What’s to Love about Teaching English in China?
Every teaching job around the world has its own perks and pitfalls. Some countries are easier to live in than others, some cultures are more akin to that of your own native country. But wherever you end up, there will always be pros as well as cons. As a flourishing market, China is one of the most lucrative destinations for new TEFL teachers. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best reasons to consider teaching English in China.
A Huge Teaching Market
China is huge – not only geographically, but also the population of 1.357 billion and counting. That is a huge potential market, particularly considering that learning to speak English grows more and more popular each year. With such a large demand for teachers, this is a country where there will never be a shortage of employment for TEFL teachers. Chinese children are starting to learn foreign languages younger than ever before – not only that, but people of all ages are learning English for a variety of reasons. The demand is huge – teach English in China and be part of the supply.
Many Students are Keen, Willing and Motivated
When teaching English in China you will meet some of the most enthusiastic, motivated students in the world. Naturally, you also get your fair share of lazy, unmotivated students who would rather be somewhere else – kids whose parents are pushing them to excel or businessmen who are being forced to study for their company. But you get those kinds of learners all over the world.
With such a large population, China has a very competitive culture and there is a lot of focus on being the best. As such, you meet a high proportion of English language learners who push themselves to the limit to ensure they will achieve their goals. University students attending regular classes six days a week will find time on their day off to attend free English classes taught by volunteers just to give their English ability the extra edge, children work their socks off in order to impress their parents, and workaholics will do anything to get that promotion. The Chinese are known for being hardworking, and the field of language learning is one sector in which they really prove it to be true.
You’re Bound to be a Hit
Even in the more cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai and Beijing, foreigners make up a tiny percentage of the population. Therefore, wherever you go in China you’re bound to be a bit of a celebrity. Not only that, but you’re almost guaranteed to hit it off with your students, particularly if they are children.
The teaching style of traditional Chinese tutors varies greatly from the methods used by modern TEFL teachers – compared to a stuffy school teacher who advocates hour upon hour of teacher-centerd chalk-and-talk, a fun and lively native language instructor is sure to be a winner with the students. Losing face is a big deal in China and so Chinese school teachers are often overly-serious and strict with their students. As a foreigner teaching English in China, all you have to do is incorporate a few games into your class, pull a funny face and hey presto, you’re their new favourite educator.
Asian Stereotypes are Not What You Think
When you think of Chinese language learners, what comes to mind? Polite, quiet, reserved, passive, dull, and serious are all words that usually spring to mind to someone who has never taught in China before. However, once you embark upon teaching English in China you soon come to see that this isn’t always the case.
For fear of losing face, Chinese students are often unwilling to express their personal opinions in front of a group – however, when teaching students one-to-one they are far more likely to disclose their personal views. While it is true that Chinese students can be quiet and reserved, they are also very competitive and will soon turn out to be boisterous and energetic if you get them involved in a team game. Don’t be put off by the ‘Asian Learner’ stereotype – the class will be what you make of it, wherever you are.
You Get to Live in China
It may sound obvious, but this is definitely one of the top reasons to start teaching English in China. This is a weird, fun, crazy, exciting, unusual, interesting place – there are endless opportunities, wonderful things to eat, amazing cultures to explore and vibrant people to meet. If you get hired to teach English in China, that will account for eight hours of your day, but what about the other sixteen? Your life in China will be so much more than what happens in the classroom.
TEFL Teachers (particularly newbies) are often put off by the idea of China – it’s big, it’s scary, it’s so far away from home… But it’s also awesome, trust me. Starting off your teaching career in China can be a baptism by fire, but it’s an exciting journey every step of the way, and starting that journey with a well-known language school will ensure you get all the support you need. There are so many things to love about teaching English in China – we’ve only just scratched the surface here. It will be an unforgettable adventure that you never dreamt of experiencing.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins has been teaching English as a foreign language full time since 2011, in China, Japan and the U.K. As well as teaching, she is also a professional writer and part-time knitting enthusiast.