We welcome new teachers to our schools every year, each with their own expectations, hopes and even apprehensions about life teaching English in China. With an established community of expat English teachers, free language lessons and accommodation taken care of, there’s plenty of support available, and we always go the extra mile to help our staff settle in. Despite this, there are always surprises- so we’ve compiled a list of things you might not expect when you come to teach English in China.
Did you know there are over 200 million English learners in China?
English language teaching in China is universal- all children learn English from third grade upwards. Along with maths and Chinese, English is one of the core subjects taught in all schools, and is considered a vital part of education in China. The enthusiasm for learning English isn’t just about compulsory education though- there’s a huge demand for English language skills in modern China. There are almost endless opportunities for qualified English teachers, especially following the strict new rules placed on Z visa applications in February 2017.
School days are demanding
Students in most Chinese schools work for ten hours a day, and go home with plenty of homework too. Depending on the region, education may be fairly undeveloped, based on simple rote learning and even corporal punishment. Pupils are pushed to achieve excellence in a highly centralised system focusing on test results, academic rankings, strict discipline and regular exams. By comparison, foreign-run language schools are popular as modern & progressive institutions based on Western principles. As a result, Western English teachers are especially respected and, once experienced teaching Chinese students and proficient in mandarin, can go on to earn large salaries in exclusive private schools or as one-on-one tutors in major cities.
Pupils respect their teachers
As an English teacher in China, you won’t encounter the discipline problems faced by your former colleagues in the UK. Chinese students are taught from an early age to treat adults, and especially teachers, with deference and respect. This often shocks Western teachers who are used to pupils trying subvert or second-guess their authority. Teaching in China is a hugely respected profession, and, unlike in the West where teachers are often underpaid, overworked and undervalued, teachers in China are treated with the highest esteem. Teachers coming from abroad are considered especially respectable, as the very presence of a Westerner on the school staff reflects well on the institution itself.
School life isn’t confined to the classroom
Whereas Western schools can appear slightly chaotic outside class times, Chinese schools are organised and disciplined. Playtime is, of course, lively, but there are also plenty of daily warm ups, assemblies, ‘line ups’ and relaxation sessions, where music, news and announcements are played to the pupils. This helps the pupils stay motivated, fit and focused on their school work.
Learning doesn’t stop at graduation
Thanks to the emphasis on hard work and diligence learned during school years, Chinese adults retain a lifetime’s enthusiasm for developing skills. The Chinese government’s policy of improving the workforce’s skills & developing competitiveness with the outside world, pursued relentlessly since the 1980s, means that adults are likewise encouraged to learn English. As an international ESL teacher in China, you’ll be expected to teach adults as well as children, one-to-one as well as in classes.
Teaching English in China is an exciting, positive step toward a more fulfilling career. Speak to our team today to learn how we can make the process of coming to China to teach easier than you expect!
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