It is estimated that over a billion people speak English worldwide. 

While in countries like the US, UK, and Australia the native language is English, many other countries were forced to learn English because they were once British colonies. Likewise, the economic competitiveness of China caused an increasing number of people to migrate abroad and learn English. 

Needless to say, it makes travel easier for non-native English speakers if they can communicate in English. Even if the Chinese live in their own country they need to learn English.

The most commonly used language on the internet is English and it’s a language of business outside as well. Since the internet era, English is being widely used as an international means of communication.

China is the third-largest country in the world with a massive population and the competition for a better career has also become very high. English comes to the rescue for them as more people in China are looking forward to overseas studies and job opportunities for a brighter future. 

According to Global Opportunities in 2018, 662,100 Chinese students went abroad to study, which is an 8.83% increase from the year before.

As one would expect, it is inevitable for non-native speakers like the Chinese to take the TOEFL test to evaluate their English language skills. Thus the demand for English teachers, teaching English in China and the TEFL degrees is very high. 

Here are some reasons why you should and shouldn’t teach in China.

Reason # 1: The Joy of Teaching Children

You are offered a job to teach English in China mostly to work with children, be it in kindergarten, schools, home tutoring, or daycare centers. By spending time with children you not only keep yourself occupied but it keeps you motivated and happy as well. 

Children are always innocent, and spending good quality time with them means a lot of fun though they are always noisy. Children love to play, sing, and dance, thus by keeping company with them you tend to forget your problems.

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Teaching English in China to Chinese children

This is one of the reasons why teaching English in China is considered to be one of the most gratifying jobs.

Reason # 2: While Teaching English in China,  You learn a new language too

As most of the Chinese speak only their native language, it is the best opportunity for you to learn Mandarin while you’re in China. Their accent, their style of writing, and the way they speak are so unique. 

It is estimated that there are almost one billion Mandarin speakers, not only in China but in other countries like Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. which makes it the most widely spoken language in the world.

It can be a little daunting in the beginning to study Mandarin with the complicated letters and the tonal language but once you get the knack of it, you’ll be able to ease into the learning process; the grammar is considered to be simpler than the English language.

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The advantages of learning Mandarin are many.

  •  Bilingual people always have the advantage of having an additional career option such as an interpreter/translator.
  •  When you’re a foreigner who speaks the local language, it becomes easy for you to talk to locals while traveling through unfamiliar places
  • You can meet new people, understand their culture, and go out with them and have fun. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Australian philosopher once quoted

 “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world”.

Reason # 3: Best time to travel

 Because China borders 14 countries. It’s one of the best places to travel from during the holidays. You get to explore many Asian countries that are diverse in geography, culture, and people. 

Moreover, flying to neighboring countries when you are in China will be more affordable than when you travel from your home country. Moreover, China itself is a geographically diverse country from snowy mountains to deserts and beaches.

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 As stated above, if you learn Mandarin it becomes easier for you to commute within the country and many other countries where Mandarin has become an official language.

Reason # 4: Best time to embrace Chinese traditions, food, and culture

As China is a huge country with over a billion people, its culture, traditions, and food habits vary from region to region. By being there you get to know the largest ethnic group of people in the world called the ‘Han Chinese’ and many smaller groups and their lifestyle.

In the early days of landing in China, you will get a cultural shock and you may be confused about what to do while meeting someone new, among other things. If you go with an open mind, you will enjoy and will get acclimated to their mind-blowing variety of social and cultural etiquettes.

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Dia Chin, a Chinese origin in her video, explains some very interesting norms of the social and cultural etiquette of people in China.

For instance, she says:

Shaking hands and hugging is not a norm in Chinese culture. Instead, people either nod or smile at you or just say ‘Hi’

Similarly, she says that if you’re dining out in a restaurant in a larger group and if you are invited by someone, you don’t dig into the food first, instead you allow them to serve first just to show your respect towards them.

Interestingly, whether you are in a business meeting or with your elderly family members, pouring tea to them is another way of showing respect.

In addition to the fascinating culture, the variety of food that Chinese eat is flabbergasting. Whether you are a vegetarian or non-vegetarian, the overwhelming variety of food you get there from spicy noodles to tofu to scorpions and even snakes will amaze you.

Reason # 5: Cost of living and Salary

The cost of living is very cheap in China except in big metropolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai. So if you are a university student or a full-time teacher and if you need to repay any loans or save some money, it is better to stay away from the major cities as monthly expenses like rent, groceries, and transportation are very high there.

For example, as per work and live in china the average salary of an English teacher in a place like Shenzhen is approximately 15,000 RMB and the cost of living is roughly 5,000 RMB and the accommodation is free.

Generally speaking, your daily expenses and your accommodation is covered in your salary package though there may be some out of the pocket expenses in some cases.

