Thinking of teaching English in China? Read this article and see if it's for you. And if the first 12 reasons don't help you determine if it's for you then maybe the last one will.
1. You're qualified or... unqualified
The requirements to teach English in China are usually the following. To get a Z visa teaching English in China one needs to have/be:
- a bachelor's degree
- a native speaker
- 2 years of teaching experience or...
- TEFL certification or...
- An education degree or teaching license
Learn more about the requirements to teach English in China.
On the other hand...
If you don't have a degree you might be able to get a job on an F visa. That isn't legal for teaching English, but some schools will do that. Compared to other Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan or Korea it is easier to get a job teaching English in China without a degree.
TEFL certificates aren't legally required for visa purposes, however schools can require them or prefer them.
2. You want to "teach English" or learn how to do it
Going abroad can sound exciting and it is, but what lots of people forget or don't think about much is the fact that teaching is a job and teaching can be hard.
A classroom is likely where you are going to be spending most of your hours awake in China.
3. You want to learn Mandarin
Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world.
Mandarin is the national language of China and is spoken by most people throughout the country. There are of course other dialects of Chinese such as Cantonese which is spoken in Guandong province which includes Hong Kong.
4. If you don't want to learn Mandarin then you might want to try "Engrish" or one of these soups for dinner
5. You want to explore the world's second largest country
China is one of the largest countries in the world. It has a diverse landscape. There are deserts in the north and subtropical forests in the south. You'll find the largest mountains in the world in the west and some of the nicest beaches in the south.
6. You appreciate biodiversity (although you might not get to see it)
If you are in a massive city you might never get to see it.
China is the third most bio-diverse country in the world after Brazil and Columbia. However, at least 840 animal species are threatened or in danger of extinction mainly due to human activity such as deforestation, pollution, poaching and extracting ingredients for traditional Chinese medicines.
7. You can tolerate a bit of pollution
According to Wikipedia China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter. It's not only the air that is dirty though. It is pretty common to throw trash and waste on the streets, some restaurant floors, burn it in some places, or dump industrial or agricultural waste in the river. Sometimes the smaller cities can suffer from worse pollution due to factories.
I lived in Shanghai and I didn't think it was that polluted considering how big it is. There aren't any factories in the city and I remember seeing a fair number of blue sky days. I thought some of the cities in Taiwan: Taichung and Tainan were more polluted (air wise).
Those cities were only around a million people and Shanghai is now like 20 million+.
Also another factor was that by the time I got to China I had lived in two cities in Taiwan and two in Korea.
8. You don't mind large crowds
It can get pretty crowded as China is the world's most populous country. The subways and buses can be nuts and I never drove, but I wouldn't want to.
China has a population of more than 1.3 billion people. There was a population boom under Mao, but now there is a one child policy in place.
9. You want to be somewhere that is changing fast
China was a very poor country, but now things are getting better and it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is the world's second largest economy and the world's largest importer and exporter of goods.
10. You can live without Facebook, Youtube, Gmail and other social media sites
Yep, that's right these sites are blocked in China, however there are ways around them, but the internet is still kinda slow in my experience.
China is currently ruled by a communist party. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Wikipedia and Youtube are blocked. This is because the communist party restricts freedom of the internet, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc.
You can get around it though with a proxy or vpn and so it's not that big of a deal.
11. You have some start up cash
You are going to need some start up cash to get going in China. In Korea they will pay your airfare upfront and that is very unusual in China. Common in China is reimbursement at the end of your contract.
It will depend on the school and if you get a Z visa lined up ahead of time.
To get started in China you're probably going to need money for a: plane ticket there, an L visa to start with, a visa run to Hong Kong (train or plane), a Z visa, food and accommodation.
Your school may provide some of those expenses or not. Many schools in China do provide housing.
Here you can find out here how much money you need to move to China.
12. You want to live a comfortable life
Salaries for English teachers in China range quite a bit depending on what school (public, private, university, international school) you work for and what city you are in. They can range from about 4000RMB-20,000RMB. Chances are if you are only making 5000RMB in a small city then your housing will be covered.
Teaching in China is not necessarily a big money maker although from what I gather salaries have risen since I was there and the cost of living is pretty cheap in most places.
But living in a big city and eating foreign foods and going out a lot will cost you.
13. You have an open mind because if you don't there are troubles ahead
Having an open mind is a key ingredient to teaching abroad in general. If your mind is not open then I wouldn't recommend it. The language, culture, environment, food, people you're surrounded with and your job will be different.
And those things may sound simple now, but they can be pretty tough at times and more so for some than others.
It will really help to have an open mind.
14. You want to teach English to kids or learn how to do it
Didn't you already say this?
Yes, I did and I am saying this again because I think you need to hear it again. In my experience teaching English is not easy. My first year was quite difficult.
Teaching English abroad is not a vacation.
Most people teach English to kids in China and it's possible to teach adults if you want, but most jobs are for teaching kids.
Kids can be tough because:
- They are high energy
- They have a short attention span
- They are not tame
Take this course if you want to feel more confident in that classroom teaching English to kids.
15. Life is short so...
You're going to die.
We haven't figured out how to live forever yet, so the clock is ticking.
Now does teaching in China sound like something you really want to do? Will you regret having not done it? Do you want this as part of your life story?
Keep in mind it's not for everyone and you can use the above reasons to see if it is or not.
And also keep in mind it's normal to feel scared, anxious or hesitant prior to making a big change. But as they say knowledge is power, so I would keep doing your research.
And when you get there you'll realize it wasn't that hard, but then there will be new challenges.