Reach Giving Back To The Community
ESL Job Description – Advice From A Manager
5 Benefits Of Being An Expat In China
4 Tips For Starting A New Teaching Job
Exploring China in 3 Steps – Curiosity, Enquiry, Action
Advice For Finding A Job After Graduation
Goal Setting: A Plan For New Teachers
Reflective Teaching The Occupational Imperative
Icha Irdhanie – Teacher – Indonesia
- Hometown: Hi. I am originally from Gresik, Indonesia which is commonly known as a small town near Surabaya, Indonesia.
- How long I’ve spent in Indonesia: I’ve been teaching adults at EF Kuningan City Center in Jakarta, Indonesia for almost 3 years now.
- Weakness: I have a phobia of butterflies, I am always having random existential crises, and I always boogie anytime I hear 80’s disco music.
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Sigmund Freud because I want to have an in-depth conversation on the psychoanalytic theory of the defense mechanism, and I’d want him to analyze me and what exactly went wrong in my childhood.
- What keeps me here: The challenge of running a school, the opportunity to explore Asia, and having the ability to improve the lives of people around meIt was difficult at first to decide to move back to my beloved country of Indonesia after living the nomadic life for 4 years. I knew it was time for me to pass down my knowledge and experience, and to inspire people here; no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.
- Why I like writing/blogging: By the time I turned 23 I had already decided that I would be a writer one day. Blogging is just one of the steps I’m taking to channel my thoughts and practice at the same time. Some things are better left unsaid, if so, blog about it.
- Some cool facts about me: I lived in Incheon, South Korea back in 2013 and that’s how I am fully certified in teaching people the correct steps of the Korean skin care regime. I taught in India for a year back in 2014 but still don’t know how to make Chicken Biryani. I spent one year in Istanbul, Turkey and yes, I am able to sing one Turkish song and I’m currently obsessed with Baklava. I studied for a year in Jaen, Andalucia, Spain and I’m able to speak Spanish moderately well… and yes, I do know the meaning of the Despacito song.
Aly Brunson – Harbin
- Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
- How long spent in China: a year and a half
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Brandon Sanderson, Samantha Bee, Mrs. Hall (my former teacher), Steve Kaufmann, and Lindsay Williams
- What keeps me here: Language learning and constant new experiences
- Why I like writing/blogging: Writing brings me clarity and insight. I rarely know how I feel or think until I’ve put pen to page, and I love those eureka moments I get when I write.
Aly is a lover of words. She spends her time nose deep in books, collecting new Chinese vocabulary, and writing. She also enjoys exploring China with her camera, doing yoga in her pajamas, and consuming far more coffee and tea than is good for her.
Read Aly’s Blog Posts
Laughing through lessons
Being A Vegetarian In China
The Top 5 Teaching Skills That You Will Use For Life
How To Navigate Chinese Social Etiquette And Make Friends
Advice For Your First Solo Trip In China
Tips For Surviving Your Next Spring Festival
Time Off With Other Teachers
Learning Chinese: My Chinese New Year Resolution
Like a child in China
Learn with me: photography in Beijing
Teaching English in China: a checklist
Saying goodbye to China
Keith – Shanghai
- Hometown: Panama City Beach, Florida, USA
- How long spent in China: 9 months
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Dan Marino, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, John Goodman, Tim Burton, Guy Ritchie, Roseanne Barr, Carrie Fisher, Epicurus, and my family.
- What keeps me here: It’s a toss-up between food and discovering the unknown.
- Why I like writing/blogging: I enjoy sharing my experiences and developing my craft. Writing allows me to express my thoughts and hopefully help others who are going through the same experiences. Writing makes me more confident in all aspects of my life and I really enjoy the positive feedback that I receive about my writing.
Keith loves food, family, football and a good adventure. He enjoys spending the majority of his time exploring the city of Shanghai with his wife and daughter. His hobbies include eating, gaming, reading, and exploring the Chinese culture through first hand experiences. His love for China grows each day and he appreciates the personal growth that living abroad has provided.
