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6 Things to Know Before Teaching English in China

6 Things to Know Before Teaching English in China

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The following is a guest post


A not-so-secret secret for those who can afford to travel abroad long-term is teaching English.

It’s quite possibly the ULTIMATE way to make money abroad while traveling and getting to immerse yourself in a culture. How much better does it get? A reliable and respected job that’s relatively easy to obtain, that pays decent, and that allows you live in another country that you can travel. Talk about a win-win…

So if travel is on the mind but your bank account won’t allow for it, get a job teaching abroad! China happens to be a great choice since their living wages and benefits are quite a deal compared to the cost of living. And the experience? It’s priceless!

Before jetting off to China to teach, keep these six things in mind to prep yourself.

Getting a proper certification and visa

While not having a TEFL certification won’t completely exile you from the English teaching world, it’s more than advisable to have one. Getting an affordable TEFL certification isn’t difficult and usually ends up with you getting paid more and getting better job opportunities.

Getting a proper working visa is also a must. A Z visa is what you will need and you don’t want to get caught working without one. While there are always people who don’t follow the rules, it’s strongly recommended to obtain one so you don’t end up deported or worse, in some kind of legal troubles.


Culture in the classroom

This will be a classroom that’s quite different than your classroom when you were in elementary school. Conducting a class like your teacher did, wouldn’t go over well. While classes back home encourage students to ask questions and create discussion or to even single a student out to answer a question at hand, this is not the norm in China. In China, a discussion is best when you form small groups with your students and you walk around monitoring the groups to get more individual time in. Chinese students won’t be questioning the topic or the material at hand, which is seen as being disrespectful to the teacher.


Culture in the workplace

Workplace culture will certainly be different too! There is a hierarchy at the workplace and the higher up you are, the more right you are (regardless if they are actually wrong!) There’s something called “saving face” which is essentially saying the authority is correct and respected, there’s nothing you can do (unless you’re willing to face consequences for going against them.) This is a common cultural notion in Asian cultures.

Guanzi is something else to keep in mind. This is the concept of building relationships through time, trust, and respect. As time goes on, you build a relationship with others by exchanging small trinkets or accepting invitations to dinner. It’s not advisable to say no or politely refuse as this will diminish your guanxi!


Living costs

China’s teacher compensation is rising which is good news for prospective teachers. There are teacher positions being offered anything from $900 USD to over $2000 USD per month. More often than not, accommodation costs, completion bonus, and sometimes even flights to and from the country are paid for by the school! It’s one of the best “deals” in Asia as other countries simply provide a monthly salary and nothing more. If you eat at the markets and the casual local food joints, don’t splurge on a hip city apartment and keep other luxury costs down, you can live comfortably and even save a bit. Of course, the major cities like Shanghai or Beijing will cost you a bit more. Teaching English in China will certainly provide you with enough to live comfortably.


Understanding the lack of diversity

A homogenous country such as China can’t be to blame too much for their racism. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality and this concept will need to be accepted by you. The views can be narrow-minded and will surely be different than yours and what you’re used to, but it’s essential you put those differences aside and understand you are immersing yourself in a different culture, one that’s vastly different than yours, and you need to respect that.


Learning the language

It would be wise to get some Chinese under your belt, but we know it won’t be the easiest language to learn. Will you survive without it? In short, yes, but your life will become much easier when you pick a few of the necessities, not to mention major bonus points for you when you speak to your Chinese coworkers!
So how about teaching English in China? Is this a job you can picture yourself doing


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