Teaching in China is unlike anything you’ll find in a Western school. Sure, the classrooms and the buildings may look similar, but you would be wrong to think teaching at a school in China is at all the same as at home. Why is this, you ask? What exactly makes teaching in China so different?
Teachers command a lot of respect in Chinese society. This derives from the high status that education receives and almost everyone understands the value of learning. Thanks to the reverence of education, you will find that even your students will be well behaved and eager to learn. Rude and unruly students are very uncommon. Pupils have been trained to study from a young age and work a total of 10 hours a day!
The Linguistic Challenge
If you have only travelled in Europe or North America then it may come as a shock to you when you learn that very little English is spoken in China, especially amongst the middle aged and older. This is why it’s a good idea to at least teach yourself the basics of Chinese Mandarin. Despite the written language possessing around 2000 characters, all of which seem rather alien to English speakers, learning how to speak a few phrases is not as difficult. You’ll have the necessary vocabulary such as greetings, directions, and how to order food in no time at all.
The size of classroom and salary can all depend on what type of school you go to. The most common place to teach English is at a private/independent school. These are either totally independent or part of a larger company. Here you can expect relatively high wages at often over 10,000 RMB per month. Additionally, classes are often small with numbers totalling a mere 15 at most. Unfortunately, you’ll be working longer hours here than in public schools. Also, private schools are not required to follow the same regulations as public ones so assessing their quality can be difficult. Public schools are run at a set standard and so their quality is easier to measure. Here, you won’t have to work as long, but you’ll generally have a lower salary at around 8,000 RMB a month or less. As well as this, class size will tend to be rather larger with sizes of 30 or more students. Both types of schools are hiring throughout the year due to the huge TEFL market in China.
The workplace culture in China is slightly different than in the West. Disobedience of your boss’ orders is not tolerated, even if they make little sense. Expect schedules to not be completely fixed and prone to change. In the classroom, it is recommended that teachers wear business-casual type attire. Otherwise, normal clothes are completely fine outside of the school.
For more information on what living in the country is like, click here.