Eunice KU – Shanghai
- Hometown: Hong Kong
- How long I’ve spent in China: Seven Years
- Current Profession: Fashion Design Student
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Buddha, Jesus, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto, Gigi Hadid, Osho, Edgar Cayce
- Cool facts: Eunice can speak English, Cantonese, Chinese, Shanghainese, Japanese
- Why I like writing/blogging: I enjoy sharing my experiences with others
Eunice grew up in Hong Kong and studied abroad in the US. She moved to her parents’ hometown, Shanghai, after graduating from law school in San Francisco. After working at as a legal editor in Shanghai for several years, Eunice decided to follow her passion and study fashion design. Eunice is currently a part-time fashion design student. She enjoys practising yoga, violin, drawing and trying out all kinds of handicrafts in her free time. She is also interested in spirituality and healing. She hopes to create an eco and ethical clothing brand as well as start a delicious vegan restaurant in the future.
Read Eunice’s Blog Posts:
Discover Yoga in China
Discover Vegetarian Food in China
Shopping in China and Finding Bargains Online
Challenges and Rewards of Living Abroad
New Hobbies and Things to do in China
How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Keep You Healthy
Jaye Plant – Shanghai
- Hometown: Rugby, England
- How long I’ve spent in China: Two years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: David Bowie, J.K. Rowling, Tina Fey, Stephen Fry, Peter Dinklage, Cleopatra
- What keeps me here: Ease of travel, new experiences, language learning and friends
- Why I like writing/blogging: I like channelling my creativity through words, attempting to inform others and connecting with readers online.
- Blog name: itchyfeet-blog.com
Jaye enjoys the simpler things in life: good books, cups of tea, country walks, the rain… all of which can be found in her homeland of England. Two years ago, she decided to leave all of this and relocate to the other side of the world to teach English. Jaye now enjoys the not so simple things in life; daily conversations in Mandarin, navigating busy roads and inquisitive taxi drivers. Every day is an adventure; every experience is new.
Read Jaye’s Blog Posts:
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival Through the Eyes of a Teacher
5 Things That Will Happen When You Move to China
3 Easy ESL Warm-up Activities
3 Easy ESL Icebreakers
TEFL Career Progression
What Teaching English To Chinese Students Taught Me
Must Have Apps For Living in China
3 Minute China Travel Guide
Adam DiFrisco – Beijing
- Hometown: Chicago
- How long I’ve spent in China: Almost two years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Walt Disney, Anton Chekhov and Kim Henson
- What keeps me here: The people, the language, the nonstop opportunities
- Why I like writing/blogging: It’s a spot where I can both reflect on my travels as well as give readers a head start on things they may do in their
Adam is an avid traveller with an obsession for language learning and teaching. Among all the things in the world, nothing pleases Adam more than being surrounded by his big Italian family, endless wine bottles, and homemade pizza to secretly feed his two fat yellow labs.
Read Adam’s Blog Posts:
Patrick Hyland – Shanghai
- Hometown: Laois, Ireland
- How long I’ve spent in China: A few months
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Paolo Coelho, Joe Rogan, Anthony Kiedis, Jennifer Lawrence, Sarah Kay
- What keeps me here: The opportunities for growth
- Why I like writing/blogging: It provides me with an outlet for my inner world.
- Blog name: The Irish Introvert
Patrick left Ireland upon graduating from university, on a plane bound for the Middle East. His interest in travel was aroused, and soon after he would set sail for South Korea, where he spent 3 great years. China was the next port of call, and he currently lays his hat in Shanghai. Patrick’s passion for writing is fueled by a desire to explore the self. He takes pleasure in the simple things; hot beverages, good books, belly laughs.
Read Patrick’s Blog Posts:
The Impostor Syndrome in ESL Teaching
Last Day Rituals Before Moving Abroad
How To Find An Apartment In China
Energy For The ESL Classroom
3 Books That Will Inspire You To Teach English Internationally
The Do’s and Don’ts of Making The Transition Abroad
Tips To Take Care Of Your Health In China
Finding Happiness Abroad – The Gratitude Jar
Why I Teach Abroad And Why You Should Too – Inspiration From The Other Side Of The Desk
Adam Benson – Guangzhou
- Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
- How long I’ve spent in China: 8 Years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: My parents, my two boys, Richard Branson, Rowan Atkinson, Nelson Mandela and Gordan Ramsey
- What keeps me here: There’s always a lot to learn in my job and many opportunities to advance my career
- Why I like writing/blogging: I like writing because it’s an escape. I can share my experiences and state opinions more eloquently in writing
Adam has spent the last 8 years living and working in China. Of those 8 years, Adam has spent 7 working for EF because he has been offer opportunities to learn and progress professionally. When Adam isn’t teaching or spending time with his two boys, he likes reading and blogging about his experiences in China.
