Inevitably there will be questions about a new job, a new destination and a new lifestyle. We thought it would be important then, to put together a blog especially centered around FAQ’s relating to teaching in China. There are a few misconceptions that have a lot of people saying “I can’t go and teach in China because…”, which sadly puts a stop to their life-changing adventure. What a real shame! Don’t let this happen to you; read on to find out what it takes to be an ESL teacher in China. Also, don’t forget to read our other post about why teaching English in China is so wonderful.
Do I need previous teaching experience to work in China?
In almost all cases, no. I came to China with little experience with children, let alone teaching. The important thing is that you like children and are willing to put effort into making the lessons fun and engaging. You’ll also be provided with a 10 days paid ESL training session, once you first arrive in China. This will help adjust you to being an excellent ESL teacher. Most of the kids schools have their headquarters in Beijing and most of the adult schools have their headquarters in Shanghai. So most likely, you’ll either have training in Beijing or Shanghai. Additionally, there’ll be around 20 other foreign teachers doing the training together with you, and everyone will be staying in the same provided hotel. This’ll give you a great opportunity to mingle with the other teachers, go sightseeing, dinners, drinks, etc, while doing a paid training. Afterwards, your transportation from Beijing / Shanghai, will also be provided.
Do I need to speak Chinese?
Again, the answer to this is no. In fact, most schools want to create a strictly English environment during lessons, so even if you can speak some Chinese, DON’T! Of course there will be a Chinese teacher there to help you, so don’t worry when you find yourself staring blankly as a child asks you to go pee-pee in Chinese.
Will I be supplied with teaching resources?
A lot of the schools have a set curriculum they wish for you to follow. This might mean you are given a topic to teach, and it is up to you to design a lesson OR you may well be given complete lessons which are ready to go – you just need to familiarise yourself with the content. Either way you will not be thrown in the deep end, but there is always wiggle room to adapt the lesson to your teaching style. You’ll have all of the resources and materials needed to plan and implement your lessons. I.E. digital white -boards, PPTs, online ESL games, textbooks with audio / video segments, and flashcards.
Can me and my significant other work in the same school?
In a lot of cases this is possible, as employers believe that it can help ease the transition to a new country and its culture. If for any reason it is not possible to work in the same school, there is a high chance that numerous schools or centres will be hiring in the same city. Living in China as an English teaching couple would certainly be a story to tell the grand-kids!
Will there be help at hand once I arrive in China?
Yes, of course! There will be someone to meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel upon arrival. Chinese people are extremely accommodating and helpful, so when you aren’t receiving constant support from your school (and China Link ESL!) you will most certainly receive it from strangers on the street.
During training for your school, you will not only receive teacher-related advice, but also help with living and the settling in process. This includes finding a comfortable apartment that meets your requirements, locating the necessities (supermarket, bar etc) and an introduction to the many other like-minded foreign teachers in your area.
Still got a burning question about teaching English in China? Drop us a comment below – we’d be happy to help!