Hello, my name is Matthew Van Orden and I am an American teacher working for JESIE. I have been with JESIE since July 2014, and am currently teaching middle school at Nanjing Number 1 Experimental Middle School. I am from the state of New Jersey, on the East coast of the United States, and have 4 years of English teaching experience. Although I would consider myself an experienced teacher now, I did not start out as an English teacher. I actually have a bachelors degree in environmental science and began my working career as an environmental scientist. I graduated from Stockton University, in the state of New Jersey, in May 2008 and worked for 3 years in an environmental consulting company. My primary responsibilities in that position included: soil sampling, soil logging, water sampling, air sampling, monitoring-well maintenance, well installation oversight, perimeter air monitoring at remediation sites, data analysis, report writing and report editing.
In November 2011 I quit my job as an environmental scientist and moved to South Korea to pursue a career in teaching English as a second language. I was enticed by the idea of living and working in another country, and having the opportunity to travel to faraway places. I worked in South Korea for about 1 and half years, and then moved to China to see what the country with the largest population and fastest economic growth had to offer me. I started out in Tianjin, but made my way down to greener pastures in Nanjing in July 2014. So far, living and working in China has been one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences of my life. I have met the most amazing people, had the chance to try some of the Worlds most delicious foods, taught children from kindergarten to middle school, traveled to many regions in China, and learned a lot about Chinas fascinating history.
My teaching style is varied based on the age group, but I always aim to make the class fun and engaging while also teaching useful English that the students hopefully wont quickly forget. I am a very energetic teacher and strive to be loud and interesting, so the students want to pay attention to what I teach. I love to play games in my class and build a positive rapport with my students, so they feel comfortable enough to express themselves in English. With older classes, I also try and mix in lessons about culture and topics that will hopefully allow them to understand why they should be interested in English. I try to get them to understand that English is a tool for engaging with people from around the world, and not just a subject on an important university entrance examination.
When I am not in the classroom teaching, I enjoy doing a variety of activities including: running, weight lifting, reading, taking photographs, video editing, reading the news, keeping up with politics, and studying Chinese. As a former university level competitive runner, I would be totally satisfied with a life that included daily runs and weekly foot races, but sometimes life tends to get in the way of that passion. Also as a man nearing the age of 30, I have slowed down a bit and tend to spend more of my time these days pursuing my less strenuous hobbies, such as reading, photography, and studying Chinese. I would love to attain a level of Chinese that would allow me to converse freely with most people that I meet, however I am still far short of that goal and would rank myself at a low to mid-intermediate level with improvement coming by the week, but with a long way to go. I hope to continue to improve as a teacher, and grow as an individual with every opportunity afforded me.