China is the fastest-growing market worldwide to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and provides a huge amount of job opportunities for English speakers. Ever thought about leaving your boring life behind to teach English in China? If so, you should seriously consider the following tips in order to live a stress-free and enjoyable life in the Middle Kingdom.

1. Do respect your host school

Always be mindful that your school has gone to great lengths to invite you to come and work with them.

Should any teething problems arise, communicate effectively and act professionally at all times. This will help stand you in good stead.


2. Don’t choose a job based on salary alone

Choosing a teaching job in China based on salary alone is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

In addition to your proposed salary, you must consider other factors like the school’s location, your accommodation, the working conditions and class sizes. There are many different types of schools that you can choose from, including public schools, non-governmental schools, universities, and training institutions (expect a more detailed article from us soon to discuss each of those school types). 

Teaching salaries in China vary greatly based on your company and are usually based on your educational background and the status of your degree. If you have an advanced degree or significant teaching experience, you can expect a much higher salary. As for your taxes, you will be required to file a form at year’s end depending on whether your school makes automatic tax deductions from your monthly salary or not, and will also need to figure out whether you have to pay more in taxes at the end of the year. But if this sounds a bit too complicated, just ask your employer for clear information on the matter before signing your contract.

3. Do immerse yourself in Chinese culture

You’ll get the most out of your experience in China if you try to live and breathe as much of the country and the culture as you can. Go ahead and sample the food, learn some of the language, travel in your spare time and rub shoulders with the locals.

If all else fails, there’s no shortage of Western creature comforts like McDonalds and Starbucks!

4. Don’t be afraid of asking a lot of questions

To ensure you get the job and conditions that are right for you, you should ask the recruiter or your potential school as many questions as possible. Get the answers emailed to you to avoid any misunderstandings. Ideally, all crucial information should be included in your teaching contract.

Once you arrive in China, keep asking questions. The more questions you ask about this incredible country, the more you’ll discover.

5. Do challenge your students' ideas, and encourage them to do the right thing. 

You shouldn't disagree with everything they say, but ask them to support their claims with textual evidence and encourage other students to come up with different interpretations. Putting pressure on students' ideas makes them think harder to come up with convincing arguments. It also helps them develop the necessary skills to speak persuasively and debate with their peers. Debates and arguments help a discussion become more lively, engaging, and interesting. If these debates start to get personal and students offend one another, think of a few ways to turn the conversation back to the text. You should challenge their interpretations of the text, not the students themselves.



Photo credit: www.souhu.com

6. Don't be babble.

New teachers are usually nervous, and nervous people often babble. The more words you say, the less value each word has. I once heard that teachers get to say about 10,000 words before the students stop listening, and that new teacher use up their words in the first week. Choose your words carefully

7. Do read your teaching contract carefully

You have to sign a contract in order to formally accept a teaching position in China. Before you do this though, take the time to read and understand it thoroughly.

Generally, a Chinese teaching contract is made up of two parts – English and Mandarin (the English section is a replica of the Chinese section. Keep the following warning in mind before signing anything with an employer: Every condition and item you sign up for is based on the Chinese version of the contract, so we highly recommend you have it checked out by a Chinese-speaking friend because the English section is not always as precise as the Chinese one.)


You should sign and date both sections once you’re happy with the terms and conditions.

8.  Don't Be Destructive

No one will humiliate a student intentionally; however, it's mostly the shy kids who get embarrassed the most without our realizing it. As teachers, it is our goal to build students up; while we think being shy is just a matter of breaking a student's comfort zone, it just doesn’t work that way.



Photo credit: www.xianguo.com

Another way a teacher can come off as destructive is by taking everything out on the students. We should never hold our students responsible for not knowing something they haven't been taught before. For instance, after having taught something and gone over it numerous times, even though the majority of the students knew and understood it, others still didn’t quite get it and it may feel very frustrating if all of your classes are like this. In this case, a teacher should find out the reason why this is happening instead of being destructive.