Teaching in a Chinese Kindergarten vs University

Planning to teach in China? Good for you! China has millions of students who are eager to learn the English language and they’re willing to pay good money for quality education. For someone who’s interested in taking his or her teaching career to the next level by being an English teacher in China, this article aims to provide you with first-hand information you need to jumpstart your career in a foreign land.


English teaching is a booming industry in China with many private kindergartens and training centers sprouting like mushrooms. These institutions hire foreign teachers to teach English, offering high salaries for those coming from countries with English as their first language like the United States, Canada, Ireland, South Africa and Australia.


Aside from the salary, one should note that there are significant differences between teaching young children and adults in China. Read on for detailed information.


Teaching in a Chinese Kindergarten

If you love children, you’ll find teaching in a kindergarten very rewarding. Being surrounded with kids bubbling with energy and curiosity the whole day can be a lot of fun. These students are eager to learn and play at the same time. They enjoy being with their teachers and friends.


A Chinese kindergarten can have more than one teacher in the classroom but rest assured you’ll be the only foreign teacher. However, there are some international kindergartens that have at a maximum two foreign teachers in the classroom. In addition, you’ll have two Chinese teachers working with you in delivering the lessons. There’s also a nanny teacher assigned to maintain the cleanliness and orderliness of the classroom. Together, you work in conducting wholesome lessons to the children and ensuring their comfort and safety at the same time.


Teaching in a Chinese kindergarten is easier because you’ll be given an outline of the curriculum days or even weeks before. The outline consists of what lessons to teach as well as suggestions on how to deliver them. Kindergartens stock up on art materials so if you’re feeling extra creative, you can make your own visual aids that can enhance your lessons.


Many people say there’s power in numbers and in some cases, this is true especially if you have a rowdy batch of children to take care of. It helps to have some extra hands in the classroom especially when you take the kids outside during their physical activities or P.E. class. You have to play with the children and this means running after them or joining in their games.


However, teaching in Chinese kindergarten can be tough. To start there’s language barrier. The majority of the children will speak in Chinese to you. Not all of them have parents who can speak English and chances are those who do, speak in broken English. Foreign teachers are discouraged from talking to children in Chinese even if they’re just simple words like yes or no.


So how do you deliver your lessons? You have to incorporate a lot of English songs and word games. Further, you need to speak slowly and clearly. Chinese kindergartens discourage foreign teachers from asking Chinese teachers to translate for them. The main goal is to let the children understand and speak in English.


Meanwhile, Chinese teachers you’ll be working with can communicate in English well but there are some who can’t. Don’t be surprised to find them talking in Chinese especially after school hours like you’re invisible. You may feel left out whenever they do this but remember it’s normal for them.


Chinese kindergartens have different school calendars. They have two terms but there are those with longer summer and winter vacations which can go for a month while some only get two weeks. However, they all observe public holidays in China like the week long National Holiday in October.

Teaching in a Chinese Kindergarten vs University 1

Teaching in a Chinese University

Are you the kind of person who doesn’t like being around children eight hours a day? Do you prefer teaching in a classroom where your students can already communicate with you in English? If yes, you should consider teaching in a Chinese university.


Having adult learners has its perks. To start, you don’t have to worry about the language barrier because your students can already speak and understand English, though not fluently. They can express their ideas in writing or orally. You can expect a lot of interaction in the classroom especially if your lessons are interesting and engaging.


Working in a Chinese university also offers a lot of free time. You don’t need to stay in school the whole day because unlike in kindergartens, you don’t have office hours. In fact, you don’t have an office at all. You are free to go in and out of the classroom you’re assigned in. Most university foreign teachers only work for a maximum of 24 hours a week. You don’t need to join in university programs unlike in kindergarten wherein foreign teachers assist in organizing shows for Christmas or Thanksgiving.


As a foreign teacher in a Chinese university, you don’t work with a Chinese teacher in the classroom. You have total control of the whole class. In fact, you can go teaching for a whole semester without knowing other teachers in the university.


However, teaching in a Chinese university can be very challenging. To start, you’re not given specific topics or lessons to teach your students unless provided by the school. You have to do your own research, come up with lessons and exercises and make sure that students participate. Despite knowing how to communicate in English, many of your students are still shy to speak up because they’re very conscious about their pronunciation and diction.


Teaching in a Chinese kindergarten or Chinese university each has their advantages and disadvantages. Ask yourself which suits you best. There are many opportunities waiting for foreign teachers in China and you’ll never know how far you’ll go unless you try.