Read Adam’s Blog Posts
Victoria Waller – Shanghai
- Hometown: Washington D.C.
- How long I’ve spent in China: Less than 6 Months
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: My parents, Jesus, Isaiah Ross, President Obama and Drake
- What keeps me here: The chance to see the world
- Why I like writing/blogging: I love sharing my experiences with others in the hope that I might inspire someone to step out of their comfort zone and experience something new
- Blog name: Venture with V
Hi! I’m Victoria, a teacher at the EF Kids & Teens centre in Shanghai. I have always been an avid traveller and adventure seeker, but before becoming a teacher I was a Relationship Marketing Manager in Maryland, USA. My hobbies include travelling, blogging, exercising, and listening to music. For more pictures of my latest adventures follow me on Instagram or SnapChat at: Stacie_Victoria
Read Victoria’s Blog Posts
Perpetua Mbali – Shanghai
- Hometown: Secunda in the province of Mpumalanga in South Africa
- How long I’ve spent in China: Over 9 Months
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: My Mom and Dad, my sisters, Lorraine Hansberry, Trevor Noah, Nina Simone & Jeremy Scott
- What keeps me here: There is still so much to discover and explore
- Why I like writing/blogging: I talk too much and there aren’t enough ears or hours in a day to say everything that goes on in my head. When writing, no such restraints exist, writing is an unrestricted alternative form of speaking.
- Blog name: Perpetua Mbali @africanredhead
Trendy geek who sneezes alphabets and cries sentences for a living. Find me on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter: @africanredhead
Read Perpetua’s Blog Posts
Christine Humphrey – Qinhuangdao
- Hometown: Trenton, Michigan, United States
- How long spent in China: 4 years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Stan Lee, Carrie Fisher, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman. Shirley Temple, and Lin-Manuel Miranda
- What keeps me here: the excitement of daily living, the fulfillment in teaching
- Why I like writing/blogging: I love writing, but completely lack self-discipline. Blogging helps provide structure and a “reason” to write.
Christine loves a good story, although it took her some to realize that was the unifying factor of many of her hobbies: video games, movies, addictive television shows, and above all: reading. Teaching has introduced a whole new way to share and discover new stories. She enjoys telling her own stories by writing, but it’s purely a hobby. Outside of the world of stories, she also enjoys sewing and spending time with her cat.
Read Christine’s Blog Posts
How To Choose The Perfect Chinese City
Reading Comprehension: Teaching Second Language Learners
3 ESL Classroom Activities To Save Any Class
Tips For Visiting Remote Chinese Cities
7 Ways To Find Success Teaching In China
5 reasons not to come to China (and how to overcome them)
Yolande Deane – Harbin
- Hometown: London
- How long spent in China: 6 years
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Jesus, Mandela, William Carlos William, Kandinsky, Robert De Niro, Bruce Lee, BB King, Aretha Franklin.
- Why I like writing/blogging: Allows me to really see what is actually going on in my head, but in a more structured way.
Yolande enjoys listening to tons of books on Audible and switching from book to book on her kindle, she plays the guitar when she remembers to practise, she loves learning to speak Chinese and she also speaks Italian. Yolande loves living in Harbin and loves the amazing food she finds there, and she still intends to explore more of China and Asia central Asia.
Read Yolande’s Blog Posts
Advice to my 22-year-old self
China city spotlight: living in hidden Harbin
How to improve your chinese listening skills
Visiting home when living abroad
The expat’s guide to cooking in China
Mahalia – Shanghai
- Hometown: Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa
- How long spent in China: 18 months and counting
- Who I’d invite to my dream dinner party: Jesus Christ, my whole family, my closest friends,Mother Teresa, India Arie, Darlene Zschech and Tyler Perry(Madea).
- What keeps me here: Endless possibilities to travel around the world
- Why I like writing/blogging: I’m all about sharing my experiences with the hope of inspiring someone out there who has a dream to live abroad but might be too scared to take the plunge.
Hey! I’m Mahalia, a teacher at the EF Kids & Teens centre in Shanghai. I’m all about love, exploring plant-based dietary options and enjoying everyday life! My hobbies include reading, trying out amazing vegan recipes, spending time with friends, travelling, and listening to music. For more pictures of my latest adventures and vegan recipes follow me on Instagram : Mahalia_hakes.