Another amazing thing about teaching English in China is that during holidays like the Chinese New Year, half of your salary will be paid. So even on holidays you can take your time off and enjoy without worrying about income flow.

Because the demand for English teachers is so high in China, they even reimburse your airfare at the end of your one-year contract in most places.

As per the international TEFL academy, more than 50,000 thousand foreigners are employed as English teachers in China each year and a high percentage of them receive free or reimbursed airfare.

Now before moving to teach English in China, How safe Is China?

Having said all of the above, when you are offered a teaching job in China and when you are ready to pack your bags to take the flight you must be wondering how safe the country is.

It is believed that China is one of the safest places in the world and it’s a fairly peaceful nation compared to many other developed countries.

People over there are generally friendly and honest. If people stare at you that doesn’t mean they are going to attack you, but they do it just out of curiosity of you being a foreigner.

For instance, compared to America’s controversial gun control law, China has very draconian gun control regulations.

Despite the level of safety, the authoritative Chinese government policies should not be forgotten. Although China is considered to be a communist country, the policies of the government remains a mystery to the general public.

The press does not have the freedom of speech there and whoever speaks against the policies including common citizens are penalized, which remains a shame.

It is being said that the party’s dominance and threatening and controlling power is similar to that of North Korea.

Communication problem

Communication in China remains a big issue if you don’t speak Mandarin. If you are a traveler or a foreign national who is living in that country it can be a nightmare to communicate unless you speak their language.

However, big cities like Beijing and Shanghai remain an exception where you can see a lot of foreigners. The language barrier will increase if you move towards more rural areas of China.

But please understand, it’s their country and if you don’t speak their language the fault is yours.

For example, if you don’t speak their language and if you go to a restaurant you may have to point to a dish. The other option will be to download a Google translator on your smartphone while buying movie tickets, going to markets, or traveling by taxis. 

As stated above, learning Mandarin not only makes your communication easier but you can work part-time as a translator or an interpreter and earn that extra cash too!

Teach only if you are passionate about it

You get paid vacations, you can get to know their culture, food habits and traditions, all that is true, but if teaching isn’t your passion you will not be able to enjoy it in China. The various reasons for it:

  1. Firstly children are at school for long hours. Unlike western countries, in China, the relationship between a teacher and a student should be closer. Unless you build a personal relationship with the students you may not get good feedback from them.

  2. According to Global Scholarships, one-to-one interaction becomes difficult as there are 30 to 50 students in each class. This makes it challenging for teachers to have a strong bond with every student

  3. Secondly, it’s being generally said that you as a teacher should be very flexible and adaptable. In China, you may not get noticed about the meetings and classroom sessions beforehand.

  4. There will be a change of plans at the eleventh hour and you will need to accept them the way they are. As a result instead of you changing them, you have to get accustomed to their way of dealing with things.

  5. Thirdly, English as a language is not very pivotal to the little citizens in China.  They focus more on mathematics and science. So if they don’t do their homework assignments in time instead of scolding them you should be very patient and should have fun with them.

  6. If you are just money-minded and going to China just to earn cash you will never enjoy it. You should be passionate about the teaching profession, handling children and you should go with an open mind to help people.

There are some important things to remember when you opt to go to China to teach

  1. You need a graduation degree to qualify as an English teacher in China. If you are from a native English country TEFL certification may not be necessary.
  2. Don’t get yourself cheated by unauthorized middlemen and agents. Read the contract properly.
  3. China being a huge country, first, you have to decide in which part of China you are going to work. It can be in major cities, in more rural areas away from the city center, or it can be in the middle of nowhere.
  4. Research the climatic conditions there and decide what kind of attire to pack.
  5. Do a study on the cost of living in the area where you are staying and find suitable accommodation which can be pocket friendly.
  6. Always make sure the accommodation address is written in Mandarin, so you won’t have any problem finding the address after you land in China. You just need to show it to the taxi driver.
  7. You will have to dig deep into your pocket if you go-to fast food joints to eat a burger or a pizza. Instead stick to the local Chinese food which will be more economical for you, especially if you are in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, etc.
  8. Do keep in mind gambling and drugs like marijuana are strictly prohibited in China.
  9. Last but not the least, though the age limit for applying as an English teacher is 60, they usually don’t accept you if you are above 55.

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Ranjana Gopinath has been working as a medical transcriptionist for the last 10 years. She is an English Literature graduate who has also successfully completed a professional course in copyediting and proofreading from Rehoboth Academic Services in Bangalore. She has also completed basic computer programming in New Jersey, US and is an aspiring content writer. She is a perennial student who aspires to get into digital marketing. At home, Ranjana is a wife and mother of two sons. She has an immense passion for cooking, cinema, and wine-making. Her articles in Henry Harvin will focus on an array of topics

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