Teach English in China
Planning a trip to the far east? Why not push yourself out of your comfort zone and jump head first into the adventure of a life time in the second largest country in the world?
China is the biggest employer of ESL teachers in the world, not to mention one of the planets four ancient civilizations. When you think about it like that, a month long getaway surely would not do it any justice. With its 3000-year history, China holds more ancient treasures than anywhere in the world. From amazing experiences to mouthwatering cuisine, ancient architecture and fascinating customs and traditions, there is never a dull moment in the land of the Giant Panda.
A historically diverse and ancient civilization, including a listed great wonder of the world – the Great Wall of China. There are plenty of reasons to teach English in China, with over 400 million people actively learning English, there are numerous opportunities, whether is be children or adults, private language schools to universities or even online.
With the rapid development of China, it’s as if two different worlds exist, from the old agricultural and rural areas with bright green rice paddies to new bustling cities of Beijing or Shenzhen. Whatever, city you choose, you can lose yourself in deep historical traditions and a new way of life.
Cities Spotlight – Beijing, Shenzen, Chengdu
Bear in mind that within China there are more than 800 cities, in 26 provinces, with 56 different ethnic groups, so there is really no wrong answer to the question “Where should I live?”. Everyone has different experiences depending on where they go, but the beauty of teaching in China is that you’re pretty much spoiled for choice.
First of all, going North East, you can head to Beijing. One of the oldest cities in the world, with a history dating back 3 millennia, the Capital is probably the best choice for first timers in Asia. The amount of English spoken in Beijing is enough to help you get by, while also not being too much to stop you from learning a bit of Chinese. Also, as far as capital cities go, Beijing is still quite a cheap place to live. The salary is much higher because of the location, so you’ll have plenty of money to enjoy the countless attractions and day trips you can take from the city.
Shenzhen is another top choice for teachers. On the border between China and Hong Kong, Shenzen has a different kind of vibe to the rest of the country. This mega city is an exciting metropolis, boasting a beautiful coast line, incredible shopping districts and theme parks galore. Due to its location, it also gets great weather in the summer months, without the pollution that affects some of the more populated cities.
However, if you want to further immerse yourself into Chinese culture, you can go inland to cities such as Chengdu. One of the old capital cities, Chengdu is a hub for a lot of foreigners in varying disciplines so you can easily meet people and make friends. Also, if you had your eye on meeting a certain black and white bear, Chengdu is the place to be. The outskirts are home to the Chengdu Panda Research centre, not to mention incredible mountain areas, roaring rivers and one of the biggest Buddhas you’ll ever see.
Once again, there is no right or wrong place to go in China, and anywhere you land will offer you a different opportunity to grow and travel. From frozen wastelands to ancient forests, China has it all.
It speaks volumes about a race of people when they often replace “how are you?” with the words “have you eaten?” when greeting each other. The Chinese love to eat and trying to describe Chinese food is an immense and impossible task. Due to the history and the size of the country, there is not one blanket term that joins all of the amazing cuisines together from region to region. For example, in the cold North of Inner Mongolia, lamb and potatoes are a hearty delicacy. Head south to the city of Guilin and you’ll find that spice is king. Ask two Chinese people what Chinese food is and they will give you two totally different answers. Luckily for travelers, it’s all amazing! Often you will find yourself in a restaurant with no English menu, you will point at what you think is Chicken, it will turn out to be beef, and it will be the best meal you’ve ever eaten. Eating out is a huge part of Chinese culture, so you’re never too far from a restaurant charging pennies for the local dishes. One thing to look out for is full restaurants; if the locals are there, it’s probably for a reason.
Even though it is difficult to find a word to describe 1.4 billion people, there is one adjective that can be applied to Chinese people without exception; hospitable. The Chinese are some of the friendliest people in the world, so don’t be surprised if you are approached in the street by a curious school girl or a gentle old man who just wishes to converse with you. The Chinese are especially happy if you can speak at least a little mandarin, a language that intimidates many people for no good reason. Stories are swapped amongst ESL teachers of bus trips turning into family dinners because of a few kind words between strangers. This is the way of the Chinese; you mustn’t refuse gifts or invitations and you’ll rarely regret caving in to their insistence. It’s also an especially safe place to live as you are never alone. Whether you’re walking through the rice paddies or drunkenly navigating your way home after a big night out, there is always someone out there going about their business. Along with this comes the ancient history of the country and its countless artifacts and heritage sites which are celebrated by the Chinese as much as they are by foreigners.
If you want to teach English in China and travel around this beast of the east, then working online is the best way to get around, but if you’re looking for something more settled then there are plenty of options. When people think about teaching in China they recall horror stories of 60 children cramped into tiny classrooms and although this may be a part of the experience, and quite a fun one if you have the right attitude, it’s by far the only job you can get in China. Most of the thousands of jobs on offer are for after school institutions, and the students are smart, studious and respectful. However, depending on your experience, there are many University roles available, adult classes and public school teaching jobs if you want to challenge yourself. The kids also love coming to English lessons because they get to have fun in class, a stark contrast to their competitive schooling during the day.
The money can also be very good so it’s worth holding out for a good offer, wherever you want to go. There are many companies that can take you over to China, deal with your visa and find you a job before you arrive for those who aren’t so confident to undertake the task on their own.
The majority of jobs in China only require you to have a TESOL qualification, and a degree if you want proper visa sponsorship. Regardless, it is incredibly easy to get a job in China, especially online in this day and age and one of the best places to work on your skills, as teachers are in such high demand here.
The majority of English speakers will need a visa just to enter China but it’s easy enough to obtain. You simply need to have an invitation letter from the person or company inviting you to come and stay or teach. This can be as simple as a letter of confirmation from the first hotel that you’ve booked. Along with this is the usual application forms and photographs. A work visa will often be sorted out by your company as the process gets a little tricky. However, a tourist visa is more than enough required to teach online while you explore.
One thing is for sure, wherever you end up in the middle Kingdom, you’re certainly in for a spectacular journey. China is one of the most diverse countries in the world in almost every aspect, from culture to cuisine to landscape and history, there is no opportunity to be underwhelmed in the Red Dragon. With more opportunities than ever available, now is the perfect time to teach English in China and discover the sleeping giant of the east .